By Nadia Shah
Sometimes it just takes one relationship to make a marriage challenging…In-law relationships are not always easy but they also don’t have to be challenging. So we thought we would share some of the first steps to getting the relationship you want with your in-laws.
First step to improve in-law relationships: Try.
VENTING is important but not as important as TRYING. Recently I read an article from a South Asian female that was expressing frustration and anger toward her in-laws. In the article, she just seemed to be venting about the in-laws. Many readers comments showed they agreed with the writer about South Asian in-laws and how they could be difficult. A few readers thought the writer needed to do more to try to improve the relationship with her in-laws. The key word TRY is key.
If we want change, we have to try to make changes. You can choose to vent, stew in anger, and be resentful but that doesn’t contribute toward happiness.
Here are a few methods of trying improving your relationship with your in-laws:
Talk to your partner.
It will benefit the overall family dynamics if you and your partner are united. This isn’t always possible as you and your partner may have differing views of the situation. However, he or she can be an asset in helping improve the relationships, and if he or she is unwilling to help, then you know you have to take the lead.
Sitting back and waiting for the situation to improve usual yields few results. It may be scary but wallowing in misery is worse. Be respectful (as always), gentle, and go in with a game plan. Know what you want to express and verbalize it without blaming. Stick with “I feel” statements. This might be too direct for some South Asians but sometimes we have to try a direct approach to make any real change.
Change YOUR attitude.
Yes, you read that correctly. Your attitude influences the dynamic as much as theirs. You can’t change your in-laws attitude directly, so change yours. Try to remind yourself to approach them with positivity. Smile, be warm (as much as possible), and be welcoming. They may be taken aback if they are used to tension but eventually they’ll react differently, hopefully positively. The added benefit is that your in-laws will have difficulty being upset at you if you exude kindness and love.
Include them in YOUR life.
That doesn’t mean having them around you all the time. Instead, include your in-laws in the happenings of your life. Update them on milestones your kids are reaching. Your daughter learns her alphabet; send them a video. You got a new job; share the great news with them. You tried your mother-in-law’s recipe and it was a success; share the happiness with them.
Give them purpose.
Some of our in-laws are retired or have free time or simply just want to help. And I’m sure you could use some help also. Ask them to watch the kids. Or cook a dish that you struggle with. Whatever it may be, give them a task that will keep them busy. What this will do is involve them in your life, as well as make them feel that they are helping you and your family, which they are.
These are just a few simple ways you can try to improve your in-laws relationships. This isn’t a fix-all solution but rather a few starting points. And this won’t help everyone, some just have difficult in-laws with deep-threaded issues that will take miracle or a therapist to change. At that point, work on acceptance (with openness to change) and keeping your sanity.
In-law relationships are naturally complicated. Through marriage you gain a family that you didn’t grow up with. A family with a different culture, different dynamics, and unfamiliar. You’re expected to mesh with them immediately but that doesn’t always happen. The important thing is that you don’t simply complain about the challenges you encounter with in-laws but rather you TRY to make positive changes.
Follow Nadia Shah on twitter at @desiinlaws
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