Relationships with in-laws are known to be stressful — after all, each family has its own dynamics, traditions, and parenting styles, and it can be hard to meld those in a way that pleases everyone. But, with some helpful strategies and patience, partners and their families can work together to embrace one another and make the most of the time they spend together.
We asked members of the Thrive community to share the strategies they’ve used to successfully de-stress their relationships with their in-laws, and allow themselves to more fully enjoy family gatherings.
Accept your differences
“I remember that the way my in-laws do things is not the way I do things, and that’s OK. I am very much a planner — they are not. So when I know we’re going to get together with them I plan on there not being a plan. I’m able to let go a little bit by reminding myself that the day isn’t in my hands.”
—Lauren P., HR consultant, Tempe, AZ
Communicate with your partner
“Make a plan with your significant other regarding how long you want to stay, so that both of you are happy. Time your arrival toward the beginning of the event before drinks have been served, since alcohol always exacerbates situations. Make your rounds, say your hellos, and make small talk with the family. Then, let someone else take the spotlight. When you leave, say goodbye just to the immediate family, that way it’s less likely someone will drag you to stay.”
—GiGi Diaz, radio personality and entrepreneur, Miami, FL
Search for the good in one another
“Initially, my mother-in-law and I didn’t hold great opinions of one another. There came a point when I realized viewing her with hostility was unhealthy for all of us, including my partner. I searched to find one good thing about her, and I found it: She gave birth to the man I loved. If that was the only good thing she had ever done — and of course it wasn’t — that was enough. Now I see her differently. Finding at least one good thing about her changed my attitude, changed her attitude, and we were able to become friends.”
—Margaret Meloni, author, Long Beach, CA
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