Embracing Your In-Laws: 5 Simple Rules For In-Law Bliss
And then I got married. To be clear, my in-laws were wonderful people - kind, loving, and accepting. Interestingly, what I discovered was that I was the sensitive one. All of that politeness built up inside of me until I was at a point where I was so agreeable, that I wasn’t actually being true to myself. Or, to be more clear - I just wasn’t willing to admit that certain things bothered me.
For instance, I grew up in a home where I was expected to ask before I got something out of the refrigerator or pantry. My ex-husband wasn’t raised by those same rules. By no means should that have been a big deal - but every time someone came over to our home and opened our fridge to grab a drink or to munch on our leftovers without asking, a little something inside of me died. I learned to get over it and deal with it - no one was trying to be harmful, they were just living their lives as they always had. Once I made sense of it in my head I came to a place where I decided that my in-laws' act of digging in my fridge was sort of a demonstration of their comfort level, not a personal attack. So, I embraced it and started keeping their favorite drinks in our fridge, just as they did for us at their home.
That being said, there are a few rules that I’ve learned over the years when it comes to relationships with your in-laws that I think are beneficial for anyone to remember:
1. Date your in-laws. Yes, this is your home. Yes, this is YOUR family. But remember, he was theirs first, and they have to love him, but they don’t have to love you. Continue to be as polite and kind as you were when you were dating - show them that you have their son’s best interest at heart and they will love you, too.
2. Don’t directly address your issues. I know this may go against what some of you feel, but I believe that your husband should always be the messenger for any issues that may have come up between you and his family. Did your mother-in-law come over and “deep clean” the bathroom for you after you had just cleaned it? Allow your husband to explain to his mom, when you are not around, that when she “helps” like that, it might make you, his wife, feel inadequate. It will be better received coming from him, trust me.
3. Don’t air your dirty laundry. This one requires cooperation from your spouse, but I’m a firm believe that problems within a marriage STAY within a marriage. Neither of you should vent about your issues with the other one to your respective parents. Remember, the ones who raised you will always be on your side - and if you want them to have a favorable opinion of your spouse, that means only telling them the good, and fixing the bad together without outside help. (Unless that outside help is a therapist, which I highly recommend.)
4. Set boundaries. Decide early and stay true to those things. Do your kids need to be in bed by 7:30 on school nights? That means visits from grandma on Sunday afternoon have to be over by 6:30 pm so that you can begin the bedtime routine. Let grandma know that if she wants more time with the kids, she should arrive earlier in the day. Is Christmas morning reserved just for your family - then be sure to make it clear that extended family can arrive at noon for lunch. It’s ok to have your own rules, but just be sure that you make them with your spouse and stick to them, together.
5. If his mama does it better, let her do it. There are no words for the way a man loves his mother. For some women this is very difficult to deal with. Just remember, you don't have to be her - you have to be yourself. Let her maintain jursidiction over the things she does well. My ex-husband will tell you that when we were first married, he requested that I make his “Mom’s chicken and dumplings” for dinner. I paused, looked him straight in the eye and said, “If you want your mom’s chicken and dumplings, you’d better call her up.” No need to try and imitate what she does best - that is her thing.
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