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9 Common In-Laws Problems and How to Handle it

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Sometimes, being married to someone also means you're marrying each other's family. So, not only that you would have to adjust yourself with your new spouse, but you should also try to build a good relationship with his parents at least. But what if you find yourself clashed with both or one of your in-laws? Don't give up yet, because today we're going to help you identify the in-laws' problem you might be having and share tips on handling it in a positive and healthy way. Hopefully, you'll find the solution to these domestic problems and able to make peace with them.

Problem #1: My in-law is too controlling

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Do you feel like your mother-in-law is the one in charge of your marriage, instead of you and your husband? Does she constantly tell you what to do and not do, where to live, how to raise your kids, and get upset if you do not comply with her instructions? If so, then you might be facing the classic controlling in-law case. It's one thing if you and your spouse are on the same page about how to handle the overbearing figure, but if he's actually following her every command and feeling guilty if you don't then you need to solve it quickly before it puts more pressure and stress to your relationship and marriage.

To deal with the struggling power play within the family, take time to find the roots of the problem. Is your in-law such a control freak because she's afraid of losing her dominance in her now-married son's life? Why does your husband feel so powerless against his mother? Is it a hard-to-break habit that stemmed from his childhood? When you have figured out the reasons behind these behaviors, discuss with your husband and help him understand that the two of you should lead your marriage together. Create a united front with your spouse and forget about having her approval on every little thing, so hopefully, your in-laws can see who's in control in this marriage.

Problem #2: My in-law is rude or unfriendly

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Surely, you'd love to see your in-laws as an extra set of loving parents in your life, but it will be hard if they aren't as welcoming as you thought they would be. For some reason, you might feel like they are cold, unfriendly, and even rude to you. You might also hear them saying hurtful things like comparing you to your husband's ex-girlfriend or badmouthing you to other family members. So, what to do in this unpleasant situation?

First of all, let your husband know that his parent's behavior is hurting your feeling and making you uncomfortable. Let him be the one to ask his parents to be nicer or be more proactive in standing up for you. You can also stand up for yourself and ask them the reason behind their hostile treatment. But remember to hold your tongue and anger, so that you wouldn't lose your temper and say things you might regret. Just don't fight fire with fire. Simply tell them that you're not okay with all the negativity they've been projecting this whole time and ask them to respect your new status as their son's wife (firm, but nicely!). Trying to find common ground can also work because you can get more familiar with each other and finally see some things eye to eye. If the problem persists, limit yourself from their environment and have your personal space so that you wouldn't have to interact with them on a daily basis. Yes, you should respect them anyway, but you shouldn't force yourself to be best friend with your in-laws if you're just not connecting well with them.

Problem #3: My in-law is (still!) treating my spouse like a child

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For some parents, their kids will forever be their baby no matter how grown up they are now. It can be cute to see how his mom still cooks his favorite meal every time the two of you are visiting, or his dad insists on going camping or fishing with him during the holiday season just like the old days, but it would surely get annoying if they are worrying and babying him too much. For example, if your in-laws are overly fussing about the cold he's having, implying that you are not taking better care of him like they did, unnecessarily sending over food to your house, or not trusting him with making major life decision with you.

As long as it's harmless and not affecting your relationship or marriage, keep your cool and accept the fact that loving parents will always shower their kids with affections, in their own unique ways. But if those endearing gestures have turned into an annoyance for you, you better draw the line immediately. Though it might seem harsh, it's essential for you to let them know the limit. Tell them you appreciate all of their help and advice, but you and your spouse are trying to find your own ways to navigate this marriage together so the two of you can grow and be an independent, self-sufficient couple.

Problem #4: My in-law is too involved in my married life

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The moment you're having an occasional argument with your spouse, just like any normal married couple would, but your in-laws are being nosy and butting in or if they expect you to consult them first whenever you're trying to make a career or housing decision, that's when you know you have a meddling parent-in-law. To have a solid support system is nice, but not if they turned out to be intruding and interfering in your personal issue that was none of their concern.

What should you do? You might ask. Well, you and your husband should try to keep any personal issue out of your in-law's knowledge if you don't want them to meddle in it. Don't fight or flaunt your problems in front of them. Also, don't snitch or complain about your spouse annoying habits to them. Contain and try to solve it by yourself. When you feel like they're giving you unsolicited advice, you can say thanks, but no thanks, or simply nod and tell them you'll consider it to keep the peace. At the end of the day, every big decision should be made by you together with your spouse.

Problem #5: My in-laws judge and criticize my every move

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We all know that every parent wants nothing but the best for their kid, including in terms of finding a life companion. But, we're only human and it's natural to make mistake when you're trying to adapt with the newly-ventured married life. Imagine how stressful it would be to have someone watching your every move and then judge or criticize it, especially because they feel like you don't fit their expectation. This is also one of the classic cases of toxic in-laws, where you feel like you can't do anything right. If you're working, then you're not prioritizing your family. But if you stay at home, then they would say you're lazy. They would rush you to have a baby and reprimand you and your husband's decision to postpone a pregnancy. And don't even start with parenting stage, because they feel like they have more experience, it feels like you don't have any say about how to raise your own kids.

Even though you might be tempted to explode into rage and tell them off, we are suggesting you take a more diplomatic route in order to achieve long-term peace. Don't take it to personal if you feel like they're attacking you and make your spouse your ally. That way, he can help you build a defense by saying that every decision in your marriage are being made together, so it would be unfair for them to blame only you. You can also say something like, "Thank you for the input, but I this works better for me," or "I appreciate your opinion, I prefer to do it this way." Just as we said on how to handle similar problems above, you don't need to have other peoples' approval on everything you're doing. Keep doing what you're doing positively and hopefully, they can finally see your best intentions.

Problem #6: My in-law is clingy and overly attached to my spouse

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In contrast to problem #3 where your parent-in-law treats you or your husband as an infant, in this case, they are the ones acting like a child. It's like they're afraid of losing the attention of their son, so they become clingy, needy and attached to him, even to the point of competing for his love with you. If they are constantly calling him for help to handle small and trivial things, following the two of you around despite the fact that you're going on a romantic trip, or telling him stuff like how he doesn't love his parents anymore since he was married, then you're facing this particular in-law problem.

Handle this problem delicately, because they are his parents and they deserve to be loved and respected. If they're afraid of being left behind or feeling lonely at their own home, you should always ensure them that you will be there for them. Don't dismiss or hate them for it. Instead, be open and include them in your family activities, like birthdays and holidays. By doing this, they would be reassured that they won't lose a son, but instead gain a loving daughter as well.

Problem #7: My in-laws have no respect for my privacy

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Are you having difficulties with your in-laws who love to come to your house unannounced, snoop on your private conversation or even nonchalantly taking a peek into confidential emails or letters? Even if you're sharing a living space with them, it doesn't mean that they can walk in and out of your territory, without considering your privacy. Being close-knit and transparent is one thing, but obviously, you don't need to share every personal or intimate detail in your marriage to your in-laws, or other people you don't feel comfortable with.

The moment you realize that your in-laws are being insensitive to this particular need, you and your spouse have to work together to build some sort of boundaries and strategy to break off this habit. First, don't overshare your problems with them. They don't need to know that you're arguing with your husband over small stuff. Second, create a safe space for you and your husband to be alone, undisturbed. It could be asking the in-laws to call before coming to your house or simply a lock on the door or drawers to keep your private stuff out of their reach. Lastly, respect their privacy in return. Set an example by not butting in when they're having an argument with other family members or express your hesitation to look at their phones or private documents, even when they're asking you to do it.

Problem #8: My in-law is dramatic and too sensitive

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We've seen the dramatic in-laws on TV's soap operas, but who knew that they actually exist in real life? Be prepared if your in-law has the tendencies for being melodramatic, making exaggerated stories or constantly being offended by every little thing that you do or say, you might just land a role in this new episode of family drama.

When faced with the problematic in-laws who has the knack for acting emotionally and turning you into the antagonist, you better pick your battles. If you react with the same hysterical note as they did, you will be dealing with this kind of problem for the rest of your marriage, because you're actually giving them the reaction that they expected. If the topic of their drama is simply fabricated or irrelevant, simply walk away, ignore them or respond honestly. There's no need to be rude but convey your feeling in a clear and neutral way. It could also be pointless to make everyone see how wrong your in-law is, even if it's obvious because sometimes is not about being right but being happy. So, for your sake, take the high ground, try to compromise as much as you can, and don't let their negativity poison you or your marriage.

Problem #9: My in-laws try to turn me and my spouse against each other

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This is the worst kind of toxic in-law because instead of being supportive of your marriage they're trying to make you and your spouse turning against each other. As much as we hoped that none of you is facing this problem, we have to break the news that for whatever reason, some in law actually plot and manipulating their way into their kids' marriage! Some might ask their kids to pick a side, between their parents or their spouse, which was totally unfair. Some might also badmouth their kid's spouse in front of others and always try to be the good guys.

One advice for couples who are having this problem is: Don't take the bait. We hope you know your spouse well enough so you're not going to fall into these domestic traps. Recognize the pattern, listen to your instinct, and avoid trusting their words instantly, for example, if your in-law is trying to upset you by telling how wonderful your spouse's former lover is compared to you, brush it off and don't take it personally. You should let your spouse know about his parents' behavior but pick your battles. He may not always be in the mood to hear all your complaints about his awful parents, so it's essential for you to have a solid support group outside the house. Try to turn to your best friends, siblings, or even therapist and support groups to get things out of your chest. Work out your way so that this problem won't cause a strain in your marriage and relationship.

At the end of the day, just as you accept your husband for all of his flaws and qualities, you should also admit that his parents are probably not going to change. The important thing is you have tried to make things better, find the solutions, mend the relationship, and improve yourself. If all else fails, look at the fact that this is the way things are and move on.

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