Stop assuming, “my father-in-law hates me” and start fixing with these 10 steps.
Are you constantly dealing with rude or difficult in-laws? As much as we would love to be able to ignore in-laws who hate you, their opinion actually means something when it comes to your partner. So, first things first, you have to love your in-laws.
Your partner’s parents made your spouse who they are now, whether or not you like it. But if you have some crazy in-laws, or you’re constantly thinking, “my father-in-law hates me”, you need to be cautious in your approach with your in-laws.
Unfortunately, divorcing because of in-laws is a real thing, and like it or not, your mother-in-law and father-in-law can — and will — play a big part in the success of your marriage.
The best feeling in the world is when you can finally get to the point that you get along with your in-laws — when you can actually enjoy being in their presence. But sometimes it takes a while (and work) to get them on your side.
After all, you are the new person in the family, so gaining their acceptance — although not required — can lead the way to a happier, less-stressful relationship in the long-run.
Don’t make any expectations about the kind of relationship you want to have with your in-laws. Those high expectations could be more than what your in-laws are willing to live up to, so take things one step at a time. Keep your relationship expectations reasonable, because if you expect to be welcomed into the family quicker than what they are comfortable with, things can go downhill fast.
After spending more time with your in-laws, you will start to become more aware of their faults — but don’t let that cause you shame and humiliation, or embarrassment because they are your family. Accept your partner’s parents for who they are (because they are unlikely to change to suit your standards).
Something cool that may help you gain some bonus points with your in-laws is to take an interest in something they enjoy — particularly activities or experiences you can all do as a family. Make these bonding times a tradition to build a better relationship with them over time.
And as much as you may not love to hear about old stories or go through old photos from before you were a part of the family, just listening and giving them the time to reminisce is a great way to let them include you. In-laws are notorious for telling stories and they love to be listened to.
They like feeling important, so when you’re forming your relationship with them, let them feel like they have a say once in a while.
Once you make them grandparents (they hope, anyway), then it is imperative to try and get along, especially in front of the children because you don’t want to make your children dislike their grandparents or deprive them of a relationship. Plus, getting along with the in-laws makes your life a million times easier (and oftentimes you get a built-in babysitter).
To make the times much more fun and enjoyable for everyone involved when the family is all together, maybe make some plans for certain activities that will be the highlight of your get together.
If you find yourself in a situation where you feel like your in-laws hate you, there’s no better time to try some of the following ways to handle in-laws who don’t like you so you can convince them that you’re not so bad after all:
1. Don’t ask your spouse to choose between you and their family.
You need to stand by your spouse, not your family or their family. More than anything you don’t want to make your spouse choose between you and their family.
You should never give your spouse an ultimatum or make them prove their loyalty to one person or another. It’s a lose-lose situation (and oftentimes, you could be the one who loses the most).
2. Avoid the temptation to vent to your parents about your marriage problems or arguments.
The biggest mistake you can make is when you share your marital problems with either your parents or your spouse’s parents. In an article about how to manage difficult in-laws, The HuffPost explains that “you fix problems in a marriage within a marriage — not by turning away from your partner and toward your parents … if you vent to your parents every time you’re angry or hurt, they’ll build a case against your partner”.
So say you and your spouse argue and eventually you work through things, if you vented to your parents or to your in-laws because they are close to you, they still may be holding a grudge against your partner for hurting you. Parents are great people to go to for advice on a lot of things, but they are biased, so bringing your marriage problems up probably isn’t one of them.
3. Make the effort to get to know your in-laws better.
Sometimes if you just breach the barrier that is keeping your in-laws skeptical about you, then you may find that being near them will be much more tolerable.
Chances are you probably don’t know much about your mother-in-law or your father-in-law because you avoid them at all costs (or you always make sure your spouse is with you to facilitate conversation), so take the chance to spend a little time with them on your own to let them ask you questions and get to know them a little better. You might find you like them more than you thought.
4. Set clear boundaries with your parents and with your in-laws.
It’s natural, healthy and important to set boundaries with your in-laws (and your own parents), and your in-laws need to be aware of those boundaries and respect them. This will allow your in-laws to come and go in your relationship in an appropriate way.
Set up a time to have a conversation with them and encourage them to be honest with their feelings as you talk to them about your boundaries, that way they can feel like they are contributing to those rules and will be more apt to follow them down the line.
5. It’s okay to limit your time together, too.
If there are conflicts between you and your in-laws, you may need to make plans that have a set ending. This could be dinner out at a restaurant where it’s acceptable to be with them for a little while, then you part your ways, or doing something similar.
Having an “escape plan”, as you will, will help cut some of the tensions between you and give you a way to socialize with them while also setting boundaries without sounding rude or inconsiderate.
6. Know your role as a partner.
If your spouse is having family troubles, you need to figure out what your role is in fixing them (or stepping aside). It’s never a good idea to put yourself in the middle of a family issue and get involved unless your spouse says so.
You need to support your spouse and their decisions, but your spouse is the one that has to resolve the problems between themselves and their own parents.
7. Respect your spouse’s family customs and traditions.
The biggest thing is that you don’t want to be disrespectful of your spouse’s family by being ignorant of their traditions. If you show interest and that you paid attention and went the extra mile to honour their traditions, then you will make a positive impression on them.
8. Avoid making assumptions (and learn to let things go).
Make sure that your emotions are coming through loud and clear with your in-laws and vice versa, but it’s important that you also take your in-laws’ comments with a grain of salt and not take them personally. Ultimately your in-laws are not your parents, nor are they your partner, so sometimes it’s easiest to just let them say what they want to say and move on without argument.
9. Talk openly and honestly with your spouse after you spend time with your parents.
Taking some time to talk and discuss what happened while you were together will help you get your frustrations out. It’s better to talk it out than to keep your feelings bottled up, especially when it comes to conversations about your parents. If you don’t talk things through right away, eventually things will explode out when the timing is much worse, and small disagreements can turn into big, ugly ones.
So chat it out, laugh it out and let it go so you can move on with your life (and your happy relationship!)
10. Try your best to be charming and polite with your in-laws (even if it’s hard).
Being polite, friendly, and accepting will help you build a closer bond with your in-laws.
You may not always LOVE being around your in-laws (and hey, sometimes they don’t like being around you either), but it’s something we all have to do, so try to make the best of it for the sake of you and your partner. If things go well, it will bring you two even closer together.