How to deal with in-laws

How to deal with in-laws

When we get married we acquire a new family; new parents and new siblings. People we are supposed to love and live with for the rest of each other’s remaining days. Given that we were raised differently and in different cultures and environments, it can be pretty hard to bond with your in-laws right away. Sometimes it’s possible but most times we have to work at the relationships. The goal here is not to live happily ever after parse but to learn to live with each other; to accommodate each other.  There are some in-laws that actually turn out to be great friends and siblings.

While some in-laws are very welcoming, loving, respectful and supportive others are just straight from hell.  It is reported that women compared to men have a hard time to relating with their in-laws. Most women complain of the cruel mothers-in-law and sister-in-laws especially the unmarried lot who meddle in their affairs.

However, it is important that you do your best to relate well with your in-laws because they mean the world to your spouses. When you purposely create a good bond with your in-laws it communicates to your spouse that you care about them and that you have fully accepted them.

A good relationship with your in-laws can help your marriage be happier as you have no conflicts with each other’s family. The in-laws can also be a support system for your marriage as well the people to turn to should you need a 3rd party during conflicts.

Let’s look at what to do and what not to do when trying to create relationships with our in-laws.

The Do’s

Present one front with your spouse

Don’t ever put your spouse in a position they will have to choose between you and his family. That will only result in a straining relationship either with him or his family. Always be a team when it comes to dealing with each other’s family.  Make decisions together and own up mistakes together. Don’t tear each other apart in front of each other’s family.

Put your relationship first and always defend your spouse. Most issues with in-laws arise from one spouse not being able to defend the other.

Set Boundaries

This is something you must discuss at the start of your marriage as setting boundaries later might not be well taken. Discuss on whether you should give loans to your In-laws, how much and how often you should chip in financially, set boundaries on how you would want your kids treated while with the in-laws. Setting boundaries is just not effective, go ahead and communicate and enforce. Let them know that when they come to your house, they should follow your rules and not the other way round.

I know of mothers In-laws who come and start dictating on how food should be cooked, how children should be fed, some even go ahead and insult their children in-laws in their own home. Some come visiting and extend their stay for months and years.

Let them know that you must consult each other before any decision is made, that way they will not go behind your backs to get what they want

Communicate directly

Avoid using a third party to pass a message. If you have something to say, go the specific person and tell them what it is that you want to say. Establish individual relationships with your in-laws so that your communication gets easy.

If you feel offended, say it politely. Don’t harbor any feelings. Sometimes they don’t even know that we are offended or they didn’t mean to offend us.

Treat them just as you would with your own family. AS with any relationship, communication is important

Be Yourself

Don’t try and be someone else thinking your in-laws will be impressed with. Be you, the sooner they learn and accept you the better.  They like you, they hate, that is their cup of tea.

Maintain a distance

Familiarity indeed breeds contempt. That is true to every relationship. If you want to maintain a healthy relationship with your in in-was then maintain a safe distance. Visit them once in a while and call them once in a while, that way you minimize chances of crossing each other’s lanes. I find that they respect you more when they don’t know much about you.

Accept them

Get to know your in-laws and accept them for who they are.  Familiarize yourself with their culture and family traditions. Don’t compare them to your own family. These are two families with different background, upbringing, values, and beliefs.

Learn how they relate to other and don’t be judgmental. Choose to see their positives because no one is perfect.

The Don’ts

DON’T assume that how their family relates will resemble the one in

your family. All families are different

DON’T be offended easily and don’t take their comments and reactions rather personally—it may take a while to understand their family dynamics

DON’T criticize your partner’s family rather, seek clarifications and explanations

of things you don’t understand

DON’T assume they understand how you feel or how you react—they may actually have no

clue whatsoever

DON’T ignore your partner when you’re with your family. Keep checking up on them especially the first times when they have not established any relationship with your family members

DON’T be quick to react. Take time to cool off and talk about the issue later

DON’T hesitate to ask your spouse how it went with your family when it’s over. Knowing what your partner thinks and feels is important

DON’T be unkind. If you can’t find something nice to say just shut up


If you have tried everything and you feel that your in-laws are the toxic kind, it is wise that you sit down your spouse and highlight your observation citing examples. However, don’t criticize his family,  just point out what you feel is not working out. Try and be nice anyway, try and get along in the best way possible regardless of how toxic they are.