In laws & Outlaws: How Your Extended Family Affects Your Marriage! (Pt. 2)

Some people get lucky, with great in laws. Others struggle with manipulative and overbearing in laws.


“As far as I’m concerned, my daughter could not have chosen a more charming, witty, responsible, wealthy….lets not deny it…well-placed, good looking and fertile young man than Martin, as her husband. And I therefore ask the question, why the heck did she marry Gerald instead?” This quote is from a skit entitled “the wedding from hell” by comic Rowan Atkinson. And while it may be funny, it does a pretty good job of capturing the animosity that sometimes occurs in families.


Long standing animosity can erode the foundation of a marriage.


Often, when the dislike between one person and their spouse’s parents becomes an entrenched war, the marital relationship is damaged. A man who feels trapped between his wife and his mother has a difficult choice to make. He must either take his wife’s side in the argument, or his mothers. This puts him, quite literally, between a rock and a hard place.


The same would apply if a woman’s father hated her husband, or in any number of other in law related feuds. So in the interest of avoiding a marriage destroyed by bad in-law relationships, here is a list of things to consider if your marriage is on the rocks because of in law issues:


  1. Boundaries:


Boundaries are critical to the success of every relationship. In the same way it’s usually inappropriate to discuss deeply personal life issues with your boss, or leave the door open while using the bathroom in a stranger’s home, every relationship needs boundaries in order to succeed.


And this applies to in-laws. You and your spouse need to sit down and talk about what is and what isn’t ok, with regard to your in laws. Things like showing up at your home unannounced, offering unsolicited advice about how to parent your children, or even making decisions on your behalf about things that directly impact your family, are all possible concerns.


You and your spouse need to settle on a list of what you will allow, and what you will refuse, when it comes to your in laws. And then stick to it! This is the most important part. You need to have each other’s back in this issue. A man who cannot say no to his mother, or a woman who cannot say no to her father, are essentially saying no to their marriage!


It’s critical that you support your spouse, and that they support you. This doesn’t mean being rude or disrespectful to your parents, but it does mean drawing a clear line in the sand. You need to be willing to stick up for your spouse in the face of your parent’s manipulations, dismissal or anger. After all, this is the person you chose to be with for the rest of your life! So you need to stand by that commitment if you’re hoping your marriage will survive.


Marital privacy is important, and it is your job to protect it. Decide where the boundaries are, and then respectfully enforce them. If you cannot stand up to your parent, even at the expense of your marriage, you need to seek out some counseling to address that issue for the sake of your marriage and your personal mental health.


Come back next time for the next few items on the list – you won’t be sorry! But until then, if you or a loved one need help with your divorce, or other issues like child custody, alimony or paternity, our skilled family law attorneys are here to ehpl. Call 866 766 5245 to speak with an attorney today. We are here for you!