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Reaching Compromises on In-Law Issues
In-laws: six ways to reach loving compromises with your spouse when they want to visit their parents more often than you do.

Finding compromises with your spouse in dealing with in-law issues can strengthen your marriage.

Many married couples argue about their in-laws. The good news is that you can have a terrific marriage, even if you have difficult in-laws. The best way to overcome any challenge in marriage is to unite as a couple, and the best way to unite as a couple is to reach loving compromises.

Letís say, for example, that you and your spouse are arguing about how often you see your in-laws. Your partner wants to go visit his (or her) parents twice a month, but youíd prefer to visit them twice a year. Each of you has a choice. You can behave in a way that brings you closerÖ or in a way that pushes you apart.

Here are six ways to work toward loving compromises that will bring you closer as a couple.

1. Communicate your feelings and needs in a tactful, respectful way. This isnít the time to be condescending, accusatory, or controlling. It wonít help to nag, give guilt trips, threaten divorce, yell, cuss or bring up past wrongs. Itís no time to criticize or gossip about your spouseís parents.

In the scenario mentioned above, you might apply this advice by saying, "Honey, I feel frustrated when you pressure me to visit your parents twice a month. I need to spend what little free time I have going on date nights, getting together with friends or just having some time to myself. Iíd like for us to try to reach a compromise so I wonít feel resentful whenever I visit your folks."

2. Try to see things from your spouseís perspective. You will be better equipped to reach a loving compromise if you stop to consider your partnerís feelings and needs. You wonít help the situation by being self-centered and judgmental.

Your mate may truly want to visit his folks twice a month, or he may just be doing it out of obligation. If heís just doing it out of obligation, encourage him to be more honest with his parents so he can have a sincere, adult relationship with them. He may feel caught in a miserable game of tug-o-war by trying to please you and his parents. Be compassionate of his feelings and help him become a loyal husband rather than resenting him for being a parent-pleaser.

3. Think outside the box. Realize there are probably several more options available than it seems at first glance.

Just because your husband wants to visit his folks twice a month doesnít mean you have to go with him every time. He could visit them without you sometimes. Or his folks could come to your house instead. You could meet them at a halfway point. You could divide your visit between in-laws and friends nearby. You could stay at a hotel.

4. Barter with each other. You arenít the only one with needs, so donít insist on getting your way regardless of your spouseís needs. Look for a win-win situation and try not to be stubborn or inflexible.

Maybe you could agree to cheerfully visit your in-laws twice this month if your husband agrees to take you out to that fancy restaurant youíve been wanting to try next month. Or perhaps you could visit your wifeís folks next weekend if she helps you paint the living room this weekend. You could try this approach: "Honey, if youíre willing to forego a visit with your folks this weekend, Iím willing to watch the kids so you can golf with your buddies."

5. Meet in the middle. There arenít any rules about in-laws written in stone, so that means neither you or your spouse are right or wrong on any given issue. It just means that each of you have different opinions, feelings, and needs; and part of the marriage commitment is caring about each otherís opinions, feelings, and needs.

If your husband wants to see his parents twice a month and you want to see them twice a year, settle on something in between such as once every month or two.

6. Seize the opportunity to show your spouse that you love him. Sometimes itís more important to make your spouse feel loved than to get your way. (That doesnít mean you should constantly overlook your own needs to the point that you lose yourself.)

If your husband really wants to visit his folks this weekend but youíd rather stay home to clean the refrigerator, why not go along with your husbandís wishes this time? It will probably mean a lot to him that you care enough about his happiness to make his needs a priority. Hopefully heíll remember your kindness and be willing to reciprocate in the future. Just because you and your spouse argue doesnít mean your marriage is in trouble. In fact, disagreements can actually strengthen your marriage if you make it a habit to reach loving compromises that bring you closer as a couple.

Jenna D. Barry is the author of "A Wifeís Guide to In-laws: How to Gain Your Husbandís Loyalty Without Killing His Parents." Find more at www.WifeGuide.org.

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