Should in-laws be outlawed?

How to get along with your partner's parents

Author: Jacqueline Brandwynne
Posted: Friday, October 31, 2008
"I simply can’t win. My in-laws find fault with me no matter what I say or do, especially my mother-in law. She constantly compares me to the first wife my husband divorced. They still maintain a relationship with her and often mention her in glowing tones. I find myself on the defensive constantly, and the man I love doesn’t stand up for me because he hates confrontation.”


In-law frictions are notorious. They lead to unhealthy tension all around and they often cause so much friction that they can actually doom a new relationship or even a new marriage.


The most important rule is for the new couple to be and act as one when it comes to meddling in-laws even if the two loving partners may have different points of view. If so, they need to discuss them with each other and find common ground before communicating with the outside world. It is essential that they represent a unified picture to the outsiders, a singular point of view, and that they establish clear boundaries from the very beginning that meddling parents, friends and other outsiders will respect.


To deal successfully with in-law issues, there are two effective solutions to stop the negative process: the animosity can be reversed through open discourse among all parties and a better understanding is established that will lead to normalized relations over time.

If that is not possible, the offending parents have to be neutralized so that they cannot infiltrate the fabric and life of the new couple and undermine it. Loving somebody’s son or daughter does not mean we have to accept being abused.


In the case discussed above it is essential that the husband must step up and support his new wife. He needs to understand deeply how vital it is that he comes through for her. Love cannot flourish if one or the other partner feels betrayed by his or her mate.


Your partner is your primary support system, or should be. That doesn’t mean you can’t have differences of opinion. It is all right to ask for his support in a loving way; he wants to come through for you and will find the way to come to terms with his fear of confrontation. Couples that stand by each other cannot easily be divided – not even by their own parents.


In this case, it is best for the husband to suggest one or more family discussions, making it clear why it is essential to do so to his parents. The ground rules must be respected by all. This is not a session to lash out and accuse, but a way to understand each other’s feelings – positive and negative.


The common goal is to become closer as a family and be able to share in each other’s lives. All involved need to be fair, open, and hear each other out. There is a possibility that behind all that hostility some real issues will come to light that can be resolved, improved or eliminated. If all fails, then the less desirable course of action is indicated, which is to minimize all contact.


This means to learn to ignore the aggressors’ talk and accusations. Minimize phone conversation and social contact. Accept that your relationship will never be warm and loving because they cannot or don’t want to change. Make your investment of love and caring in your husband and your friends, and don’t expect miracles from your in-laws. They won’t happen.


Be graceful when family situations force you to be together, such as weddings, holiday events or birthdays. That doesn’t mean you have to run out and find the perfect gift for them – that is your husband’s domain. Just be pleasant and non-confrontational.


Understand that their hostility and attacks are their problem – not yours. You cannot change how they feel or act. But you can resist letting their accusations and insults enter your being or poison the good feelings between you and your partner. You know who you are. You own your sense of worthiness. Nobody can take that away from you if you don’t let them.


Jacqueline Brandwynne has worked in the health and beauty industry for more than 25 years and is creator of the Very Private line of products. Visit her at

Categories: Very Private

Tags: family,relationships,in-laws

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