Reminders about Relationships, especially with In-laws:
Building Relationships Takes Time--Just because you’re married into a family doesn’t mean that you automatically have close-knit relationships with everyone you’re now related to.
Think One-on-One Relationship Building--Relationships usually deepen through shared conversations and experiences—usually through more one-on-one rather than just group experiences. You can have a public persona with the family at large, but you create security and meaning through individual relationships.
Joining a New Family Changes Life not only for you but for Everyone--even, and especially, your Spouse and his/her Parents. If you’re the new in-law, you’ve probably changed the family dynamic for the family you’ve just joined. The in-laws may appreciate the changes, but they may also be adjusting to you and how your spouse (their flesh and blood) are now behaving differently.
- Be patient—relationship building often takes time—especially when you live far away from each other.
- Sometimes, your in-laws may still be adjusting to the changes in their relationships that have come with expanding the family. They may feel like they’ve lost closeness with your spouse because now he/she has you to confide in.
You and your Spouse are not Interchangeable—Allow individual family members to get to know you personally and take the time to build individual relationships with your new in-laws, which are separate relationships from your spouse.
Dealing with Conflict with in-Laws
- Expect conflict rather than freak out when it happens--Even if everything’s been great since you’ve joined the family, know that differences may arise—that’s only normal. You don’t need to judge yourself or others, but just see the conflicts as something to work through that will bring you closer to each other in the end.
- Avoid getting caught in the middle--Spouses often feel caught in the middle when there are conflicts between you and your in-laws. Usually, a spouse has a better perspective into seeing both sides so listen to both sides but take responsibility for your communication with in-laws.
- Avoid putting your spouse in the awkward position of being your messenger. There are so many more opportunities for misunderstanding when you use a go-between. If needed, find a neutral third party.
- Take the time to build individual relationships with your in-laws—each one. You might want to avoid even lumping your father or mother-in-law together. They are individuals and building separate relationships with each will go a long way.
- Remember that interpersonal relationships demand flexible approaches to differences. There’s not just one style or response that’s going to help create peace and understanding.
Consider each of the Five Approaches to Conflict—In every conflict encounter, we have five main options—not just fight or flight. We can avoid, accommodate, compromise, compete, or collaborate. Relationships are dynamic and situations vary, so don’t just try the same thing every time.