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The Art of Appreciating Your In-Laws

Updated on June 6, 2014
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By Michelle Liew Tsui-Lin

All Rights Reserved

How do you appreciate your in-laws?

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When I think of my in-laws, I truly count my blessings. They have been caring and supportive through my 12 years of marriage.

They recognize boundaries and realize when, and when not, to intrude.

Appreciating in-laws, who become members of your family, is a necessary, fine art for the survival of marriage and families.

Parents-in-law, sons-in-law and daughters-in-law have to practice it.

While doing so, set boundaries so that you and your in-laws know when not to step into each other’s lives.

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Why we must appreciate our in-laws

In the midst of managing stressful relations, I used to ask myself why I should appreciate my spouse's parents.

The obligations were tiring. Yet, making a conscious decision to accept has proven to pay off.

If this is not convincing, here are a few other reasons why you should strive to interact well with them.

1. They are a part of the family.

By virtue of marriage, our in-laws become our second set of parents. Getting married means assuming responsibilities for them.

Though fairness is not clear at times. we must always be civil.

2. Relations with them have a rippling effect.

Married folks will agree that our relationships with our in-laws have a rippling effect on the ones we have with our spouses and children.

Your In-laws are the grandparents of your children, and any tension with them will ultimately affect relationships.

3. They have influence over your spouse.

No matter how difficult they are, they are the parents of your spouse. Like it or not, he or she is accountable to them.

Respecting them strengthens your communication with your partner.

4. You cannot avoid interacting with them.

I come from an English-speaking family. My husband, in contrast, has a Mandarin-speaking background. Initial interactions with my in-laws was trying. Sadly, I avoided visiting them though they were, and still are, the nicest of people.

After more than a decade, I am glad to report that we communicate comfortably.

Meeting in-laws is a tough necessity.

5. Practice mutual respect.

Practicing a little mutual respect goes a long way. Your in-laws are more inclined to show you respect if you extend it to them.

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Practice the art of appreciating your in-laws.

Whether you are parents-in-law or a spouse trying to negotiate relationships, practice the fine, yet simple art of appreciating your in-laws.

It's hard to lose your way if you do.

1. Attend special occasions.

Make the effort to attend birthday parties or social occasions that are important to your in-laws. Your presence indicates that you regard them as indispensable members of the family and that you are one yourself.

2. Take note of modern versus traditional conventions.

Your parents-in-law may find Facebook unfamiliar or the contractions we use when we send messages unusual. Conversely, you may have doubts about certain traditions and customs.

Take a leaf from each other's books.

3. Help them with errands.

Pitch in and give your father-in-law a hand with mowing the lawn or wash the dishes after dinner. Everyone loves a helping hand.

Help your long-sighted mother-in-law read her mail or simply go with her to the doctor if she needs help with deciphering medical jargon.

4. Call them occasionally.

Call occasionally to express your concern for their well-being. It reminds them that they have not been forgotten.

5. Listen to their advice.

I must confess that I find accepting advice from those other than my parents difficult. For that matter, accepting advice from my own parents is not easy for me either.

But archaic as their words of wisdom seem, we can always learn from them. If you are parents-in-law, remember that your child and his spouse can teach you a few things as well.

6. Let your children spend time with them.

Unless there are mitigating circumstances such as distance, try not to exclude your in-laws from your child's activities. In fact, it is always beneficial to get your in-laws involved in their lives.

7. Invite them for dinner.

Whenever you can, organize a dinner and invite your in-laws over. It is a certain way of improving communication.

8. Remember your own needs.

There is no need to compromise your needs in favor of your in-laws. For example, you may not do well in the loud, social settings that your in-laws enjoy. You are not obliged to force yourself to relish them the way they do.

You do, however, have to get along. A good solution would be to leave the gathering earlier or arrive later, as it is winding down.

9. Overlook little transgressions.

Everyone has a few bad habits, including you. Learn to overlook trivial misdemeanors
such as your father-in-law talking to loudly or your daughter-in-law not hanging up the laundry.

Tolerance goes a long way.

10. Avoid negative conversations.

It is tempting to jump on the "let's-rail-at-our-in-laws" bandwagon, but try not to. Negative conversation only breeds more negativity.

It is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Whatever displeases you manifests itself in greater amounts if you are negative.

Replace it with positive actions of your own instead. This is true whether you are a parent-in-law or a spouse.

Appreciating Your In-Laws

How to set boundaries

While we try our hardest to get along, there will be times when in-laws come across as imposing. Jumping over that hurdle is always possible, though this takes a few tries.

1. Practice Open Communication.

If you find your parents-in-law imposing too often, have an open dialogue with your spouse about the issue.

If you are a parent-in-law who has suggestions to make, find a time to speak with your child.

2. Decide what is in everyone's best interests.

Decide, reasonably, what is in everyone's best interests. Take all feelings into account.

3. Find a time to respectfully enforce your boundaries.

Enforce your boundaries reasonably, fairly and respectfully. Listen to what your in-law has to say about the matter.

4. Exercise patience.

Exercise patience. No one changes habits straightaway.

Conclusion

Managing in-law relationships is a delicate art, but it does not need to cause a muddle.

Comments

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    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Maintaining relationships with your in-laws is important to a good marriage.

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 3 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      When my husband and I were first married, we lived a long way from both sets of parents. Later, however, we moved close to my husband's parents, and I learned that they had a very different lifestyle than what we had chosen for our family. It took time, but my husband and I learned that if we set limits for ourselves when we went to their home, we were able to enjoy our time there. We had a signal we would give each other when it was time to leave. It enabled us to walk out before we had negative feelings toward each other, or them. Since then, my husband has gone and spent additional time with them alone, strengthening his bond with his parents as they have gotten older.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Well, sad to say, this isn't happening in our family. My parents are dead, so Bev gets off easy. :) Her mother is certifiably crazy, so I don't get off quite as easily. Good information for anyone who has sane in-laws. :)

    • kidscrafts profile image

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      What a great hub, Michelle. It's true that we have to do our best to appreciate our in-laws. I must say that in my case I was very lucky. Both my parents in-laws welcomed me with open arms. Not long after my father-in-law passed away, my husband and I moved from Europe to Canada and my mother-in-law came 18 times either to help with the birth of our children or just to enjoy time with us. Unfortunately, she passed away in 2000 and it has been a great void for me and my husband. I was closer to my parents-in-laws them my own parents.

      Enjoy your weekend!

      Voted up, useful, interesting and awesome :-)

      PS : you are very kind to always reciprocate when I pay you a visit but you don't have to do it when you don't see any new content on my hubs :-) Enjoy your summer (if it's summer time where you live).

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Interesting writing here the occasional treat sounds an idea but I don't have in-laws never did though you summed this topic greatly.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Very nice thoughts in this hub!

      I believe healthy relationships with in laws is very important to have a good and long lasting relationship with your spouse.

      You made some useful points here, which everyone should try to follow.

      Voted up and shared on HP!

    • travmaj profile image

      travmaj 3 years ago from australia

      In many situations it is difficult to appreciate in-laws. Oddly they suddenly become your family. It is healthy to have a decent relationship with them. It's not always easy. Whoops, I'm an in law myself so have to wonder how I'm rated. Voting Michelle, cheers!

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 3 years ago from Orlando, FL

      My in-law are scattered around the country, so I rarely see them, which isn't a bad thing...

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks,Denise.

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Uh oh, not great to hear that, Bill. Hope you'll work your way around it!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Sounds like you had great parents-in-law!! Thumbs up for that, Joelle!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Devika.

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Yes it is, Chitra.

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Travmaj.

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Whoo! Thank goodness, Linda!

    • janetwrites profile image

      Janet Giessl 3 years ago from Georgia country

      Luckily, my in-laws have welcomed me with open arms and have always been supportive and friendly. Thank you for sharing these great and useful tips.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 3 years ago from the short journey

      Nicely done! In a time when we see parents constantly mocked and bashed in media representations of them, this is an important post.

      If a spouse professes to love their husband or wife, but does not love his or her parents, they do not really love their spouse. One problem is that people have come to equate love only with feelings and/or sex, which has roots in a focus on self. What such people want/can get out of their relationships is what it's all about for them and that is not love.

      However, when a spouse determines to truly love their husband/wife's parents no matter how difficult the situation may be, they are showing the one they married how much they love them because like it or not, our parents have a place in our lives that no one else can fill. There needs to be a good understanding that we have many people filling many roles in our lives--parents, siblings, children, and friends rather than trying to live like that is not true. Placing a highly respectful priority on our spouse's parents is showing deep love for our spouse.

      I don't like this example at all because nothing but self love was displayed in it, but I once saw a difficult scenario work out like this:

      A new bride was struggling with the situation she faced and the mother of her husband turned to her and said, "You may not always be his wife, but I will always be his mother." Neither party had the right attitude, but the mother was right and her prophecy sadly came to pass. She is indeed still that groom's mother.

      Relationships with a spouse's parents may not be simple. Much wisdom and even creativity may be required. But if our heart is respectful and right toward our spouse's parents we can find ways to try to show love to them that will show our husband or wife how valuable they are to us.

      One crucial question to ask one's self before marriage is what the attitude of the intended spouse is toward his or her parents. If they are unappreciative toward their parents and have any kind of bad attitude toward them, struggles in the marriage will be huge and future children will be adversely influenced on every level.

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Janet!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      It's sad about that lady,, RTalloni. I think mutual respect and understanding is the only way to make it work. And too true that a large part of the problem is that love is perceived superficially.

    • DrBill-WmL-Smith profile image

      William Leverne Smith 3 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Thank you for this hub. I write family saga historical fiction based on my family history research and extensive personal experiences (I'm old!?). However, it is always nice to learn and be reminded of great ideas like these. Thanks, again, for sharing this one!! ;-)

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks very much, Dr. Bill.

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