In most marriages, it’s common to have an occasional clash with in-laws or other extended family members. After all, we’re all human, and it’s inevitable that we will disagree with one another from time to time. But what if these clashes are happening on a regular basis, and your spouse always seems to be on your in-laws’ side? What do you do then?
Some relationships naturally have more friction than others, and that can add unnecessary stress to your dynamic over the years. It can also be taxing on your marriage, especially if your spouse defaults to taking his or her parents’ side of the conflict. While there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to get your spouse to see things from your perspective, there are a few approaches you can take to potentially rectify the situation.
Be Honest With Your Spouse About How You’re Feeling
If your spouse tends to place his or her parents’ interests ahead of yours, it’s going to be important to be honest about how that makes you feel. Your spouse needs a chance to understand how this dynamic affects you. Choose a time to chat when emotions aren’t running high and when you aren’t in the middle of a conflict, if possible.
Conversations like this are never easy, and can quickly escalate into hurt feelings and further conflict. When you approach your spouse, try focusing on how you feel, rather than what they have done. In other words, it probably won’t be productive to say something like, “You always side with your parents!” Instead, try something along the lines of, “When we discussed that issue with your parents the other day, I didn’t feel that my thoughts were heard, and that was hurtful. I would have appreciated your consideration before a final decision was made.”
Express Your Desire for Peace
Pop culture paints a picture of in-law relationships that’s rife with endless drama, and many real-life people expect that as a result. When you discuss the issue with your in-laws, express to your spouse that you want peace and harmony on both sides of the family. Establishing your desire for peace could potentially help to soften the conversation as you dig into the issue.
If possible, avoid taking an oppositional stance against your spouse or in-laws, even if you’re feeling wounded. Exacerbating the conflict won’t help your case. Instead, it might drive your spouse further away from you, which is the opposite of what you want. Appeal to your mutual desire to stay on the same team and support one another.
Seek Trusted, Professional Help
Navigating complicated issues with your in-laws can be volatile and frustrating. It’s possible that you and your spouse may need to seek a trusted, licensed professional counselor to help you work through disagreements and extended family conflict. An objective third-party can help you and your spouse see possibilities and win-win resolutions that you might not be able to see right now.
If you need some tips for reevaluating how to handle difficult relationships in your family, take a look at our book, High Maintenance Relationships. It offers strategies for living a more harmonious life alongside people who can sometimes be difficult to deal with. To find out more and get your copy, click here.
Does your spouse side with their in-laws over you? Do they stand up for you? Tell us about your experiences in the comments.