Keeping the Peace: Tips for Managing In-Law Conflicts

To resolve older conflicts with in-laws, you need to have patience and know it will take time for your relationship with them to become better. You can start by listing potential conflicts and talking to your partner about how to approach your in-laws, so they don’t feel blindsided. Talk to your in-laws about older conflicts but calmly without getting angry. Express yourself but also listen to what they say. By creating healthy boundaries and compromising, you can rebuild your relationship.

Conflicts and in-laws are two terms that almost always go together.

It’s not a surprise to hear any couple talk about how they don’t have the best relationships with their in-laws.

Often, your in-laws want you to live a certain way, so they would constantly nag you about how you should do certain things, from living your own life to raising your kids; the unsolicited advice never stops.

And with time, this develops into a conflict because you want to do things on your own terms.

Even if it’s not out in the open, you still start feeling resentful toward your in-laws, which sours the relationship.

Disagreements with in-laws

Every relationship has its ups and downs. Solving conflicts with your partner, friends, or family seems easier than with your in-laws.

When you marry your partner, you also marry into their family and form an extended family.

But unlike other relationships, an in-law relationship takes time to develop, where you learn about each other.

So it’s easier for conflicts to form before you learn how to trust each other.

Conflicts or disagreements are easier to form, even over a simple thing, such as being a vegetarian or non-vegetarian.

While it’s better to handle things from the beginning of this relationship, it’s still not too late to resolve older conflicts.

But you need to understand that things won’t become better overnight.

Like everything else, you’ll need to be patient with your in-laws if you want things to change.

1. Make a list of conflicts with your in-laws

A young married woman is making a list of things to discuss with her in-laws in regards to their relationship and how to improve it

Before doing anything else, start by sitting down with a calm and collected mind and making a list of conflicts or disagreements between you and your in-laws.

Sometimes when you start putting words to paper, you realize some things are not worth feeling hurt over. There could be plenty of futile things you feel bitter about that you can let go of.

Then focus on issues worth resolving or talking to your in-laws. Things like how you wish to raise your kids or live your life a certain way.

For example, if you want to dress a certain way but your MIL finds it revealing, this is something worth talking to her about.

2. Relay your concerns to your spouse

You can start by sitting with your spouse and talking to them about the issues troubling you.

Before trying to find a solution, it’s best to relay your concerns to your spouse calmly and collectedly.

You’re talking about your spouse’s parents, after all, so remember to be calm and respectful toward them.

When you disrespect your in-laws or blame them for everything, your spouse will become defensive.

If you want them to see your point of view, talk in a way that expresses how you feel when your in-law says or does something you don’t like.

This is when your list will be helpful as you can start talking about things individually.

If you bring out random things you don’t like about your in-law without them being actually problematic, your spouse will think you’re overreacting.

Communicating to them that you wish to resolve these conflicts by talking to your in-laws will make your spouse happy that family relationships can become normal.

Also, they won’t feel blindsided and will support you by giving out ways to handle specific issues.

3. Talk to your in-laws

It takes a lot of courage to resolve older conflict situations, and if you’ve decided to do so, you’re undoubtedly brave enough.

A mom and her daughter-in-law are sitting together at the kitchen table having a conversation about their relationship

Here are some tips to help you through this process:

  1. Decide to talk face to face rather than by text or call.
  2. Decide to meet on holiday or over the weekend, so you’re not busy and emotionally available to discuss conflicts.
  3. Be calm and respectful towards your in-laws when talking about previous conflicts.
  4. Decide to meet at home instead of a public place to avoid making a scene, just in case.

When you’re displaying your concerns, talk about how things they say and do make you feel. Expressing how you feel hurt can be much more effective than you think.

You might get an urge to shout or get angry if they dismiss your concerns but don’t do that.

This will make things much worse, and they might think you’re throwing a tantrum like a child.

Instead, relay your feelings and tell them how they need to accommodate and meet you halfway to resolve these conflicts.

Give them time to think about what you said during your meeting, and let them know they can take as much time as they need to come to terms with how things will be different from now on.

By letting them know you want to create healthy boundaries to mend your relationship and remain on good terms in the future, you’re doing your best from your side.

4. Listen to your in-laws

Disagreements also arise from both sides. It’s not always your in-laws’ fault. You might feel bitter over time, but you need to think from your in-laws’ point of view too.

You can’t have your way in each disagreement and ask them to compromise or learn how to accommodate you and your wishes.

Just like with your spouse, you compromise on several things you must consider doing the same with in-laws.

When you talk to them, listen to their concerns and how they feel when you do something.

You have to compromise on some issues, and this is how you’ll be able to resolve past conflicts and form a healthy relationship.

5. Set boundaries with in-laws

It can be challenging to set boundaries, but you must do that for the peace of your mental health.

A young woman and her mother-in-law are noticeably not happy as they're having a disagreement during their conversation

When you disagree with in-laws, it doesn’t have to turn into a fight. You can agree to disagree, but your in-laws might find it harder to accept.

Setting healthy boundaries with in-laws lets them know you’re not a pushover and that you are serious about changing things with your relationship.

If your in-law likes to drop in whenever they see fit next time they do that, tell them calmly that you’re busy right now and can’t accept them to stay right now.

Instead of canceling your plans, let them know you’ll hang out later with them and ask them to text next time before coming over.

If they don’t like your cooking, then you can tell them that you’ll cook your dishes the way you like when you’re cooking, and if they want you to change things, they can cook the meal however they like.

If they don’t like how you dress, communicate that this is how you feel comfortable.

Wearing what they prefer makes you feel uncomfortable and not yourself, so you can’t change it for them to feel good about it.

And when your spouse already knows about these disagreements, they would know how to handle such situations.

6. It takes time

It’ll take time for your in-laws to get used to how things will change. Keep creating healthy boundaries and letting them know you feel hurt whenever they do something out of line.

By doing so, you’re holding them accountable each time. Most importantly, stay calm and don’t get angry while doing so.

With time they’ll get used to this change and might stop their unreasonable behavior.


How do you respond to toxic in-laws?

Getting along with toxic in-laws can be difficult, but you might need to maintain a cordial relationship for your husband’s sake.

You can have a better relationship by creating some healthy boundaries. It might take them time to accept how things will change but continue to create boundaries for them to get used to things.

Don’t shout or become angry at them, as it wastes your energy. Instead, calmly let them know how their behavior makes you feel and it’s unacceptable to you.

How do I get rid of my anger toward my in-laws?

If you often get angry at your in-laws due to their behavior, it’s better to let out your anger without ruining your relationship with them.

It’s best to do some kind of physical activity, such as playing a sport, going to the gym, swimming, or even boxing, to release pent-up anger.

Once your mind is clear, find ways to deal with the things which cause this anger to form toward them.

Handle these things by talking to your partner and then with your in-laws. By openly communicating, a lot of things can be resolved. Learn how to set boundaries to prevent getting angry.


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Hi! I’m Saumya, writer and editor at Marriage & Bliss. “To be fully seen by somebody, then, and be loved anyhow—this is a human offering that can border on miraculous.” —Elizabeth Gilbert. Every marriage faces pitfalls, be they internal or external, and with my words, I hope to help couples find possible solutions and mend their broken relationships. After all, a successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.
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