As a relationship therapist in Houston, I work primarily with couples, but I also know what an important role people’s relationships with the rest of their family plays in their lives. And if you’re married or committed to a partner, their family becomes a part of your life, and your relationship to them can impact your marriage.
Especially with the holidays coming up, many people are preparing to spend more time with their in-laws. There are plenty of people who get along extremely well with their in-laws, but there are others who feel their in-laws know just how to get under their skin. If you’re in the latter camp, arguments with your spouse over your in-laws can lead to bigger marriage problems. They are his or her family, after all, and verbally attacking them isn’t healthy for your relationship.
Instead of allowing your in-laws to be a source of marriage problems, keep some of these tips in mind, and if necessary, seek the help of a relationship therapist in Houston.
Tips for Healthy In-Law Relationships from a Relationship Therapist in Houston
Be open to new traditions. Your partner and their family might have certain traditions that you yourself didn’t grow up with, but don’t knock them before you try them. If your partner has a family ritual that means a lot to them and they invite you to be a part of it, keep in mind it’s because they love you and want you to share in their life.
Learn to compromise. There are going to be times when the best course of action is compromising with your in-laws. Before you get into an argument, think about the source of contention. Is your mother-in-law letting your child eat dessert before dinner? You might not like it, but if it’s not going to seriously harm you or your family, it may be best to let it slide.
Remain calm when dialoguing. If you do need to confront your in-laws, keep your voice neutral and explain the problem without making it sound like you’re solely blaming them. Try to work with your in-laws to come up with a solution that will make everyone happy. You may need to establish some clear boundaries to make your relationship successful.
Know it’s okay to take a breather. If your in-laws are stressing you out too much, take a few minutes for yourself. Go into another room or take a short walk around the neighborhood, as long as briefly leaving won’t cause a scene. If your in-laws live nearby and you and your partner spend a lot of time at their house, know that you don’t necessarily have to go to every family event. Make an effort to go to some, though, to show that you care about your partner’s family.
Find a healthy outlet. Don’t let conflicts with your in-laws grow into marriage problems between you and your partner. If you’re experiencing more serious in-law problems, you and your partner should consider talking to a relationship therapist in Houston. And, of course, make sure that you and your partner can talk to one another about your in-laws. Be intentionally supportive of your spouse, especially around your family. Before, during, or after contact, make yourself available for private dialogues, helping your partner to vent and process any difficulties with their in-laws (or their own family).