How To Manage Your In-Laws

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Handling your in-laws can be tricky. Try these 8 steps.
  • When do you and your spouse have exclusive time for each other?
  • When do you spend time with your extended family?
  • When do you involve your parents/in-laws in decision-making?
  • Where should you discuss your marital conflicts: in private or in front of your in-laws?

4. Recognize the culture. Our culture and upbringing plays a major role in how we do marriage. Recognize the cultural aspects of your spouse's upbringing. One client I've worked with handled it this way: In her upbringing, the women did all the cooking and cleaning up at mealtimes. So when they shared a meal with her parents, her husband stayed out of the way. However, when her parents weren't around, he stepped up and helped out or took care of it himself. My Mother-In-Law Made Me A Better Wife

5. Don't criticize your spouse's relationship with his or her parents. Nothing can raise a spouse's defenses faster than criticism. Seek to understand more about their relationship rather than criticize, as this can lead to resentment and contempt.

6. Be polite. This doesn't mean you have to change your personality to please your in-laws, simply respect rules and traditions that are important to the older generation. Being polite and respectful with in-laws will go a long way in improving the relationship—not only with your in-laws, but your spouse as well.

7. Develop code words. My wife and I have pretty good relationships with each other's parents. Even so, there are still times when they drive us a bit crazy. We've developed some code words that we use to lighten the mood between us whenever in-laws get too annoying. Have fun with this one but remember to remain respectful. Derogatory code words could only cause more problems.

8. Spend time with your in-laws. Develop a better relationship with your in-laws by doing things together. Find out what they enjoy and try joining them. This could be shopping, playing golf, cards, whatever. You may find you have more in common than you thought.

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