It’s important to establish healthy boundaries with your in-laws. Otherwise, you can add a lot of stress to your marriage relationship. But how do you go about it?
Here’s what Joan shared with us:
“My husband and I are constantly arguing about our in-laws, and it has stressed our marriage so much that we are unable to deal with other issues. I think the problem is a lack of boundaries. His mom more or less views me as somebody that she needs to compete with. And she also imposes her views. My husband follows through with what she says and it causes conflict with us.”
When the in-law problems cause you and your spouse to be unable to deal with other issues in your marriage, then something has to be done. Both of you need to talk about some of the consequences of this continual in-law problem.
Maybe you start that by saying, “How is this impacting our marriage? How is it impacting the grandchildren? How is it impacting the way you and I are connecting?” Don’t place blame; just look from the outside at the impact the friction is having on your marriage. Ask for clarification. See what your spouse is feeling or sensing. Be open. You don’t want to cast blame and get into another argument; instead, you want to get insight into it from each other’s perspectives.
Then you can say, “Can we perhaps set one boundary with your mom (or with my folks)?” Take it a step at a time. And simply through communicating, you’ll begin to understand each other more. You can watch each other’s backs when the in-laws are around. You can support each other in subtle ways. You need that. Remember, you must first and foremost protect your marriage and family.
*For more practical marriage advice, check out The Great Marriage Q&A Book. It's available in our online bookstore!