No matter how much you love your spouse, there is no guarantee you’re going to love their family. While it might be easy enough to avoid crusty uncle Leo at that once a year family reunion, avoiding your in-laws, especially when there are grandchildren involved, isn’t as easy a feat.
Try putting some of these tips into effect though and you may see the situation become a bit easier.
- Talk to your partner without judgement
Make sure your partner understands, without accusing or judging, how their parents make you feel. It may be that they have always felt the same way, or it may be that they never realized before but hearing it provides some perspective on why you may not want to spend every weekend as a group.
Once your partner knows how you feel, they may be able to run interference for you, or at least, can be an ear when situations arise in which you need support.
- Set limits
It can be hard for in-laws to understand that what worked between them and your spouse before you were married, or before you had kids, may not be comfortable for you, or convenient, once kids are involved. Have a talk with your partner about your concerns and together, come up with some guidelines – translate that to limits – that your partner can share with their parents.
If you have in-laws who like to drop in unannounced for instance, setting limits on time of day can be useful in avoiding drop ins when you’re putting kids to bed. Grandparents who like to spoil may be curbed by your partner letting them know that sugary treats aren’t appropriate, or perhaps that once a month is generous but that handing out money every time they visit is having a negative impact on the kids.
- Don’t engage
Biting your tongue can be the most difficult, and yet the most effective tool in dealing with in-laws. These would be the kind of people who constantly criticize, judge and give unwanted advice, almost, it seems, because they are bent on upsetting you.
Understand it for what it is, hear but don’t listen and, particularly where you and your spouse are in agreement, let it go.
- Don’t let your relationship impact others
There is one thing guaranteed to make your relationship with them worse – your discord impacting the relationship they have with their own child or grandchildren. Whatever you think of them, and no matter how they treat you, remember the relationship they had with your partner came first and has to be respected. Don’t force your spouse to pick sides and don’t ask them not to be in touch. And, if you think parents get protective about their kids, just try to tell them they can’t see their grandkids. You have no idea the size of the bear you’re poking with that one.
Make sure your spouse, and your kids, have reasonable time to spend with your in-laws, whether it includes you or not, whether you are thrilled to be there or not. Those relationships need to exist regardless of your struggles.
- Don’t take it personally
Unfortunately, there are some parents who will always believe that no one is good enough for their son or daughter. The issue here is less about you, than it is about them. All you can do in this case is remember that you chose to be with your partner and they chose to be with you. The opinions of others, no matter how they may be expressed or what they may be, don’t matter in the grand scheme of things.
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