Are You Breaking Up Your Spouse’s Family?


 You’re a wife, a mom and a daughter-in-law. What happens when those relationships collide?

By Nadia Shah @desiinlaws & online at

This post was originally published on

nadia shah, desi inlaws, masalamommas

Columnist, In-Law Corner

Despite our best efforts, we all need to accept that it’s normal to have misunderstandings and conflicts with family, including in-laws. There isn’t a “perfect” relationship out there. And when conflict arises, it’s completely understandable that you’d want to vent to your spouse, since he or she is almost certainly someone you feel comfortable sharing your feelings with. But like most things, there should be a limit to how far you go.

When the venting becomes bashing, it could cause some serious problems. It’s easy for many of us to get carried away with our emotions and sometimes even say things that we don’t really mean.That’s  okay to do with a close friend, or a trusted family member, but when you go overboard with your spouse, you could be affecting his or her feelings and way of thinking towards his or her family.

Not only is it difficult for a person to hear “bad” things about his or her family, it may also unintentionally affect the relationship with his or her family. A husband, for example, may start to “side” with his wife and distance himself from his family. And if he knows that his wife doesn’t want to see his family at all, for example, he’s in the very difficult position of having to choose.

A better approach to dealing with any conflicts or negative feelings you may have is to try to resolve them as soon as possible so you don’t negatively affect family relationships. If resolving the conflict is not possible at this time (or ever), then make it a point to put the conflict aside, for the sake of family harmony. Don’t ignore your feelings; find a supportive friend or forum to express and deal with them the best you can. If you find yourself unable to forget about the issue and unable to face your spouse’s family, then encourage your spouse to spend time with his or her family alone.

But take special care to do so without attaching any negative feelings or guilt to his or her visit. Your spouse will (or at least should) notice that you are being supportive and will appreciate you even more. And most importantly, he or she will be able to reflect on the issue years from now and have no resentment toward you because you handled the conflict maturely.

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And let’s not forget about kids caught in the middle of family conflicts. Your negative statements or interactions with in-laws will influence your kids’ perception of them as well, whether you like it or not. Avoid being the daughter-in-law or son-in-law that keeps grand kids away from their grandparents because of your own negative feelings or current conflict with them (obviously if abuse is involved the situation needs to be handled differently so everyone is safe). Encourage your kids to spend time with your spouse’s family, even if they must do so without you. Make sure they understand that conflict happens from time to time, but that you are doing your best to resolve the situation as soon as possible. Above all, avoid characterizing your in-laws negatively in front of your children; your impressions and feelings are easily transferred, even unintentionally.

As you all know, family is a strong component of our South Asian culture. The goal is not to change who you are, but rather to focus on adjusting some of your behaviors and actions. As difficult as it may seem, it could profoundly benefit you and the rest of your family in the long run.


Could you be pulling your spouse and his family apart? How do you keep the family harmony?



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  1. Amina

    I think a lot of times there is a disconnect in our culture between daughter-in-laws and in-laws. The liaison between the two is always the husband/son. It is often when the son doesn’t find balance that problems occur. If the parents and wife are equally important to him he will find a way to create balance and ‘make it right’. I’m not sure it’s fair to put the burden on the wife as being the culprit of “breaking up the family.”

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