Here’s How to Have a Great Relationship with Your In-Laws!

Creating and fostering good relationships with your partner’s family is one of the most important parts of a happy married life. And yet, it is the one thing that most women face trouble with. Of course, a lot of it has to do with the social mindset around the role that a daughter-in-law is expected to play. Honestly, the mindset is quite dated. It might cause a lot of conflicts in this day and age when gender roles are being challenged (as they should.) But, every relationship is a two-way street. There is a lot that you can also do from your end to make sure you build a great relationship with your in-laws.

Relationship with in-laws
Relationship with in-laws

Here are our two cents on how to have a good relationship with your in-laws. 

#1. Respect your husband’s relationship with them

Your Relationships with your husband’s family are different from relationships with your own family. With your in-laws, it is by nature a triangular relationship. Long-term relationships jostle to find balance and readjust with new relationships. Because there are always three people in these relationships, hitting the right note can get difficult sometimes. It is important to try and create individual relationships with your in-laws. But it is also important to take into account your husband’s existing relationship with them and respect that as well.

For example, If there are things your husband does not share with them, it’s best to respect his choice. Avoid discussing those with them. Or, If there are things that they are used to doing or expecting in their relationship with your husband, like expensive gifts on special occasions, or monthly dinners, etc, try not to disrupt these systems (as long as it is reasonable, of course). Remember, the better their relationship with each other will be, the easier it will be for you to also create your relationship with them. If you interfere with their relationship with your husband, it will create unnecessary conflicts and resentments, and no one wants that!

#2. Maintain Healthy Boundaries 

This one is probably the most important step to maintaining great relationships- creating and respecting boundaries. The earlier you set your boundaries with them, and allow them to set theirs, the easier it will get for you to create and sustain respectful, loving relationships that are not invasive and overbearing. Not being yourself with them from the beginning will create unrealistic expectations. Later when you start feeling more comfortable with them, sometimes your casual behavior might actually come as a surprise to them, and not a pleasant one!

Establish clear boundaries when it comes to your work. While it’s different to choose to spend time with them on a working day, don’t bend over backward to do that all the time because it’s not sustainable, and not only will you suffer at the work front because of this, but will also create a difficult system of expectations where you are expected to spend time with them over your work. Focus on the quality of time spent, and not the quantity. 

The same goes for your personal space and me time. Whether you live with your in-laws or stay with them occasionally, it is important to find some time for yourself. Also, it is absolutely okay to not accompany your husband every time he is spending some time with his family. Normalize them spending time with each other just like old times. 

#3. Get to Know Each Other Well

Life is too short to play games. The simplest way to let someone know what you want is to tell them. Be simple, direct, and straightforward when it comes to communicating with your in-laws. Your relationship with them, unlike your own family, is fairly new and it’s not fair to expect that they will be in tune with your emotions, your perspectives, and your ideologies by default, without you actually spelling them out for them. 

Being subtly and politely direct with them will minimize the margin of error for them in understanding you or any confusion due to miscommunication. If you like something, voice your appreciation, if you dislike something, politely let them know. And the same rules apply when it comes to what they say and act around you. When in doubt, ask what they mean, or what would they like better, or how can you help. In the wide arena of relationships, it’s a misconception that actions speak louder than words. Words actually speak much easier than actions. 

#4. Pick Your Battles Wisely.

Always keep in mind, this is not the family you have grown up with. There will be a thousand things that might not sit right with you, or seem downright annoying and absurd to you. While it won’t be good for you, in the long run, to silently accept everything with resignation even if it makes you uncomfortable, it won’t be great either to constantly keep getting into arguments and confrontations. So make sure you pick your battles wisely. Take time to observe the existing way of life in your new family. Process what you like, and what you cannot put up with. Then take a call on what you can accept and get used to, and what you need to put your foot down for. 

In case of a conflict, picking level-headed discussions over angry confrontations will be more helpful to find a common ground. And Know when to stop holding a grudge and let go of an issue. Expecting them to change overnight would be unfair on your part too. Be as patient with them as you have been with your own parents and siblings, and give them time to adjust to you as well. 

The key to any good relationship is trust, respect, and kindness, and your in-laws are no exception. So invest your time, efforts, and heart in nurturing these relationships. They too will grow into fulfilling, supportive primary relationships of your life.

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