How to Deal with In-Laws
Do you have toxic in-laws who tend to interfere in your relationship every chance they get? If so, check out this article for some great tips on how to deal with them once and for all!
We all realize that everything in life comes with its fair share of joys, sorrows, trials, and tribulations. That’s the way of life, and we all have to adapt to various kinds of circumstances. However, there are some things that you can’t anticipate. When these situations hit you out-of-the-blue with a staggering force, you don’t understand what to do at that point.
One of these instances is when you commit to your partner for life, thinking your relationship with your significant other is all you have to focus on for a happily-ever-after. However, whether you’ve tied the knot permanently or are all-in for it for the long-term by heart, the thing that you don’t see coming is the negative impact your in-laws can strike on your relationship.
While not all in-laws are troubling, they play a significant role in their children’s relationship when they tend to lean towards the other behavior. It’s also essential to understand the prominent difference between having a clash in perspective and possessing a corrosive or destructive behavior. While having different opinions can be resolved through mature talks, the latter qualities aren’t that simple.
The Reasons Behind Your In-Law’s Difficult Behavior
Your relationship with your partner might be perfectly stable, but that doesn’t mean it’ll always be a walk in the park to get along with their side of the family. The reasons behind the in-laws’ difficult behavior can vary from family to family. However, there are usually a handful of issues, from old hurts to the inability to let go, that is the base of every dysfunctional in-law relationship.
Once you can understand the core problem behind your in-law’s behavior, it gets significantly easier to deal with them effectively.
1- The Same Old-Fashioned Notions
Even though we’ve come far from when it was considered okay for your in-laws to have a say in your marriage, many of our parents are from that time, so they still believe in the same ideas.
Their old-fashioned notions are a primary factor why they start criticizing you for your ways, comparing them to how they did things in their days. This leads to conflict that usually extends to your marriage as well after a while.
2- The Affection for Their Children
No matter you’re twenty or forty, your parents will still see you as their child. As they always want the very best for your partner, they never really stop driving their opinions your way. However, this behavior ultimately leads them to act out with judging eyes when you and your partner don’t agree with them or play along with their decisions.
3- The Unbalanced Equation of Respect
Being of a certain age, your in-laws believe that they are owed a certain level of respect. While that is a perfectly understandable way of thinking, they forget that most times, they have to give the same amount of respect to others as well. This lack of understanding leads them to violate boundaries, offering unwanted advice in different matters from parenting to official career. Showing up unannounced at your home because they think it’s their right to do so or expecting too much from you as if you’re obliged to always say ‘yes’ to them also comes with this kind of attitude.
Signs That Prove You Have Toxic In-Laws
While understanding the root of your in-laws’ destructive behavior is the first key to establishing a routine that helps you deal with them in the future. However, it is also crucial to figure out if what you think is a toxic attitude is actually that and not just a pushy involvement from their side.
Here are five signs that determine whether you have got toxic in-laws:
1- They Turn Your Life with Your Partner Into an Ill-Starred Drama
If your in-laws have an unnerving habit of playing the game of ‘he said, she said,’ it’s a sure-fire way to stir up drama into your relationship. Moreover, this can cause you and your partner unnecessary confusion, resulting in severe conflicts and unresolved confrontations.
Going out of their way to turn you and your significant other against each other is the first sign of toxic in-laws, and it shouldn’t be ignored under any circumstances. Ultimately, these issues get out of hand when disregarded, giving way to more relationship problems in your life.
2- They Find Ways to Make You Feel Bad Intentionally
The toxic behavior can push your in-laws to get under your skin and hurt you emotionally simply because they don’t like you. Moreover, explaining how you feel about it might only pass you off as an overly sensitive person.
3- They Like to Gossip About You When You’re Not Around
It’s downright childish to do so, but when it comes to toxic people, they’ll do anything to make your life a miserable hell. This includes badmouthing and gossiping about you to their family members, friends, and even the mailman! Once the rumor-mill starts going, there’s no way people wouldn’t look at you with judging looks, making the situation even more stressful for you.
4- They Would Always Freeze You Out
Some in-laws flat-out refuse to accept you as a part of their family. This means they’ll do their best to do the worst damage by freezing you out, pretending you don’t exist. This behavior becomes prominent when they intentionally ignore you at family dinners and other gatherings while turning their backs on your attempts to make it work.
5- They Try to Force You Into Their Decisions
Some in-laws tend to be a bit pushy but in a loving manner. On the other hand, some try to involve themselves in your decisions as a couple, as if their opinion should hold the same weight as you and your partner’s. This usually affects the communication between you and your partner when things start getting heated over who is right.
8 Effective Tips for Dealing with Your Interfering In-Laws
As every relationship and situation is unique in its own way, there can’t be a concrete one-way solution to resolve all the issues and deal with your in-laws. However, you can start making positive changes by following these tips below:
1- A United Front Is a Strong Front
Dealing with your in-laws is less about how you plan to hash out the problems and more about making a mature stand with your partner. The first thing you should do in such a situation is to remember that when it comes to interfering in-laws, you have to sit down and have an honest conversation with your significant other. Let your partner know what’s happening and how you need their help to resolve these issues together.
However, it would be best to keep your calm instead of using accusatory language against your in-laws. Blaming them will only make you look bad, which is why you only need to focus on conveying how you feel due to their behavior. End your conversation with what you can do to make these things right, instead of pointing fingers in any direction and forcing your partner to pick a side.
2- Put Yourself in Your Partner’s Shoes
It might need some patience, but you’ll have to evaluate the situation from each perspective before coming up with a plan. Try your best to think about how your partner might see this situation and how you would have reacted if your partner had a similar conversation with you.
Keeping this in mind, you’ll have to give your partner a few examples of how your family functions differently, so this is all new to you. Once your partner can understand where your feelings are coming from, it would be significantly easier to move on to the next step – making a change.
3- Come Up with a Strategy
The one mistake you have to avoid at all costs is not to assume that you and your partner might have the same strategy for resolving the discussed issues. Moreover, it’s impossible to come up with the perfect plan in just one conversation. You have to give yourself and your partner some time to hash out the matter efficiently. As long as you are both committed to making a change together, you’re in a good place.
4- Don’t Criticize, But Know Your Role
Even when your partner doesn’t think there is a problem, to begin with, you should still let them know that something has to change if they want you to find your happiness. Don’t criticize their attitude as it’s a sour pill to swallow when someone talks badly about one’s parents.
You need to assume your role as your partner’s confidant and feel their pain as well. It is best to establish boundaries that don’t take them away from their parents and prevent them from having any unnecessary interaction with you. Your partner will soon make the connections when they start observing their parents’ toxic behavior towards you.
5- Trust Your Partner to Take the Lead
Now that everything is out on the table, the next step is fairly simple – let your partner take it from here and let them deal with your in-laws. Because whether your partner agrees with you or doesn’t, it is your duty to each other to have each other’s back.
You don’t need to be a part of this initial conversation because these are deeply emotional and sensitive family matters. If you already don’t get along with your in-laws, anything you say to them would count as an attack on them. Moreover, direct confrontation will only make this situation more challenging for your partner. That’s why it is best to let your partner talk it out with their parents, setting new lines for everyone involved.
6- Readjust Your Behavior Accordingly
Once your in-laws know that their behavior wouldn’t be tolerated anymore, they will have to make some changes. However, you’ll have to make continuous changes in your behavior as well. These adjustments might include changing the way you previously engaged with the in-laws and letting them know when there are ‘slip-ups’ that aren’t welcomed.
People only change when they know how they used to behave in the past will not be working anymore. So, pointing out their mistakes (in a mature and friendly manner) is something you’ll have to practice.
7- Don’t Involve Your Parents or Children
One of the biggest mistakes most couples make in such instances is to involve their parents and their children in the mix. While you must be hurt, it’s not something that your partner would appreciate, making them lose their trust in you. Moreover, if you end up venting to your parents every time something happens with your in-laws, it’ll only build a case against your own partner. You might make up with them later, but your parents wouldn’t be able to forget the hurt your partner caused you at the time.
On the other hand, involving your children is just plain wrong, and it can be seen as if you’re making them your pawns. As a parent, you have to protect them from manipulative emotional damage, which is why you must keep your in-laws’ issues restricted to you and your partner.
8- Keep Your Partner Updated
Lastly, once you know how to deal with your in-laws and abide by the established plans, you should keep your partner updated. It doesn’t mean you should keep talking about these issues repeatedly. It simply means to keep your partner in the loop, so they’re aware if something is not going well. Similarly, it would be best if you also appreciated your in-laws’ effort when they start behaving better with you, so your partner knows you value their support for all that they’ve done for you.
If your in-laws’ destructive behavior has started taking a toll on your relationship, we can effectively help you get back on track. At Marriage Means Moore, we offer marriage counseling and relationship tips to turn your functioning relationship into a thriving one in 90 days!
If you would like to speak with an experienced Marriage Coach, about any other challenges or obstacles facing your marriage we offer a variety of resources for couples or you can contact us for a FREE Consultation. Pick up a copy of our book “How Communicating Saved Our Marriage”.