SELF HELP RESOURCE - Relationships / Marriage

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"After six months of marriage, Deepa and Rahul had their first big fight. What was the subject? It doesn't matter. While in tears, Deepa called her mother and told her about the entire ordeal. Her mother listened and became angrier by the minute. "I'm coming over there," her mother said. When she arrived at the couple's home, she immediately began telling Rahul why Deepa was correct and scolded him for disagreeing. According to her, Rahul owed Deepa an apology. Rahul felt betrayed because Deepa had ganged up with her mother against him."

"Suresh and Kavitha had decided that it was time they invested in a house, since both of them were earning reasonably well. For months they had discussed how much money they could spare and the location that they wanted to live in. Then Suresh's parents came to stay with them for a while. Suresh discussed his plans with them at length and one day announced to Kavitha that they would not buy a flat after all. His parents had told them that there was no need to waste money on a flat since they could always stay in the family home. When Kavitha protested Suresh joined with his parents in putting down her opinions. All three of them proceeded to criticize her as a spendthrift who did not understand the value of money. Kavitha was hurt and angry that Suresh would change a major decision without consulting her, and this was compounded because he seemed to ‘gang up' with his parents against her."


In the above examples, what is missing is the ‘we-ness' a couple needs to share to protect and enhance their marriage and also to deal with the in-laws from a common ground. If you and your spouse are arguing about any subject, neither has the right to involve a parent in the disagreement. If your spouse brings a parent in on an argument, you're probably going to feel just as Rahul did; you would feel like it's "them against you". This violates the "we-ness" that should exist in your marital relationship.

 

But what exactly is this "we-ness"? "We-ness" is a state of togetherness and being in-sync, where the couple is functioning as a team while dealing with conflicts, especially those regarding in-laws.

One of the purposes of marriage is for a couple to establish an identity that is independent of their parents. If this doesn't happen, a healthy marriage becomes much more of a challenge. In any home there can be conflicts between family members, particularly with in-laws. Therefore, establishing healthy boundaries with family members early on in the marriage would prevent these conflicts from building up to unmanageable proportions. Making efforts to create an independent identity for the couple is very essential as a preventive measure to marital conflicts.

Investing oneself in learning to improve relationships with in-laws is an effort towards developing the well-being of one's marriage and family on the whole. Often people tend to expect too much from the in-laws and also start the relationship with negative beliefs and attitudes. This makes them anticipate negative responses or see their in-laws through a colored lens. It would help to re-orient oneself to a more positive stance when one is beginning to build a relationship.


Strategies for a Positive Mindset

• First and foremost, accept that your in-laws aren't your parents. As a result, they aren't likely to have the same ways of doing things or the same sets of rules as your parents did.

• Realize and accept that you can't change someone else; you can only change yourself. Build better relationships with your in-laws by recognizing your role in any conflict(s).

• Think of your in-laws as a potential resource to expand your support network. Get to know them by spending time with them, listen to them, and create a reciprocal relationship where they can get to know you. Try and engage in some social activities that are compatible with your in-laws.

• In-laws can't relax with each other until they achieve mutual acceptance. Like anything worth having, this process takes time. If you can make it to this stage, you're well on your way to a more stable relationship.


Tips to Get Along with your In-Laws

Respect

Be respectful of your in-laws - and make sure you are sincere in giving that respect.

Loyalty

It is natural that your spouse may feel some loyalty for his/her family. This is only to be expected. After all if you expect him to be loyal to you, shouldn't he also feel loyalty towards the family who has raised him and whom he has known and loved all his life? And surely you too feel loyalty towards your parents and siblings? Avoid blaming and putting down your in-laws while speaking to your spouse.

Criticism

It is better not to criticize your in-laws; instead just listen to them openly. Making comments and not asking clarifying questions can cause you to assume wrongly and can create problems.

Boundaries

Define and set boundaries with your in-laws concerning your feelings, thoughts and expectations about holidays, vacations, visits, time with grandchildren, financial issues, and privacy.

Make sure that you have open lines of communication - this is particularly important if you are living together in the same home. It might be helpful to have a heart-to-heart with your in-laws explaining your likes, dislikes, and personal boundaries; and give them an opportunity to do so as well. This can help in avoiding any misunderstandings.

Care Giving

As your in-laws and parents get older, it is important that you discuss practical concerns with them such as their health and financial issues. Find out their expectations about their care in case they cannot provide for themselves in their later years.

Handling Conflicts

If you are experiencing conflicts with your in-laws, talking to your spouse to get their opinion and being solution-oriented is a good thing. However, making your spouse the middle person to solve your conflict(s) with your in-laws is not fair. This is a lifelong relationship with your in-laws; learn to deal directly with them in a pleasant way.

Whatever happens, remember that your in-laws' actions and motives more likely stem from deep-seated beliefs and behavior patterns than from something you did or said. It's hard to remove yourself from an unpleasant situation, but if an in-law doesn't react positively to a well-intended gesture or comment, don't take it personally. Just smile and let it go when something happens and discuss solutions with your partner later on. Choose your battles wisely - compromise on differences that are less important, and negotiate those that are more essential.

Priority

It's important to honor and respect your in-laws, but above that, protect your marriage. This principle will pay great dividends in the future. As a rule, remember to put your marriage first. This of course applies to both husband and wife.

 

Remember, building an enriching, supportive and meaningful relationship with your in-laws takes time, consistent effort, love and patience. But it can be one of the most wonderful aspects of your life!

 

Latest Comments

roseraj4 on 15 Jul 2021, 17:05 PM

Article is nice, but highly impractical to implement in real life except for the first sentence - \'First and foremost, accept that your in-laws aren\'t your parents\'. Living with in-laws is a system only in India (social acceptance), and the newly wed girls coming excited to start a life with their spouses instead have to live under the scrutiny of in-laws on each and every move they make. There is no solution to the mother in law\'s constant comparison of her life with the newcomers\', ignoring and moving on sometimes becomes very difficult. Hence people end up here on such platforms seeking help.

PS06 on 17 Jun 2021, 18:15 PM

There is an unsaid pressure always when in laws are around, if we even try we cant think of them as our parents as we need not to be conscious when its our own parents and also they never judge us. I hope work from home will end soon and all the girls who are struggling with work & new family/in laws get some independence and get back to work location city.

aaviinash on 30 May 2019, 09:51 AM

some points need to clarify
- as said in this article, spouse should not be bridge to amend relation with in-laws. But spouse is only reason of relationship b/w two families. Then how can he/she escape from this responsibility?

- If in-laws and spouse both don't give respect then how to draw the line between self-respect and compromise ?

- In most of cases girl take care of her parents emotion and give second priority to her in-laws. How to repair this ?

hkond on 06 Oct 2018, 22:05 PM

I had a situation which might be silly but which made me think my self as never a part of husbands family. one fine mrng when I was in office cab my in-law called and asked me did you pack lunch for my son??I said yes I did for both of us and he is getting ready for office and as my cab came early I left the house a bit early. she said to me I am not asking about your lunch just give me the answer whether you have packed lunch for my son or not?? I told her yes I did why I wouldn't do that, she immediately called my dad and said your daughter is jot giving me respect and not answering me what ever I am asking her, so come for a panchayat,we need to talk on her behaviour. And this matter she didn't even tell her husband and son. after 4 months I told my husband whatever had happened on that and the reply he gave me was a mind blocking answer. my granny tortured my mom so my mom is torturing you , is this a family tradition that continues ??? Am I wrong in this situation or what ???

RAGG on 02 May 2018, 11:11 AM

Nice article but very tough to implement in real life. You cannot control your emotions when you know they don't like you and doing things just to hurt you. Mother is law just not accept the truth that her daughter in law better than in all aspect...she is working, she can cook better than her, she can do better and faster work than her, she can take care for her son..... she is just jealous.

sucharu1981 on 02 Jan 2018, 14:11 PM

As a daughter-in-law, is it fair and wise to expect a whole family start behaving in a new manner that pleases you? Moreover, it has been established scientifically that males and females are emotionally very different.Take responsibility to align yourself to the new family and when acceptance comes in,talk about your concerns , but in a respectable manner.

viky293 on 01 Aug 2017, 17:55 PM

This is very thoughtful article, we need to understand it without creating a stereotype for in-laws. There is only one thumb rule that there are good people(smart ones) and bad people (dumb ones) irrespective of who they are and sometimes it's difficult for both to adjust together.

ravitirumala on 25 Aug 2016, 06:58 AM

i think these are hard to follow in real life conditions

Impossible on 21 Dec 2015, 11:28 AM

u r in laws behaviour towards you will determine the respect we give them..

jo213 on 18 Nov 2015, 08:29 AM

I accept only first strategy that , in-laws can not become your parents. My in-laws are actually not a good parents of their son then how they can become good in-laws