Navigating relationships with in-laws isn’t easy, to put it mildly. Conflict with your spouse’s family is almost inevitable, even with the most accommodating of in-laws. Author of 30 Lessons for Loving Karl Pillemer, Ph.D., who is also a professor of Human Development at Cornell University, shared these three tips on getting along with in-laws with Psychology Today.
1. Stay loyal to your spouse
When your spouse and your parents find themselves at odds, always support your spouse. Similarly, when you and your in-laws have conflict, your spouse should know that their loyalty to you should come first. “When there is conflict between your family and your spouse, don’t feel caught in the middle—your place is on your spouse’s side,” Pillemer writes. “To do otherwise is to undermine the trust that is the underpinning of your marriage.”
Hitched Magazine recommends taking these conflicts as opportunities to grow together as a couple. Thank them for how they supported you, either by defending you or refusing to listen to their parents. Also, make an effort to behave in a way that will make it easy for your spouse to choose to defend you.
2. Remember why your relationship with your in-laws is important
Why do we even bother with our in-laws? Remember that they’re important to your loved one, and that we maintain these relationships because we love our spouse. Your in-laws are connected to your spouse for life, which means that you should be, too. As Pillemer points out, “By staying on good terms with his or her relatives, you are honouring and promoting your relationship in one of the best ways possible.”
3. Stay away from politics
There’s no better way to create an argument than by bringing up politics. These political conflicts are totally unnecessary when it comes to your relationship with in-laws, so even though you might be dying to argue with your in-laws, just bite your tongue. If you do choose to have a conversation about politics, proceed with caution. The Huffington Post recommends not setting out to convert or convince, but rather, just have a conversation and understand the other person’s point of view.