The In-Laws

The in-laws can be a mixed-bag. There are those that are a great source of support, while others act like a third-wheel in your relationship, ultimately co-ordinating the running of you and your partner’s lives together. We are each brought up with differing values according to our respective families, and because of this, when two families unite, this can bring about a clash of traditions and beliefs. There is a reason why there are so many jokes about the in-laws, but if you and your partner present yourselves as a united front, then you can succeed in overcoming the dreaded monster that is the in-laws.

Common problems posed by the in-laws

Below are some of the main problems that the in-laws pose:

  • No room to breathe - There are some in-laws that impose themselves upon a relationship. This can range from a phone call each and every day, or regular visits at the weekend, which can make it seem like there is no privacy for you and your partner. Families have different standards of closeness, but if you feel that your in-laws are too imposing then you need to inform your partner. Then, as a couple, you can set a limit upon your in-laws intrusion.
  • Disapproval - We each set high standards for our offspring, and this can result in no one being good enough for our little cherub. If your in-laws are this way, then your partner can help to combat this problem by explaining to them why you are good enough.
  • Putting you down - The in-laws are a great source of snide remarks. This can be a comment about the standard of your handiwork around the house, or a jibe at the way you dress. There are certain comments you will be able to shrug off, but not all. It is up to you as a couple to set a limit as to how far these insults can go. If you don’t present yourselves as a team then this can fall on deaf ears.
  • Intrusion - There are certain matters that should remain between couples, such as financial matters and your sex life. If the in-laws start to provide unwanted input on such matters then this may be a step too far. Once again, by setting limits and guidelines you can prevent your in-laws from intruding.
  • Irritating behaviour - Our families can be a great source of embarrassment, not only for ourselves, but also for our partners. This can include bad table manners, or the re-telling of the same old story every time you meet up. If there are certain things that really test your nerve, then inform your partner and get them to have a quiet word. But make sure you don’t cause any unnecessary embarrassment.
  • Family gatherings - Whether it is a wedding, Christmas or a meal together these can be a great cause of misery. This can be made all the more worse if you and your partner are from differing backgrounds, with your own set of customs. In order to overcome this problem, you need to compromise and inform your family of any behaviour that may be unwelcome.

Tips and help

There are no quick fixes to making the in-laws the support network you wish they were. But you can take a step closer to this vision with the following tips:

  • Acceptance - People can never be completely changed. Through acceptance of your in-law’s short-comings you can grow to accept them for what they are.
  • United team - If you present yourselves as a united front then this can prohibit the in-laws from becoming a strain upon your relationship.
  • Rules - Creating certain limits concerning the in-laws can help to prevent their negative influence.
  • Communication - Only by communicating your true feelings can your partner know how much their family affects you. If you leave things unspoken then this can gradually grind away at your relationship.
  • Prove yourself - Your in-laws may look down on you with disdain, but if you prove yourself as worthy, then this can limit their intrusion. By organising an event, or demonstrating kindness to your spouse, the in-laws may ease off.
  • Your own space - If you are living with the in-laws then this can cause great strain upon your relationship. The only way to solve this problem is by getting your own place.
  • Allow some leeway - Although you may dislike your in-laws you must remember that they are your partner’s family. If you are too critical this can be hurtful to your partner. Always be respectful.
  • Further help - If the in-laws are a constant thorn in your relationship, and are leading to its deterioration, then a therapist can be of assistance. They can help you to communicate your thoughts and feelings, and offer advice on how to solve any problems.

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