The Married Chick The Knot the married chick

5 in-law issues solved

How to deal when you encounter a new spouse, new name, new home and – oh yeah – a new family.

By The Married Chick May 17, 2013 4:02PM
Photo: Women talking // ThinkstockWhether they want to smother you with kindness or kick you to the curb, figuring out where your partner's family fits in with your life is tricky. Here's how to navigate:

1. They want to be friends – best friends
Liking you too much is better than hating you, but come on, you need some privacy.

  • If your mother-in-law wants to meet for lunch and you have no desire or time, suggest you all do something together; make your spouse go. too. You can’t ignore her, but since it’s your mate’s mom, it’s only fair you have a buffer.

  • If your sister-in-law is hoping to spend some time with you or even gab on the phone, say, “Sounds great, but I only have 30 minutes. Is that OK?”

2. They hate You
We’re guessing the feeling is mutual. But if your mate wants you to try harder, or you long to have them like you and nothing can break the ice, try giving it time to melt.

  • Praise their parenting. Try something like, “He has been so great around the house lately. You guys did a great job teaching him how to clean a kitchen.”

  • If only one of them is giving you the cold shoulder, focus on the others. Getting in good with a brother or aunt shows you're likable and have good intentions.

3. They want to plan a vacation together
Now that you’re official, you’re invited to the weeklong family gathering. Lucky you! Did they mention it’s in the middle of nowhere?

  • Go this one time. The next time the idea gets passed around, you can safely say, “We had a great time, but we're really looking forward to own trip this year.”

  • If you’re in the same hotel, ask for rooms on different floors. Do we have to explain why? Build in "alone time" in addition to family time – and lock that door.

4. They ask for money
Whether your sister-in-law asks you to be her lease guarantor or your brother-in-law needs $5,000 for a car down payment, the whole situation can get sticky.

  • Before your compassion or anger kicks in, sit down with your spouse and discuss every aspect. Are you two the only option? Could it ruin your credit report? Do you need that money for yourselves?

  • If you agree to the loan, put the amount and the time needed to pay it back in writing. If necessary, have a lawyer look it over. Cushion it with a joke, like, “Let’s get this in writing so we don’t end up on Judge Judy.”

5. They pop in
Or they call during sex or show up at your favorite restaurant and ruin your romantic time alone. Basically, they enter your life at really unwelcome times.

  • Set limits with an explanation, in case they’re oblivious: “Let’s chat about 'American Idol' over email tomorrow. We get really exhausted after 9 p.m.”

  • Ask your spouse to step up to the plate with, “Of course you’re welcome, but with our crazy schedules, we need advance notice when you’re coming over.”

More from The Nest:
How to Be a Better Spouse
Watch Other Couples Duke it Out
Survive a Weekend with the In-Laws

Photo: Thinkstock

Aug 5, 2013 6:52PM
I completely agree with #3. We went on a family vacation to the beach. They wanted a higher up beach-view so they could see and hear the ocean from their room. We needed ours on ground level near the indoor pool and sandwich bar. They originally were trying to talk us into adjoining rooms. I am so glad I insisted on being on a different floor. It completely saved my sanity.
May 22, 2013 3:39AM

I have a mother-in-law and a husband with Narcissistic Personality Disorder.  That advice wouldn't work with a narcissistic mother-in-law heading an incredibly enmeshed family.


I played nice for 21 years.  I ended up doing everything my mother-in-law wanted just to avoid her rage attacks.  It was bad.  Now, it's come down to stalking.  My mother-in-law will have her other children literally follow me around in public and spread malicious gossip to my employers, neighbors, and anyone willing to listen.  The cops think my husband is putting his family up to the harassment and stalking. I can't take it anymore. 


I just filed for a divorce.  Sometimes you just can't win.

May 22, 2013 2:24AM
Oh my these were easy.  How about being expected to go on a up to 2 weeks of his family vacations in one small cottage with no air conditioning, dishwasher, one bathroom, and 13 people.    After 20 years I declared to my husband I refuse to ever go again and he was upset.    I really didn't care at all.  I told him even murderers get out of jail after 20 years.    He said his x didn't like going either and look what happened to her.    I laughed and said she probably ran like hell.   I also told him if I knew when he asked me to marry him that it included a yearly hellish vacation with his family I would have said NO!    Sounds harsh but it was a nightmare like no other.
May 22, 2013 1:39AM
whtas the difference between an inlaw and an out law?   out laws are wanted!!!!
May 21, 2013 10:52PM
What kind of stupid language is , you guys? If you say that to me, I will automatically get aggravated with you!
May 21, 2013 6:36PM

I think all of your advice about dealing with in-laws is great. I have done similar things to keep good with my in-laws. For 18 years I always tried with them. Living 3,000 miles away helped because when they would get in their moods I just grinned and bared it and moved on. They came to visit us 5 times in the 18 years. My husband knew how hard I tried. I sent pictures of the grandkids all the time I called them every week to check in etc. My husband passed away 2 years ago of cancer and on his death bed he told his parents that he instructed me to not call that the relationship ball was in their court now. It was up to them to make time for me and the kids. This is the same parents that left 3 days before my husband died (they were told it was going to happen soon but her response was she needed to be with her children on Mother's day which was the following Sunday). They left. I about broke my heart when my husband was passing and all of my family was around him and he said where is my mom and dad I had to tell them they weren't coming. I got his mother on the phone to say goodbye to him. We even had to delay the funeral 10 days because she wanted to save money on the flight. Well in these last 2 years I can count on my right hand how many times they called. My daughter is graduating from High school this week and they are coming. Recently I have moved on and I have put aside all the nasty things she has said to me like telling my daughter I didn't take care of my husband enough and that is why he died. (believe me I took care of him and my kids before I took care of myself). She finally called me and asked for a ride from the airport.  I nicely suggested a car service because she is coming in at midnight I just don't fell like I owe her anything. I am dating someone and she used social media to bash him. She also mentioned that he had no place at the graduation party. I can only be nice for so long and I will try but right now I feel like a doormat. Any advice for the next four days will be much helpful.

I never heard of issues with inlaws liking you. I think MSN was low on BS advice to give and tossed this together.
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