Navigating the In-Laws

by: Tammy Greene

Whether you are newly remarried or not, there is one thing we all have in common… the In-Laws.Having to deal with the nuances of your spouse’s family, particularly their parents, can be incredibly challenging.Maybe their personality clashes with yours, maybe they are crude and inappropriate, overly attached to your spouse, or always feeling the need to make their opinions known.Whatever the case may be,

it is key to learn how to deal with these issues in order to keep your marriage strong and healthy.

Here are some ideas that can help you navigate the challenges of the in-laws.


Though they may drive you crazy there is, most likely, something about them that you are grateful for. Maybe they are incredibly generous to your children, or always on board to babysit. Maybe they are terrific cooks, or always willing to host the family parties.At the very least, you can be grateful for the fact that they brought your spouse into this world, and raised them to be the person they are today.Focusing on what you are grateful for, rather than on all of the things that bother you, will help you stay positive towards your In-Laws.

Be Understanding:

Remember to try to be understanding of your In-Laws’ feelings. You have replaced them as being the most important person in your spouse’s life, and this can often lead to feelings of hurt. It can also lead to feelings of fear.They may be frightened that their relationship with their child is being threatened.Always keep that thought in mind if you are feeling frustrated.It is always helpful to remind your in-laws, maybe in frequent and subtle ways, that you have not replaced them. Let them know they are still two of the most important people in your spouse’s life and always will be.

Support Each Other:

Often times you can find yourself in big arguments over the In-Laws.It is vital to be able to find support in each other.One way to do this is to keep communication lines open.If your spouse has a complaint about your parents, try to be a good listener and understanding of what the problem might be.Do your best not to immediately jump to your parent’s defense. Hear your spouse out.If you are the one complaining, try to express your feelings without badmouthing your In-Laws.It is important to be each others support system. You each need to feel that you have someone that you can talk to and trust when you are facing challenges.

You Can Only Change You:

Remember, all you have control over is you. You cannot change people. You are not going to be able to change your Mother or Father-In-Law. They are who they are, quirks, annoyances and all.All you can do is accept that about them, and work on changing you.You have full control over how you react to them, how you treat them and how you talk to them.That is on you.Take time to focus on your own behavior when dealing with the In-Laws.What is it that you can work on that could help make the relationship better?Can you communicate better?Can you avoid saying mean things to your spouse about them?Can you find a place of understanding and acceptance?Can you focus on what you are grateful for?Focus on you, and you might be surprised how that could positively affect all of the challenges that you face with them.

We all have to deal with the minor and maybe major irritations with In Laws.But remember, they are your spouse’s parents, for better or worse. Don’t forget, one day you will be someone’s In-Laws.Make sure that you treat your In-laws as you hope to be treated when you, one day, take on that roll with your own children’s spouses.

Tammy Greene is a graduate of the University of La Verne. She has worked as a Child Life Specialist and social worker assisting families who have children with illness or mental disabilities. Tammy is a producer of the national PBS children’s television show, Curiosity Quest. She has a blog, Married and Naked, where she shares personal lessons learned from her own life, offering helpful ways to navigate through the challenges of marriage. Tammy is happily married to her high school sweetheart and is the mother of two. See Tammy’s Curiosity Quest website at www.curiosityqueststore.com. Follow her blog, MarriedandNaked, at www.married-and-naked.com.



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