When you vow to spend the rest of your life with someone, you’re also promising to spend the rest of your life with his or her family. No matter how well you get along with your spouse’s family, there’s bound to be conflict at one point or another.
Many people find in-laws to be especially challenging. Getting married is almost like gaining another set of parents, and you likely feel like a son or daughter to those new parents. Your relationship with your in-laws will depend on your spouse’s relationship with them and how involved he or she wants you to be, but you must come to terms with the fact that your spouse’s parents are permanent additions to your life.
No one is going to force you to be best friends with your in-laws, but the better you can manage to get along with them the better your life will be. There are a few things you can try to build and nurture a positive relationship:
- Ask them for advice, even if you don’t intend on taking it. It shows that you respect them as your elders and believe they have valuable insight to offer.
- Remember birthdays, anniversaries and other special occasions. Sending a card or a small gift on your in laws’ anniversary is a small yet meaningful gesture, and it’s a wonderful way to show how much you care.
- Keep the lines of communication open, especially if you don’t live close to them. You shouldn’t let months pass without speaking to your in laws, and in the age of smart phones and social media, it’s not hard to send a quick text or Facebook message to let them know that you and your spouse are thinking of them.
- Don’t complain about your spouse to their parents. Remember, these are the people who raised your spouse, so they aren’t the people to vent to if your partner screws up.
- Allow them to be close with your children, if you have them. Grandparents love to dote on their grandchildren, so fostering a strong relationship between your children and in-laws will lead to a more positive family structure.
- Spend one on one time with both of your spouse’s parents. Invite your mother-in-law to go shopping with you or ask your father-in-law to dinner. Making an effort to get to know each of your in-laws, separate from time you all spend with your spouse, will help build strong personal connections.
There’s no “right way” to build a good relationship with your in-laws, nor is there a quick fix to repairing a bad one. But if you follow the tips mentioned above, you’ll grow closer to your in-laws and even strengthen your marriage.
Your spouse, who you love more than anyone else in the world, is made up of equal partners of his or her mum and dad. If you’re really struggling to connect with your in-laws, look for the qualities they share with their parents and move from there.