Learning to deal with your in-laws can be a struggle during the first years of marriage. Setting appropriate boundaries early can prevent problems down the road. When two people marry, their new family unit becomes the number one priority. If your husband puts his family ahead of you and your children, communicating in thoughtful and direct ways is an important first step in helping him change his priorities
Your Wife, Your Priority
If your husband constantly chooses or sides with his family over you, it is time for the two of you to take a hard look at your priorities. Young couples, or couples at any stage of marriage, should evaluate the boundaries where their in-laws or other family members are concerned, suggests Dr. Phil. If your in-laws are draining your emotional energy away from each other, it is time to change your boundaries. Let your family members know that you are not shutting them out completely, but that the two of you need to focus on yourselves.
The Power of Teamwork
Understanding your husband’s relationship with this family helps him make you his number one priority. Realizing you are a team and building that relationship on a daily basis helps build a foundation you can both trust when in-laws and other family members come between you. Family Education.com reminds couples that they are in this together, and dealing effectively with family members starts with working conflicts out between the two of you. Never put your spouse in a situation where he has to choose between you or his family. Work out your differences about the extended family in private. Then you can present a united front when conflicts arise.
If your husband struggles with choosing his family over you, it may be time to stop the constant competition. Trying to be something you are not simply gets in the way of any healthy relationship you want to have with his family. Plan times for your husband to be with his parents when you are not there so he can give them his undivided attention. This makes it easier to stick to your boundaries about the times that are just for the two of you or you and your children. You should keep your in-laws as your allies and view them as a source of knowledge and assistance, recommends etiquette expert, Diane Gottsman, for Hitched Magazine. Do not make them your enemies by constantly feeling the need to compete with them for your husband’s attention.
Your Husband, Their Child
Becoming irritated because your in-laws treat your husband like a child is a normal part of being married. But too much coddling from Mom and Dad may make it difficult for your husband to make you his top priority. Real Simple magazine suggests talking to your husband about how his parents’ treatment of him makes you feel. If he continues to go to them for advice and care rather than turning to you, tell him -- firmly but gently -- that he needs to tell his parents that he is old enough to manage his own life. Real Simple also suggests trying to empathize with how his parents feel to help you understand their position. Empathy does not excuse inappropriate behavior, but it can reduce your stress and help you feel less threatened.
Patti Richards has been a writer since 1990. She writes children’s books and articles on parenting, women's health and education. Her credits include San Diego Family Magazine, Metro Parent Magazine, Boys' Quest Magazine and many others. Richards has a Bachelor of Science in English/secondary education from Welch College.
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