Being Good In-Laws Requires Little Skill

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Every marriage that is solemnized between a bride and groom brings together two full families. The union of two people joins a host of relatives each with their own individual personalities, values, and beliefs. For the most part, these tend to be harmonious and peaceful, but occasionally there will arise a situation where the “in-laws” disagree. These situations can be challenging for the newlywed couple.

Almost all married couples have at least one anecdote about an unexpected development with the in-laws which led to a long-standing issue. Some can be hilariously funny after they have been resolved, while others may lead to more permanent rifts between family members who end up on opposite sides. Family feuds generally tend to gain traction when the in-laws are unable to get along.

Does this mean that as soon as you get married, you should be mentally resigned to the fact that you are not going to get along with a particular elder related to your spouse? Not at all. It takes surprisingly little skill to be a good “in-law”. What are some things that you can consider which allow the two families and all related family members to come together? Consider these points and see how simple it can be to manage things.

Clarify the Expectations from Both Ends

No one sets out to disappoint the other side. If anything, they try to please the other family members in the way that they know best. Unfortunately, different families may have different sensibilities and expectations which the other side does not understand or cater to. For instance, the groom’s family may be used to an active social life with a huge friend circle. The bride’s family may be more closed off to socializing and may prefer to spend time at home with the immediate family.

Let’s cut to chase to the first family holiday that they are celebrating together. The members of the groom’s family expect to throw a huge bash which allows them to invite their friends and acquaintances to celebrate with them. Members of the bride’s family are horrified at the prospect of having so many strangers invade what they see as sacred family time. Needless to say, the holiday is going to leave the bitter taste of disappointment in someone’s mouth, no matter what the newlyweds choose to do.

The key here is for both family members to communicate their expectations clearly and concisely. In fact, frequent and clear communication is the key to voicing expectations and keeping everyone happy in almost all situations which involve the entire extended family. It is also important to remember that some people are impossible to please. Best not to let the newly married couple make it their life mission to be loved and adored by every family member.

No Micro-Management of the Lives of the Married Couple

As older parents watch the newlywed couple set up life, there is a tendency to want to help them get things right the first time. This may involve anything from giving them advice about the way they should handle their resources, to coming over uninvited and helping them physically do things. This can be done when they are settling into their new home and the mother-in-law suggests to the new bride exactly where she should place all her cutlery and crockery in the cabinets.  Or it could be the father-in-law telling the new groom that he should take his car for servicing to a specific mechanic known to the family to get the best service possible.

As their lives progress the advice may scan the full gambit of how to get pregnant, raising the grandchild, losing post pregnancy weight, asking the boss for a raise now that the family has grown, schooling for the grandchild, creche or childcare requirements, financial planning for the future, and a whole host of other things. What’s essential to remember here is that most of these suggestions are rooted in a desire to be helpful. These are not words and actions rendered to hurt the married couple, but they inadvertently end up doing so.

Respecting Boundaries Helps Tremendously

While the desire to help is an admirable one, being good in-laws also involves knowing when to let go. This usually is the moment they are married. Even though the parents of both may find it hard to digest. At times the newlywed couple need to make their own mistakes and learn their own life lessons from them. Not only will this make them come closer to each other, but it will also teach them when to ask for advice. This will surely reduce the possible conflict situations right away.

The goal of being good in-laws is to ensure that everyone feels like they are on the same team. By having clear cut boundaries on what each one can be expected to do or not do, allows everyone to forge a healthy relationship. If the relationships are fraught with disagreements and conflict, over a period of time, a distance will settle in. In many cases, a good lengthy conversation, handled with a calm mind and clear speaking can bring everyone back on track again.

  5th August, 2022