“Live so that when your children think of fairness, caring and integrity, they think of you.” ~ H. Jackson Brown, Jr
What do you do if you do not like your in-laws? Do you constantly remind your spouse of all the deficiencies of his family members, and how much you despise them? Do you frequently tell your friends and family members how stupid these people are and the latest episode in which they offended you? Do you try to avoid contact with them, and put up resistance when your spouse wants to spend time with them? Do you try to limit the time your spouse spends with his or her own family, even it you do not have to be there?
If any of the above sounds like your strategy for dealing with the in-laws, I can pretty much be sure of two things. First, there will be a level of conflict between you and your spouse that never gets resolved, but rather flares up again and again. This tension spills over into other aspects of your relationship because you both have resentment towards each other. Second, there is stress and tension within your own body not only when you have to see the in-laws, but also whenever you think of them! This is not good for your health and sense of wellbeing.
What then is the alternative? Well, for starters you must remind yourself that you married your spouse, not his or her family. You also must realize that despite their faults, they are your spouse’s family, and he/she may truly love them unconditionally. It never works to try to pull a spouse away from his or her family. Instead, if you do this your spouse will likely pull away from you!
Likewise, it is never a good idea to make your spouse choose between you and his/her family, or to suggest the family is more important than you are. It is not a competition; so do not make it one.
Instead, practice patience and tolerance. Be polite and friendly. If they are rude to you or otherwise inappropriate, do not stoop to their level. If you are thinking, “Why should I be the one…?” then you are stuck in ego. You should be the one because you can choose to draw upon your inner wisdom and take the high road. Give up the struggle and create peace. This is truly a most caring and generous gift you can give to the one you love.
Copyright © Gwen Randall-Young, All Rights Reserved. Contact us if you would like permission to reprint.
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Healing the Past
Communication in Relationships