Marriage brings with it the joy of starting a life together as a couple. As partners, you should share the responsibility of making decisions that shape your lives. While seeking your in-laws’ opinions can provide valuable insight, it’s essential to recognize that you and your spouse need to make your own choices as a couple. In this post, we explore how to maintain a healthy balance of in-law involvement in decision-making without compromising your relationship with your spouse.
When you’re living your single life, your whole world revolves around your parents, and they’re the focus of everything you do, including the decisions you make for your life.
But after marriage, there’s a certain shift as your partner gets added to your life.
There’s a need to break away from the parents and in-laws. As two adults in a relationship, you should make decisions together as a couple without being influenced by what your in-laws think would be a correct decision for you.
This doesn’t mean you should disregard your parents’ opinion or treat them unkindly.
But how do you ensure you don’t cross this fine line in making decisions so your partner and family stay content?
The Shift in Priorities after Marriage
Marriage brings about significant changes in roles that are both necessary and required.
Prioritizing your partner is crucial to leading a successful life as equal partners in a marriage.
Although it’s difficult to adapt to this change of roles because, before marriage, your parents were your only priority, your husband/wife is now equally important, and you can’t afford to upset them.
Failing to understand this role change and prioritizing your parents over your partner can lead to struggles in your relationship.
When making decisions, if you involve only your parents and not your partner, they will feel left out and unimportant in the relationship.
For example, when deciding where to buy a house, both partners should have equal input.
If you exclude your significant other and ask your parents to help you decide, your partner may feel unimportant in your life.
Involvement of in-laws in decision making
Decisions are an essential part of our lives and become even more influential after marriage since they impact both people involved.
Therefore, it’s important to ensure that you’re making the best decision for your needs and requirements while considering your partner’s perspective.
It doesn’t make sense to involve your parents or in-laws in a decision that will impact your life as a couple more than theirs.
Although your parents and in-laws can offer valuable suggestions and insights, their decisions are based on personal experiences and may not be suitable for your situation.
While it’s respectful to listen to their opinions, ultimately, the decision should be made by the couple, without any external influence.
The difference in opinions and ideas
All your life, you’ve been slowly learning how to be independent.
From making your own bed to learning how to cook and go out in this world to live like an adult who doesn’t need hand holding.
We slowly stop depending on our parents and learn how to live and make decisions ourselves.
But even as adults, when it comes to major decisions, we still want to consult our parents or immediately think about asking our parents what would be the best course.
This is all fine and good because even though we have become adults, consulting our parents makes them feel respected and needed.
But when you blindly trust your parents and decide based on their beliefs and values, are you making this decision for yourself, or are your parents choosing for how beneficial it would be to them?
Sometimes parents forget that their decisions for their children need to be made based on what’s best for their children rather than how it would benefit them.
Even though you grew up in their household, as an adult, you would have different opinions and beliefs than your parents.
Your in-laws might be more experienced and know what’s best, but their decisions come from personal experience and not according to what would be best for you.
You might not always agree with their ideas and conclusions.
Their political, religious, and philosophical ideas might differ from yours, and a different opinion will definitely be useful in exploring all the other paths and considering other options.
Listening to their suggestions would be respectful toward your in-laws because they feel heard, and their opinion seems to matter.
But at the end of the day, you should evaluate their opinion as a suggestion and finally take a decision that you both feel is correct for your lives together as a couple.
How to be respectful of your in-laws’ suggestions?
Even if, as a couple, you know you won’t blindly make a decision influenced by your parents or in-laws, you still need to consider their suggestions and be respectful.
Simply listening won’t do; they need to feel you’re sincerely considering their suggestion.
In such cases, there’re different ways to make them feel heard and respected:
- Ask them to clarify their ideas and talk more about how they think it would benefit your situation.
- Appreciate their ideas and suggestions and tell them you will consider their perspective because of the list of reasons why it sounds reasonable.
- Go in with an open mind and be willing to listen.
- Share your ideas as a possible perspective and not in a way that sounds like a final decision.
- Negotiate some parts of their perspective you don’t agree with.
What in-laws need to understand about their married child
It’s not just children who should tip-toe around their parents to not upset them.
But parents need to understand how their children who’re now married will continue to support and prioritize their own family from now on.
This doesn’t mean your children don’t respect you, but now it’s time for them to make decisions that will affect their own family just like you did for your own family.
It isn’t easy to let go of a hand you once used to hold all the time and lead onto the right path. But decision-making is a part of creating healthy boundaries.
Now when it’s time for them to make their own decisions as a married person with their significant other, you should let them do so.
Your role would be to suggest ways to make a better decision or give them suggestions to explore different options.
Another way to ensure you’re not forcing your child into making a decision you approve of is not to give unsolicited opinions.
Only suggest ideas when they want and need your help. Children only want their parents to be there for them as emotional support.
Even if they decide to go with a decision you suggested, it’s not because they trust you blindly but because they might have felt this is a better decision for them as a married couple.
Allow them to make their own decisions and come to you for help when they wish for it.
How to make decisions together as a married couple?
Making decisions as a single person wasn’t that difficult when the only person benefiting from the result would have been you and you alone, but now that decision will affect you and your partner.
Decision-making as a couple isn’t easy and can quickly go wrong if both fight for what they believe is right. The following are ways to ensure decision-making goes as smoothly as possible:
- Go into it with an open mind.
- Listen before you react.
- Use kinder words to express how you feel.
- Be honest but not disrespectful.
- Look at the pros and cons.
- Think about long-term and short-term effects.
- Compromise on things you can.
- Think practically and not just emotionally.
- Give time and space to think about each other’s suggestions.
Who is responsible for decision-making in a relationship?
Decision-making as a couple would affect both people involved in the relationship. So no matter your decision, it would affect you both equally.
It’s a shared responsibility, but there could be certain aspects of it which one person would be more experienced in to make a decision about.
For example, if it’s a decision about purchasing a car that you must be more interested in and know about as compared to your significant other, the larger inputs would be from you.
Even if you’ve more knowledge about a specific thing you’re making a decision for, you should still include your partner in the final decision and ask for their input, no matter how small it is.
You could ask your non-interested partner about the color they would prefer in case of a car.