Relationships thrive when they have the support and approval of important friends and family. Unfortunately, this means that relationships can also suffer when family members disapprove of a relationship or dislike their child's choice in partner. Coping with a lack of approval from your partner's parents can be challenging, but there are some things that you can do to help improve your relationship with them and to safeguard your relationship with your partner.
Make Your Relationship a Priority
Focus on your relationship. While a lack of support can have a negative impact on your relationship, doing all you can to ensure your relationship is happy and healthy can buffer the impact of parental disapproval. Focus on improving your relationship in any areas that may be suffering, such as communication, affection, or trust. Maintaining a consistent focus on making sure your relationship is solid and supportive will help to protect it from the effects of external sources, such as her parents not being your biggest fan.
Communicate effectively with your partner. Good communication is an essential part of a strong, happy, healthy and stable relationship. Building communication skills, however, can take time, effort and practice. Effective communication involves being honest, direct, sensitive, open and empathetic. Sometimes these skills can be difficult to master, especially when in the middle of a heated disagreement. Learning how to communicate effectively will help you in dealing with conflict and disagreement within your relationship.
Monitor the ways in which you and your partner deal with conflict. Although conflict can be uncomfortable and unpleasant, ignoring important issues to avoid conflict isn't good for your relationship. When your partner's family disapproves of your relationship or dislikes you personally, it can cause additional conflict within the relationship. As such, it is important to develop effective skills for dealing with conflict.
When handled appropriately, conflict can lead to increased understanding and the resolution of problems. John Gottman, a relationships researcher and marriage counsellor, has identified four particularly detrimental methods of dealing with conflict. If you notice that your relationship includes criticism, contempt, defensiveness or stonewalling, these can be signs that you are not dealing with conflict effectively or in a healthy way. Learning to avoid these four behaviors can help improve the health and quality of your relationship, which will prepare you to cope better with the lack of support from your partner's family.
Seek support for your relationship from other sources. Some research has found that support for a relationship from friends plays a larger role in predicting relationship outcomes than does support from family members. This means that if your partner's family is unsupportive of your relationship, it might be healthier to spend time with friends and other couples who value and respect your relationship. In addition, keeping up contact with supportive friends can serve as a useful source of social support and feedback if the parental disapproval is putting a strain on our relationship.
- Be patient. It can take time for relationships with the in-laws to grow and improve. Parents tend to become more accepting the longer the relationship goes on and the more committed the relationship appears, so time may be the best cure.
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