You may be one of those lucky people with golden in-laws that appreciate you and kindly stay out of your private business.  They don’t pressure you to do anything that goes against your morals or house rules and they never ask you to do anything that would hurt your family relationships in any way.  However, if this is not you or your situation, you’re in the majority.

When it comes to dealing with differing morals, standards, and priorities, your first responsibilities are to your partner, your children and yourself.  Of course, this does not mean there needs to be disrespect toward in laws, but there is a need to build boundaries together as a couple and to stick to the limits. 

To build appropriate boundaries, you’ll need a plan:

  1. Sit down together, as a couple, and outline the difference that need to be addressed.
  2. Decide cooperatively what your outside limits of accepting their behavior will be.
  3. Plan how this will be addressed with the offending party / parties.
  4. Have each other’s back when implementing your plan!

It is wise to expect that there may be a lot of emotion involved when setting boundaries.  It’s never as easy as 1-2-3-4.  It’s more like 1-2-3-couldn’t do it-start again.  Then 1-2-3-4-backlash-rework step 3-try again next time.  Practice and dedication to upholding boundaries within family relationships becomes easier over time.  Remember that you spent decades building different family boundaries, and creating new boundaries will take time too.

Working out a plan of action together and setting objective limits will serve three objectives:  

  1. Place you and your partner on the same page
  2. Allow both of you to spend time with the in-laws in a happier atmosphere
  3. Prevent future arguments, frustrations, and resentment when planning family visits

Word to the wise: it is best NOT to involve extended family in any disagreements you and your partner may have.  It invites interference and gossip, and after the issue is solved and you’re happily going on with life, relatives may continue holding grudges and asking skeptical relationship questions far into the future.

Enjoy your families, but for your own sakes – enjoy them with heathy boundaries on what is and isn’t OK.

Need more strategies for dealing with in-laws?  Check out our Marriage Counseling services.