In-laws can be great. For those who didn’t have a good relationship with their own parents, their new “mother” or “father” can be a healing agent. But if you’re not so lucky because your in-laws do not respect your boundaries, here are some ways to prevent them from ruining your marriage:
Set the right boundaries: The Torah teaches us at the onset of the creation of the first couple, Adam and Chavah, that marriage necessitates downplaying the influence that your parents play in your life: “ Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and cling to his wife and they shall become one flesh (Genesis 2:24).”
Although it does not mean to sever ties from your parents, we see that the primary partner for a husband is his wife. Well-intentioned parents like to give advice and even meddle in the marriage. They understandably want what’s best for their child and are pained if their child is not happy. However, their intervention is not always helpful.
Make you parents aware early on, that although you appreciate their input – you and your spouse are both adults and will have to learn to make decisions for yourselves. It’s important to express your feelings in a manner that is loving and respectful. Unfortunately, we all know of parents who have a hard time respecting boundaries. In those cases, you may need to be a little more firm until they get the message.
Be on the same page with your spouse: Having a good working relationship with your spouse is very important. There must be an open dialogue between you and your spouse concerning some of the fears and expectations you’re experiencing concerning the In-Laws. This gives the couple the opportunity to discuss strategies to deal with potential conflict. It also helps you be in tune with each other while noticing if the other is feeling uncomfortable. Usually when a couple is prepared ahead of time and they form a united front, they are much better at dealing with the in-laws.
Don’t Always Seek The Advice Of Your Parents: Asking your parents for advice, especially for issues that directly affect your family, can be very hurtful to your spouse. Besides giving your parents a say in your family’s issues, your spouse may feel outnumbered especially if he/she disagrees with you and your parents. Include your spouse in the discussion.
Don’t Complain To Your Parents About Your Spouse: In marriage, there will be times where you run into challenges and you may feel the need to share your woes with your parents – concerning your spouse. This is not a good idea. Your parents may not be as easy to forgive your spouse as you would. This could leave a negative impression in their minds that may end up pitting you against him/her.
Don’t Stress Over Trying To Impress Your In-Laws: Although it is commendable to honor your in-laws and see to it that they feel welcome in your home, this can be a source of anxiety. If you find yourself getting stressed out and screaming at your spouse or your kids every time your in-laws visit, no one will ever look forward to their visits again. Try to stay calm. Your calmness will impress your in-laws much more than your sparkling house.
It is quite possible to nurture a healthy relationship with your in-laws but it requires a great effort on the part of you and your spouse. If you are committed to weathering the rough patches along the way while moving forward in a proactive manner, then your in-laws can be as an asset to your marriage as opposed to a liability.