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Your relationship with your in-laws

Tristan is a love stylist who, through internal and external makeovers, guides her clients on all matters surrounding falling in like, falling in love and falling into bed. She is also the author of MENu Dating: Taste Your Way to the Mai...

Learn to love your in-laws

Just because you've found the perfect husband doesn't mean he was raised by perfect parents. In fact, preferring elective surgery to dinner with your in-laws is rather common; it doesn't make for very happy marriage dynamics, though. So, now is the time to raise your head high, accept that your in-laws aren't going to change, figure out how to put the negativity in the past, turn over a new leaf and learn to love -- or at least tolerate -- your mama- and papa-in-law. Everyone, including you, will be much better off for it. 

Disgusted mother-in-law

1Let bygones be bygones.

Of course you deserve a thousand and one apologies for all the times your mother-in-law told you that your house wasn't clean enough, your cookies were flat, your skirt was too short (and the list goes on), but here's the thing: You're no more likely to get those apologies than you are to take back what you said about her behind her back to your husband, your BFF, your hairstylist, etc. So let it go.

2Focus on the positive.

If you really think about your in-laws, you can find at least three things, even very small things, that you find good about them. After all, they did a great job raising their son, right? There's one -- only two more to go. By focusing on the positive, you will begin to see them in a better light, and their irritating qualities won't grate on you so much… in theory, anyway.

3Define roles.

Decide the dynamics of your family – the roles you, your husband and your in-laws play. Be fair in your casting; i.e., let your mother-in-law be a mom to her son, even if the sight of her wiping her baby's mouth makes you vomit a little. Gaining clarity here may help you more accurately gauge whether your in-laws are overstepping boundaries.

4Let your husband be your voice.

When tensions arise, vent to your husband. Assuming he can be objective (he isn't a mama's boy), let him speak on your behalf to his parents about problems and irritations (e.g., they are disciplining your kids in a ways that isn't in line with your methods).

5Take an interest.

Even if you have to fake it at the beginning, take an interest in your in-laws. Go out of your way to spend time with them, doing the things they enjoy. Ask questions about them, request stories about their son growing up and compliment them. The goal here is to befriend them. When criticism bubbles to the surface, bite your tongue, using a "kill 'em with kindness" tactic. Eventually, it will fade.

6Empathize.

If your in-laws are struggling with the idea of your marriage -- maybe you are newlyweds and they are missing their relationship with their son, or perhaps you've just moved away and they are blaming you for the move -- empathize with them rather than getting defensive. They will appreciate your kind ear.

7Show love.

Taking the high road shows better character, feels better to you in the long run, makes your husband happy and, if you have kids, sets you up as a worthy role model. It can't hurt to show love, but it can hurt to show the opposite.

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