How to Manage Your In-Laws

Happy senior family couple visiting adult daughter at home

Expectations are Key

Your in-laws are likely a permanent part of your life. You didn’t choose to make these people your family and it is common for issues to arise, especially as your family grows. When managing your relationship with your in-laws, it is all about setting expectations. Below are ten tips for dealing with your in-laws:

  1. Let Them Know Your Long-Term Family Plans – As you and your partner discuss the desire, or non-desire, to grow your family, keep your in-laws in the loop. If they know how you feel they are less likely to push the subject.
  2. Be on The Same Team as Your Partner – No matter what, you and your partner need to be on the same team. Don’t let family feuds influence your marriage. The person with the strongest relationship needs to act as the messenger if there is an issue.
  3. Enforce Boundaries – It’s okay if having dinner with your extended family every Sunday night is not working for you. Ensure you and your partner are on the same side when making this decision.
  4. Decide if You’re Asking for Advice or Telling – Your in-laws and parents do not need to be part of every decision you make. You are married and you are an adult. You have the right to withhold as much information as you’d like. So, when making a decision, decide if you are telling your in-laws “this is the way it’s going to be,” or asking them for guidance.
  5. Decide Where You Will Spend the Holidays – The opportunity for feelings to be hurt during the holidays is greater, and adding young children to the mix makes it even more complicated. Make a plan ahead of time. You have two options: (1) tell your family your plan, or (2) ask what they would prefer.
  6. Share the Good and Bad – Often in-laws and parents only hear when something is wrong in the relationship. Make it a point to help them understand the good things It will help them have a more accurate picture of your relationship and avoid “judgy” comments and suggestive conversations.
  7. Encourage the Parental Relationship – Encourage your spouse to foster a strong relationship with his or her parents. It shows respect for the family unit and can provide insight into how your mate will act with his or her own children.
  8. Understand and Respect Cultural Differences – The way your spouse’s family acts may not be malicious. Consider the cultural differences that could be affecting the relationship and take the proper steps to ensure everyone feels included.
  9. It’s Your Right to Raise Your Children Your Way – A mother knows best, and your mother-in-law might think she knows best. After all, she did raise the man or woman that you fell in love with, right? However, you don’t have to raise your kids her way. Be on the same team as your spouse and don’t be afraid to speak up when your in-laws are teaching your children something you don’t approve of.
  10. Maintain a Sense of Humor – Many of the best comedy movies involve crazy in-laws. Accept the differences you have as part of life and maintain the ability to laugh about it.

Your relationship with your in-laws may be toxic, but it is better for your entire family if everyone can push past the issues and play nice. A little respect can go a long way. Happy relationship-building!

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