You fall in love. You get married. That's when the problems can start. Maybe your father-in-law drops by unannounced day in and day out. Maybe your mother-in-law hints that your home isn't clean enough or insists on giving you recipes for her boy's favorite dishes. The relationship between mothers and sons can be challenging.
You try to get along with them, go with the flow. But it only gets worse when you have kids. Mothers-in-law, in particular, can have strong opinions on parenting. In fact, this phenomenon is so popular that there was even an entire film dedicated to the premise. So what do you do? Keep calm and read on. Here are 10 tips for dealing with the in-laws.
10 Don't Take It Personally
A wise woman once said that you should take criticism seriously, but not personally. Some people have the uncanny ability to be able to take criticism in stride and not let it affect them.
But more sensitive people tend to take criticism personally. You shouldn't. Think of it this way: If your mother-in-law doesn't like how you deal with your child's temper tantrums, it is only her opinion. Ask somebody else and they would probably tell you something completely different. So thank her very nicely for her advice and then move on.
9 Think Superman And Lois Lane
According to Huffpost.com, not getting along with your in-laws increases your chances of divorce by 20 percent. Why? It's a simple fact that your husband can be torn between his love and loyalty for his parents, as opposed to you.
People tend to feel a certain amount of loyalty towards their own blood families. So if the dispute between you and your in-laws makes your partner feel as though you are asking them to choose between his birth and chosen family, he may feel torn or even refuse to get involved. Remember that you are a team and you need to work together.
8 Agree To Disagree
The worst-case scenario has happened. You are spending Christmas with your in-laws. Your kids are on a sugar high because granny is feeding them a steady diet of cookies, cake, and candy; even though you asked her not to.
What do you do? Fume? Shout? No, you simply walk up to your mother-in-law and say "Hey, I think the kids have had enough sugar." She frowns. Take her by the hand and say "Thanks for all you have done. The dinner was delicious. But I think no more sugar, for all our sakes." Simple as that. Confrontation does not need to be confrontational in execution.
7 Be True To You
You're trying your hardest to get on with the in-laws, trying to accommodate them as best you can. Well, stop it. It can start with small things. An example could be that your in-laws don't like your working long hours. So you cut back a little bit. It's no big deal you tell yourself.
But over the years, the more you give in to them, the more resentful you will probably become. You may well come to view yourself as a victim. Also, relaxing your boundaries early on could make it harder to enforce them later on. Politely, stand your ground.
6 Look At It From Both Sides
Your husband's mom raised him. She gave birth to him, took him through babyhood, into childhood and then into adulthood. She has memories going back to the very beginning of his life. He will always be her boy. Be patient and tolerant of that.
Try to think of your own son or daughter growing up, getting married and raising a family. How would you feel? Try, as much as you can, to look at it from her point of view.
5 Communicate Directly
Having problems with the in-laws? Maybe you think you will delegate the task of talking to them to your husband. Don't do it. Pluck up your diplomacy and your courage and talk to them yourself.
If your husband does it, he will likely feel torn between you and his parents. And that will not make for happy families. He may become resentful and angry and end up refusing to be involved in the issue at all. And, whatever you do, don't talk to them when you are mad or upset. That will only make matters worse. All discussions should come from a calm place.
4 Be Pro-Active
Set rules. Set boundaries. You would love to have granny and grandpa see their grandchildren as much as possible but they have to respect the schedule you have established for your own family. After school is not convenient because we've got homework time. How about coming around next Saturday? Set the time. Don't leave it to chance.
Keep them up to date with your family's schedule and obligations. And simply say (nicely) that they should call before dropping by. That way they won't be disappointed if the family is out. Be pro-active.
3 Get Some Distance
Are the in-laws getting you down? Are you mad, upset, angry even? Do something positive. Laugh out loud. Or go for a walk. Or meditate. Watch a show you love on television. Or put on some soothing music. If the in-law situation is bothering you, put some distance between you and the problem.
What seems huge today, won't be so insurmountable next week. Never tackle an issue when you are angry or upset. Take a deep breath and count to one hundred. You will be able to deal with it then.
2 Accept That They Probably Won't Change
Instead of beating your head against a brick wall, come to the realization that your mother-in-law and father-in-law almost certainly won't change. Get rid of the tape running in your head that says "they should" and realize they won't.
That will take away some of the frustration and expectation for how things should be. You just have to get you head around the fact that the only way forward is to manage the situation. And that's a job that you and your partner should tackle together. Remember the united front.
1 Be Honest With Yourself
Are you absolutely, positively certain that you haven't contributed to the problems with your in-laws just a teeny-weeny bit? Be honest with yourself. Are any of your expectations or opinions just a little unreasonable? Are you only seeing things from your point of view?
Here's an idea: Ask your dad what he thinks. Not your mother. Not your husband. Sit down with your dad and tell him how you are feeling. Ask his advice. He will almost certainly have the most objective point of view. And listen to what he says.