The 20 Rules of Money
How to Befriend Your In Laws
In-laws are the butt of many a joke and many a complaint. And culturally speaking, in-laws aren't much favored either, as they are often viewed as interfering, bossy, overbearing, judgmental, and demanding. Is it possible, however, to see in-laws as friends? You can but give it a try.
Be grateful for the in-law relationships where you click instantly and get along.Some people simply don't get the whole in-law thing, as they find their own in-laws lovable, caring, and adequately off their turf. For those of you lucky enough to find this, you might not need to find the pathways of friendship. For everyone else, continue with the remaining steps!
Be sure to want to develop a friendship with your in-laws.Without this desire, you won't get very far because your anger, irritation, or condescension will continue to shine through instead.
Understand that you all have mutual interests.And that those mutual interests sometimes conflict. Children, running a household, maintaining a garden, choosing schools or places to reside, feeding the family, etc., are all potential minefields rather than points of mutual understanding. In being aware of this, you can be alert to the potential triggers that make friendship harder:
- It is all too easy to view suggestions in these areas as criticism, interference, or bossiness.
- The "advice" is usually offered in the most personal place of all - each other's homes. It's a little hard to distance oneself when one's own territory is at stake!
Don't fall for the trap of seeing your spouse's less amiable habits as being the result of the way your in-laws raised him or her.That is just a cop-out and it fails to respect that your spouse is an individual person capable of making his or her own choices about how to be. It might help to put yourself in your in-law's shoes and think about how much you'd like it if your future daughter-in-law or son-in-law suggested that your own child's negative habits were all down to you! Not a nice feeling, is it?! Besides, going on like this traps people into behavior patterns rather than providing expectations that we are all individuals with the potential to grow, change, and overcome early life habits: Don't give your spouse that out if they're not living up to being a fully engaged spouse.
Try to meet on neutral territory more often.If seeing your in-laws in your own home, or in theirs, is just too trying, arrange to meet them elsewhere on more occasions than in your own homes. Some examples of places to meet include restaurants, parks, malls, the library, cafes, places of entertainment, etc. Even a friend's house might be a good solution depending on the circumstances.
Keep in mind that closeness to in-laws improves marriage.When your spouse is happy that he or she can see his or her parents without feeling that you are unhappy, a huge burden is removed from your relationship and the original closeness can be maintained with the in-laws without detracting from your marriage. In addition, the extra support and love obtained when in-laws are a friendly part of your life is priceless, especially with respect to harmony.
Be reciprocal and non-competitive.Instead of trying to outdo your in-laws for your spouse's affections, here are some basic things to consider:
- Stop trying to make the best cake, or trying to find the best wine, just because this is also the province of your in-laws.
- Ask for their knowledge and be genuinely grateful to receive it. For example, ask them for the recipe of the meal you just enjoyed, ask them how they mowed the lawn so efficiently, ask them how they planned that trip around the world on such a tight budget. Instead of resenting their good points, make the most of them and benefit from both their knowledge and the fact that in asking a favor from them, they in turn realize that they must reciprocate by trusting what you're good at.
- Don't wait for your spouse to lay the groundwork. Find individual connections with your in-laws on common ground. It doesn't have to be everything or even a lot - just something that you can share stories, tips, ideas, or even commiserations about.
- Ask for their help. Instead of assuming they're not interested or willing, ask. They'll soon let your know if organizing little Johnny's fourth birthday party is beyond their capacity.
Don't take an unwillingness to befriend you personally.Much of negative or difficult in-law behavior is tied up in the unresolved patterns of their past, in the reality that some parents are still coming to terms with their children growing up, and may never come to terms with this. At the end of the day, what matters is that you maintain your willingness to be friendly, and do so without allowing yourself to be drawn into the emotional blackmailing or confusion that some in-law relationships insist on being.
- Avoid being over-friendly. Being friends with in-laws should mean being polite, caring, and interested in their well-being, but not a kind of "in-their-face" or "over-the-top" fake or weird friendliness. In turn, if your in-laws find you as wonderful as their own child and you find them as wonderful as your own parents, then it might be just a little forced. Keep the friendliness real!
- In-law siblings are frequently the rival of a spouse. And by proxy, you also become a rival, even if you don't want to be such and you've tried hard to avoid this from happening. Again, try the approaches suggested above, but if that doesn't work, don't sweat it, let it be and just keep on being nice. It's hard to fault someone who doesn't give in to the subtle manipulations at hand.
Video: The 5 Tiers Of Friendship
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