Family,  In-Laws,  Relationship skills

Working with in-laws 2

Several years ago, a cousin disclosed to me how she secretly wished for whomever she would eventually get married to, not to have a mother.

According to her, she was not cut out to handle any in-law shenanigans.

This revelation sent shivers down my spine. Now, why would anyone wish for such a reprehensible thing? It also got me wondering: would the woman I eventually decide to settle down with also harbour a similar wish?

Well, I understood where my cousin was coming from. I know her background. Her mother’s experience with her in-laws was unenviable.

Now, fast-forward to a few years down the line.  My cousin met this guy. They eventually tied the knots. Thankfully, her wishes did not happen. Until this day, her mother-in-law is still very much alive!

Now, here is the interesting part: my cousin has an unusually cordial relationship with her mother-in-law. They share a strong bond, one that can be likened to a mother and daughter attachment.

At a recent event, after seeing both of them poke fun at each other, I pulled her to a corner. I then reminded her of what she had told me years back. Of course, she felt deeply embarrassed. She replied by thanking God that her wish, then, didn’t come true.

Anyway, over time, I have come to realize that my cousin is not alone in this super-dread for in-laws – especially the mothers.

In fairness to this group of people, some in-laws can really turn up the devilry. This is not suggesting that all in-laws are terrors. However, we have to admit that some can turn up the horror – effortlessly.

Indeed, some in-laws can be toxic, intrusive and quite judgmental. Not knowing how to handle them can destroy the close emotional bond you share with your partner.

Even when husbands and wives have a perfect relationship, it can still be hard to get along with some in-laws, especially the parents. Moreover, when their needless mischievous aptitude starts, if not well managed, they can degenerate into tricky clashes.

Typically, in-laws (especially the mothers and fathers) can be quick to judge their children’s spouses. They judge the parenting style. They judge the amount of attention that their children get from their spouses. They judge the domestic activities, etc. When their children-in-law do not meet up with their sometimes-unrealistic standards, the drama starts.

Regardless of how old their children are, they never stop seeing them as their babies that need their protection.  Moreover, they never stop expecting the absolute best for him or her. This need can drive them to judge everything their children’s partners do.

The same can be said for the partner being judged. Feeling judged, this could make them quick to judge their judgmental in-laws. This is a perfect recipe for a rift.

Some in-laws are also notorious for breaching boundaries.

Some in-laws are also notorious for breaching boundaries.For instance, they violate boundaries by offering unsolicited advice, getting into heated arguments, or even showing up unannounced to criticize parenting style, cleaning, or become a general nuisance. And you wonder why these things happen.

Well, mostly, these things happen because of a covert contest for control. In-laws, especially older ones, feel entitled to a certain level of respect, submission or intrusion.  However, many of them forget that you have to give respect in order to get it.

In relationships, creating boundaries is important, but maintaining those boundaries is even more important.

Healthy boundaries are the core of our self-respect. It is also one of the foundations of any healthy relationship.

To enable respect for boundaries by our in-laws, the input from both partners is very necessary.

So, let your partner know what terms and boundaries you expect regarding your in-laws. Also, give your partner the space they need to make their own in return.

In Conclusion,Shenanigans are not the exclusive preserve of in-laws. It will be hugely unfair to even suggest that. As much as we have some in-laws from hell, we also have daughters and sons-in-law that are equally devilish.

However, when we decide to go into this marriage business, we must realize that we have not only signed up to one person, but to their family – and with all their varying idiosyncrasies.

Dealing with in-laws successfully involves a lot of politics and choosing our battles right. However, this does not mean compromising on some crucial values.

Nevertheless, maintaining a harmonious relationship with our in-laws is something that is very possible. It only requires some measure of sacrifice. And that sacrifice should be considered as a special gift to your spouse.

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