For many couples, the subject of their in-laws can be a difficult subject. Discord between a spouse and a parent can be very stressful. It can be damaging to the marriage as well. Learning how to get along with your in-laws can be difficult yet valuable.
Whether your in-laws live thousands of miles away and you only see them for holidays, or they live next door and you see them daily, it can be a difficult relationship to manage. Perhaps you have a “meddling mother-in-law” who offers unsolicited advice. Or maybe you have a father-in-law who “knows everything” and enjoys pointing out your flaws. Getting together for holidays, family gatherings, or just regular visits can become taxing.
If you are having difficulty getting along with your spouse’s family, talk to your spouse and develop a plan. Don’t put your spouse in the middle. Having him/her call mom to say you are mad will only make things worse. Instead, see if the two of you can get on the same page with a plan of how to handle the situation. It will work best if both of you agree.
It may involve setting limits. For example, if a problem centers around the in-laws watching the children yet disregarding all of your rules, it will be important for you and your spouse to be on the same page. Then both of you can present your concerns together. This can help show that your spouse supports you in this and you don’t continue to be “the bad person who corrupted their child.”
Try to remain civil with your in-laws for the sake of the family. Keep in mind, their suggestions or comments may be an attempt to help you. Try to focus on the positive and try to communicate openly. If your mother-in-law hurts your feelings, tell her. Just don’t tell her when you are angry. Try to avoid allowing resentment to build up as well.
It can take work to build a loving, trusting, and caring relationship with your in-laws. They may be protective of your spouse and may not be willing to accept you into the family with open arms. If you have a lot of difficulty tolerating your in-laws and it is impacting your marriage, marriage counseling can be a helpful way to learn new skills to regulate your emotions and improve communication.