Therapist's Tips on Managing Parental Disapproval of Your Spouse
Choosing a life partner is a momentous decision, and ideally, you'd like your parents to share in your joy and appreciate your spouse's wonderful qualities. Unfortunately, this isn't always the case, and issues with in-laws can arise, causing tension within a marriage. Whether these problems emerge immediately or develop over time, it's crucial to address them effectively to maintain a strong and united partnership.
In many instances, it is advisable for the couple to discuss the issue privately and then for the child dealing with problematic in-laws to initiate a direct and private conversation with their parents. In addition to this approach, I offer suggestions to help you remain united as a couple while addressing your parents in a considerate and respectful manner, mitigating conflicts without severing ties with your family.
Initiate an honest heart-to-heart discussion with your parents. Speaking to them one on one, without your spouse present, reduces defensiveness and allows you to get to the root of the issue more efficiently. Often, the problem stems from a misunderstanding, a slight that hurt feelings, or simply a lack of demonstrative affection. Once you identify the problem, discuss it with your spouse and make any necessary adjustments.
Display empathy once you understand their perspective. Listening to your parents and acknowledging any misconceptions or unintentional hurt is crucial. Apologize sincerely if a comment was misunderstood, and be mindful of your words during this discussion to ensure a positive outcome.
Cultivate an attitude of minimal drama. Avoid engaging in petty insults or disparaging remarks about your spouse or their family. Negativity can exacerbate the divide between you and your in-laws. Remember, you didn't choose your spouse's parents, and they didn't choose your spouse. Refrain from gossiping or speaking ill of them to maintain unity in your marriage.
Stand by your partner. Commit to supporting your spouse, as ultimately, it's the two of you sharing your lives together. While remaining cordial with your in-laws, allow your partner to address any issues that may arise. In most cases, conflicts will settle over time. However, if verbal disrespect persists, consider distancing yourself physically and emotionally, prioritizing the well-being of any grandchildren involved.
While there's no guarantee of complete harmony when blending families through marriage, the health of your relationship is significantly improved when in-laws are positive and loving towards your spouse. Discussing any concerns prior to marriage is a proactive step that can contribute to the longevity and success of your life together.