"Unfortunately [they] are trying to weaken you and push you away, most likely with the goal of preventing the marriage from coming to fruition. The best thing you can do is stay strong and unified with your fiancé and make sure they know that they have not infiltrated your relationship," she says. Seti warns that it is the person related to the opposing family that should take the most active role by standing up for their partner, not accepting invitations that exclude their mate and clarifying that you are a couple when he or she feels it is being overlooked.
Bah Humbug #5: "My husband's family is constantly challenging me when it comes to how I raise my children, from what I allow them to eat to disciplinary actions. It drives me insane!" Ann, 34, San Francisco, CA
Make Your Season Bright: Draw a gentle but firm boundary. Family members often step in with the hopes of giving sound advice, and as a way of being involved with the child. For this reason, it is important to be gracious and respectful of their input without committing to it.
"People parent in various ways and often believe that their way is the right way. When the parenting skills are challenged, acknowledge their ideas and thank them, yet explain lovingly that their ideas don't fit with your own ideas," says Estes, who says it is important to keep children out of the equation by removing them from the room where they cannot view or participate in the discussion. If you say the children cannot stay up past a certain time or have a specific toy or type of food and your in-laws ignore your requests, explain that rules have been established by you and your partner for a reason; if they cannot follow them, they won't be trusted to watch the children.
In-laws are, simply put, insta-families. It's tough to navigate an intimate, familial bond with people whom you've known for a few years (or sometimes, months). Considering it has taken your partner several decades to develop a mature, loving relationship with his parents, it's your job to be understanding—and patient with your new relatives. If you are experiencing in-law intolerance, spend as much time as you can with them to work out the kinks. Most likely, in just a few holiday seasons from now, you'll look back and laugh.