Growing up, we take it for granted that the way our family operates is "normal". As we get older we realise other families do things differently but it isn’t until we are in a serious relationship or get married that these differences really confront us. Add to the mix international and cross-cultural relationships and trying to relate to your partner’s family can be challenging to say the least.
So are in-laws guaranteed trouble or is it possible to develop a good relationship with them? According to relationship expert, John Aiken, 60 per cent of issues with in-laws come from the wife and most of the issues centre around housework and child-rearing… but there is hope. Here are Aiken’s top five tips to prevent in-law problems.
It's you and him against the world and there are enough other issues in life to deal with, so don't let parents come between you. Try not to discuss your relationship issues with your parents and defend your partner if your parents try to insult him.
I remember some of the best advice I got when I was struggling to find something positive about my in-laws as a newlywed was to a) count to 10 before responding to a perceived criticism, and b) at the very least, respect them for the fact that they brought a pretty great person into the world.
Making the effort to stay in contact reminds your in-laws that you aren’t trying to steal their baby away from them and that you do want them involved in your life. It's amazing what a regular phone call, Skype conversation or monthly dinner can do for your relationship.
If you don’t want your in-laws stopping by unannounced or cleaning as soon as they arrive, try being proactive: Organise family gatherings regularly and give them a task when they arrive so they don’t send your anxiety levels (and insecurities) through the roof.
You and your partner will spend a lot of time discussing how you want to raise your children. The last thing you need is for that to be compromised every time the kids visit Nan and Pop. Always try to sandwich the "rules" with compliments and praise about the good things that they do, however.
While at times it may feel you are in your very own version of Meet the Fockers, in reality it is very rare for in-laws to have a hidden agenda to sabotage you or your relationship. Some deep breaths, patience and application of these tips may just be the turning point for your relationship with your in-laws.
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