When you marry your partner, you are really marrying their entire family. For some, the additional family members are a blessing, with more participants for game night or more money to throw at a group vacation. But for others, their new in-laws prove to be insufferable.
When You Don't Share Any Interests
There are some people that don't share any interests or common ground with you. Maybe it's a pain to be around those people, but civility is still necessary. This is your spouse's family, after all, so you may as well try to connect with them. Don't disparage their interests, either; maybe you do not agree on everything, but there is no need to have a public debate about it.
When They Are Rude in Conversation
Some cases are more extreme than others. Maybe you have simply not adjusted to their jokes or how the members of their family speak to one another. They may not mean to offend, but you interpret their behavior as rude or off-putting.
The solution to this is to address their comments head-on. No need to be rude back; instead approach the conversation calmly. You could say, "Your comment doesn't sit well with me, and I would appreciate if you didn't say things like that around me." Try to come to a resolution, even if you don’t agree. That doesn’t mean feigning forgiveness. That means agreeing to disagree and committing to respecting one another. They will have to learn how to be around you just as you will have to learn how to be around them.
When They Make You Angry
You cannot control how other people act and sometimes they will set you off without realizing it. Or perhaps they did it intentionally—either way, retaliation is not the answer. Keep open (and private) communication with your spouse about why their family gets under your skin. They may be able to give you some insight into the situation that you would not have been privy to earlier. This should make it easier to reconcile and move on with your relationship with your in-laws.
Try to not bad mouth or criticize your in-laws to your spouse. Instead of saying, “Your brother is a real jerk,” say, “Your brother and I approach life differently.” Instead of saying, “I hate hanging out with your family,” say, “I want to hang out with your family sometimes because I know it’s important to you, but sometimes it makes me feel overwhelmed.” Some call this sugar-coating, but marital diplomacy is also important. There’s no need to hurt your partner's feelings, especially if the problems you’re having are with your in-laws and not your partner.
When You Cannot Resolve Your Issues Civilly
There are couples who get married and move away to avoid their in-laws. This may be going to the extreme, especially if you are the only one having issues with your spouse's family. Instead, try giving yourself some distance. If you normally attend every family function, tell your partner that you would like to sit a few of them out.
You and your spouse can create guidelines about when you can stay away. Maybe the two of you will agree that you should join the family for major holidays, but you can stay home for minor ones or events, such as celebrating your niece’s first steps. Whatever you decide, you should discuss the issue together – and you should both be satisfied with the compromise. In addition, your spouse might lay the groundwork for an improved relationship between their family and you.
While you don’t always have to participate, you should still remain civil and try not to hold a grudge. Allowing resentment to build and having this tense relationship with the in-laws will eventually influence your spouse and, as a result, your marriage. It could cause tension between the two of you, and that’s exactly what you don’t want. On the other hand, this doesn’t mean that you have to become best friends with your in-laws.
Your in-laws are your family now, too. Family doesn’t always get along. Personalities clash. People misbehave and don’t treat each other well. You both grew up in different circumstances, which shapes your experiences and expectations. But you’re still family and that brings with it some responsibility. You have to learn to live peacefully with your in-laws, if for no other reason than you love your spouse.