By: Sally Hodges

Whether you have been married 30 years or 30 days, in-laws have likely come up in your relationship. For somepeople, their in-laws are a glorious fountain of support, wisdom and encouragement. For others, this is not the case. If you find yourself in a tough place with your partner and in-laws, read ahead.

Tip 1: Remember that you both love the same person dearly.
If all you have in common is that you both love your partner, you’ve found at least one thing in common. Whether you are the spouse or the parent in the situation, you both love the same person. Remembering this mutual point of interest can help you lower your defensiveness towards the other person. If you love your husband but can’t stand his father, can you find appreciation for how his father helped raise your husband into the person you love?

Tip 2: Work on yourself first.
Warning, hard pill to swallow ahead: in conflict, confront yourself first. I don’t know the specific problem you are facing with your in-laws but I’m willing to bet some of it feels personal. Working out conflict with your daughter-in-law will begin to go smoother if you first figure out why she sets you off so much.

Tip 3: Fight Fair.
You may be thinking, “well we don’t fight, we just don’t get along.” Fighting fair doesn’t have to mean a screaming match. Fighting fair means you don’t take cheap shots at each other, hold grudges, or name call. Don’t do any behaviors that make you feel great in the moment but never help move the relationship forward. If you are feeling a slight tingle of your consciousness as you read this, you probably know what I’m talking about.

Tip 4: If you can’t pick your battle, pick the time.
Not every issue needs to be hashed out when it is immediately brought up. I’m not suggesting you sweep things under the rug. Rather, mutually decide if this is the best time to have this discussion. Remember tip three on this one because demanding that “this isn’t the time for that” is not mutually deciding to come back to the issue.

Tip 5: Express Appreciation.
You may not have the relationship you’d like with your in-laws. You may not be as close, warm, and open with them as you’d like, and you may never see that ever happening. They may unjustly not like you. Or, you may have an overall good relationship, just with some small disagreements here and there. Whatever your situation, continue to express appreciation. While this might seem like a suggestion to appease them, in fact it is actually for yourself. When you are able to hold multiple conflicting emotions about a person or situation, you strengthen your emotional muscles.

Sometimes conflict is greater than 5 tips can solve. If this is the case for you, contact us at (816)537-1350 to set up your appointment with one of our relationship specialists.