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How Bad Are Your In-laws?

Updated on January 28, 2014

Blending tribes

In-laws don't have a bad rap for no good reason. Since the beginning of man, no doubt, melding two families into one has been like grafting branches. It takes some cutting and healing. Sometimes, it makes the tree more fruitful while other times, it means death.

Why are in-laws notoriously troublesome?

Families are like tribes (forgive the tree analogy.) They are comfortable with their own tribal practices and they don't want to adopt those of a newcomer. In-laws try to get the new member to conform to their own family unit's lifestyle and they do so in ways that are seen as intrusive, meddling and bossy.

New young couples want to start their own tribe with their own customs. It's a natural step towards their independent lives but in-laws feel a sense of rejection. A loss of influence over their once-loyal adult child. They fear losing him or her. Suddenly, there is hurt, criticism, defensiveness, complaining and argument. It's all really a matter of not knowing how to adapt to new and changing roles in this phase of life.

But some in-laws get downright mean. How do you deal with horrible in-laws? If you refuse them entirely, you're refusing an integral part of your spouse. You can't cut them out of your lives without hurting your loved one, too. Consider the following thoughts:


Normal differences don't make them "bad"

Melding two families in marriage can experience conflicts in culture, lifestyles and values but that doesn't make the in-laws "bad." Different is not bad. Diversity is good. Here are some typical differences between families that don't make either side "bad":

  1. Cultural practices
  2. Holiday traditions
  3. Political beliefs
  4. Personality traits
  5. Sexual orientation
  6. Financial practices
  7. Personality weaknesses

Everyone has a right to choose his own set of values. People don't have to agree to get along. At least that is the mindset of a mature, intelligent, open-minded person of good character.


Traits and behaviors of "bad" in-laws

Your spouse resents the cheapness of your dad and your mom's intrusive unannounced visits, but those are more annoying than "bad." Everyone has different personality traits but few make a person "bad." Here are those that cross the line:

  1. Openly critical or insulting
  2. Disrespectful.
  3. Disloyal.
  4. Intolerant.
  5. Undermining.
  6. Inappropriate sexually. Do your in-laws cross the line with sexual advances?
  7. Conniving and manipulative. Do they work hard to
  8. Dishonest and criminal. Do they steal from you? Engage in unlawful activities?

For ways to deal with bad in-laws, please read Hubpages "How to Cope with Bad In-laws."

How bad are your in-laws?

Occasional slips in judgment can be forgiven. Putting up with normal differences is a good practice in tolerance. On the other hand, chronic and intentional mean-spiritedness is reason for avoidance. Discuss this calmly and unemotionally with your spouse to find ways to include your in-laws in your family life without the conflicts and angst.

How Bad Are Your In-laws?

How bad are your in-laws?

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Being Family: The get along guide for in-laws

Being Family: The get-along guide for in-laws
Being Family: The get-along guide for in-laws

In-law relationships can be the most difficult, and they can destroy otherwise happy marriages, too. By seeing things from each other's perspective, you'll gain the understanding you need to let down your guard and open your hearts to new family members. This simple little book is filled with truths that can transform your family relationships. A must-read for soon-to-be-weds, newlyweds and even long-time marrieds. Makes a terrific gift. (Kindle version available for only .99 cents. ASIN: B00CDZ7PMG)



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    • Lori P. profile imageAUTHOR

      Lori Phillips 

      4 years ago from Southern California USA

      I'm sorry that your spouse lost his parents. Their absence makes things easier for you, but not for him. Loss is a burden on the heart that lasts for the rest of your life. Thank you for reading and for commenting, tamron. I have a feeling that if they were alive, they would have loved you.

    • tamron profile image


      5 years ago

      I have never dealt with in-laws because they are dead. Great advice and an eye opener.


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