How To Improve Your Relationships With Your In-Laws
Getting along with in-laws isn’t always easy. After all, you get no say as to who enters your life in this capacity. Anyone could come along and change your family forever.
Still, part of being an adult means getting along with others. Additionally, the entire family dynamic can suffer if only one or two people refuse to get along. You don’t want to be the person who brings the mood down at gatherings or sparks unnecessary drama, so improving your in-law relationships is undoubtedly in your best interests.
Depending on the in-laws you deal with, this effort may be more easily said than done. However, with the right approach, you may be able to build an affinity with even the most challenging in-laws. We’ve provided a few tips for you to consider below to help things along more smoothly.
When in-laws meet, they often have preconceived ideas of one another. They want expectations to be met, focusing on who the other ‘should be’ rather than who they truly are.
Keep in mind how easily conflict can spark between in-laws at the best of times, and do everything you can to prevent such things from happening. You can do this by:
• Showing an interest in their profession – Take your in-laws seriously and respect their career. Status isn’t important, and all work is good work, so keep an open mind.
• Partake in their hobbies with them – Whether they like video games or table tennis, getting on their level can show that you’re willing to step into their shoes.
• Focus on positivity – Recognise that people are flawed and that if you look hard enough, you can probably find an excuse not to like anyone. Don’t sweat the small stuff and appreciate their positive traits, even if they’re few.
• Be kind – In-laws may sometimes feel like they have to prove something to you or those around them. Unconditionally offer gentle reminders to assure them that they belong. Invite them to any outings you think could be fun for them.
If you can actively be a positive presence in your in-law’s life, they will want to be around you more. You may also strengthen ties with your relative at the same time, who’ll appreciate your efforts too.
Don’t Pick Sides
Arguments are common in marriages. Additionally, when they occur between a relative and their spouse, you may feel inclined to take the side of the former no matter what.
If possible, you should try to be more sensitive when these problems arise. Consider that any conflict between them may be resolved quicker and cleaner if you don’t involve yourself by your own volition. If you’re asked for your input, prioritise being a sympathetic listener rather than ‘back up’.
Remember that the pandemic has put many relationships under strain as well. While life is slowly returning back to normal, some of the ‘hurts’ from that time may not be fully resolved just yet. Try to navigate these matters with discretion and tact, and don’t spread gossip, pick sides, or otherwise fuel further drama.
When tensions have eased, you may be looked upon more favourably by your in-laws. They might appreciate your sense of boundaries and view you as somebody they can rely on and mutually respect.
Remember Important Occasions
If you care about any relationship of yours, you’ll go the extra mile to celebrate important occasions. When it comes to your in-laws, though, you should try to make things more special.
For instance, instead of just wishing them a happy birthday, you should celebrate the meaningful bond you have as in-laws as well. You can purchase birthday cards for your daughter-in-law or your sister-in-law from Card Gallery. Whether you’re looking for cute designs or traditional offerings, you’ll find everything you need here for an affordable price. Be sure to include a personalised message beyond generic well wishes too.
Keep promoting that idea of closeness that is exclusive to your relationship as in-laws. You can do this beyond birthdays, too – job promotions and anniversaries can be opportune times to strengthen your dynamic.
Don’t be Two-Faced
You can be the most charming person in the world to your in-law’s in person. However, if you talk about them behind their back, word of this will almost certainly reach them.
Even mildly disparaging remarks can be hurtful. If other relatives of yours are derogatory about them, then make sure you discourage their behaviour. If you smile, laugh, or otherwise act as a bystander during those times, then you may as well be the person saying those things.
While it’s impossible to get everybody on the same page completely, your willingness to try is what makes the difference for your in-laws. Many families will try to assign an ‘outsider’ or ‘black sheep’ role to someone, and in-laws can frequently be the target. Make sure you don’t tolerate these attitudes for a second, and it will speak volumes about your integrity and character to your in-laws.
As with all relationships, you need some time away from certain people every now and then. Your dynamic with your in-laws should be far from all-consuming.
Try to refrain from having an ‘open door’ policy. You may find life easier when only household members come and go as they please. Establish visiting times with your in-laws, and politely request that they call ahead before any they visit.
The time you do share should perhaps be more special. Consider cooking a special meal or taking a holiday once a year. The important thing is to enjoy everything in proportion and thinking that less can be more with these dynamics.
If you are visiting your in-laws, you should offer to contribute to household chores. The best relationships are built on ‘give and take’ tendencies, so be sure to treat each other as equals.
Ask Your Relative for Information
Remember that your relative will have lots of ‘inside information’ on their spouse. If you ask the right questions, the answers may help you improve your relationship with the in-laws.
Consider what the marriage means to your relative. Contemplate how much they love their spouse and how much they desire for them to assimilate into your family seamlessly. Any missteps on your part may result in them feeling let down or humiliated as well.
Ask your relative if there is anything you can do to build an affinity with your in-laws. You could enquire about:
• Conversational topics to avoid – Some discussions may be distressing or triggering for them to hear. Avoid politics and religious issues if people are not comfortable.
• General health – Keep discussions around health on a ‘need to know’ basis, and do not pry. However, if their spouse has a disability of some sort, you may need to know so that you can make changes in your hosting or demeanour.
• Likes and dislikes – From refreshment preferences to room arrangements, you may be a better host if you know what quirks of theirs to anticipate.
• The tone – Your relative may wish to set the tone of any engagements to keep all parties happy and content. Should people be loud and merry, or do they prefer more stimulating and deep discussions?
There may be some questions that your relative would rather not answer, and you should respect their boundaries. So long as you’re polite, you may be able to learn a great deal for the betterment of your relationship.