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How To Manage Your In-Laws

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Handling your in-laws can be tricky. Try these 8 steps.

Not everyone has the blessing of good in-laws. Many spouses feel like they must compete against their in-laws for the time and attention of their spouse. This is especially true during the first few years of marriage.

Fortunately, I've been blessed with great in-laws. But this didn't just happen by chance. We had to learn how to get along. Like it or not, in-laws are part of your life. And the holidays are often one of the most difficult times to navigate the in-law waters. Is It So Weird That I Don't Hate My Mother-In-Law?

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So how can you do this so that everyone (especially your marriage) survives? With a mix of tact, straighforwardness, and healthy selfishness (yep, you read that last one right). The biggest issues that arise when it comes to in-laws seem to be one of two extremes. One extreme is intrusiveness and meddling, even though parents may think they are demonstrating love and care, it doesn't come across this way. Some parents have trouble letting go of the parenting role, and some "children" have trouble launching out on their own with their new spouse. The other extreme is too much distance. Some parents may emotionally and even physically cut off their child once he or she marries, and obviously too much distance isn't good either.

Whether the relationship with your in-laws is great or could use some improving, here are some tips that may help:

1. Spouse comes first. When you get married, it's time to grow up and leave your parents. This doesn't mean you emotionally kick them to the curb or cut all ties, but you do need to establish your own family. By putting your spouse first, you are choosing the adult role of being a husband or wife over the role of being a child in your parent's family.

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2. Set boundaries. There are many things that happen in marriage that are none of your parents' business. Read that sentence again. If you run to mom or dad any time you have a fight with your spouse, how are you going to learn to handle life with your spouse on your own? Avoid sharing the household secrets with your parents. Discuss with your spouse what topics and areas of your life are off limits to others. 5 More Daughter in Law Mistakes

3. Establish ground rules. Much like the previous point, setting clear ground rules for handling extended family will improve your marriage.

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