Learning to Navigate In-Law Landmines
Did you know that relationships with in-laws are one of the most common issues newlyweds face – right up there with sex and money? You see, adjusting to your in-laws (and them to you) is not an easy thing – even if you were “one big, happy family” while you two were dating.
Some of these issues can stem from the unrealistic expectations in-laws have about you or your partner. They may expect you to spend all holidays with them (forgetting that you have another side of the family to celebrate with). Or maybe, they expect to see or talk to you every day (like they did before you were married).
Now, whether you’re dealing with “needy” in-laws who want all of your attention, rude in-laws who will stop at nothing to pit you and your partner against each other, or the “anything-you-can-do-I-have-done-better” competitive in-laws, we’re here today with 3 tips to help you navigate any in-law landmines you might encounter during your marriage.
Tip #1: Set Boundaries
Ask yourself what roles are comfortable or not for you. Then, stand in your truth. Be firm, but polite when challenged. A simple, “I’ll think about it” could deflect a looming power struggle between you and your in-laws.
When your yes’s mean “yes” and your no’s mean “no” you’re not only reaffirming your values but drawing a clean line in the sand of where not to cross. Doing this will make it harder for your in-laws to squeeze you into a box that fits their needs.
You see, once the gateway of taking the path of least resistance opens, and you allow your in-laws to control, manipulate or have their way in your marriage, it’ll be hard to go in reverse. Don’t play nice, hoping for the best. Set those boundaries early on!
Tip #2: Remember, It’s Bigger Than You
Marriage is a marathon. Endurance is a requirement. But it helps when you can remember the big picture of why you signed up for this. As tempting as it may be to blow up on an in-law (because “they deserved it”), don’t.
First, breathe. Take a step back and consider a less explosive approach. It only takes one shot fired to cause irrevocable damage to an already fragile dynamic. Instead, resolve it later with your partner privately.
Tip #3: Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
And the most important tip of all: Know that you and your partner are a united front! When their family does or says something to upset or insult you, discuss how it made you feel. Determine what can be done about it and establish a game plan to defuse tense moments like it in the future.
Talking to your spouse and making rules of your own that you each stand by strengthens your partnership. Also, delegating each person as the mediator and point person for their respective families helps to de-escalate hostile situations.
Figuring it out all on your own as a newlywed can be overwhelming. The Marriage Movement has your back! We have the answers to eight piercing questions that can improve your married life and save you a lot of headache. Our solid resources are backed with what you need to manage your marriage with a wise and loving eyes-wide-open approach. Visit us for more tips here.