Every family is different, and every family faces their own sets of challenges. But how many times have you seen a headline that promises to teach you an invaluable tip for dealing with pesky, meddling in-laws? And how many of those tips seem to be along the lines of manipulative, or even downright dirty?
While there's no one-size-fits-all for fixing strife between in-laws (or any other extended family member), Family Education gives some great tips on how to confront problems, head others off before they start, and make family relationships less conflicted. They say that the first thing is working together with your significant other to decide what's important, what's not, and what boundaries can be tolerated and which can't be crossed. Limits are limits, and that means enforcing them. You can't do that when you're standing alone, and they say communication — within the marriage and with the in-laws — is crucial. Communication can even get rid of hurt feelings that are accidentally being hurt, sorting out misinterpretations before they become problems.
There's some other great advice they give, too, advice that usually runs contrary to what can be a mess of advice from glossy pages. Know yourself, know what you want, put aside stereotypes, be mature, and don't be afraid to take a step back, collect your thoughts, and cool off.
Dr. Yvonne K. Fulbright, PhD, MSEd, author and consultant to the US Surgeon General's Call to Action program, echoes those ideas. Rather than taking on your in-laws head on, charging into a situation or stooping to the same manipulative tactics, she says there's more important — and better — ways to deal with conflict. Don't try to fake your way through a relationship, don't have expectations, and ultimately, remember that your in-laws are not a part of your marriage and be all right with never getting — and not needing — their approval. That will get you so much father than stooping to their level, which is another thing she says not to do.