Music credits: “We're Leaving,” by DeVotchKa
How To Deal With In-Laws — A Survival Guide
The holidays are upon us, which, for many, means spending time with our partner’s family. While family togetherness and holiday cheer can be beautiful, it can also be a time of stress, particularly when it comes to dealing with in-laws. If you’re worried about dealing with in-laws this holiday season, don’t worry — we’re here to help.
In-Law Problems? You’re Not Alone
If you have in-law problems, you’re not alone. In-law relationships can be difficult to navigate, especially if you come from a very different family of origin than your partner. You may not know how to deal with in-laws if they have different ways of resolving conflict than your family, or if they’re noisier about your parenting or your personal life than your family of origin tends to be, or if they hold political views that you find a bit…off-putting.
Holiday visits with children can be an especially fraught domain when in-laws get involved, especially if you have controlling in-laws, pushy in-laws, or in-laws with boundary issues. If you’re doing your best to parent your kids without losing your mind, while keeping your relationship strong after kids, any unsolicited parenting advice will sound a lot like criticism, no matter how well-intended.
Around the holidays, couples often get into arguments about how to deal with their in-laws: Whose family to visit? Which subjects to discuss, and which to avoid? How to respond when Uncle Bill takes his Facebook rants to the Thanksgiving table? What if you don’t want to spend time with in-laws?
Even outside of the holidays, many couples find dealing with in-laws difficult, and struggle to find a healthy middle ground that respects the integrity of their new family while also maintaining relationships with each other's “first family.” Overbearing mothers-in-law, judgmental fathers-in-law, or in-laws who simply don’t treat you like family are the stuff of holiday comedies for a reason — they’re tropes many of us can recognize in our own in-law experiences.
Help For Dealing With In-Laws
If you don’t want to spend time with your in-laws (and many people don’t), it can be incredibly hurtful to your partner and so it’s important to navigate these important relationships as best you can.
On this episode of the Love, Happiness & Success Podcast, I put together an “in-law survival guide” for you to not just handle in-laws with diplomacy and grace, but to come together as a couple around setting appropriate limits with each other's families, both now and in the future.
I'm sharing my best advice on how to strengthen the family you created together and come into each other's “first family” as a couple. We'll also talk about communication strategies, as well as tips to help you stay in a good place if you find yourself in a challenging interpersonal situation with your partner's family.
I hope that these ideas help you honor and respect each other, while also maintaining the extended family relationships that are so important to both of you.
Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby