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How To Improve Your Relationship With Your In-Laws

How To Improve Your Relationship With Your In-Laws

No matter how much you love your partner, if you have trouble getting along with your in-laws, you’ll be in for some rocky moments in your relationship. Even if you’ve managed to form strong bonds with your partner’s family, you must still navigate the difficulties of setting boundaries, managing emotions, and finding common ground. The dynamic between in-laws is unique, and due to the impact it can have on your marriage and your happiness, psychologists agree that it is deserving of conscious, loving attention. 

To explore this important topic and find answers for people trying to improve their relationship with their in-laws, Professor Geoffrey Greif of the University of Maryland’s School of Social Work has carried out extensive research. He and fellow researcher Michael Woolley co-authored a book – In-Law Relationships: Mothers, Daughters, Fathers, and Sons – which details the findings of more than 1,500 interviews conducted with subjects and their in-laws. Their revelations were, in a word, extraordinary. 

Watch any film that deals with the in-law relationship, and you’ll generally get a stereotypical representation of fraught relationships and immature behaviour. While this certainly can be part of the in-law dynamic – stereotypes do, after all, come from our experiences of reality – such representations miss the comforting and rewarding aspects of gaining a new family through marriage. 

Through their research, Greif and Woolley concluded that in-law relationships tend to be positive and productive for the majority of people, most of the time. Most of the families reported feeling comfortable with their in-laws and generally satisfied with the relationships. They didn’t gloss over the problems but explained that they were willing to work through difficulties in order to find common ground and foster loving relationships. 

According to the research, the key to improving your relationship with your in-laws lies in understanding that, even if you’re going through tough times, things can change. As with all relationships, difficulties will arise from time to time, but it’s important to know that your in-laws are most likely trying their hardest to make the relationship work. We all come from different backgrounds, so you may not find common ground instantly. However, it’s important to avoid assuming the worst. It’s unlikely that your in-laws are purposefully trying to hurt or sabotage you. So, give them the benefit of the doubt, and keep doing your best to make things work. 

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