Sometimes things do not go as planned after we walk down the aisle with our best friend — in the form of their parents. Maybe they don’t like your personality, racial background, or think that they son or daughter can do better. Whatever the reason, they are going to be in your life for quite a while so you might as well make the best of it!
Read on for our top tips to deal with those unbearable situations that can drive you up the wall thanks to the “loving” embrace of your in-laws. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. We’re here for you!
Don’t Take It Personally
Chances are that you are not the issue. This is the first and most important thing to remember in order to take the mistreatment with a “grain of salt.” Your in-laws may have something going on in their personal lives that they are projecting onto their relationship with you. If you feel that may be the case, reach out to them and be the bigger person.
Whether you are dealing with your husband’s parents or your wife’s, they are always the priority. As it makes sense that they feel you are stealing their child away from them forever, a certain hint of jealousy rears its ugly head and sometimes emotions are not handled well.
Reaching out to spend time with your in-laws will always be appreciated, especially if your spouse is not present. By sharing alone time together, even if it doesn’t go as well as you hope, you are still putting in the effort to mend a broken bridge. Share a bike ride along the beach or grab a glass of wine!
By showing that you are interested in getting to know them as a person, rather than a parent, they will have respect for you. Invite your in-law to lunch or dinner, or even show off a personal accomplishment of yours to demonstrate how you landed the apple of their eye!
Treat Them As Family
Even if you are feeling rejection, do your best to see and treat them as if they weren’t treating you that way. Just like when we were little kids, it is always beneficial to take the high road and be the bigger person. Embrace them when you see them, greet them with a smile and NEVER let them catch you rolling your eyes if you can help it! We totally understand, but eye rolling is a big no-no.
By calling them mom and dad, they will eventually learn to see you in a light that reveals they didn’t lose their son or daughter, but actually gained a new one.
Always Be Yourself
The worst thing you can do in this situation is be something you are not just to please your in-laws. Some people make this huge mistake in order to impress or relate to their in-laws, but they end up losing small pieces of what make them unique and special.
By doing this, you are risking losing the person who gained the heart of their son or daughter in the first place — the person you truly are. Chances are if you take this route, your spouse will not appreciate it because they want their parents to fall in love with the same person that they did. This can also cause potential rifts in your marriage, which is the last thing you want.
Find Common Ground
If you inquire about your in-laws to your spouse and seek common ground that you can use to weld the gap between you shut, your effort will not go unnoticed. Say you find that you both enjoy a clothing line, show, or politician… what could be more exciting?! Finally, they will see you as a competent equal who deserves their time and praise and, of course, their child.
Not only will your in-laws appreciate your genuine interest in their hobbies and lives, but your spouse will fall in love with the amount of effort you are putting in to the situation.
Give It Time
Patience will be your best friend throughout this transition, although at times you will want to give up. By allowing yourself the time to cope with the maltreatment, it will help you approach each situation with a clear head. Enjoy a long spa day, read a great book or draw a nice, soothing bath if you are starting to feel negative emotions rise to the surface.
One of the hardest things to deal with is being disliked because we don’t understand what we have done or question our integrity, but the key is time. Also, there is always the chance that you will eventually wear down your in-laws when they see you are not going anywhere soon.
Even though they may be the last people you want at an occasion, you must always invite them, especially if there are children involved. By including them in family events, you are showing them that you want them present even though they may wish that you weren’t. By being the bigger person, you are displaying a level of maturity that your spouse will appreciate and that your in-laws may even learn to appreciate, too.
Another reason for this is that you don’t need any more ammo for them to dislike you, and neglecting to invite them to anything is a recipe for disaster. The last thing that you want is for you in-laws to be able to complain to your spouse about how they are “pushed aside” or “left in the dark.”
Remember Who They Are
At times you may see their physical appearances morph into monster-like creatures due to their ugly behavior, but always keep in perspective that they are the ones responsible for giving life to the person you love most. They are the reason that the love of your life exists, so can they really be that bad? You may be thinking to yourself YES! but do your best to keep this in perspective.
Just as they see themselves in the reflection of their children’s eyes, do your best to see the same and appreciate the struggles they overcame to make that possible.
Feeling disliked and in some senses mentally abused by your in-laws definitely results in a shot to the ego and usually results in low self-confidence, but do your best to keep your pride aside. This is one of the hardest steps of the process, so if your ego sneaks in the way, don’t beat yourself up about it. Just do your best to remove your pride from the next scenario that tests it.
Just like our “Don’t Take It Personally” section, pride can only worsen the situation even though you don’t deserve to be treated this way in the first place. Keep outside of yourself in the moments where you feel rejected and mistreated and seek refuge in the arms of your spouse later in private.
In order to shine in the same light that they have always their child in, you must make an effort. Effort will not only show that you are interested, willing and capable of moving past the poor treatment, but it will impress your spouse more than you know. This does not mean spending in-person time with them, even. Just a simple call every once in awhile will suffice.
Fun Tip: Request to see pictures of their son or daughter. This always shows genuine interest on their “turf” and helps them to see the extent to which you love their child.
Set Healthy Boundaries
Boundaries will be your best friend down the road, so you can ensure the proper time with your spouse uninterrupted by his or her parents. As much as they will resent you for keeping them from their child at times, it is vital to establish these immediately. Limit the times they can come over and visit by agreeing verbally and possibly even contractually with your spouse so you can present the boundaries as a united front.
Forfeiting the boundaries at the start of the marriage will come to bite you in the you-know-what later, especially if you are dealing with a “momma’s boy” or “daddy’s girl.”
Remember, They Are Not The Enemy
As much as your in-laws make themselves out to be, they are not the enemy. Chances are that they do not know how much they have truly pinned themselves against you, so it is best to give them the benefit of the doubt. Putting this in perspective with verbal reminders or even written notes can help at times! Try it!
Approach each and every conflict by picturing them on your side, rather than against you, if you can. This may take time to develop the patience and grace after the anger, but telling yourself repeatedly that they are not the enemy will help.
Do Not Differentiate With Your Spouse
By using words like “your mother” or “your father,” you can create a space between you and your spouse. The minute you are married, you are all family and it is important to remember that in good times and bad.
If it comes to the point where you have to express your distress to your spouse, use “mom” and “dad” so that they know you perceive them as family, rather than second- hand family. Plus, if and when your spouse confronts their parents about their behavior, they will be able to say that you refer to them as these positive terms.
Bring Presumptions To The Surface
In a positive way, voice how you feel to your new parents. Try to understand from their perspective why exactly they feel you are not deserving of their child in a healthy way. It should be clear to them by now that you have some things to say, so do your best to bring up the subject in a calm way.
Seeing you in a mature and human light, acting out of love for their child will illuminate a new aspect they had possibly not seen you in before. At the end of the day, we’re all human and a heart-to-heart chat might even help you understand your in-laws better than before.
Buy Their Affection With Heartfelt Gifts
Although we are not telling you to “buy” the affection of your in-laws, purchasing something that is heartfelt can be a clever way to gain their respect and love. Putting thought into a considerate gift can show dedication to the family, patience for earning their respect, and just the fact that they were on your mind.
For instance, a beautiful picture frame, cookbook, or even something engraved can go a long way in their eyes and hearts. Rather than going out and purchasing a nice purse, fancy coat or expensive money clip, these gifts were intended to be heartfelt and show how invested you are in their lives and interests.
Use Humor To Connect
If you are good with words or jokes, humor can sometimes be used to seek understanding with those who do not yet understand us. Ice breakers could potentially be helpful for bonding with those that you feel do not understand or “like” you. But, no pressure if comedy is not your thing… just enjoy a show, movie or comedy sketch together!
Utilizing humor as common ground can bond you with your in-laws in a way that not even your husband or wife has connected with them. Just like they say, there is no medicine better than laughter so why not give yourself and your in-laws a healthy dose of the best kind of medicine there is!
Give Them What They Want Most
What your in-laws want most is time with the child who they feel has either forgotten them or moved on. Allow them to share special alone time with their son or daughter for a lunch, dinner or night on the town. A great idea in this case would be to get them two or three tickets to a show or a gift card to a restaurant to exhibit how important their personal time is to you.
Being mature in this situation, stepping aside, and sacrificing time to make them happy will not only put them in a better mood and will be greatly appreciated. It will also show your spouse how far you are willing to go to make the relationship better. They will thank you for it.
Never Bad Talk Them To Your Spouse
The only good offense is a good defense and if you lose your partner’s respect by saying ill-willed words about their parents, you have shot yourself in the foot. Although it is difficult to not give into the moment and say how you truly feel (and you may even be justified in those feelings), it is not best in the long run to express negative thoughts.
If the parents are hell-bent on getting rid of you, you don’t want to make them look better by being immature about the situation with hurtful words that you can’t take back. More importantly, you do not want to disappoint or upset your spouse. This is the most important thing throughout the dragged-out process of changing your in-laws’ minds.
Always Open Your Home
One of the most important things you can do as a partner to your spouse is welcome their parents to stay with you with open arms. Whether it is an extended stay for the holidays, a simple dinner or inviting them to live with you, you must always keep your home a welcoming environment for them.
As much as you may want to resist and thought of them staying in the next room kills you, it is important to show them and your spouse that you see them as family. The minute you said “I do,” you said I do to them too! Remember that!