Relationships, in general, can be confusing and hard to navigate. There are ups and downs in all relationships, be it with parents, siblings, partners, or as the title of our blog today suggests, in-laws. The relationship between a person and their in-laws is one of the most complex, contentious, and critical relationships in a lifetime. So many important aspects of life and happiness can rely on having a healthy relationship with one’s in-laws.
Many factors go into a healthy marital relationship, including intimacy, childhood experiences, attachments, commonalities, etc. Along with these, one of the top four issues couples struggle with in marriage is their relationship with in-laws.
On some level, everyone has difficulties with their in-laws. Some of the common issues include feeling excluded, finding them to be constantly critical of your spouse, making comments on your home, or trying to parent your kids. However, just because you may face difficulties in your relationship with your in-laws does not necessarily mean it’s an unhealthy relationship. Conflict can arise in all relationships, so it is important to have strong conflict resolution skills and the ability to handle difficulties, along with the patience to work through the challenges.
Here are five tips to overcome the common hurdles of relationships-by-marriage and build a healthy relationship with your in-laws.
1. Set Boundaries
The healthiest relationships are those where boundaries are clearly stated, and all individuals understand and abide by them. Truthfully, it is beneficial to set boundaries early in the relationship between an individual and their in-laws, although it may take a bit of time to arrive at that level of comfort and candor in the relationship. However, setting boundaries early on makes adjusting to the new roles easier for everyone involved.
Communication is vital for a healthy relationship. Communicating clearly, openly, and honestly is important when building and maintaining relationships with others. It is also important to be a good listener to ensure that communication goes both ways and all parties are heard. This means not only communicating about positive matters but also being able to communicate about issues or concerns in a constructive way.
Communication is not only verbal. Individuals can communicate through a variety of other mediums, including their actions. Taking the time to learn your in-law’s communication style could be a great way for them to feel a positive connection with you.
Beyond developing healthy communication with your in-laws, take the time to also consider your partner’s feelings towards these complicated relationships. Feeling stuck between two loved ones is never an easy place to be, especially with the resounding pressures of what the family gatherings should be like, and it’s important to navigate these family dynamics with caution.
3. Stay Positive
It’s well known that individuals can often sense the feelings and emotions of the people around them, and long-established research backs this claim. People can be influenced by the emotions of others and even begin to display similar emotions. This means that if you have negative expectations when you visit with your in-laws, they may pick up on it and react accordingly. Prior to family get-togethers, take some time to prepare yourself and try to put your best foot forward. It may benefit you to steer the conversation towards commonalities, and there are ways this can be balanced without losing what makes you unique.
4. Embrace Differences
In many relationships in a person’s life, they will face the challenge of managing differing opinions. Even if you do not always understand or agree with the behavior of your in-laws, it is important to accept that they have their own opinions and behaviors. In these instances, perspective is key. There are differences between all people, but it is how you choose to handle those differences that result in a positive or negative relationship or experience.
It is difficult to relate to someone if you do not know them. Taking the time to learn about your in-laws and their interests could be key in building a strong foundation. By learning about your in-laws’ strengths and interests, you could begin seeking out advice on small things and make them feel involved in your life.
5. Be Respectful
Being respectful is important. At the end of the day, your in-laws are your partner’s parents and the grandparents to your children. Leading by example is important for the latter and the key to a strong relationship with the former. You and your in-laws will have a long-term relationship; therefore, putting in the effort and being respectful is worth it for the long run.
If overcoming the challenges or building a healthy relationship is difficult for you and your family, or there are specific situations that require an outside opinion, reach out to the team at Pure Health Center. Learn more about our services and offerings and start or build a healthy relationship with your in-laws this holiday season!