In-laws are a crucial part of one’s spouse’s life which makes them crucial for you as well. It’s not easy to balance your needs with the needs of others, especially the needs of an entirely new family. But creating family harmony is important and very much possible, however with a little effort from both sides.
Building bridges or rebuilding burnt ones isn’t a piece of cake but the return you get on this investment lasts the rest of your married life.
Here are some ideas to keep up with your in-laws on good terms.
1. Understand Your Spouse
This is the key rule, the whole enchilada. Effective dealing with in-laws all starts with working out conflicts through with your spouse. Always remember that you’re in this together. Never put your s/o in a situation where they have to choose between you and their family. Doing so is putting them in a nearly impossible bind. Instead, try to understand the bond your spouse has with their family and try to support that relationship.
2. Set Boundaries and Limits
Decide with your spouse what’s important and what’s not. Being as a team, set your family values together. Then communicate these values to your in-laws beforehand. If they are too nosy, politely let them know you don’t like the invasion.
If you don’t want them to barge in whenever they want, tell them nicely to ask if you have plans or not before arriving. If they don’t respect your privacy let then know you’d prefer if they asked for permission before using your stuff or entering your room.
3. Communicate Directly
This universal rule applies not just for in-laws. Avoid any communication through a third party. Never ask your spouse to talk to their family about something they did that hurt your feelings. Talk to them directly. When something bothers you, address it directly, as soon as possible.
It might be a genuine problem; or a misunderstanding, but it’s better if you talk it out face to face. Involving your spouse in matters seems bitchy and rude. Also, it’s likely to severe your spouses’ relationship with their family.
4. Know Yourself
As Shakespeare said: never try to remake yourself into the person that your in-laws want. For instance, if they were looking for home based domestic girl, and you turn out to be a high powered corporate attorney, you are under no obligation to bake apple pies and do the whole house’s laundry. Feel free to get a manicure and do what you want to do instead of becoming someone you are not.
5. Put Away the Stereotypes
Not every father-in-law exists to mend your kitchen drain, not every mother-in-law envies you for stealing away her son and not every aunt lives to spread gossips about the way you dress. Get over with the stereotypes and adjust your mentality with the reality of the situation. Don’t expect what people can’t deliver and don’t assume things that aren’t true.
6. Learn to Cool Down
If you tend to jump into fights and cause dramas, you probably always fall headfirst too. To have a healthy relationship with your in-laws you have to be far more levelheaded. Several times, the best thing to do is nothing. Time heals all wounds gradually, you just have to stay patient.
While you’re at it, play nice. Spare your in-laws off the outbursts, insults and character attacks. The relationship with the in-laws is very delicate. You say or do one wrong thing and it comes back to bite not just you, but your spouse as well and puts a question on your upbringing.
Looking for ways to cool down? Check out this article on a beginner guide to meditation.
7. Be Mature
Your parents have to love you no matter what. In the contrary, your in-laws don’t. Accept and understand the fact that your in-laws are not your parents. They won’t follow the same rules.
Try to see any situation from your in-law’s point of view. Even if you don’t agree, be the bigger person. For example, if your in-laws ask you to do something to please your spouse, understand that they are looking after their child instead of ordering you around. Similarly, don’t expect them to remember your birthday every year, you are new to them.
8. Be Kind
However, always give them the same respect you would give to your family and never give anyone the benefit of doubt. Even if you have to grit and grind your teeth, try being polite and kind. And if you really can’t say anything nice, simply just smile.
Just like you would avoid getting into conflicts with your parents, avoid it with your in-laws too. Show them the way you want to be treated. Help your brother-in-law dress up for his graduation or give your sister-in-law some good relationship advice. Treat them the way you’d treat your own siblings.
In-laws might be bossy, nosy or annoying, but they’re a part of you. They’re just a family you meet later in life. Adjusting with them comfortably should be important for everyone to live a happily married life.