7 Tips For Managing In-Law Issues

In-laws. Isn’t it amazing how a simple word can be so loaded? So why can in-laws create so much anxiety and so many potential conflicts between you and your spouse?

To begin with let’s look at the relationships. Before you ever even came into the picture your spouse had developed a relationship with their family that was built over decades. The same can be said for the relationships you built with your family. During that time the two of you became very comfortable with the customs and language that is unique to your family. To help you understand this, think of your two families as two totally different countries. If you were born in Japan and you visited Germany how realistic would it be to expect for there to be no misunderstandings? Or for you to expect to understand their German language and customs overnight? Worse yet, would be for you to expect all the Germans to speak Japanese and treat you according to your Japanese customs. Get it?

You get to choose your spouse but you don’t get to choose your in-laws. It’s kind of like a packaged deal. And when conflicts with in-laws come up you may think that you are the one who is suffering the most until you picture your spouse on a medieval torture device, being pulled in two different directions.

What you can do to minimize the pain.

1. Constantly remind yourself that when you are interacting with in-laws you are in a foreign country. Don’t expect them to understand your language and customs and cut yourself some slack for not understanding theirs. Rather than assuming the worse, ask your spouse for insights. Even if it still doesn’t make sense to you, remember there are a lots of things the Japanese do that make no sense to the Germans.

2. When you get married you and your spouse are not going to create a little Japan or a little Germany. You are going to create a new country. Take the best from both of your family upbringing. This will take negotiation, give and take, compromise etc, but it will be worth all the effort you put into it.

3. There can be no divided loyalties. If issues ever come up that mean choosing between your spouse and your family choose your spouse. Unless you like the idea of living with your family and not your spouse for the rest of your life.

4. If a wife has a problem with her mother-in-law, it's the husband who needs to step in and help fix it. This needs to go both ways. The person with the primary relationship needs to be the messenger.

5. Set boundaries with your in-laws and openly discuss your expectations for their involvement in your lives and what they expect from you both. If you're in-laws are draining you, you may need to change the boundaries. Reassure them that you are not closing them out; you are simply focusing on creating a happy marriage and relationship with your children….which is your first priority.

6. You need to love your parents and have a healthy relationship with them, but any time that you turn away from you partner to resolve a relationship issue, that’s a bad thing. If you have a problem in the marriage, you need to resolve it in the marriage. Keep in mind that your parents only know what you tell them. If you go to them every time you’re angry and frustrated and having problems in your marriage, they hear that and don’t hear when you make up.

7. Pump positives into the in-law relationships and try to minimize the negatives. This is going to take time. A strong positive balance in your relationship account is not going to magically appear overnight. It will take years, so be patient and don’t expect too much too soon.

So take the time today to come up with a plan on how you are going to strengthen your marriage by strengthening your relationship with your in-laws.


close this window