They say when you get married you don’t just get your spouse, you get the whole family. Sometimes that’s a blessing, sometimes it’s a curse. And no matter how far you may be stationed from the in-laws, they are still family and will still be there so it’s important you figure out a strategy plan for navigating the combining your two families.
If you’re lucky, you have great in-laws. You call them Mom and Dad. You’re happy to host them in your home. They live close enough to volunteer to babysit for date night. That’s the type of in-laws I’m blessed to have. My husband’s parents are amazing, loving people. His sister and I are in the same on-line college program so we get to bounce ideas off each other. My new extended family could not be better. The biggest problem we have is trying to set up vacations to see each other. I’m stationed in Virginia, my husband is stationed a couple states away, and his family lives on the west coast. We have a hard enough time visiting each other with two military schedules, never mind trying to go cross country as often as we’d like.
However, we know not all in-laws are like that. Some criticize your cooking skills, show preferential treatment of your spouse’s siblings, and just seem as though it’s their job to make you crazy. These in-laws don’t play nice. When dealing with this type of in-laws, it’s important to have coping skills and a plan of action in place with your spouse for what to do when problems arise. Here are just a few tips for how to make life a little easier with the in-laws.
First thing first, get on the same page as your spouse! Talk to them about your concerns and see if they can play mediator. When you merge two families, it’s not always easy to learn how the other does everything. Maybe you just come from families that communicate differently and their pushiness is a way they show they love. Sometimes getting a little perspective can defuse a situation before it becomes a major problem.
Keep in mind that your marriage is YOUR marriage. If your in-laws are the type to overstep boundaries, it might be worthwhile to discuss that with them. If you’re not comfortable tackling the conversation for fear of how they will take, it bring it up to your spouse. It’s important to make sure that they understand you two are a family now and you have your own ways of doing things. Don’t attack. Explain that you appreciate the input, but it doesn’t fall in line with the way you and your spouse have agreed to make things happen.
If you can find a way to bond with the in-laws then by all means take advantage! Maybe your mother-in-law is a Martha Stewart of crafting. Find an event where you can get creative together. Take her to a wine n’ paint night. Ask her to show you how to quilt. Find something that you can compliment her on and let her lead you a bit. It will make her feel needed and sometimes that’s all a mother-in-law needs.
It’s not just the mothers that might be a bit hard to handle. Maybe your father-in-law isn’t the warm and fuzzy type. It’s still important to try and get to know him. Is he known for his grilling skills? Next time you have them over, bond with a beer over the grill.
I know it’s not always easy to make an effort when the other side doesn’t seem to care, but if you set the good example they may eventually start to do the same. We talk about how to lead by example when showing our spouses love, so use some of those same principals with your in-laws. And if all else fails, just remember, in a few years you’ll PCS again and with any luck they will be on the opposite coast!
Do you have any crazy stories of dealing with you in-laws?