Q: My in-laws hate me and the feeling is mutual. How do I handle the situation without alienating my husband or making him feel torn? We’ve been dealing with it for a couple years & it’s HARD. Any advice?
A: In-law relationships are particularly tricky because you’re competing for the same man’s attention — your husband/their son. I wish I had a bit more information about your relationship history with them like: When did the relationship become so negative? Did you have a time where you did get along? How do you handle your emotions about this? Are they intentionally mean to you? If you’d like to write back with more details I’d be happy to respond again.
If the 3 most important people in his life don’t like each other he will feel torn about it.
So here’s what you can do:
1) Go to counseling to work through your own emotions about your in-laws, explore why you are so stuck in the negative emotions, find ways to become more emotionally neutral about this relationship, and work on what you can do to improve the relationship.
2) Limit the complaints that you share with your husband about his parents. This will help him have some relief from feeling “in the middle”. Chronic complaining about his parents will likely wear on your hubby and end up negatively impact your marriage.
3) Come up with a cue word with your husband so you can gently signal him when you really need him to step in and take a stand for you to his parents.
4) Decide what kind of daughter-in-law you want to be and then become her no matter how they are behaving. Taking charge of your own behavior feels better than reacting based on their behavior.
Remember that you chose your husband and by doing so you chose his family. Do your best to let the little annoyances slide, pick your battles, and do your best.
Take good care of you and yours!
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Self & relationship expert Julie de Azevedo Hanks, LCSW is wife of 22 years and mother of 4, a licensed psychotherapist, a popular media contributor, and director of Wasatch Family Therapy. Watch Julie on KSL TV’s Studio 5, listen on B98.7 radio, and read her national advice columns on Psych Central, and Latter-day Woman Magazine. Connect with Julie on Facebook & Twitter.
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