You chose your spouse, but you didn’t choose your in-laws. It was kind of a package deal, right? And when it comes to having a great relationship with your in-laws, it isn’t always easy—and, quite frankly, it can seem downright impossible at times. Here are six ways to improve and enjoy your relationship with your in-laws . . .
1. Find common ground.
Even if your in-laws seem to be your polar opposite, seek common ground. Find at least one thing you can connect with them on–an issue you both care about, a favorite movie or food, a place you’ve both traveled, an activity you mutually enjoy, etc. It can be something very small, but whatever you can converse about, bond over, or possibly even do together, will go a long way in building a relationship.
Nothing makes parents happier than seeing their children happy and thriving.
2. Listen and learn.
No matter how different they seem, your in-laws have something to teach you—if you have the eyes to see and the ears to hear. Your spouse’s family has knowledge, skills, and life experiences to share and when you listen and learn from them you not only benefit personally, but you honor them – which helps forge a more trusting relationship.
3. Give the benefit of the doubt.
When your in-laws say or do something that rubs you the wrong way, stop for a moment before reacting, take a deep breath, and remind yourself to consider their perspective. Assume the best of intentions—because chances are they mean well—and try to understand where they’re coming from. Doing this helps keep negativity and criticism at bay and prevents tensions from spilling over, which makes for a better relationship.
4. Show respect and compassion.
This goes without saying, but everyone deserves respect and compassion. People know when they’re being treated well—they can hear it in your voice and observe it in your gestures and actions. When your in-laws feel respected and cared for, it softens them and helps them, in turn, to be more open and caring towards you.
5. Put healthy boundaries in place.
Boundaries are essential for any healthy relationship, including those we have with family members. Before spending time with your in-laws be sure to communicate with your spouse about expectations and plans. And be clear with your in-laws, too, so everyone is on the same page. When you have good boundaries, others find it easier to follow suit.
6. Be a great spouse.
Nothing makes parents happier than seeing their children happy and thriving. That goes for your in-laws, too. Even if you suspect you would not have been their first choice for their offspring, if they see great happiness and harmony between you both, that can bring them peace, and help create more trust and love between you all.
Relationships 101 (CD)
by Matthew Kelly
If all else fails when trying to build a good relationship with your in-laws, remember that you both share one very important thing: you love the same person. Let that be the starting place of something beautiful.