Family, Self

6 Ways To Seamlessly Handle Your In-Laws (Without Losing Yourself)

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6 Ways To Blend With Family And In-Laws Without Losing Yourself

Meeting new people, switch workplaces, move out to a different location, and dealing with an illness are just a couple of examples of the changes that requires integration and blending in. 

In all my years of coaching, I haven't met a client who told me that they never experienced change in their life.

Often, it is more about them wanting to make a change (for example, creating more business or finding a partner) or there are so many changes happening all at once and they want some help with dealing with them.

The most complex change is going from being single, where you are free to do what you want, to becoming part of a couple, where you have to negotiate commitment and accountability with and towards each other.

If that's not complicated enough, there's the extended family on BOTH sides who wants to be included. If there are children from a previous relationship they want to be heard as well.

So how do we navigate the waters of prior perspectives, beliefs, teachings, and past experiences without losing our own values, beliefs, and self-worth? How do we deal with in-laws without losing ourselves in the process?

1. Limit your expectations.

Expectations put pressure on reality to be perfect, and when reality doesn't deliver we feel like failures. Therefore, it is important to let go of how things, events, or relationships should look like and do what is good for you.

Traditions have their place but when they don't work for you and your circumstances, modify and incorporate them to the best of your ability.

2. Be curious and open-minded.

The best way to go about getting to know people is asking open-ended questions that start with what, how, and when. You give the person a chance to respond to you without coming across as judgmental. You get the opportunity to learn more about their point of view.

This doesn't mean you have to agree with everything you learn, but it can make you understand where they come from. Plus, it shows interest in them as a person.

3. Don't make your partner choose between the family and you.

Family dynamics are unique, and each family has its own dynamic that is sometimes difficult to understand for outsiders.

If you feel uncomfortable with the dynamic of the family, start with step 2. If that doesn't change anything for you go to steps 4, 5, and 6 BUT never let your partner choose between you and their family. That will put such a big strain on a relationship and will almost a guarantee the death sentence of the relationship.       

4. Be respectful even when you don't like them.

Showing respect towards others is the same thing as showing respect towards yourself. Keep yourself and your values in sight, and yes, you can be respectful at the same time.

If there's a problem, it is often how we speak that's the problem, not necessarily what we say. Pay attention to your responses and be respectful, this way you prevent a conflict with your partner about family issues.  

5. Be patient and give everyone time, including yourself. 

First, get on the same page as your partner. When that is well-established, get an introduction to the rest of the family. Don't rush it and give yourself plenty of time to get used to the new dynamic.

Rome was not built in one day and the same counts for great relationships. Go as slow as you need to go. That way, you bypass too many expectations too soon.

6. If all fails, be civil.

You can choose your friends, but you can't choose your family. This includes, to a degree, the in-laws. 

Family is there to stay, so you have a choice to make. You can fight them, and make everybody miserable, plus put your relationship in danger. Or you decide to always be civil to them.

This choice makes it easier on family functions and the relationship. This doesn't mean you have to become fully involved in the family and go to every function. You just decide to be civil when you do.

Family can be very overbearing and opinionated, but when you stand your ground on your personal values, you will earn the respect you deserve.

Good luck with finding your balance and let us know how it worked for you

For more information on this week's topic contact Ellen Nyland.

This article was originally published at Ellen Nyland. Reprinted with permission from the author.