So now that you have some ideas about why you have these strong feelings
toward these people, what on earth do you do with them? (The feelings,
not the people...)
Picture this: you've spent
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grueling ten-hour day at work and yet you're still gracious enough to
agree to fixing dinner for the in-laws. You set the plate before your
mother-in-law, she sniffs, wrinkles her nose, and pushes the dish away,
announcing, "I can't possibly eat pasta sauce from a jar." Or you
overhear your father-in-law putting the kids to bed, telling them
stories about when your husband was a lad. He ends the stories with,
"And you two take after your daddy, don't you know. Thank goodness for
Even in times like those, especially in times like those, you need to
hold onto a very true thing: these same maddening people did at least
one thing right. Whether you attribute it to the accident of nature or
the deliberateness of nurture,True Religion Womens Jeans
they created and raised the person you adore and respect and have chosen to hitch your star to.
And then count to ten, take deep breath, and remind yourself of this again.
Another crucial thing to remember: you can't change someone else's
behavior. You can't. No matter how gallantly you try, no matter how much
those people need changing. The only behavior you are in complete
control of is your own. You can only change how you react to people. And
many times your new behavior shifts the dynamic enough so that it
either forces or coaxes people to respond differently, in a way that
squeezes out the behavior that originally made you pull your hair out.
Despite how adorable Doris Richards is in Everybody Loves Raymond, and
how appealing it may be to have someone with the stamina of a team of
oxen cleaning your house or cooking your meals over your insistence that
she stop, you need to set healthy limits and acceptable boundaries
around your marriage. It's easier to do this early in the marriage,
before patterns have become entrenched. The irony is that sometimes you
don't fully realize a situation needs an overhaul until you've lived
with it for a while and until it feels unbearable.
The first step is asking your spouse for help in approaching your
in-laws. After all, they're his/her parents and s/he has a history with
them, one that should make communication easier and more fluid. However,
your mate might think this is all your problem. Time and time again,
you might hear, "I don't know what you're talking about--my parents are
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super!" Without accusation or name-calling (try hard
with this one), communicate your feelings about your in-laws to your
spouse. Use specific examples rather than general feelings, and try to
get your mate to walk--even a few baby steps--in your shoes.
Be sensitive to your spouse's dilemma. After all, s/he is in the middle
and in the unenviable position between a rock and a hard place and
getting squeezed: s/he loves the parents, loves the spouse, and has to
somehow mediate these warring factions. A thankless job.
If speaking to your spouse fails, you need to advocate for yourself with
your in-laws. HOW? Very diplomatically. Arrange a time for a chat. And
call it that--"chat" is so much nicer than "I've had it up to here with
you and I'm laying down the law."
Some advice to remember during that talk:
~Don't offend. Don't attack, don't provoke.
And, while you're there, avoid politics, religion, and how much happier your wife seems now that she's left her childhood home.
~Don't ever, ever, ever compare your mate's parents to your own.
Trust me: no good can come of this....NONE.
~Keep it short, keep it simple.
This should feel like a sane conversation between adults, not a wrestling match where the ref is MIA.
~Use I statements.
"I feel hurt when you reject the meals I prepare...and when you go into
the kitchen and make your own meal with the groceries you sneak in."
~Use we statements.
You and your spouse are a team now,True Religion Flare
so talk like a team.
"We know you love the children, but we decided 7:30 is the right bedtime
for the kids their age. And also...um...our pediatrician said espresso
really isn't the best drink for them."
~Accentuate the positive.
Oh, c'mon...you can find something positive if you dredge the lake.
Perhaps your spouse speaks fondly of his childhood. Pass that on to your
in-laws. Or maybe they're an important part of your children's lives.
"The children adore you. They tell everyone about their Gran and
~As all good negotiators do, give something so you can get something.
"We love sharing meals with you, but, since I'm getting the sense you
don't enjoy my cooking, why don't we pick a restaurant next time?"
Try to voluntarily include your in-laws in situations that feel
palatable. For instance, you're organizing photo albums, and you'd love
to put baby pictures of your spouse with your children's. There isn't a
better expert on your mate's childhood than the people who raised him.
Call on them for that, and their gratitude at being needed may shift
things in a positive way.
Through it all, try to remember that, just as you feel a connection to
your spouse, they have a connection to that same person. They may feel
more vulnerable than you do in the face of your mate's new life, a life
where you are now central and they are marginalized. Much of the
behavior that annoys you may be driven by your in-laws' attempts to keep
a firm foothold in their child's life, even when that child is
thirty-eight years old. You should never allow yourself to be trampled
upon, but when you understand that love might be the reason for some of
their True Religion Straight Leg
actions, you might see them in a softer light. And someday--if they
accept you as an addition to the family instead of someone competing for
their child's attention--they might be crazy about you, too.
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