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Getting married also means letting a man's family into your life. But every family is different and not everyone is going to get along all of the time. So what is the ideal relationship you should have with your in-laws?
Communication Is Key
The first step is to determine what you and your in-laws expect from each other by communicating these issues. “In-laws can provide great support in the extended family unit,” says Willy Ho, founder and lead counsellor, The Counselling Paradigm. “However, good communication needs to be established between you and your in-laws so that both parties have appropriate expectations from each other.”
Don't Make Him Choose
The biggest mistake women make in this area is make their husband choose between them and his parents. This is definitely a no-go. “Unless the relationship is abusive, and you believe you or your husband are at serious risk of harm, it's not ok to make your partner choose between you and his family,” says Jessica Lamb, relationship psychotherapist and mediator at Relationship Matters. “Therefore you have to find a way to get along as best you can. It can be helpful to try and put yourself in their shoes and empathise with their position on an issue.
“If arguments are common with your in-laws then it may be wise to limit your contact for a while to cool down, but do not restrict your partner. When you are more calm, seek the opportunity to talk about the issues with them - being specific about the issue, talking about how you feel and what you need in positive terms.”
Don't Bitch About Him
Discussing your husband with his family in a negative manner isn't always a good idea. “It really depends on how close you are and the purpose of sharing the negative aspects of your husband or marriage,” Jessica explains. “If you feel close to your in-laws and trust that they care about the two of you and are positive about your future together, then talking out a problem or asking for their advice or point of view may be helpful. After all, they should have a pretty good idea of his flaws and how to deal with them!
“You must be sensitive to crossing the line though; if your in-laws feel your are being very critical and judgmental of their son, they are likely to shut down and your words will backfire on you.”
For a healthy relationship, it's important to understand where both of you are coming from. “The key foundation which is healthy for a marriage is to understand that each spouse was brought up under a different set of family values and belief systems,” Willy elaborates.
“So in the marriage, the couple has to learn to form a new set of family values to which they agree based on the positive values that they wish to adopt. With these values, the couple then can decide when and how they need to intervene appropriately when dealing with each other’s families.”