Make Your Season Bright: Consider yourself a betting woman, and turn it into a game. It often seems that when a woman becomes a MIL, she's given a special handbook full of one-liners that can knock their son's wives out cold in 30 seconds flat. Since tossing the carving knife in her general direction would likely be frowned upon, make a game of it, says Jennine Estes, a marriage and family therapist intern and the author of the relationships blog, Relationships in the Raw.
"Passive-aggressive comments are like being stabbed in the back but, on the other hand, if she is passive-aggressive, she probably isn't open to taking a look at her actions and does it because that is the only way she knows how to communicate. Instead of allowing the comments to hurt, play a game with it. Count how frequent the comments come out, make bets on the frequency and look at it with humor," she says. That said, don't be a doormat. "If a family member truly gets out of line, it is up to your spouse to step in and draw a boundary," she notes.
Bah Humbug #4: "My fiancé's family does not approve of me because of my social and cultural background and seems to have waged a war against me since we became engaged," Elizabeth 29, Long Island, NY
Make Your Season Bright: Unite with your partner. There are few things more painful than not being accepted by the family of the person you have chosen to create your own family with. When the reasoning is based on your background or culture, it can be downright devastating. Though your partner might feel caught in the middle, Dr. Seti says there is a good chance the family is testing the strength of the relationship, which is why it is essential to maintain a united front.