Avoiding Clashes With the In-Laws 3 ways to keep your marriage strong with difficult in-laws. BY JENNA D. BARRY
Don't let the influence of you in-laws overshadow your marriage.
“ Behave in a way that draws your husband's loyalty so you can unite as a couple to deal with difficult in-laws.”
It's no secret that in-laws are the subject of many marital arguments. The rivalry between wives and their mothers-in-law is a major source of tension in many marriages. You may find it interesting that many new brides get along very well with their husband's parents at first; it isn't until later—sometimes years later—that friction develops.
Time-after-time, daughters-in-law in my support group say things like, "My husband's parents welcomed me into their family immediately and treated me as their own daughter." Likewise, my own in-laws showered me with gifts and included me in everything. It's not uncommon for young women to be very fond of their husband's family, and vice versa, in the beginning.
Difficulties may eventually arise when a daughter-in-law starts to show a healthy desire to become an independent adult. Whenever her needs and opinions conflict with her in-laws' needs and opinions, then she may suddenly be labeled as a "rude, selfish, disrespectful daughter-in-law."
For example, if a woman wants to participate in the tradition of spending Thanksgiving with her husband's family, then everyone is happy. However, if she wants to spend that holiday with her own parents, then her mother-in-law may try to make her feel guilty for ruining the family tradition. The daughter-in-law may then become the subject of family gossip. Worse yet, she may actually start to believe she is a horrible person just because she doesn't base every decision on whether or not her in-laws approve.
If your husband's parents aren't your best friends, then here are some tips to help you have a great marriage, even if your in-laws aren't so great.
1. Love your husband more than you dislike his parents. Rather than gossip to your spouse about his awful parents (which will trigger his instinct to defend them), communicate directly with them in a tactful manner. Don't give your in-laws the power to destroy your marriage; focus on being a great wife rather than a vindictive daughter-in-law. Behave in a way that draws your husband's loyalty so you can unite as a couple to deal with difficult in-laws.
2. Surround yourself with encouraging women who can validate your feelings and help you maintain a healthy self-esteem. Many wives in my support group find tremendous comfort in connecting with other women who are struggling with the same problems.
3. Equip yourself to be assertive with your in-laws. If your husband has the desire and confidence to confront his parents about problem issues, then that's fantastic. But if not, then it's up to you to draw healthy boundaries with them rather than playing the silent victim while your marriage dissolves. Read helpful books about in-laws and/or see a marriage-friendly therapist.
A wife in my support group recently wrote, "I promised 'for better or for worse,' and I decided not to let my in-laws make it worse."