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How to Deal With In-Laws

Updated on July 12, 2013

You’ve finally met the man or woman of your dreams and can’t wait to start your lives together. You get married and settle down into your new role. Everything seems to be just as you hoped it would be give or take a few hiccups. And just as you start to work out minor issues within the household you realize you now have to deal with people butting in. You know… the dreaded, nosy in-laws.

So how do you handle this situation without upsetting your spouse? What is the best way to address your issue while still keeping peace? Here is some practical advice to get started:

Image courtesy of Ambro /
Image courtesy of Ambro / | Source

Make sure you and your spouse are on the same page. I cannot stress how important this is! If you and your spouse do not agree on how to handle family members when they intrude on your personal lives this will only cause more problems in your household. Like for example, say you don’t feel comfortable having company over after a certain time. Nothing against anyone, you just want to get to bed early to prepare for the day ahead. And that rule applies to everyone!

If your spouse believes their mom is the exception to this rule this will only cause you to:

1. Start to dislike his/her mom if she too is aware of this rule but, like your spouse feels as if it doesn’t apply to her.

2. Begin to resent your spouse for disrespecting your wishes and for putting his family first (because the truth of the matter is you are now his family)

3. Be a cause for endless arguments between you and your spouse

So whatever you do make sure you and your spouse discuss and agree on how you will handle certain situations.

Set Boundaries. As with the scenario above you have to set boundaries. How involved do you want the in-laws in your lives? Are you okay with family just dropping in unexpectedly or do you prefer they call first? If children are involved are your in laws in agreement with your method of child rearing? Or are they going against your wishes? How do you and your spouse deal with this? At what point do you speak up?

Again this should be communicated in the household with your spouse before it gets out of control.

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick/
Image courtesy of Victor Habbick/ | Source

Do not provide information that can be used against you. Some people make the mistake of getting too close to their in- laws only to regret it later. Of course you want to get along with your husband or wife’s family. As the saying goes, “when you marry a person you marry their family too”. Just keep in mind that regardless of how close you may become, their loyalties will always lie with their family member. So if the two of you start to have problems and you feel close enough to share this information with your in-laws, just remember they will always have this information from you. Be prepared for advice whether you want it or not. And remember that once things are squared away with you and your partner, the family member that you once confided in may not have gotten over the situation.

This can work in more than one way. The first situation is that you feel close enough to your in-laws to discuss your financial situation (which is always a big no-no). And now you have an in-law asking to borrow money. Or you’re having financial difficulties which your spouse did not want to discuss with family. Either way you have put yourself in a lose-lose situation which could have easily been avoided.

In the second situation you actually confide with your own family the displeasure you are having with you significant other. You may even go as far as to include details that should be kept in the home. Don’t be surprised when your family starts to form a negative opinion of your spouse. And don’t be surprised that after the two of you patch things up the family tension remains. So now you have then created an awkward in-law situation between your husband/wife and your family. So to save your marriage you simply should not allow outsiders to get too involved by disclosing personal information.

Have your spouse communicate grievances with their family. If you are having major issues with in-laws you want to be able to sit down like adults and hash is out. But it doesn’t always work like that. So the best thing to do is have your spouse communicate with their folks. Although you are the one having the issue with them, it just comes off better from their son/daughter. The last thing you want to do is have the talk yourself… upset the in-laws and then have your husband/wife mad at you for stirring up trouble. When all you wanted to do was clear the air.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / | Source

Be firm! The decisions you make will affect your marriage tremendously. Make sure whatever you decide is understood both in and outside of the household. Do not let in-laws intimidate you to the point that sit back and let them run over you. Stand firm in your decisions no matter what and they will have no choice but to respect you. And if they don’t respect you as a person, at least they will respect your decisions.


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