Photo By: merfam
Dealing with Difficult In-Laws and Making them Listen
By Cucan Pemo (c)
I've known one friend whom I feel is one of the lucky ones – her in-laws have been great. Her mother-in-law has been a wonderful new friend in her life, but she has admitted to me that it wasn't always easy the first time this way.
In the beginning of her relationship with her boyfriend, she wasn't sure if she could marry him. His parents and herself just didn't get along. They were critical of her job, her life choices, and nearly everything else that she talked about when they were together.
And while her boyfriend tried to help her get along with the parents, it just wasn't working. So, she decided that she needed to be the one to get things started. Here's what she did to make sure she could marry her boyfriend – and his family.
1.) Recognize the Problems
The first thing she had to do was to sort out what the problems were, so she started keeping a journal of the disagreements that they had and tried to see if there were any patterns in the problems.
Then she found out that her job and her ability to support herself was a big problem for them. They didn't want their son to be the one who was supporting the both of them – so she needed to do her fair share too, in their opinion.
I shared with her some strategies that I would use, and she began to write out the ways that she did contribute to the relationship, down to the last penny.
This helped her to see that they did have valid concerns, but when she talked to her future husband, he said that things felt fair to him, even if the numbers were not exactly split down the middle for bills.
2.) Talk It Out
With this knowledge in hand, my friend had to confront the in-laws the next time that they got into the argument – and, of course, they did. This time, however, my friend had facts to back herself up. She had did her "homework" in advance.
She showed them the finances as well as her own contributions, plus she pointed out that since she was still getting her degree, she had potential to make even more income in the future.
Realizing that she had taken the time and sincerity to point out the issue, her in-laws began to be a little more comfortable with her role in their son's life.
And her would-be husband also stuck up for her and told them that he felt things were fine the way they were. She also acknowledged her in-laws' concerns and admitted that she didn't pay exactly her share, which helped them feel validated in their concerns and they felt a lot less defensive and more receptive to her feelings.
3.) Stay True to Yourself
As you can see, my friend also had to find out what made her happy in this discussion. She could have admitted that she was wrong and then taken on another job to start making up the different in the financial contributions, but then during that period she was in school for an advanced degree and her schoolwork would have suffered.
If you are in similar circumstance, I suggest you stay true to yourself and to your personal goals because just giving in could have started a chain reaction of demands from your in-laws. It's a matter of boundaries. You need to realize just how far you're willing to go, but then you can't go an inch further than that.
4.) Be an Active Part of the Family
Realize also that you need to stop avoiding the family and start learning more about them. By attending the family functions as your schedule allowed, you would begin to feel more like a part of the family, rather than the perpetual outsider.
This allowed you to continue the conversations you had with your in-laws and you would begin to realize where they were coming from as well. You might even find that as you get to know each other – you would even begin to like each other.
5.) Making Them Listen to You
By being honest and being open about what your relationship means to you and to your partner, you will begin to command the respect of your in-laws.
You need to stay firm on things that you won't do. For example, if your in-laws keep asking about children and you don't want any, be firm and clear about the fact that you're not planning on having children. And then hold your ground.
Once they realize that your words are firm and your intentions set, they will begin to recognize this about the rest of your ideas and actions too. Once you waver or you give in to their demands - that's when you're going to find that they have even more 'ideas' for you.
Truthfully, some in-laws are never going to be helpful or friendly, but by following this advice, at least everyone will know the parameters of the relationship.
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Posted by Jessica Watts at 1:20 PM