If you can’t stand your in-laws, spending time with them is probably the last thing you want to do — and yet it’s sometimes unavoidable.
Maybe your spouse is very, very close to their family and it’s just you who seems to have the problem.
Or maybe your in-laws are really awful people, and you and your spouse would rather have your teeth rooted without anesthesia than be in the same room for more than five minutes.
I’m going to assume, for the sake of this article, that you’ve taken the time to get to know your in-laws honestly.
You’ve given them ample opportunity to prove them wrong – and yet they demonstrate, time and time again, that they will never change.
3 Ways to Keep Calm
First of all, even if you have the only grandchildren in the family, there is no law that says you need to like your spouse’s parents.
However, for the sake of your marriage, you need to at least be polite to them.
It can be difficult if they live close by and want to see you regularly.
However, there are some strategies you can employ to make these encounters more bearable.
1. Get busy with useful tasks
This strategy works well if you’re going to your in-laws’ house.
Instead of suffering from the visit, find a project to do at home that will help them.
Offer to clean the gutters, mow the lawn, or weed the garden.
Chances are, they won’t just leave you alone with your onerous task, they might even change their minds about you.
2. Find a family activity
Think of a family activity that involves everyone – and distracts your in-laws.
My mother visited recently, and as neither my husband nor I liked her very much, mainly due to her constant stream of advice and/or hurtful comments, I offered to watch the movie Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix with her.
She and I are both Harry Potter fans, but neither my father nor my husband is – so that was the only way my mother or I would see the movie.
Three hours of time together with my mother prevented conversation!
There’s no more win-win than that.
3. Keep Quiet(but vent later)
If your spouse is very close to their family and you can’t stand them, seriously consider keeping most of your opinion to yourself for the sake of your relationship.
Make sure your partner knows how you feel – and then let it go.
If your in-laws live nearby and you can’t always fill the visit with distracting chores or family activities, don’t worry.
In fact, if your in-laws know how you feel about them – and they probably do – it will really piss them off if you’re acting more civilized and polite than they are!
Plus, your spouse will love you for it.
Swallow whatever they drop during the visit, but wait until you get home (or until they return home) to let off steam.
And your outburst doesn’t have to be verbal.
In fact, it’s probably more effective if it isn’t.
Bake a loaf of bread and pretend the dough you are vigorously kneading is your father-in-law’s head.
Go out into the bush and project your mother-in-law’s face onto every weed you cut.
For better or for worse
Unfortunately, when you marry your partner, on some level, you marry the whole family – for better or for worse.
That fact actually kept me from acting on my true feelings for my husband for years, as the thought of becoming his mother’s daughter-in-law was more than a little romantically prohibitive!
She is a formidable and opinionated woman.
However, over time, I began to realize that the fact that I truly loved her son (the last of seven children to marry) earned me a lot of esteem in her eyes.
And when I produced a daughter who is the spitting image of her son and then started occasionally asking her for advice about being a mother, well, let’s just say right now I’m on the “favorite” daughter-in-law list.
I may not like her very much, but I sure enjoy being by her side!