Tips for Managing a Relationship with the In-Laws

I have been married for almost 14 years and have lived 45 minutes away from my in-laws the entire time. In contrast, my family lives 5 hours away. My relationship with my in-laws has changed a lot since 2005 with some needed boundaries put in, which has not always been easy. 

But, I no longer think my mother-in-law is trying to control me by suggesting shelving options {true story from 2005} and I now encourage my husband to call HER when he is sick or something hurts. She would love to hear about all his faux-pains and I would not. I also know that when they come in town they will be here for a four hour minimum of time. Usually it is six, but I graciously say four.  We have come along way. 

I talked to some other HMB contributors, my friends and family, and compiled some tips for maintaining a good relationship with your in-laws. 

Communication

The starting point for everything is communication with your spouse. I realized early on the kookiness of my own family {love you guys!}, but it took my husband a little bit longer. We went through some years of me trying to explain that his dad stopping by our house to shower unannounced was not normal. He has to at least call me first. {Which he does now!} My husband had to get past me “complaining” about his parents, and I had to work on a better way to communicate with him. I had to help him understand my frustrations were valid to me, but also acknowledge that I did not want to get in the way or step on his relationship with his parents. His intimate knowledge has helped too. He can tell me what his parents are most likely thinking, which allows me to better understand their motivation for doing something. I still might not like it, but it always helps to understand.

Tips for Managing a Relationship with the In-Laws | Houston Moms Blog

Boundaries

I will admit, I am not the best at this. I grew up with a mom who never stood in the way of my relationship with her in-laws and I am determined to be the same. So sometimes I say “yes” when I need to say “not now”. And sometimes I have asked too much of them, when I should have respected that they are still people with lives {why though?}. 

Think About the Positives

This has been huge for me personally. Both my in-laws are wonderful with my boys. My mother-in-law has two sons and she has been such a resource to me in raising our two boys. She is infinitely calmer than me too. Like, so, so calm. Which means she is the one I send in to calm down a child. This is such a positive. And while they are here for four hours minimum, my father-in-law is playing with my kids. Like activity playing. He will play the board games I refuse to play {most} and throw the ball {nope} and do spelling on a school day. 

Share but Protect Your Calendar

My in-laws come to all my children’s games. ALL games. My kids don’t know any other way and they are very sad when their grandparents are not there. My in-laws used to call me all.the.time. asking when the games were, where they were, etc. until I began sharing the boys online calendar with them. I put all events that they are invited to on there and they know all the details. But I don’t put everything going on in our lives either. I try to be helpful without compromising anything private going on in our family. Sharing your calendar might not be your thing, obviously. You could try just emailing the full schedule of dance/sports so they can pick the ones they want to attend ahead of time. Same goes for school events. If you want them to come, send it to them WAY ahead of time. 

Managing a relationship with your spouse’s family is so complex and nuanced. We muddle through it the best wecan and I hope you are all doing the same. What tips do you have for us??


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