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How to Keep the Peace with Your In-Laws

By: Tracey Manailescu (and a collaboration of advice from WPIC Alumni)

Last weekend I watched a rerun of the movie, “Monster in Law” with Jennifer Lopez and Jane Fonda.  It was kind of fitting because my Mother in Law has just come for her yearly visit from Romania. She stays with us at our home for 2-4 months at a time.  Sometimes it is smooth sailing and other times, not so much ;)

I take full responsibility for the sucks I take, the vibes I may or may not give off, the stress I add to my husband’s life by sharing my complaints.  I also take responsibility for keeping my mouth shut when needed, for including her in our family routines, and truly wanting to know about her life and asking her for advice.  My mother in law is sweet, loves to laugh, loves to be around our children, and loves my husband as much as I love my children.  She tries her hardest to stay out of our marital disagreements, and backs down even when she might be right, to keep me happy.

My husband always tells me that we are his two favourite women in the world. My husband is a very smart man :)

I asked our WPIC Alumni for some advice that they could share which may help brides & grooms-to-be, newlyweds, or anyone in need of some ways to handle tricky situations with in-laws.  Here is what they had to say:

“Always be the bigger person, never treat them badly or say or do nasty things. If you cross a line and are disrespectful, the relationship will never get better.
Write a letter letting them know how their actions are hurting you and your spouse.  Confront them and ask what it is about you that they object to.” -Danielle Andrews Sunkel, Co-founder of WPIC

“How I keep peace between me and my mother-in-law:
I never talk back when her point of view is totally opposite from mine and do not criticize her when she makes a wrong decision. Keeping my opinion to myself have eliminate argument.
When encounter disagreement or conflict during daily life, I do “share” with my husband or even “vent” and show my angry feeling, but I never request him to take my side in front of his mother. Since if he does, it will not only make the matter worst and also put him into bad position, and over a period of time, he will be tire by supporting me and being stuck in the middle all the time.
Even me and my mother-in-law don’t’ “click” but there are still some “good” moments between us, especially while she share story of your husband childhood or gossip about daily life. I will be a good listener and show interest.
Compliment her often. When ever she make a tasty dish for dinner or make me lunch when she know I am busy or just lazy, I always compliment her and let her know my appreciation and ask if she can make that again to show I love her dish.  Just be patient, as long as your husband understand and by your side to support that’s all its matter.” -Rhonda Lam of  Wedding Compass

“Fortunately, I have a very good relationship with my in-laws. It’s very important to me to maintain it, as I know these people brought my husband into this world, and raised him to be as wonderful as he is.
A few things I do are:
I update my in-laws on a regular basis through e-mails, photos and phone calls on what’s new with their son, their grandchildren, and myself. Whether it’s positive or negative news, I try to keep them informed.
I check on when their next visits into town are. When they visit, we shop for some of their favourite foods, and make sure the fridge is well-stocked. We try to keep things light. We laugh and enjoy delicious meals together.
I like to book spa appointments and get in some shopping, so that I can spend some one-on-one time with my mother-in-law. I’ve given her an occasional card or gift, just to thank her for how amazing I think her son is, as a husband and a father.
Each year my father-in-law (he is also a theatre buff) and I attend the local Fringe Festival and catch a bunch of the shows together. We review them, and it’s now become a tradition, and something we always look forward to doing together.
Finding the common ground, and embracing it, is such a great tool for bonding.
My advice is, regardless of how busy life gets, making the extra effort to spend time with the in-laws is necessary, as it helps to keep the relationship strong and well. There are times when it’s not easy, for whatever the reason may be, but it’s best for the children and everyone involved when there is peace among family members.”
-Hevin Anne Mueller of Story Weddings & Events

“Pick your battles! When something is more important to your in-laws than it is to you… let it go!
When you do need to stand your ground, be tactful and respectful and they will respect you for it.
Always place value on their point of view – just because you don’t agree, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have value.”
Cara Cassidy of Cara Mia Events

“Remember that no matter how you feel about your in-laws, they are still your partner’s parents, siblings, family…nothing will change that. Don’t put your partner in an awkward position. It’s not worth the argument. Instead make sure you can talk openly with them about it. As long as they support your feelings it will help you get over the in-laws.
Learn to let it go! Sometimes (as hard as it is) it is best to ignore the situation. Don’t hang on the issues. Don’t stress about it. The only person you are punishing is yourself.
Don’t be afraid to have a friendly conversation with them to let them know how you feel. If they are constantly making you uncomfortable or offending you, let them know. Just be polite about it. If they didn’t intend to, maybe it will all change, and if it was intentional then at least you know. ”
Danielle Deebank of Dreamstyle Weddings

“When standing your ground always be respectful about it. If they want to stoop to new levels and make nasty comments etc just walk away but don’t stoop to their level. Be the mature person in the relationship.
If you don’t feel comfortable being around them – don’t be around them. Life is to short to be put into a position where you are not comfortable – if you just can’t get along with her – smile when you see her but try and stay out of each others way to avoid more conflict and uncomfortable situations
AGREE TO DISAGREE. We can’t get along with everyone and sometimes that includes our family members. IF there is an issue thats is worth addressing, while standing your ground try and be open to hearing their side so you both can come to a middle point. The last thing you want or need is to become bitter every time your MIL’s name is mentioned.
Don’t let it fester inside you and let it affect your relationship with your husband. You married him because you love him – you just have to deal with her but don’t let that affect your marriage.
This has helped in the past and hopefully can help in the future.” -Oleta Thomas of Golden Touch Events & Decor

“New people, new life. In laws should leave the past behind them and start anew, without any prejudice. I learned it the bad way by being kind of rough with my actual mother in law in the beginning because I had prejudices against wealthy people. Also, I was used to have the alcoholic nosy MIL. I had to erase all of my past experiences and learn to appreciate her to the fullest.” -Julie Vieira of  La Fée Marieuse

“Make sure you choose a husband that supports you and that you often see eye to eye with, someone who will defend insist on having his family treat you well (especially if you are in the right). Make sure your in laws know that you are not going to put up with any disrespect, setting clear boundaries can help them not take advantage of you.
Treat your husband with love and respect and they will have to welcome you into the family. If they are too opinionated and negative then avoid telling them a lot of details or information.
Of course, I am very lucky and have a fantastic mother in law, but have certainly had my share of difficult family members. I have as well, had clients who I have watched interact with new family members in a negative way. It can be heartbreaking to see the bride or groom not be welcomed into the family with open arms or have conflicts with their in laws before they make it to the alter.” -Jennifer Borgh of Jennifer Borgh Events

“My MIL is quite opinionated, and says that, because she is European, she speaks her mind and doesn’t hold back. She once bought me a cookbook called “The Convenience Cook”, using canned and packaged foods in every recipe. So, I took the high road, and invited myself over to her house to learn how to cook some of her prized Polish dishes! Now, for every family dinner, I try to bring one homemade “Canadian” dish, so she knows I feed her son well, and she feels like I’m including her in my heritage as well!”
-Jessica Niezgoda of Save the Date Weddings

“I have a few different perspectives:
As a mother-in-law-to-be (this July)
My point of view is to stay out of my son and DIL’s marriage. It’s their marriage, not mine. As part of their marriage classes, there is an exercise for the parents to complete – the type of relationship we would like to have with them as a couple, how involved we want to be in grandchildren’s lives, and advice we can give our son/give our DIL about our son. This is important to discuss before they get married – to set boundaries and expectations.
I firmly believe that the new couple needs to establish boundaries from day one. In my opinion, if there are issues with the groom’s family then the groom handles it and vice versa, at least until a stronger relationship is formed with the in-laws and you can deal with each other one-on-one.
As a grandchild
My sister and I grew up with a very volatile relationship between my mother and my father’s mom, and it was painful for us. I was very close to my grandmother but felt guilty because everyone bad-mouthed her in front of us. She and my mom were equally responsible. We were only allowed to stay overnight at my paternal grandparent’s house one or two nights out of two weeks every year because of the hostility. I hated seeing my father caught between his mother and his wife (even though he was really close to his mom). This affected our relationship with our grandparents and it can never be undone.
As a wedding planner
For the most part, I’ve seen a lot of couples “favour” one side of the family during and/or after the wedding and usually become more involved with the bride’s immediate family than with the groom’s. There may be a lot of reasons for this – closer relationship, communication, location. It’s important to try and involve both sides of the family in everything to avoid hurt feelings.
My mother used to tell me “A daughter’s a daughter the rest of your life; a son is your son until he takes a wife.” I don’t where that quote comes from but I’ve heard it a few times.
-Louise McAllister of Weddings by Louise

“Learn to pick your battles. If something isn’t worth the fight then let it go. If it is something that is important then perhaps it should come from your partner.
Set boundaries. If you know you can only handle 3 hours or 3 days of visiting then let your MIL know a head of time.
Kill her with kindness. Easier said then done but if you can, try to be the better person. And remember that whatever is going on with your MIL it has nothing to do with you but her own personal struggle.
I learned from the book “The Happiness Project” that you can’t rely on other people for your own happiness. You can only rely on yourself.
-Laura Scott of {tula}events

“Always confide in your husband about your feelings but do it in a way where you aren’t bad-mouthing your in-laws. You don’t want him to feel like he’s in the middle as that is only going to hurt him. This way he will have your back 100% because he knows you’re not the one causing problems
Sometimes it is better just to smile and nod (especially when what they say isn’t really going to effect you in the long run).
Try to be as understanding as possible. Sometimes they really just don’t know any better
Don’t ever fight in front of them. You don’t ever want to give them a reason to say something negative about you to your hubby
Treat your husband with love & respect always – and go the extra mile for him when they are around.”
-Jag Brar of my big day EVENT PLANNING & DESIGNS

“Do your best to look past their faults. For every 1 negative feeling or experience you have with them, think of at least 2 positive things that you like or love about them. (Even if that means getting creative!)
Watch how your in-laws treat one another, and others before making assumptions about their feelings for you. If you feel like you are getting picked on, but notice that they treat everyone in a similar manner, it may just be their way of trying to make you feel included.
We all tend to think the way we were raised was the ‘right way’ and it’s hard to open yourself up to the way others were raised. Remember that your spouse has spent their whole life thinking that their lifestyle was the ‘norm’ and will likely want to carry that on in your family. Be respectful, but do not allow yourself to feel inferior. You and your spouse need to discuss what is important to both of you regarding family and move forward as a couple being sensitive to how your family makes the other person feel.”
-Kalynn Warren of Proposals Wedding and Event Planning

“Beat them to the punch. Tell them well ahead of time what your plans are when it comes to your children, among other things. Be firm yet respectful and use reverse psychology. Let them think it is for their benefit and not yours. -Jennifer dela Cruz

“Prepare yourself that your relationship with your in-laws may not be like the one with your own parents (whether this is a good one or not).
Add “dealing with our parents” to the list of topics that you should talk about BEFORE you get married.
Be respectful whatever the situation. You can stand your ground but be polite in the manner that you do this or just be silent. If they are disrespectful to you, discuss it with partner and explain to him/her that you will be maintaining your distance.
Establish your own rapport with them if possible. Having a little ritual independent of your spouse will give them time to see the person that you are and build your relationship and rapport. -Sue Morris of Soulmates Barbados

“When we say “I do” to our husband we are basically saying “I do” accept my MIL regardless of who she is. It’s painful to think about it but it’s the reality of marriage.”
Sheryl Hammond of Bella Chic Events

Comments

  1. Awesome read! Thank you for posting!

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