Managing Your In-Laws
It was once said that Adam and Eve were the luckiest couple in the world because neither one had a mother-in-law. No wonder their story was described as “living in paradise.”

Seriously speaking, a lot of married couples go through life with in-law problems and issues, commonly stemming from perceptions that they are critical of you and your spouse or that they simply don't like you. But just because you’re not getting along too well with them doesn’t mean you have an unhealthy relationship. Experts say it’s simply a conflict like in any other kind of human interaction. These issues won't necessarily cause your relationship to plunge, but handling the situation poorly can precipitate the dive. At the end of the day, it’s your management of those in-law difficulties that will mitigate and significantly improve the whole situation.

Here’s what smart couples do when they find themselves in similar positions:

  1. Remember your own relationship is separate from your in-laws. No matter how much your in-laws' behavior is irritating or frustrating you, you’re not married to them; you're married to your spouse. If tensions are running particularly high as a result of an in-law's interference, don't let that stress bleed over into your marriage. If these conflicts begin to overwhelm your spouse, go the extra mile to be particularly kind and loving. Be sure you're telling him you love him on a regular basis, and consider ordering his favorite pizza or something similar as a gesture of affection.

  2. Remember your in-laws are real people. They have needs, concerns, doubts, and feelings, just like you do. They've been at the family game a long time and have developed their own ways of doing things. But you shouldn't only treat them like parents. Treat them instead like people you are gradually getting to know, not only as parents, but as fully developed individuals who are deserving of your respect and friendship.

  3. Show your in-laws some love. Don’t forget: they are the parents and grandparents of your spouse and your kids, people you love dearly and who are close to your heart. Be a little more tolerant for their sake. Consider all the time and effort your in-laws have put into raising your spouse to be the person you fell in love with, and recognize the positive role they likely want to play in your family life moving forward. If the daily calls your husband makes to his mom are important to him, it’s necessary for you to understand and accept them, as well.

  4. Set rules. While it's important to maintain a friendly relationship with your in-laws, you also need to have clear boundaries and expectations of each other. In a kind but firm manner, lay down the do’s and don’ts when your in-laws come visiting. For example, if your mother-in-law starts attempting to take over household duties, tell her you appreciate her time and effort, but you’d rather she helps out by giving the kids their bath, for example, a less commanding activity that still contributes to the well-being of the family.

  5. Respect your in-laws’ grandparent privileges. Don’t make a fuss when they come over and bring the kids the chocolates they love, or when they allow the kids to watch TV until midnight. While you want to make sure your children maintain healthy eating and sleeping habits, these experiences with grandma and grandpa won't hurt. Be indulgent, and recognize these moments of joy and kindness between your in-laws and your children as part of grandparents’ privilege.

When it comes down to it, in order to improve relations with your spouse's parents, you need to recognize your own role in the conflict. The truth is you can’t change other people; you can only change yourself. But by being open with your in-laws and setting clear boundaries, you'll find that your communication will improve, and with solid communication comes strong relationships. So rather than getting frustrated and putting a damper on the family dynamic, consider these conflicts from all perspectives, and be respectful of all parties involved.

Good luck!