In-law problems are often the subject of jokes that are anything but funny to the people who actually live with chronic discord in the family. Whether your in-law anxiety is simply due to wanting to impress them or you fear the dreaded insults that may be hurled in your direction, it is important to your marriage to clear these issues right away. The influence of in-laws on a marriage is so substantial that a 26-year-long study conducted by Terri Orbuch, a professor at the University of Michigan, revealed that divorce rates go down when a husband gets along with his spouse’s parents. If you find yourself dreading the next visit from the in-laws, then use the following marriage counseling advice to protect your relationship.
Identify Underlying Triggers
When you visit a counselor and ask them to help fix your marriage and the in-laws related problems you’re having, you should know that you are not alone. Approximately 13 percent of all people who go to marriage counseling mention that they do not get along with their spouse’s family. Often, this is simply because of differences in how you were raised, so it is possible that you do not share the same values as your extended family. In counseling, you can learn how to identify the things about your in-laws that set you off so that you can develop strategies to address the triggers. For instance, you may find that you cannot stand it when your mother-in-law brings up political issues, and it is better to quietly dismiss yourself from the conversation.
Try to Focus on the Positive
When someone rubs you the wrong way, it is easy to get stuck thinking about all the negative things that they do and say. However, it does help to remember that this is the same person who raised your spouse and helped them become the person that they are today. Also, during your next visit with your in-laws, consider observing them from a different perspective. While you may not see eye-to-eye on many subjects, you could discover that they have a knack for connecting with your kids.
Practice Effective Communication
Professional marriage advice often involves teaching how to communicate better. While you cannot always stop your in-laws’ snarky comments, you can make sure that your side of the conversation stays positive. In marriage counseling, you can learn how to communicate with people even when you don’t agree with them. The result:conflicts are avoided, and everyone feels less stressed. You can also learn how to talk to your spouse about your anxiety without blaming the in-laws and stirring up more problems.
Sometimes, conflicts begin when one or more members of the family fail to respect the privacy of others. For instance, you may find your nerves rankle when your in-law starts pressuring you to have a baby when you are perfectly happy delaying parenthood. Alternatively, you may find your sister-in-law’s questions about your romantic life invasive. Spend time talking with your spouse about the boundaries that you need to be set in your marriage such as not running to the other parent whenever you have a disagreement. This way, you are both on the same page and you can build trust in your marriage.
Respect Each Other’s Limits
In a marriage, it is common for one spouse to be fine with certain behaviors while the other one gets upset. For instance, your partner’s boisterous family may enjoy dark humor that you find off-putting. Alternatively, your introverted spouse may only be able to stand so many minutes of conversation with your extroverted family before they are ready to make an escape. Try to recognize that your marriage should come first. While you should never avoid seeing your family, it might help to limit visits to a specific number of hours or to establish a code word that means, “Honey, it’s time for us to take a break”
Allowing in-law anxiety to fester will eventually impact your relationship. Plus, it”s hard to realize that one of you doesn’t automatically love the other one’s family. While there may always be differences, you can work with your partner to make your marriage stronger by finding new strategies for addressing your in-law issues.