Bev R. and Beth M. say are keenly aware that the uneasy relationships they have with their in-laws are impacting their kids and their marriages. Bev is distressed by in-laws who only show interest in her kids. And Beth's mother-in-law criticizes everything she does, non-stop. The resulting conflict with her spouse, she confides, "could destroy our marriage."
Like many Circle of Moms members who worry about prickly in-law relationships (and there are many), these women are seeking ways to bond (or at least get along more amicably) with the family members they gained through marriage in an effort to keep their families healthy. To help, here are tips from other Circle of Moms members, on bridging the in-law gap.
1. Lower Your Expectations
Instead of driving yourself crazy fretting over whether you're actually at fault or trying to pretend your situation isn't difficult, Kim M. suggests acknowledging to yourself that you have a real challenge. Alli S. agrees, adding that moms do well to not take the acrimony personally:
“If they are difficult with you, they are probably difficult with most people who present the same/similar threats to them,” she says.
When you acknowledge to yourself that your situation is difficult, you create a healthier starting point for addressing the tension, because your expectations will be lower. “You’ll begin to discover what makes them tick so you can have compassion, humility and (may I hope) mercy,” for them, Kim adds, noting that you're also setting a good example for your children on how to face challenging relationships in life.
2. Know that It Often Takes Years
You can’t change another person's behaviors or opinions, so be a role model for your children and show respect for everyone’s point of view, says Antoinette B. You can find some common ground even if your in-laws are challenging people or you come from different generations and backgrounds if you are accepting, she has found. After 15 years of working to find neutral ground with her in-laws, she shares that they finally do "accept me for who I am."
Peita S., too, “has had to work at it,” but believes the hard work has been worth it. Now, she says, “I get along great with all my in-laws.” She and her husband had to figure out a way to get along with her brother- and sister in-laws too. “I think extended family is what you make of it,” she says, adding that “everyone needs to make an effort."
The good news, says Becki E., is that over time, and with patience, you can build a workable relationship. “It took us 12 years to get to know each other, but now I am very lucky to say my in-laws are the best.”
3. Set Boundaries
With in-laws who were over-involved and omnipresent in her family's lives, Stacia J. decided early on to set boundaries to protect herself. She had “a heart-to-heart" with her husband and in-laws, explaining that she appreciated them and would continue to do so, but that she needed "a different arrangement and more time" for herself and her family. In the end, her in-laws appreciated her honesty and “were very supportive.”
Tomica T. and Jamie H. also discovered that the key to getting along well with their in-laws was establishing and holding to certain rules. As Tomica puts it, “Your household is your household and you shouldn’t stand for nose butting," while Jamie stresses that getting your husband's support in the boundary setting is essential.
On this last point, Lanae F. urges a women in this situation to have her husband establish the relationship rules with his parents:
"He needs to set them not you. He needs to sit down with his mother and family and lovingly tell her that you are his wife and the mother of her grandchildren and for those reason the family needs to respect you. How she reacts is her choice,” she counsels.
When All Else Fails
When, despite all your efforts nothing changes, several moms urge coming to an agreement with your spouse to let go of the ideal of a bonded extended family and agree to keep your distance. As Connie T. and Bridget W. share, this is sometimes healthier than continuing to shoulder the strain of in-laws who won't partner with you in working on the problem:
Connie and her husband eventually came to the agreement that their family would be just the two of them and their children. Her in-laws, she says, "are the ones who miss out."
How do you deal with difficult in-laws?
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.