Patience, teamwork, and an exit strategy will help.

By Nancy Mattia
March 11, 2020
Skynesher / Getty Images

If you're lucky, your new spouse's parents are kind, thoughtful people who've welcomed you into their family with open arms. But if luck wasn't on your side and you wound up with challenging in-laws, check out these common-sense strategies to help you cope when the calendar or circumstances mean you have to be together.

Understand that your in-laws aren't you.

They were brought up in a different era than you were, and maybe raise in a different culture, religion, or lifestyle, too. That doesn't make them wrong, just not the same as you. Accept them as they are—they're not going to change and neither are you.

Be on the same team as your spouse.

This should be true even if he doesn't have a problem with his parents—if you have a problem, he has a problem, and you've got to solve it together. For example, you two can decide ahead of time and let his parents know that you'll spend two hours visiting with them. At the two-hour mark, you both should be prepared to leave—he shouldn't cave in to his parents' demand for a longer stay.

Avoid topics that set them off.

Whether the controversial subject is politics or the Keto diet, don't get them—or you—riled up at the dinner table. Stay focused on neutral topics like pets, travel, and your favorite movies or television shows.

Don't react to fake news.

Maybe your in-laws reinvent (family) history and say things that aren't true, but their little lies are harmless enough (like that time years ago when Grandpa was visiting Rome and sat down with the Pope for a 15-minute one on one? Sure...). Don't contradict them—this is the time to perfect your smile-and-nod stance. They'll stop talking soon.

Book an airbnb.

Or hotel, guesthouse, or any other accommodations that lets you have some time away from the in-laws. They may be offended that you don't want to stay with them, but you're adults so you can do what you want. if you book a room every time you visit, they'll hopefully—maybe grudgingly—come to accept it.


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