Believe it or not, stressful family visits can be a thing of the past! These tips for a healthy relationship with your in-laws are inspired by a reader who is dealing with a difficult mother-in-law during an Easter family visit.
If you are serious about building a healthy relationship with your in-laws, read A Wife’s Guide to In-laws: How to Gain Your Husband’s Loyalty Without Killing His Parents by Jenna D. Barry. suggests specific things to say and do to gain your husband’s loyalty. A Wife’s Guide to In-laws has over 40 cartoons, 2 chapters written just for your husband, and 20+ worksheets to help you reach loving compromises about common problem issues. If you need hope and encouragement, this book is for you!
On my article on How to Stop Your Boyfriend’s Mother From Ruining Your Relationship, Emma commented that her in-laws are loud, pushy, selfish, and narrow-minded. They never ask how Emma’s kids are, and they feed the kids everything Emma doesn’t. They don’t respect Emma’s wishes or rules for her children. Worse, they complain about Emma to her husband right in front of her and her kids.
How to Have a Healthy Relationship With Your In-Laws
My tips for healthy relationships with mothers-in-law and fathers-in-law are ideas and thoughts that work for me, and help me stay peaceful and centered in the worst of family visits. Mostly, these tips are based on the mistakes I’ve made during visits with in-laws. Why not learn from what I did wrong?
Be humble – know your faults
The most important tip for a healthy relationship with your in-laws is learning how to practice humility. You are just as aggravating as your in-laws are! Your quirks, weaknesses, and issues are just as confusing and difficult to accept as your in-laws’ quirks, weaknesses, and issues. You aren’t perfect. You are human, and you are making mistakes. That’s okay and natural and right, of course. What’s not okay is ignoring your own flaws and weaknesses, and focusing on the faults of others.
Stop judging your in-laws
You can’t love or even be with your in-laws when you judge, condemn, and criticize their actions and words. It may be a bit too early to be talking about loving your in-laws, but if you can adopt an accepting mindset, then you will be much happier in their presence. I am guilty of being so judgmental of my family of in-laws, and it makes me feel unhappy and unkind. I think everyone should be like me – my in-laws should think what I think, do what I do, say what I say, and be who I am! Have you fallen into this trap? You don’t have to be a Christian to adopt the “Judge not, lest ye be judged” perspective of life. This tip for a healthy relationship with your in-laws will bring you peace, which will make you a peacemaker in your in-laws’ house.
Judging others is such as waste of energy, time, and life. I can’t love and judge simultaneously. When I’m judging, I’m not letting God work, or be, or work through me. Judgment bears no fruit – there is nothing good or valuable about judgment.
Avoid being alone with difficult in-laws
If you have serious relationship issues with one particular in-law – whether it’s a mother-in-law, father-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, etc – try not to put yourself in a situation that involves lots of alone time. This protects both you and them from potential problems, and always ensures you have a witness for things said and done.
That last tip for a healthy relationship with in-laws is from a reader’s comment on How to Cope With a Difficult Mother-in-Law. She offered these tips:
- Never stay alone with an unhealthy or difficult in-law, and don’t let your kids stay alone with him or her
- Don’t live close to your in-laws
- Set healthy boundaries with your in-laws
- Be polite and cordial to your in-laws
- Never trust your in-laws (though I think this isn’t necessarily the best tip for a healthy relationship with your in-laws)
- Explain your partner that he must back you up if you’re going toe-to-toe with your mother-in-law or father-in-law
Every in-law relationship is different, and every family visit is different as well. There are no hard and fast “rules” for healthy relationships with in-laws, but it’s important to try different things until you find what works for you.
Accept your in-laws for who they are right now
You’ll never change your family of in-laws. They are who they are, and no amount of fighting or wishing will make that different. Think how difficult it is to change your own personality or habits – it’s a million times more difficult to change other people! You can’t do it, so you must accept your in-laws for who they are. That’s one of the best tips for a healthy relationship with your in-laws, but it’s also the most difficult.
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” – Plato. You aren’t the only one who is suffering. You may not know what issues your family of in-laws is struggling with, but I am 100% sure they are dealing with things that are more difficult and stressful than they let on. We’re all in pain – emotional, physical, spiritual, mental. If you believe in Jesus, then you know that suffering is part of being human. God is walking alongside you – carrying you, perhaps – to help alleviate your pain, to bring you peace and love and grace in all situations. If you don’t believe in Jesus, I encourage you to find ways to be kind to people. Be kind to yourself. Accept without judging or criticizing.
Read 6 Steps to Building an Emotionally Healthy Relationship for tips on creating a stronger connection with your spouse.
I welcome your thoughts on building healthy relationships with in-laws below. I can’t offer advice or feedback, but it may help you and other readers to share how you’re coping with your mother-in-law or father-in-law.