30 October, 2010

Dealing with the In-Laws

When we talk about in-laws, we're almost always talking about mother-in-law, with sister-in-law running a close second. What is it about the other women in our men's lives, the ones they grew up with and who, presumably, helped shape them into the guys we love?

Some of us are lucky enough to become fast friends with these women, to find an additional set of shoulders to lean on, even to discover a replacement for a mother we lost or are distant from. But there are difficult cases -- it seems that in- law troubles are pretty darn common. Here are some of the most common scenarios.


Problem 1: "We Have Very Different Lifestyles."

The mom-in-law is a very poor house-keeper, and when the wife and her husband go to visit both of their families, they always avoid camping at his mother's house. Mom-in-law is completely able to clean if she was willing. She knows her home is a cluttered mess, and even jokes about it, but does nothing to improve it.

Example:The next visit will be Christmas and the baby/toddler will be crawling/playing around the house. The wife doesn't even want the baby off her lap, let alone crawling on the filthy floor.

Solution:
You can't try or force your in-laws to change in the situation. We all have our tolerance levels when it comes to tidiness, and trying to make someone else match ours is opening a door to on-going problems. However, since there's a baby involved, I would agree that telling the mother-in-law to either clean her house or you clean for her. Kids will do pick up just about everything, and they are susceptible to common household germs. For me, that's the best thing to do.


PROBLEM 2: "They Won't Accept Me"

No matter what she does to try and please her in-laws, there's no winning. If there are issues and the mother-in-law can't figure out a way to blame her son, it becomes her (the wife) fault.

Solution:

If possible, just accept things as they are; or talk to your husband about how your in-laws are always doing things for you rather than trying to get to know you, and how it makes you feel. If he's not willing to do something about it, then maybe he's not that interested in you. A guy should make sure that his family gets to know her, otherwise, there is something wrong.

Think about this: Who's side is your husband on? What's his overall relationship with his family? If he doesn't get along with his family, why do you think you're going to fare any better?


Problem 3: "She's the Boss"

Here's one scenario: Your sister-in-law had a Christmas visit, older than your husband, overrode the holiday dinner plans (in your own house), suggests things -- "these are better than those"; or "do this rather than that" and so on.

Solution:

If you don't like the things she suggest, tell her -- in a nice way --, that you planned those things and you already have a list. It's your house anyway. If she took it badly, it ain't your problem anymore... =)

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