How Healthy Couples Deal With Their In-laws


Tips for Dealing with In-Laws

Here are five suggestions for dealing with your in-laws:

Set boundaries.

Figure out the boundaries that you’d like to set with your in-laws, Hansen said. For instance, if your mother-in-law takes over your kitchen every time she visits, talk about it with your spouse. “Then have a respectful, but clear conversation with her about the issue.”

According to Hansen, you might say the following: “Mom, we love that you want to help us out by cooking and know that you really enjoy it, but we’d appreciate if you let Mary take the lead in our kitchen. If you want to help, she’d really appreciate if you could make the salad for tonight’s dinner.”

Remember it’s only an opinion.

“It helps to remember that much of what we are told is an opinion, not truth,” Siebold said. So if your mother-in-law says you should feed your son a different diet, remember that “you don’t have to follow it, argue her out of it or perceive it as a critique of you.” While “we can’t stop an in-law from talking, we can control how we hear them.”

Remember your in-laws are people.

“They have needs, concerns, doubts and feelings, just like you do,” Barth said. “Treat them not like parents, but like you would any other people you are gradually getting to know.”

Respect your spouse’s attachments.

“It helps to see your spouse’s attachment to his family as something to respect,” Siebold said. For instance, if your husband’s daily calls to his dad are important to him, it’s also important for you to accept and understand this, she said.

Take deep breaths.

When you’re about to reach a breaking point, take a break to breathe, Hansen said. Find a quiet spot, like a bathroom, or go for a walk. While breathing, focus on the positive aspects of your in-laws — such as “they truly love our children” — and remind yourself that you can’t control or change them, she said.

Your in-laws are important to your spouse, and they’re part of your life, Hansen said. “It’s up to both of you to find a way to make time with extended family as enjoyable as possible.”

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© 2017-2021 by Natalie D'Annibale, PsyD, LMFT