It is often said that marriage doesn’t just involve two parties but their families as well. When it comes to building a strong marriage with your spouse, it is vital to invest in having a healthy relationship with your in-laws too. They are a crucial part of your spouse’s life, making them a crucial part of your life as well. Striving to create a harmonious in-law relationship will only strengthen the foundation of your marriage, bringing both sides of the family closer together.
However, as with any relationship, conflicts are bound to arise over time. Here are five common reasons for conflicts between in-laws.
While conflicts are inevitable, it is possible to overcome them peacefully. TOUCH Marriage Support shares some tips for building and strengthening your relationship with your in-laws.
How do I manage conflicts with my in-laws?
- Seek to understand their perspective
There are no right or wrong perspectives. They are simply a point of view affected by different values and life experiences, shaping our opinions and actions. By putting yourself in your in-laws’ shoes, you may realise the reason they feel a certain way about situations. For example, they may insist on visiting you and your spouse every weekend, which may mean that you have less flexibility when making plans. However, from their perspective, they have brought your spouse up over the years, and may not have fully adjusted to the new living arrangements.
- Try to reach a compromise
After gaining insight on their perspectives, your different opinions may converge, becoming pathways towards reaching a compromise. It is important to voice out and discuss possible actions that both parties can take. With reference to the previous example, you may work out a schedule with your in-laws, such as them visiting on alternate weekends, and you and your spouse could go over to their house for dinners more often on weekdays. While communicating, remember to always remain polite to show that you truly respect them.
- Share your concerns with your spouse
At times, you may find it difficult to communicate your thoughts with your in-laws. Remember that your spouse is always there to support you, and he/she knows them best, such as how they would react to particular situations. Share your concerns with your spouse so that he/she can be the link between you and your in-laws, conveying your message in a way that they would accept and understand.
How can I strengthen the bond between my in-laws and I?
- Have reasonable expectations
Remember that your in-laws are different from your own parents, so they will have a different set of values and way of life. Despite your differences, learn to love and accept them for who they are. It may be helpful to lower your expectations of them, so that you are less likely to become stressed out.
- Spending quality time together
Take an interest in activities that your in-laws enjoy, such as cooking or watching television shows. If you do not have much in common, you could propose casual activities such as evening walks at the park or spending a day at the beach. Spending quality time together not only strengthens bonds, but also creates beautiful memories.
- Be open to listening
As with most parents, your in-laws will appreciate your listening ear, and would love to share their life experiences and advice with you. Giving them opportunities to share and talk more about themselves could also be a way for you to get to know them better. It is important for you to acknowledge their needs and desires, while affirming their intentions.
- Acknowledge their efforts
When your in-laws make an effort to do something nice for you, your spouse, or your children, it is important to show gratitude as it makes them feel appreciated. Taking note of the little things they do also shows that you value their presence.
Like any other relationship, it will take time and effort to build and maintain a healthy relationship with your in-laws. If you find that the same issues which are hurting your relationship keep resurfacing and there does not seem to be a clear way of managing it, it may not be sufficient to solely lean on your spouse for help, as it may risk negatively affecting your marriage.
It may be helpful to seek professional help such as counselling or attending family life education talks and workshops. Rather than seeking straight solutions, doing so would better position you to understand your in-laws’ needs and find ways to improve the relationship in the long run.
Want to learn how to enhance your in-law relationship? Contact TOUCH Marriage Support at [email protected] or click here to find out more.
TOUCH Marriage Support aims to enrich marriages to build a strong foundation for families. Through a range of holistic programmes led by experienced marriage educators and counsellors, TOUCH Marriage Support prepares young couples for marriage, strengthens spousal relationships, guides couples through conflict resolution, and empowers couples to navigate and cope with the stressors and challenges which they may face in their marriage.