Establishing healthy boundaries with in-laws include conversing with your partner first. Discussing what your in-laws did or said and how that made you feel helps you find the root cause and then set a boundary. Create boundaries by spending time differently (like meeting for coffee one time and going to the movies the next time). Changing the meeting place will get you out of the conflict loop and allow you to communicate about issues. Don’t force your partner to choose a side or cut ties with in-laws. Instead, try to understand and compromise on matters you can while staying true to your values.
Marrying your significant other brings the responsibility of new relationships, including those with your in-laws.
Your in-laws become as important as your own parents and would want the same respect from you as they do from their child.
It’s fair for your in-laws to have some expectations from you, but there’s a fine line between respectfully having these expectations and crossing the line to want you to do as they wish.
When your in-laws cross boundaries, how do you deal with them? How can you respectfully tell them no and still maintain a cordial relationship?
Let’s look at how you can create healthy boundaries without disrespecting them.
Why do you need healthy boundaries with in-laws?
No relationship is perfect, be it mother-son, father-daughter, husband-wife, friends, or with your in-laws who become your extended family after marriage.
But practice makes perfect, and when you cherish someone, you find ways to agree on disagreements to continue a cordial healthy relationship.
In-law relationships are pretty new, and after getting married into the family, you can’t ignore these new relationships or cut them out of your life but learn how to maintain them.
Without disrespecting your partner and their parents, you must find a way to ensure you’re taking a stand for yourself too.
Even with the best of in-laws, there might be instances when you won’t see eye to eye on some issues, or they might get too involved in your life.
Setting healthy boundaries will help both parties understand each other and avoid conflict.
You would avoid unnecessary petty fights and avoid mental anguish by setting some rules and creating healthy boundaries.
It becomes even more important after you’ve had a baby as a new set of conflicts might arise related to expectations on how you should raise your little one from your in-laws.
How to establish healthy boundaries with in-laws without causing conflict?
When your in-laws say or do something you disagree with, it can be triggering, and you might be tempted to tell them off or say something that would hurt their feelings.
It’s impossible to get close to your in-laws as you’re with your parents, for they haven’t seen you grow up, and as adults, it takes time to understand each other and see where they’re coming from.
But saying things without thinking them over will break any relationship or cause enough hurt that it would remain with them for future disagreements too.
1. Think before you speak
It’s important not to say anything during a disagreement to avoid conflict.
If your in-laws say they want to stay with you for over a month, that’s a huge responsibility to undertake one you’re not ready for.
Give yourself some time to think over things instead of answering back no to them immediately.
Similarly, with any issue with your in-laws, give yourself time and reflect on the issue.
Sometimes, we’re unsure what we don’t agree with, and it just makes us uncomfortable. Addressing the issue helps us understand what to create a boundary for.
2. Communicate with your partner
You’re in this together through sickness, health, and bad and good times.
Talking to your partner can make you see new perspectives and help them understand why and where you feel uncomfortable.
Your partner knows their parents better than you do; sometimes, they can help you tackle a specific issue.
Remember their parents are equally important to them so you can’t make them choose between you can their parents.
When conversing, choose a respectful tone, but you can voice your concerns and how your in-laws’ actions or words make you feel.
This way, you can team up and find ways to solve these issues together and create healthy boundaries.
3. Don’t force your partner to choose
You don’t know how your significant other was raised and what works for them as a family. As a new member, you can’t change things and have to get used to their set of values as a family.
Now you might not feel comfortable with some things, but that doesn’t give you the right to tell your partner to choose between their family and you.
Just like you can’t allow someone to separate you from your family, think about what you’re asking your partner to do.
Siding is never an option except for some outrageous situations where you want your partner to stand with you.
4. Choose how to spend time with in-laws
You can maintain your relationship with your in-laws in various ways, such as phone conversations, texting, facetime, or meeting them for face-to-face discussions.
It also depends on what you prefer as a mode of communication and what’s comfortable for you to maintain. But also consider what your in-laws are satisfied with as well.
If your in-laws prefer more face-to-face family gatherings, but you prefer texting, then try to compromise and find a way to make it work for both of you.
You can limit face-to-face meetings to like once a month, and similar goes with facetime which you can fix on weekends when you have more head space and emotional bandwidth to deal with them.
Other times you can ask for their cooperation and stick to just texting.
5. Change the meeting place
It can feel a burden sometimes when all you’re doing is having a family dinner and talking to your in-laws, who might give unsolicited opinions on how to live your life or raise your child.
So change your meetings to fun places such as watching a movie, going to a theme park, meeting at a pub, or whatever works for your family situation.
When there’s an extra thing to focus on, your in-laws might become more bearable and easier to handle.
6. Compromise is a two-way street
Put yourself in your in-laws’ shoes and try to establish an understanding but also don’t let them run over you with how they want you to live your life.
There’re instances when you can compromise and listen to their advice, but other times you might want to take a firm stand for yourself and what you believe in.
At such times it becomes crucial to know the kind of life you want to live and how you wish to raise your children so you know there’re things and values you can’t compromise on.
If you don’t even know your own values you want to stand firmly for, you would feel uncomfortable and unable to pinpoint why you don’t want to face your in-laws. Neither will they be able to understand you.
7. Talk to your in-laws
Once you’ve identified what you can’t stand for and talked to your partner about it, discussing how you wish to proceed, make space and time to talk to your in-laws about the same.
Half of the issues can be solved when we communicate clearly and respectfully. They would understand your point of view if they’re not utterly intolerable people.
The bigger the issue, the better it is to talk face-to-face.
Clear out your weekend and talk confidently about how you want things to go, and when you have your partner by your side who also wishes for the same, it becomes easier to communicate.
But amongst all this, don’t raise your voice or become disrespectful because it could take days or weeks for them to understand you disagree.
It also becomes easier when you have a pro-con list about why you want to take a different path on a specific decision than what they hope you would take.
When it’s clear to you, it also becomes clearer to your in-laws.
8. Don’t cut out communication
Certain situations or disagreements might become lengthy in need of more time, but don’t limit conversations or cut your in-laws out of your life.
Especially if you’ve children, let them talk to your in-laws and schedule their meet-ups as you’ve been doing.
Children want to spend time with their grandparents, and it’s better to leave them out of the conversation since they’re innocent in all this.
While you try to solve your disagreements separately without letting your children know about them.
9. Let some things go
Who doesn’t find their in-laws annoying sometimes? Sometimes, our parents are annoying, so in-laws are no different than an extra set of parents.
Your sister-in-law might have an annoying habit of taking food from your fridge whenever she comes over as an excuse for being family, which might irk you.
But this is something really petty to talk about, so when you feel some things are not worth bringing it up because it’s not harming anyone, you could let a few things like these go.
At the same time, if things happen regularly, then it’s also fair to talk to your partner about it.
10. Let your spouse do the talking
Your spouse knows their family the best and, of course, better than you.
There could be embarrassing instances like your in-laws criticizing your cooking abilities each time you make something.
If you can’t have a conversation yourself, letting your partner do the talking is okay.
Of course, in such cases, there’s a chance your in-laws might feel your spouse is siding with you, but there’s also a chance that they might find it easier to listen to their child rather than you talk about it.
If your partner is unwilling to support you, there could be additional issues at hand you need to look into.
How to deal with in-laws interfering in your marriage?
The best way to deal with such a situation is to avoid instant reaction to whatever your in-laws say or do.
When you avoid an initial reaction, your spouse will notice this respect and be willing to take a stand with you rather than against you.
Talk to your partner about what your in-laws said or did that made you feel they’re interfering, and this would be useful in creating healthy boundaries together.
However, it’s also better to compromise and listen to your in-laws sometimes, as you can’t have your way all the time in a marriage.
How do you deal with clingy in-laws?
Overly sweet or imposing in-laws can also become troublesome as you don’t want them always to be this clingy.
You might enjoy your in-laws’ company, but to a certain extent, after which you need to put your foot down and find out the root cause behind their clinginess.
Talking helps in such cases, and try to become more open to your in-laws by having honest conversations.
Sometimes they’re just this clingy in fear of their child becoming distant. Or it’s just their own child isn’t spending quality time with them and hence they impose on you.