- Tension is common in in-law relationships.
- Keeping the peace is important though.
- Make sure you keep up good communication.
- Even if you think you have a good relationship, make sure you set boundaries.
Having a relationship with your son- or daughter-in-law can be tricky. On one hand, they can be your best friend and be a perfect addition to your family. On the other hand, your relationship can be seriously strained and cause tension.
If you’re not sure where you stand with your son- or daughter-in-law, here are some signs your relationship with them needs some work – and what you can do about it.
If they don’t seem to want to form a relationship with you, come at them with good communication
Everyone gets busy, but if suddenly your requests to visit or to have you visit them go unanswered or shot down, you may have a problem on your hands. This can become even worse if there are grand-kids involved. But this is a common problem that can have many roots, many of which may have nothing to do with you.
Advice columnist Amy Dickinson said it best in a letter to a mother-in-law in a similar situation: the important thing here is reaching out in a non-confrontational way and making your requests to be closer known.
“You have kept silent in order to keep the peace, but this doesn’t really seem like peace, so much as a cold war,” she said. “You have nothing to lose at this point, and so I hope you and your husband will be brave enough to have a conversation with your son and daughter-in-law, respectfully asking them if there is a specific reason they seem so hesitant to let you play a larger role in the lives of their children.”
If you are prone to confrontation, take the high ground and be willing to work on it
Many in-laws argue openly, and the tension is out there for all to see. This can be a difficult and painful situation for everyone involved. The important thing here is to work to try and find a resolution that works for the two of you – even if that means trying a few different tactics.
Be aware first and foremost of how you’re treating them. You can’t control anyone but yourself, so working on your own behaviour is a great way to start.
“Wondering ‘If she would only do ________, our relationship could be so much better’ is not very helpful,” author Wayne Parker wrote in Live About. Think about what you could do differently that might make a positive difference in the relationship rather than wishing that ‘he or she’ would get the message.”
Respect goes both ways and if they’re being openly disrespectful to you, it can be hard to find any common ground. Mistreatment should not be taken lightly. But no matter what they have done in the past, if you truly want to improve the relationship, Gransnet recommends you go into every conflict mediation with a truly open mind.
If you’re too close and it’s affecting the relationship with their partner, set some boundaries
This may sound strange – who wouldn’t want to be close and adore their in-law? Of course being as close as biological family is ideal, but experts say it can go too far, to the point where it makes their partner uncomfortable.
If it gets to the point where they are trashing their partner in front of you and expecting you to take their side, it can put both of you in an uncomfortable situation later, Deanna Brann, Ph.D., author of “Reluctantly Related-Secrets to Getting Along With Your Mother-In-Law or Daughter-In-Law” told HuffPost.
It’s totally fine for you to have a close relationship and even talk about personal things, but experts recommend you keep some filter up.
If you just don’t mesh, do your best to be cordial
Sometimes people just don’t gel, especially if you’re thrown together by circumstances that you didn’t choose for yourself.
Don’t compare your relationship with your in-laws to anyone else’s. Even if all of your friends seem to get along great with theirs, don’t worry if yours is a little more frosty. Experts and real-life in-laws seem to agree, that sometimes the best thing you can do is do your best to keep the peace and cut everyone a little slack.
“Keep your expectations of your in-laws reasonable,”Barbara Greenberg Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today. “… It may be helpful to lower your expectations so you are less likely to become distressed.”
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