5 Common problems with in-laws and how to deal with them

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Dealing with difficult in-laws takes a lot of patience and understanding. Here are some ways you can deal with them---with love!

In the Philippines, when you marry someone, it often also means marrying into the family. As you integrate into their family, you'll need to make adjustments and be more understanding. Sometimes, their attitude or opinions may differ from yours, but that doesn't mean you should give up on trying to establish a good relationship with them.

Can you relate to this? Have you ever experienced not feeling accepted by your spouse's family? Have you ever felt like, no matter how much effort you put into it, you just can't get them to genuinely like you? Let's take at some of the most common problems with in-laws and let's explore ways we can deal with them in a healthy, positive way that will hopefully make things a little bit easier.

1. They have no boundaries

There are in-laws who don't respect your privacy; they show up unannounced and just assume they are always welcome. They also lack boundaries when it comes to intimate details, good communication is good, but oversharing can lead to awkwardness, embarrassment, and resentment.

How can you respond?

Acknowledge the possibility that your in-law may feel like they are not often heard or needed. Instead of trying to change their behavior, make them feel like they are valued but be honest with them. Use humor also when needed by making light of the situation, but also being careful not to hurt their feelings.

2. They are rude and crude

While it's fine to be at ease enough to joke around, some in-laws take it a bit too far. I once encountered an uncle who would joke that his son's wife had been gaining weight and it really hurt her feelings. It turns out, she was struggling with eating disorders as a teen. Though well-meaning in his intent to make her feel comfortable around them, he really hurt her without knowing.

How can you respond?

Try to be polite and charming even if their behavior makes you feel like you just want to lash out. It's also important to be honest with them. Whatever you do, don't be rude back. Be loving and stretch your patience as long as humanly possible. Remind yourself that they are part of the one you love's life and so you should also be loving towards them. To maintain your sanity, try to limit your interactions with them.

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3. They are dramatic or overly sensitive

When you're honest, they feel like it's a direct attack on them. These types of in-laws can blow everything out of proportion.

"You don't have a history with your in-laws, you didn't grow up with them, so you don't know how they'll react to criticism," cautions Susan Forward, PhD in an interview with Woman's Day. "The unexpected is what makes confronting your husband's family so scary."

How can you respond?

Talk it out with your husband and approach it as a team, advises Dr. Forward. Get to know your in-laws better. What sets them off? What irks them? It doesn't mean you have to constantly walk on eggshells to please them, but you need to make more adjustments to achieve a balance that works for everyone. Acknowledge their feelings while trying to be more sensitive in return.

4. They don't respect you

A lack of respect can manifest in many ways. In-laws who don't respect you can treat you like a child, ignore you, or gossip about you behind your back. Whatever they do, it seems like it's rooted in a deep lack of respect for you.

How can you respond?

You can't force anyone to respect you, but you can stand up for yourself. Often, this does the trick. Speak up and don't be afraid to confront them, but do not be disrespectful. They are still your spouse's family and now, they're your family, too. Have a one-on-one conversation with the in-law you're having a problem with, if need be. Just don't allow disrespect to fester, because for better or for worse, you're stuck with them.

5. They are controlling

Are your in-laws pushy or want to be involved in every little decision? This could prove to be toxic to your marriage as well as your parenting journey. Though their advice can be invaluable, you need to firmly draw the line. They need to allow you to sort things out as a couple before offering unsolicited advice or help.

How can you respond?

It's simple. You can either be direct and honest with them, saying that you're not comfortable with them interfering or you can just accept their advice, but do your own thing. These types of in-laws are "control freaks" who need to feel important and valued. Don't push them away because of this. Be understanding, but stand your ground.

Above all, be loving, even if they are often not lovable. At the end of the day, family is family.

Have you encountered problems with in-laws? How did you deal with it? Let us know in the comments below!

READ: An open letter to my in-laws who love my husband’s first wife more than me

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Written by

Bianchi Mendoza