Problems in Paradise
What type of relationship do you have with your in-laws? Chances are if you're reading this article, it's probably not a very good one. But don't worry, there is help for the in-law impaired. If you're having problems in [your] paradise because of in-law issues, don't immediately blame it all on the in-laws. Take a look at yourself first, there just might be some things you are neglecting.
Boundaries, Boundaries, Boundaries
The key to a successful relationship with your in-laws is setting boundaries. A boundary is a limit, a line, which should not be crossed. For an example, your mother and father in-law may say to you "Do not call after 9 PM." On the other hand, you and your spouse may require that your in-laws give you prior notice before they visit and not just drop in at any time. Whatever the issue, whether the rules are about your children, money, or anything, be sure to clearly communicate the boundaries early and as often as necessary.
Respect is a Two-Way Street
A good relationship begins with respect by all parties. When a married couple and their in-laws show deference to one another and agree that both parties have certain rights and privileges unique to their own marriage, this sets a precedence for a strong and positive relationship.
The following are some suggestions to help couples and their in-laws respect one another;
In-laws should not get involved in a couple's parenting style. If the children are not being abused or neglected, keep your opinions to yourself. As grandparents, your job is to help and "spoil" your grandchildren. A couple should allow grandparents to "spoil" the kids every once in a while, and should also be mindful of allowing grandparents to spend time with their grandchildren even though the relationship might be rocky.
In-laws should never try to compete with other in-laws and they should never make demands about when a couple must visit, such as holidays and birthdays.
Couples should try their best to include and incorporate both sets of families in their lives. They should attempt to be as fair as possible when determining who to visit during the holidays. If you have a strained relationship with one set of in-laws, you may want to try to mend fences during the holidays. On the other hand, if the problems are great and you do not want any type of chaos during the holidays, you should wait until after the holidays to attempt any type of reconciliation.
Lastly, both the couple and the in-laws must let go of all preconceived expectations of how their relationship must be. You must be able to accept and respect each other.
How to Get Along With Your In-Laws
Two main ingredients are required to build a strong and solid foundation, respect and boundaries. In-laws must respect the privacy of a couple and not interfere with the decisions they make. Unsolicited advice and constant nagging or lecturing will wear on any relationship.
Remember that the words you use matter, they can make or break a relationship. Always treat your in-laws with the utmost respect and never use unflattering or vulgar language when speaking to them. Furthermore, couples should refrain from confiding in their in-laws about intimate details or arguments in their marriage, and in-laws should not ask personal questions. If couples choose to confide in their in-laws, the in-laws should never break the confidence by telling others or gossiping.
Do not borrow money from your in-laws. Having any type of financial dependence upon your in-laws may cause friction for several reasons. First, in-laws may feel like they have a right to dictate how you spend your money or live your life because they are financially invested. In addition, if you borrow money and fail to repay it, this will cause feelings of anger and you may end up in small claims court.
Values and standards are personal choices and in-laws cannot dictate how a couple chooses to live. If the couple is not breaking the law, the in-laws should not interfere with how a couple chooses to live their lives. Many in-laws want couples to share their religious values, however, sometimes couples have different beliefs. While a discussion on faith should never be off limits, it should always be a "discussion" and not an argument.
In-laws should always remember that their grandchildren are just that, "grandchildren," and not their children. As long as the grandchildren are not being abuse or harmed in any way, the decisions on how they are raised must be left to the parents. Instead of attempting to interfere with a decision affecting their grandchildren, in-laws should just sit back and enjoy the role of being a grandparent.
Try to really get to know your in-laws, find out what their interests are and try to take a genuine interest in them. Talk to them about the past, learn how they were raised them what led them to become the person that they are. A couple should attempt to schedule outings separately with their in-laws. For example, a husband can go to a sporting event with his father-in-law, or they may choose to play a round of golf, go to a movie, or do a project together. Similarly, a wife could invite her mother-in-law to a craft show, for a cup coffee, or to see a movie or play. Try to invite your in-laws to do whatever it is that they enjoy doing. When you show a genuine interest in your in-laws, you show them that you value them.
Rocky Road or Smooth Sailing
There will be several bumps in the road after you get married; couples have so much to worry about these days without having to worry about in-laws. If you're having problems with your in-laws and you want to turn the rocky road into smooth sailing, you must be proactive. Stay consistent and build upon your foundation of respect and boundaries, but also remember that your in-laws are only human, with faults and flaws just like you.
For information on other topics see the following articles: