A Wife's Guide to Dealing With and Liking Your In-Laws
Everyone seems to dread the idea of in-laws. The overbearing, intrusive, controlling parents of the person you want to spend the rest of your life with. They have been known to break up marriages, be the root of arguments and generally be an obstacle in your marriage. But is this fair?
Parents love their children and want to protect them no matter how old they are. That is the job the parent takes on the day a child is born. And it can be very difficult for some parents to believe that anyone can love their child as much as them. It’s difficult to let them go. Before you start getting all critical of your in-laws, remember your parents are going through the same thing and someday you will be as well.
I am blessed with a great set of in-laws and when my step-son married in 2010 I became a mother-in-law myself. I am in a unique position to offer advice. Being on both sides of the equation, I have been able to figure out a few tips and tricks to make things in our family run a little more smoothly.
Respect Your Elders
Your new mother and father in law have probably been around a while. They have been through their own relationships, good and bad, and many years of life experience to draw on. Listen to what they have to say. Understand that they are trying to share the benefit of experience with you. If you can be respectful to them, let them know that their opinions are valuable, it will make you that much more accepted in to your new family.
Don’t think you have to agree with everything they say. You are still your own person and you know what is going to work well for you and your spouse. But that doesn’t mean you need to be rude and completely discount what they have to say.
And don’t forget, they have more history with your spouse than you do. They can actually help your relationship if you give them an honest chance. They are not the enemy, and neither are you. You don’t have to be best friends with your in-laws, but being amiable and polite will go a long way. Remember to actually talk to them, hear what they say and if you disagree you always have two options: disagree while still making it clear that their opinion is valid, or just keep it to yourself.
In-Laws Can Be Entertaining
They Don’t Have to Live With You, But Don’t Cut Them Out of Your Life
Family is important. They are the ones that will always be there for you. Never forget that blood is thicker than water, and for a parent to feel like their child is being taken from them. I went through this with my step-son. I tried to be nice to daughter-in-law, treating her as I treated all of my family. In return, she would say and do things that gave me a clear indication that she wanted to be the only person in my step-son’s life.
My husband has always made it clear that his family is the most important thing in his life. He instilled the same value in his son. I have never tried to stand between my husband and his family. I try not to make him choose between him and me. By contrast, it feels that is exactly what my daughter-in-law is doing. And what makes it worse is that she claims that family is so important to her.
I do what I can to keep the peace. I have not confronted her about this situation, about the disrespect she has shown or about how she has made me feel. (Instead, I passive-aggressively write articles about it.) I would rather keep these hurt feelings to myself, rather than let her actually drive a wedge between my step-son and I. He knows I am always here, and if he needs me I will always do all I can. I just hope one day she grows up enough to understand what she is doing wrong.
Knowing how she has made me feel, I can’t stand between my husband and his family. If they need him, I will let him go to them. In all honesty, I live within about ten miles of my in-laws. We see them on a constant basis. Trust me, there are times I really want to be selfish and force my husband to spend his time with just me rather than the whole family. But I really don’t want to be the source of animosity.
No, things have not always been perfect with my in-laws. I would talk to my husband, not asking him to change anything but hoping he would see it and understand my frustration. And he did. We work on compromises so that he can have time with them and then we have time with each other.
Sometimes There Is Nothing You Can Do
All things being equal, there is no reason you can’t get along with your in-laws. Of course, things are not always equal. Sometimes you have to deal with someone who is especially obstinate and is not interested in building a happy relationship with the new addition to the family. This is how I feel about my daughter-in-law. I have two options: 1.) complain and go out of my way to make her feel that she is not welcome; or 2.) keep my opinions between me and my husband and be the better person. I don’t necessarily go out of my talk to her, but I don’t completely ignore her either.
The best you can do is to take the high road. Remember to treat them with respect and don’t try to create problems. In the end, they will be the one that is seen as the antagonist, prodding you in to confrontations. And I can tell you, nothing will irritate them more than you remaining calm, cool and collected.
One Thing to Never Forget
Your spouse chose you. They want to be with you, that’s why they married you. They can’t help the way their family is. You can’t expect them to turn their backs on their family just to make you happy. Be understanding and always strive to be the better person. Some are lucky to have in-laws that welcome you in to their family. Other are cursed with the monster-in-laws who will never see anyone as good enough. But what you have to hold on to is the love between you and your spouse. That is what is important. And if all else fails, you have forty-nine other states to choose from for your new home.
Have you picked up any tips or tricks in dealing with in-laws? Leave me a comment to share your experience.