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Marriage and In-Laws

One area of challenge for most couples are relationships with the in-laws. Why? Because the new mother and father-in-law are a part of the package of what you commit to in marriage, but they are not necessarily people you would seek out and befriend if they were not connected to your spouse. And how you navigate the relationship with your new extended family members will be important to the health and longevity of your marriage. This article will review ideas about in-laws to assist you for your future marriage.

Why In-Law Relationships Can Be Challenging:

*Worlds colliding: remember a mother and father-in-law are the literal parents of your future new spouse. As such, they care greatly for your spouse and already have been for decades. They want the best for him or her but they don’t really know you very well. Their bias and loyalty will always be towards your spouse. Please don’t take that personally, just know that is how it will be. So, when you come into their lives as the new spouse of their child, this will be “worlds colliding”. Their previous family dynamic will be colliding with the new marriage and family that you will be establishing with their son or daughter. These conflicting worlds commonly can lead to power struggles, hurt feelings, and growing pains.

*Blurry and changing roles: before you came alone your new parents-in-law had more of a direct, supportive role to your new spouse. Now that you will be there, it can be challenging for the in-laws to know how to shift gears and defer to you and the both of you together as a new married unit. Some in-laws do a better job of gracefully stepping back and promoting you both to be your own main decision makers. However, other in-laws may not be so willing to lessen their power, control, and influence over their child. Power struggles, passive-aggression, and conflict often follow during this transition and perhaps throughout the marriage.

*Personality Issues: perhaps the biggest issue that can create friction, stress, and conflict are personality issues. If you and/or a new parent-in-law have strong or even aggressive personalities, you very well may have conflict and even arguments with an in-law. Conversely, if you and/or the in-law are more passive or conflict avoidant, quiet resentment, hurt feelings, and passive aggression may follow (which isn’t good either). If one or both members of a new in-law relationship are giving, accommodating, and devoted to getting along, the trait of personality can actually be a great asset and help towards getting along. Because personality types vary, so will how big of and effect each personality will make towards the outcome of family harmony. Just be aware of all of the personalities involved and carefully navigate accordingly.

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