Image: Cathy Yeulet/123rf.com
#1 Work with your spouse
We get it. You're not exactly too keen on being caught in between. But when conflict arises? Your loyalty should be with your spouse, especially if you feel your family is being difficult. You should both present a united front to your family members, and show that you have the back of the person you've chosen to share a life with. Sure, you can sit on the fence, but hey, just know that letting your spouse deal with the issue solo can build resentment and drive a wedge between the two of you.
On the other hand, never put your spouse in a situation where he or she has to choose between you or the relative - this also puts a strain on your marriage. Have a discussion with your partner if his family member's putting you in a spot, or being critical - keep to the facts and how it makes you feel, and there's no need to be rude.
#2 You might not like them but...
there's no reason you can't co-exist in peace. You might not have to obey their every command, but the least you can do is to listen to what they have to say - this shows them that you're respectful, and that you're putting in the effort to maintain the relationship. Your spouse will thank you for it, and if you need a reminder why you're doing this, it's because you love him/her.
#3 Skip the politics
Discussing politics can be a potential minefield (no matter how open-minded you think they are!), and engaging in a political debate can escalate a situation you didn't even see coming. Especially if you don't see eye to eye. Save yourself the unnecessary trouble and refrain from bringing it up. If they ask for your opinion? Give a neutral response as possible and then try to navigate your way out of those dangerous waters, stat.
#4 Gain control
Your mum-in-law's pushy or your father-in-law tries to dictate what you should or should not be doing for your wedding prep (Here's how to deal with it if this happens). First of all, try to understand that this might be their way (though, not necessarily appropriate) of showing concern or trying to be helpful.
But there are firm boundaries that your parent-in-law shouldn't overstep too. Together with your spouse, bring up these issues, and address your concerns kindly but firmly. At the same time, pick your battles wisely. If the issue's minor, let it slide so you can focus on the bigger problems, and you're not seen as being disagreeable.
#5 Nip it in the bud
Asap. While we're on the topic of boundaries, it's best to establish them right away. If you're perturbed by your in-laws' constant unsolicited advice, nagging or habitual drop-ins, don't wait till years to talk to them about it and let your resentment stew. It could blow up at the worst possible times. And they'll be indignant since they've been "doing it all the time", too.
#6 Communicate directly
If it's an issue that affects the both you and your spouse, it's okay for either both of you to speak to your in-laws or have your spouse bring it up. If it affects you as an individual - like if your father-in-law said something that hurt your feelings - it's best to address it as soon and possible, and to speak directly to the person. Sometimes, it could be a genuine misunderstanding, and communicating via a third party (eg, your spouse) can make matters worse.
#7 No flat, no marry
When you're living within such close quarters, it's hard to avoid friction, even if you're on okay terms with your in-laws. Our final (and very obvious) piece of advice? If your finances allow for it, sometimes the best solution is to not get married till you've got your own set of keys (There, we said it).