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How To Get Along Well With In-Laws

Updated on April 11, 2012

Trying at least to coexist in peace.

Virtually all of us have in-laws They come to us indirectly, either through choices we have made, or through the choices made by others in our family. Our friends, we choose directly and, if we want to keep them, we treat them with kindness, courtesy, understanding, patience, generosity, and even love.

Friendships are not always perfect, but when difficulties arise, we forgive, try to forget, and then move on. If we could treat in-laws the same way as we treat friends, life would be smooth sailing.

Unfortunately, for a myriad of reasons, some individuals are just plain hard to get along with. They may hold strong opinions, values other than your own, and be set in their ways, as you too may be. If you and a particular in-law are totally incompatible, avoidance may seem the best course of action. This however is not always possible, especially if the in-law is in your direct family such as a son or daughter-in-law, father or mother-in-law.

Do not argue with the individual. Decide in your mind that you will agree to disagree. Never criticize in-laws either in person, or to others. Decide, if necessary, that you will be the bigger person in the relationship.

If you are having a family get-together, include all in-laws. Greet them in a friendly and honest manner, and Include them in all your conversations.  Make honest positive remarks.  Do not fawn or falsely flatter.  Ignore any sarcasm or bitterness. You will soon be seen and appropriately judged by other family members. Time may eventually bring about a grudging approval from even a difficult in-law.

Treat in-laws as you do the other members of your family. Cards and gifts of appropriate value should be given just as they would be given to other members of the family. The response you get may not be appropriate. They may respond with rudeness or not at all. Take comfort in the fact that you have done the right thing.

Remember that the only behavior you can change is your own. Your difficult in-law may never change, but if you respect them as a member or the family, your behavior will make life more tolerable and possibly save other relationships which could be lost if you become bitter and vindictive.

Learn all you can about your in-laws, their history, profession, hobbies, likes, and dislikes. This may help you to be more tolerant as well as give you a point of connection when you meet. If you feel that things are worsening, take the first step even if it means you feel you are humbling yourself. Suggest meeting for a cup of coffee, saying honestly that you would like to get to know them better. Listen respectfully, ask questions, and show interest. Again, do not argue or criticize. This does not make you seem like a subservient or weak person. On the contrary, it makes you a calmer, a less-confrontational, and better person. Miracles may not happen, but try again, and again, and,if necessary, again.

This is not an easy process.  It may, in fact, take many years. The possibility of establishing a good relationship with someone, who is important to a loved one who is important to you, will make it all worth while.


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