Keeping your sanity intact with your spouses family
Does “until death do us part” only apply to spouses? If only that were the case! When you wed, or even just get into a relationship, you get not only a spouse but also their mother, father, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins and whole family. You may not see eye to eye with them on all issues, so you may want more privacy and time than they’re willing to give you, what is there to do about it? Read on to find out.
Please note: nowhere in this article will you find tips on offing your in-laws so if that’s what you had in mind when you searched ‘how to get rid of In Laws’ you’ve come to the wrong place.
1. Figure out what’s bugging you.
Before you can figure out how to get rid of your in laws you will want to figure out why you want to get rid of them. Are they too nosy? Do they cause lots of drama? Are they asking a lot of your time? Is it the way they make you feel? Are they downright crazy?
Find the underlying cause of what’s bugging you, because if you have a concrete problem it’s easier to find a solution.
2. Discuss these issues with your spouse.
This may be one of the hardest things to do. If your in laws are getting on your nerves, hopefully your spouse understands but they may not see it, or may be offended by it, because this is their dear family you’re talking about.
When you bring up negative things about your spouses family expect there to be some of the ‘oh yeah well your family does this’ retorts. You will need to be prepared to take these with a grain of salt. When you’ve come clean with your spouse about what’s eating you about their parents, come up with a plan that the two of you are happy with.
3. Distance yourself from them.
If you really butt heads with your in-laws, one of the easiest ways to separate yourself from them is to move away from them (as long as your spouse is ok with that of course).
If you live in the same city as your in laws, you may find yourself overwhelmed with them and the fact that they are constantly there. You may need some space to breathe so moving – even if it’s only 45 minutes away so they can’t pop in after work to say hello – could be a good thing for you.
One of the biggest downfalls with this is that if you live far away from them you won’t be able to call on them for help – if you need someone to come lift a couch or someone to babysit your kids. So before hiring that U-Haul and bee lining it for a far away city, make sure that the pros outweigh the cons.
4. Use proper communication.
Communication or a lack thereof is usually one of the biggest downfalls with families. Sometimes emails and texts can be misconstrued and taken the wrong way or sometimes you can grow to resent the hours you spend on the phone with dear mother in law or father in law.
Figure out what the best and most efficient way of communicating is, for you and your in laws, and when possible try and use that form of communication. Be sure you are saying what you need, but do so in a polite manner. Communication is a two way street so be sure to listen and respect what your in laws are saying.
5. Set healthy boundaries.
You can love your family but you still don’t have to see them every weekend. Yes, your in laws have had their own children and may have their two cents to share as to how you should parent your children, but that decision is ultimately up to you and your partner. ‘I can appreciate why you might have made your children sit at the table until all of their food was gone but we are encouraging them to listen to their bodies so as long as they’ve asked to be excused they can leave the table’.
Being a family (be it just you and your spouse or you, your spouse and children) is complicated, and there are lots of people’s feelings to consider, so when you set boundaries, it’s best to be firm without being rude. For example ‘We have set aside one weekend night a month per side of the family. Do you want to see us on the Saturday or the Sunday?’ Or it may be a good boundary for you to say ‘I’m glad you called, I’m in the middle of chores so I only have a few minutes to chat’ and stick to it. Figure out what you need and let people know in advance so they aren’t shocked or offended.
6. Remember that it’s OK to say no.
Sometimes juggling families, especially in laws, can be draining. It’s acceptable for you to politely decline invitations to certain functions. Don’t feel that you need to be at great uncle Fred’s 80th birthday party (unless you want to be) if you just saw that side of the family last week.
It’s understandable that saying no may cause kickback, but you should continue to stick to your boundaries and politely say ‘we’ll catch you next time.’ If they insist on buying your children every toy imaginable to man, it’s acceptable to say ‘we want our children to have to work for what they want so we appreciate the gifts but could you pare it down a little please,’ which is a polite way of saying ‘no more crazy amounts of gifts’.
7. Let your spouse deal with them.
If you’ve tried your best to be nice and really understand where your in laws are coming from but they’re still driving you bonkers to the point of you wanting to get rid of them, then it’s time to pass the torch.
Of course, you shouldn’t disengage completely, but let you spouse do some of the work – communicating, organizing, etc. with their side of the family. When you do this you can fully expect them to do the same for you, so don’t expect them to run out and buy your mom a birthday card if you’ve set down the deal as ‘you deal with your family, I deal with mine.’
Fostering a positive relationship with your in laws is going to take time, effort and energy. Remember they helped your spouse grow into the person that you love so much, so they must have some redeeming qualities. If you have children you may one day be the in law! So take notes on what you want to do and what you don’t want to do. In the meantime make the most of the situation and get rid of the negativity around your in laws, rather than actually getting rid of them.