How To Set Boundaries with Troublesome In-Laws

A movie once mentioned that when you marry, you are marrying not just your spouse but also your spouse’s parents. As parents, they often will continue to care and show much concern for you even after you have left the nest. There is nothing wrong about that, for as long as their care and concern stay within reasonable limits.

Parental concern can be taken beyond limits. As a matter of fact, many married couples are often plagued by troublesome in-laws. Mothers-in-law often cause the most trouble, although fathers-in-law also do, although less frequently than mothers-in-law. The most common complaint that people give regarding their in-laws is that the latter are intrusive, meddlesome, and domineering. Because of these, you can often find yourself locking horns with your in-laws, unless you set clear boundaries.

Here are a few useful tips on how to set boundaries with troublesome in-laws so that they won’t encroach on your private space as an individual or as a partner in a marriage.

  • Minimize interaction and contact with your in-laws. If you and your in-laws mutually like each other, this advice would not be applicable. But, if the dislike is mutual, or the liking is one-way, the best strategy to set boundaries would be to lessen interaction and contact time with them. This way, you maintain a certain distance without cutting off your ties with them.
  • Plan your visits. You should be in control of where you’ll be spending time with your in-laws, as well as what activities you will be doing with them. The purpose of planning a controlled visit is to protect you and your spouse from the meddlesomeness of your in-laws. Choose a place and an activity that won’t make you and your spouse vulnerable to meddling from your in-laws.
  • Disagree without being disagreeable. You seriously can’t agree on everything. In fact, you are more likely to disagree with a lot of things. Instead of instigating a heated debate with your in-laws over something controversial, it may be better to just agree to leave your disagreement unsettled. Be upfront, but be polite in pointing out that the discussion is getting too serious. Then, change the topic right away.
  • Abide by house rules. If you visit your in-laws in their own home, know what’s allowed and what’s not. Respect their house rules, so you can demand that they expect yours, too. Apologize sincerely if you trespass, and be forgiving when they forget. Be gentle in reminding them of your house rules. The idea here is to foster mutual respect for boundaries. You may get that if you are respectful and polite.

Simply because you are married to your spouse doesn’t mean you have to suffer the meddling of your spouse’s parents. Thus, it is important to set boundaries with your in-laws and to be very clear about the boundaries, especially if they are particularly meddlesome in your marital affairs. That way, you and your spouse will be able to live your married life without unnecessary intervention.


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