When In-laws are Out-laws

by Carol Forsloff - Date: 2008-10-05 - Word Count: 624 Share This!

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Joey got married. That's a relief. You never thought he would, but some time later you wish he'd waited longer. Or never did it in the first place. Because although you no longer have the problem of a single son, if there ever was a problem, you now have a daughter-in-law that makes you wish you'd never reminded him about marriage, grandchildren, getting older or anything that would have created the problems you have now. That new daughter-in-law's personal concerns, and those of her family, have now become yours. And those problems can become overwhelming and consequently disturb primary relationships, sometimes permanently.


Poor in-law relationships account for many divorces, Whether it is the stereotypical mother-in-law with overbearing ideas and behavior or a brother-in-law whose antics make family gatherings intolerable, in-laws who are out-laws wreak havoc on marital bliss. What can we do about it?


The short answer is not much. The longer answer is something. The first something is to talk about family relationships at the beginning, before problems develop. Sit dear Susie down with Joey at the outset, right before the bud of romantic love has blossomed fully and the marriage contract put together, and talk about family. Get to know Susie, what she likes and doesn't, what her family is and isn't, and what her expectations are from and about you. Does she have a sense of family loyalties and relationships? What is her belief about the role of grandparents or siblings in a family? How does she respond to criticism or comments about anything she says or does? These are all clues to what is going to happen in the future. They also can help set a foundation for building communication that will be effective and prevent problems. That's true about any in laws. When new folks are brought into the family, talk about your own "black sheep" and ask about theirs. Do it with good humor so that the purpose isn't misunderstood and used destructively.


If it's too late, and the put-together family isn't staying put, the best method for reconciliation is to make the first move towards it. In other words, what's wrong with not always being right? Unless it's a major break involving something quite catastrophic, you might just need to adjust first. Find areas of agreement. Talk about the folks that initiated this new family, the married couple, their affections and their needs. Focus less on yours. If it's that mother-in-law again, take a long view on the matter. You have time. She has less. You have a lot of years to get over and get past any real or perceived slight.


The real solution is to focus on what's good about any foundational relationship. If you can't see it, no matter what; then exercise caution or retreat. That's the "not much," but try the first suggestions first. Because in-law pain is hard to bear, and just like any stressful situation, prevention works better than cure. In-law problems are common enough; and if there's any consolation in all this, it's in knowing that there isn't anything anyone is suffering or has suffered that hasn't been experienced by someone else. So if nothing works, and you've tried your best, just move along with the good folks who support and sustain you. And gracefully let go of those who can't or won't.





About the Author:


Carol Forsloff is a journalist, educator and licensed mental health counselor. The above are a few tips in the hopes that some of you can get over those painful situations caused by in-laws.





Related Tags: relationships, marriage, communication, divorce, grandparents, adult children, siblings, in-laws, family problems, disturbing behavior

Carol Forsloff is an established writer whose new book is Sarah Palin, the Issues Through Her Prism which is now available for download at http://www.thehouseofaloha.com and will be available through Baker and Taylor and Amazon.com in three to six weeks. The book uses approximately 600 source materials. As a professional journalist, Carol edits a small town newspaper with hard copy and online editions and political and social blog. She is licensed also as a mental health counselor, certified as a teacher, and experienced over 40 years in multiple areas. See blogs at http://everythingsarahpalin.blogspot.com and http://coffeewithcarol.blogspot.com and websites at http://www.thehouseofaloha.com (bed and breakfast, gallery and bookstore) and http://www.therealviews.com (newspaper website)

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