All In The Family: Solving In-Law Issues And Staying Happily Married
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By Mia Bolaris-Forget
When we fall in love, it’s usually with the person and not necessarily their immediate friends and family. Still, once we say “I do”, it’s pretty much to the whole package and not just to the individual. And, for many that can mean post wedding strife and stress, especially with the in-laws.
Here’s how to succeed and survive:
1. Different Dynamics: Every mother, wants a woman to fill her shoes when it comes to taking care of her son. And, for many that means sharing not only the same values, morals, and mores, but the same vies about life and keeping house. New brides, while they should be open to the suggestions and advice of those more seasoned and experienced brides, including mom and moms-in-law, can also expect “criticism” and critique from both. And, while this tough pill may be easier to swallow when it comes to your own mom, it’s not so easy to swallow when it comes from his. Still, regardless of whether of not you agree with or choose to heed her input and advise, you may find yourself too stringently judged and even hurt. Experts suggest taking some of it with a “grain or a pound of salt, but politely confronting her and letting her know how you feel if you feel she’s taking things too far.
2. Too Close For Comfort Questions: Things couples need to get use to include questions about how serious the relationship is or can get when you first start “going out”, questions about marriage once you’ve been dating for a while, questions about the wedding once you’re engaged, and questions about buying a house and starting a family once you’re officially wed. And, while it seems like they may be pushing or prying, experts suggest they are just trying to make “bonding” conversation, show their acceptance of you as a couple and hence their excitement at the prospect of a child. Rather than show resentment, simple let them know, that besides you and your spouse, they’ll be among the first to know.
3. Cutting The Apron Strings: There’s really nothing wrong with a man who is close to his mom or family. After all, an old adage suggests that they way he treats his mom (and family) is likely how he’ll treat you. Still, a “meddlesome” mother-in-law, who still wants to tell your man how to dress and wear his hair and who still buys his underwear may be a bit close for comfort. Yet, experts suggest examining why you feel so “threatened” or “offended” and discussing your feelings with your mate. Remember, it’s his place to “put her in her place” and not yours. Still, they suggest first putting yourself in her shoes and figuring out why it’s so hard for her to let go. Remember, now that you are the new woman in his life, she may be afraid of losing a son, rather than gaining a daughter. It’s in both your best interest to assuage her fears, encourage their “closeness” and encourage her to willingly loosen her grip.
4. Parental Problems: Anyone who has ever watched “Everybody Loves Raymond” knows how different their respective sets of parents are. Ray has the stereotypical and traditional mom and dad, while Deborah has parents that are quite the revolutionary and contemporary couple, and never the twain shall meet. And, in most cases, life DOES, in this instance imitate art. In fact, its somewhat rare to find in-laws that actually truly like each other and get along. However, now that you are family alienating either side may not be an acceptable option. And, gone are the days of dating when he “partied” with his family, and you with yours. Experts suggest splitting parents up one way or another. For smaller events, consider hosting two, one for each side, while making sure that larger gatherings feature enough others to keep each side interested and occupied. And, if either remains stubborn and unreasonable and wants nothing to do with the other than simple let them know they will be missed.
5. Family Feuds: Even if the feud isn’t between the in-laws, that doesn’t mean gatherings will be smooth sailing. In fact, your spouses mother, brother or close friend may consistently say things that are hurtful or inappropriate either to your or your mate. Experts suggest holding your tongue and holding a “meeting” with your mate and discussing how to resolve the issue, keeping in mind to have an open mind and to working together to find a solution that’s suitable for both of you. It’s best say experts for both of you to confront the “offender” and let him or her now that such behaviour, as much as you want them there, won’t be tolerated. In the meantime, the person not being attacked should do their best to change the direction of the conversation and to play mediator. Also before broaching the subject let the individual know in advance and give them a heads up so that they are prepared.
6. The Grandparenting Trap: While some may “argue” that your parents and his couldn’t have done such a bad job with you two, after all there’s nothing wrong with how each of you turned out and both have qualities that made you fall in love with each other. Still, some grandparents want to help raise your kids, and perhaps that’s not a concept you are comfortable with. Experts suggest not immediately taking “offense” but processing the information and advice as if it came from a good friend, than analyzing and evaluating it, and if it makes sense, putting it into practice. On the other hand, it you find their parenting methods totally out of sync with yours simply thank them and move on. Another option note experts is asking for help when you don’t really need it, or for advice when you don’t really want it. They note that grandparents just want to feel useful, wanted and appreciated, and keeping an open mind and an open line of communication is one of the best ways to make them feel that way.
7. Breaking All The Rules: Sure they follow the rules when they are with you, but when the “cat” is away both the children and the grandparents will play. Unless you are being un-necessarily stubborn and unreasonable, you parents and in-laws should respect your wishes when it comes to caring for and disciplining your children. If you have a strict “no TV” rule, then that means when they are at the grandparents, unless otherwise specified. You and your spouse should explain that helping kids break the rules sends mixed messages and allows kids to undermine your authority and that if they are going to make parenting (at home) difficult for you, then you just won’t allow them to take care of the kids.
8. Time Constraints: It’s always preferable and ideal to live relatively close to both sets of parents and to have both sides get along. But, in “real life” that’s not always the case, and you may find yourself celebrating holidays, birthday, and other occasions twice. But, when it comes to time and money and your waistline, twice the partying isn’t always twice as nice. Experts suggest, especially if having both sets of parents over at the same time is NOT a possibility, splitting up the occasions and holidays. Sit down with both sets of moms and dads and discuss when they would like to visit or have you visit them, then, make a schedule that works for both of you. You can even try alternating holidays yearly. Make sure to never make false promises or consent to something you are opposed to and don’t plan on following through on, it will only cause a rift and resentment. Remember, you can always host at your house and have everyone visit too.
9. Trials and Traditions: Let’s face it we all have a history we love and would like to hold onto and pass down to our children. And, it’s not likely they are the same traditions experienced and shared by your mate and/or his family. But, battling it out over tradition is anything but beneficial to either side or either of you. Remember, though it’s always nice to embrace traditions that are meaningful to your mate, if the “party’s” at your place you get to make the traditions and the rules. But, for the most part, if you’re playing on someone else’s turf, you’ve got to abide by their standards and rules.
10. Lavish Gifts Of Love: Grandparents have a tendency of doing things against their better judgment and spoiling the grandkids. And, while the little ones likely enjoy the carte blanche spending and extravagant gifts, more often than not, mom and dad don’t. Get the doting under control by setting monetary limits and boundaries that defines accepting spoiling and spending.
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