Navigating Relationships With In-Laws
By: Morgan
January 1, 1970

in lawsYou managed to find and marry your absolute soulmate—lucky you! Nothing can come between the two of you now. Or is navigating relationships with In-Laws proving a bit more difficult than you had planned?

The Priority Shift

“Sometimes I don’t know who he’s married to—me or his mom.” I hate to say that I have heard this kind of statement come out of a client’s mouth more than once in session. As much as families of origin should be respected and valued, there is certainly a transition that happens as we enter adulthood. When a person gets married and starts a new family, there can be a certain amount of tension or even a power struggle. There is a phase in life for all things, and the phase in which you are more strongly differentiating from early attachments can be a difficult one.

A Right to Privacy

Partners share vulnerability and emotion, hopes, dreams, and deepest thoughts. This vulnerability may or may not be meant for the ears of others, and frustration and hurt can arise in a marriage where one spouse is not as comfortable sharing details of their personal lives with other family members. Communication about what is okay and what is not okay to share with others is necessary to maintain the level of respect and closeness.

Boundaries in Parenting

I have been told there is no feeling quite like becoming a mother. I have also been told how uncomfortable it is to hear others’ unwarranted opinions on how to parent. When the two cents are coming from an in-law, they can be extra loud and harder to ignore. Setting boundaries in parenting can be challenging, especially when the advice is well-intended and coming from a reputable source. You can thank someone for their care and attention while still emphasizing your roles as parents.

The Team Mentality

It goes without saying that you two are a team now. But what does that really mean? Essentially, if something is a problem for one of you regarding the relationship with in-laws, it becomes a problem for both. Discussions about boundaries should be collaborative and handled privately between spouses so that they are able to stand as a united front when facing an issue or initiating a difficult conversation with in-laws.

Different People— Different Relationships

Your parents and your spouse are typically some of the most important people in your life.  Of course, you want them to get along! That being said, it is important to keep in mind that, while the two of you are a team, you are still two separate individuals with your own feelings and preferences. Just as you have your own unique relationship with your parents, so will your spouse. It is unlikely that it will directly mirror the relationship you have with them—and there is nothing wrong with that.