Ten Basic Rules for Dealing with In-Laws
Learn to cool off.
I tend to jump in where angels fear to tread. It's always headfirst, too. Fortunately, my husband is far more levelheaded. Many times, the best thing to do is nothing. Time heals many wounds -- and wounds many heels.
While we're at it, play nice. Spare your in-laws the insults and character attacks. For example, Jack's father-in-law once called his son a knee-jerk liberal. "I had it on the tip of my tongue to call him a "bloody fascist," Jack said. "Fortunately, I bit my tongue-even though he really is a fascist."
Your parents have to love you; it's in the contract. But your in-laws don't. Accept the fact that your in-laws aren't your parents and won't follow the same rules. Try to think "different" -- not "better" or "worse." To make this work, give in on small points and negotiate the key issues.
Learn to see the situation from your in-law's point of view. And even if you don't agree, act like a big person. For example, I hate pork. I never eat it; I rarely cook it. Nonetheless, for years my mother-in-law would make a pork roast when we came to her house for dinner. After wallowing in more pork than Congress produces, I came to see that she was trying to please her poor pork-deprived son. Big deal: I learned to have a salad before we ate at her house. My husband porked up in peace and the only one to suffer was Babe, the poor porker.
Even if you have to grit your teeth, try to say something nice. And if you really can't say anything nice, shut up and smile.
Keep your sense of humor.
A very dear friend tells this story: "When I was pregnant with my first child, my father-in-law bought me a special gift: My very own funeral plot. 'Why a funeral plot?' I asked him. 'Well,' he replied, 'you might not make it through the birth and I thought you should be prepared.'" I probably would have slugged the codger upside his head; my friend, in contrast, laughed and thanked him for his gift. P.S. She and all her children are fine.
You and your spouse are more powerful than you think. You're adults; you're a family unit. You can control visits, holiday celebrations, and access to grandchildren. Don't assume that you're powerless. No one can push you around if you don't let them.
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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Dealing with In-Laws © 1998 by Laurie E. Rozakis, Ph.D. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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