How to Cope With In-Laws
How to Cope With Your In-Laws. Why would anybody write about that? What person in all of history has been more vilified and had more derogatory jokes told about them than a mother-in-law?
Alas, mothers-in-law are not alone. It seems all in-laws get a bad rap. However, is it justified? Unfortunately, in many cases, yes. Scheming, controlling, manipulative, interfering, judgemental in-laws have been talked about since there were in-laws. Don't get me wrong, there are a fortunate few who have wonderful in-laws and I might add, they should be very thankful! So I chose to write about how to cope with your in-laws for those who don't have a stellar relationship with their in-laws; mother-in-law, father-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, any in-law.
Do you believe that SHAKESPEARE said, "Don't try to remake yourself into the person your in-laws want". You know there are things your in-laws will tell you to do. You don't have to do them just because your in-laws say so. You don't do everything everyone tells you so why your in-laws? Talk about it with them, but first talk to your spouse so you make sure you are on the same page, don't expect your spouse to always do your talking for you. Talk to your sister-in-law yourself, after making sure you're on the same page as your spouse.
In December, CNN Health carried an article entitled "In-laws can help -- or hurt -- your marriage". The article, not surprisingly, found that in-law ties are more difficult for women to maintain, especially daughters-in-law. "...since women are constantly analyzing and trying to improve their relationships, they often take what their in-laws say as personal and can't set the clear boundaries." They [in-laws] are a permanent part of your life and they're not going away! As long as you are married to this person anyway.
Your in-laws are not your parents so they don't have to love you. In fact, they don't have to like you either. Normally, they accept you because of your spouse and hopefully over time they will accept you as one of the family and maybe come to love you. Remember, just as it is an adjustment for you dealing with this new family, it is an adjustment for them as well. You don't know their habits and customs and they don't know you're habits and customs. Neither of you is wrong, just different. Your spouse is their son or daughter and they do have close ties with him/her. Genetics, history, family dynamics and love bind them to your spouse no matter what you say or do and unfortunately, no matter what they say or do.
Be prepared for a possible shift in treatment when you go from girlfriend or boyfriend to son-in-law or daughter-in-law. Some parents feel threatened by a new spouse, even one they've known for years. You'll need to be patient and try to understand their feelings.
"Meet the Parents" - Father-in Law you don't want
Hints to Help You Cope
- Get to know your in-laws
- Put your relationship with your husband first
- If necessary, set boundaries
- Don't criticize your spouse's relationship with his/her parents
- Solve relationship problems in your relationship
- The person with the primary relationship (the son or daughter, not the in-law) should be the one to talk to a problem in-law
Key Coping Strategies
- Don't criticize
- Build relationships
- Healing, be open
How to Cope with Your In-Laws
The very first step is to remember to respect your in-laws, particularly your mother-in-law and father-in-law. They are your spouse's parents, they are older than you and they deserve to be treated with respect.
Don't criticize. No matter how you feel or what they do, do not criticize them.
Learn their customs and family traditions.
Try to build a relationship with them
Be open to healing. Past injuries, whether real or imagined should remain in the past. Be willing to heal and help your in-laws heal if necessary.
When children come along you may find you have to set boundaries. Its okay for them to spoil the kids once in a while, but not to go completely against your wishes.
Spend time with your in-laws to get to know them. Maybe go shopping or watch a movie, a family picnic might be a good idea, anything that lets you get to know each other better.
Have the courage to admit when you are wrong in a situation. There will be times when you are wrong and admitting it not only makes you the better person but lets your in-laws see that you are a good person who can admit mistakes.
No matter what happens, keep your sense of humor. Being able to laugh at yourself and situations you can't change will help make them a little easier to handle.
Discuss with your spouse how he/she wants to handle holidays. Since your families may handle holiday traditions differently it may be time for you to establish your own traditions with a little from his side and a little from her side.
Don't give advice, especially about how to handle another in-law. If it is not a volatile situation its okay but if there is disagreement and tension, don't get involved in it.
In-law problems get worse when your spouse sides with his/her parents against you. Talk to your spouse. Try to come to an agreement about whatever the problem is. It is more important for the two of your to agree than for you to agree with your in-laws.
Better Future With Your In-Laws
Now that you're equipped with a few tools to handle your in-law problems, remember, it is to your benefit. Statistics say marriages where men get along with their in-laws are 20% less likely to divorce than men who don't. In-law ties for women are more difficult so if you're a woman you'll have to make the extra effort.
Don't let the little things get under your skin. Ignore what's petty and move on. When children come along things will change. Grandchildren melt even the coldest of hearts because after all you are their mother/father so you can't be all bad. Keep your in-laws involved with your children for your sake and theirs.
Don't be afraid to ask for advice from your in-laws. What mother-in-law wouldn't be happy to have her daughter-in-law ask how she cooks a particular dish or what she thinks about a parenting issue? What father-in-law wouldn't love to have his son-in-law ask him to help build that playhouse or install the new cabinets?
We reap what we sow! Give your in-laws a good deal and in most instances you'll get a good deal in return.
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