5 Ways To Protect Your Marriage From Toxic In-Laws Certainly toxic in-laws can be a huge marriage obstacle, but you have the ability to protect your most treasured relationship. BY JENNA D. BARRY
Don't let your in-laws become toxic to your marriage.
Is it possible to have a great marriage even though you have difficult in-laws? Yes, in the same way that itís possible to have a beautiful yard even if you have a few weeds. If you are considering divorce because you donít like your in-laws, thatís like selling your house because there are some dandelions in the lawn. Here are five ways to have a strong marriage in the face of controlling, manipulative and/or intrusive in-laws.
1. Unite as a couple. The best way to protect your marriage from destructive in-laws is to unite as husband and wife. Rather than allowing in-law problems divide you and your spouse, seize every opportunity to behave in a way that strengthens your marriage. Refuse to listen to your parentís gossip about your spouse, and donít complain to your spouse about his or her parents. Communicate with your mate, make him a priority over your parents, reach loving compromises and present a united front to relatives.
2. Get out of the victim mode. You can choose to stay in the victim mode by complaining and gossiping or you can do what is in your power to improve your situation. Equip yourself to deal with in-law problems by reading books, seeing a counselor, and/or joining a support group.
3. Behave as an adult on an equal level to your in-laws. How do you react when your in-laws make derogatory comments about the way you eat, dress, raise your kids, etc? The extent to which they can push your buttons is the extent to which you are letting them have power over you. When your insecurity is replaced with confidence, youíll realize that your in-lawsí opinions donít outrank yours and you donít need their approval. When you grasp the fact that you are an adult on an equal level to them, your behavior will change and that will likely trigger a change in their behavior. If you want to be treated as an adult, then you must behave as one.
4. Be assertive and draw boundaries. Rather than holding silent grudges against your in-laws, be honest with them in a respectful, yet firm manner. For example, if they invite themselves over more often than youíd like, say, "This Friday wonít work for us, but youíre welcome to come over next Saturday." If they insist on showing up even after youíve told them itís an inconvenient time, ignore the doorbell. Itís not any more rude for you not to invite them in than it is for them to show up after youíve asked them not to come. Likewise, if they telephone too early, too late or too often, let the answering machine pick up their calls. If they offer unwanted advice about how to raise your child, say, "I know youíre probably just trying to help, but this isnít your decision."
5. Refuse to be manipulated. If you are being manipulated by your in-laws, then you must stop letting them manipulate you. Toxic in-laws will have a negative reaction when you draw healthy boundaries with them. They may attempt to manipulate you with guilt until you sacrifice your own needs in order to please them. They may roll their eyes around, shake their heads, hang up on you, storm out of the house or make threats. Your father-in-law may accuse you of being disrespectful to your mother-in-law. Your mother-in-law may start crying. They may test you to see if youĎll back down, much like a two-year old throwing a tantrum. Itís extremely important to stand your ground even if they choose to be offended by your healthy behavior. Learn to use effective phrases such as, "Iím sorry youíre upset, but this isnít up for negotiation" or, "Iím not willing to discuss this with you anymore. Is there something else youíd like to talk about instead?"
Jenna D. Barry is the author of ďA Wifeís Guide to In-laws: How to Gain Your Husbandís Loyalty Without Killing His Parents.Ē Find more at www.WifeGuide.org.