If you have in-laws, at least one of the following scenarios is likely to be all too familiar to you. The good news is you’re not alone. These problems are common to in-law relationships and can usually be solved by remembering some basic concepts of respect and good communication.
1. An interfering mother-in-law
Countless women complain that their mother-in-laws give them unwarranted advice and even try to control their lives. Before you move away and change your phone numbers, try these suggestions:
• Let your husband know that your mother-in-law’s interference is bothering you, and ask him to help you find a solution. This may mean setting up a system of rules for raising your children, agreeing to limit excessive phone calls and visits, etc. Follow up on your decisions, and don’t waver in them; your boundaries must be respected.
• Communicate directly with your mother-in-law about how her behavior is making your feel, when you are not angry. Chances are, there are simple misunderstandings that can be easily cleared up.
2. A jealous sister-in-law or mother-in-law
There is always underlying competition between women in any family, and this is not excluded from in-law relationships. Follow these tips if you are the victim of jealous behavior from your female in-laws.
• Try to understand the root cause of the jealous behavior instead of focusing on how you’re being wronged, and talk with her about it. Perhaps she’s feeling slighted or left out and there are ways to include her without disregarding your boundaries.
• Don’t respond back -- it will turn into a vicious cycle. Be the better person. Instead, respond in love and friendship. In time, she’ll see that you aren’t as bad as she thought.
3. A slighted in-law
Feelings of being slighted are a common problem for families, and especially in-laws, who haven’t had as many years to sort out behavior patterns and signals. Perhaps you forgot to invite someone to a birthday party or open house, or didn’t return their call, or turned down their invitation to hang out. Here’s how to clear things up.
• Be aware of signals that indicate you have offended an in-law – coldness, lack of communication, tension, etc.
• If you determine you have offended your in-law, don’t ‘let it go.’ Apologize, even if you weren’t in the wrong, and ask how you can make things right. Chances are your apology will be accepted and the relationship will be mended.
• Don’t respond by being offended, even if your in-law continues to act slighted. Continue to do your best to make them feel welcome and loved.
4. A greedy in-law
Dealing with an inheritance, will, or other financial matters will often bring out the worst in your in-laws, leading to bickering, jealously, and feuding. Here is some advice to follow:
• Remember that money and possessions are trivial in comparison to the relationships that are at stake. Don’t let your attachment to them cause you to act rashly when you are wronged.
• If someone insists on having something that should have been given to you, let it go and avoid a fight. Your behavior may change their attitude.
Not all conflicts with in-laws can be avoided, but if you respond correctly, they can be worked through and make your relationships with them stronger because of it.