15 Tips For Dealing With Difficult In-Laws
Getting To A Place of Harmony With Your In-Laws
Today, I have a harmonious relationship with my in-laws. Many of you are aware that this has not always been the case. There were endless family discussions (fights, arguments, break-downs, and tears) than pleasantries exchanged. And it took years for us to get to the place where we are now. How do you get to a place of peace with your in-laws for the sake of your significant other or your children? How do you build a bridge with people that don’t like you or even worse hate you?
Building a bridge or foundation with your in-laws is a subject that many of us deal with after getting married. This issue is not only specific to interracial/intercultural marriages but all marriages. However, problems with your in-laws due to skin color, class, cultural differences, religion, race/ethnicity can make having a relationship with them even more arduous and unrealistic. Thereby, here are 15 tips for dealing with difficult in-laws.
15 Tips for Dealing With Difficult In-Laws
1.) Communicate and determine the best steps or course of action for a relationship with your in-laws via your spouse.
Naturally, you are the messenger for communicating with your parents, and he/she is the messenger for talking with their parents.
2.) Set boundaries and expectations up early or sooner rather than later.
Your in-laws may desire to know everything that is occurring in your lives 24/7. And you may or may not have grown up with your parents wanting to know everything happening in your life. Thus, the two of you will have to establish boundaries on how often you will communicate with your in-laws, when your in-laws will visit, and when you will visit them. Furthermore, you will have to decide what is appropriate and inappropriate to discuss when they are around.
3.) Implement the boundaries that you have established.
It is easy to say that we are going to do certain things and never enforce them. You must take a stand on the things that matter.
4.) Have a code word or phrase that is unique to the both of you and only you when you are planning to be around your in-laws, and the situation gets uncomfortable or infuriating.
This will become your code word or phrase for your significant other to step in and say something to his/her parents or that you use when you are ready to leave their presence.
5.) Meet in open/visible and neutral locations for short durations if there is the prospect of heated arguments.
6.) Limit communication if your relationship with your in-laws is hostile.
Perhaps your significant other meets them in person from time to time, and you merely have short exchanges of greetings or conversations with them via the phone until calmer minds prevail.
7.) As spouses, you must support and lean on each other.
Building a bridge/foundation takes time. It may not happen over the course of some months instead it may take years because you are working to form and/or rebuild relationships. And often there has to be shifting in long-held ideologies, thoughts, how your in-laws define family/cultural normalcy, etc.
8.) Embrace and nourish your commonalities.
There is a saying that “one of the most important ingredients for a successful relationship is having something in common.” Don’t think you have anything in common with your in-laws? How about the fact that you love their son/daughter as much as they do as a starting point. Perhaps a second is that you all like chai or coffee or a specific sport?
9.) Be positive.
Kill them with kindness. Be polite and attempt to be the bigger person- if you can’t smile then nod. Why? Because you are trying to build a bridge. Being the lesser person never got anyone anywhere. Right? Additionally, you have to not only be open to understanding things from their perspective but also showing them who you are in spite of their biases.
10.) Be patience.
All relationships take time to progress into what they are meant to be. “A patient mind is the best remedy for trouble.” Plautus
11.) Make sure your spouse is present when their parents are around.
This creates a buffer, and it ensures that there is never a situation of he said she said, etc.
12.) Don’t continuously speak negatively about your in-laws to your spouse.
Of course, your spouse is well aware of how their parents are and/or how they are treating you or have treated you. However, they are still their parents. Food for thought, think about if your spouse spoke negatively about your parents all the time and how you would feel.
13.) Give each other space.
Distance and time apart from your in-laws can be beneficial for everyone. It may indeed create a breaking point to help everyone realize that the disagreements and/or differences are not worth the destruction of the relationship.
14.) Seek outside support and counseling if everyone is willing to participate and it makes sense.
15.)Finally, be prepared to create your own family culture, dynamic, and way of life if all else fails.
Sometimes the blinders are too deep, the pain cuts too sharply, and the best thing to do is to walk away from toxic relationships where no one is willing to compromise, do better, or think differently. “Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to go forward.” C.S. Lewis
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