“Priya! Is this what you have learnt in your family?” commented her mother in law. And it made her silent for weeks as she was sensitive. It shattered her expectations of her new family! Priya and Roy were newly married. They loved each other. However the marriage was stressful, and they did not know the reason.
In India, marriage is merging of two families, and consequently, the process is messy. Two individuals from a different culture, tradition, parenting styles, beliefs, and values need to compromise, not only among themselves but their families too. And these families affect the emotional well-being of the individual.
Men and women are affected by in-laws in their own different ways. The issues may be different, but the stress is the same! The way this stress affects their relationship and marriage is the common point that needs to be observed. However, in an Indian scenario, ideally a women is expected to adjust to her new family, hence the greater share of stress from her in-laws is borne by her.
From the husband’s perspective
So analysing the situation from a husband’s perspective, as soon as he decides to tie a knot he has to start mingling with his in-laws, trying to build trust through his words. He has to be self-confident about his financial and social resources which might be questioned, commented or sometimes insulted by his in-laws. This causes stress and tension between multiple relationships and the marriage sometimes get affected. If he is not given the due respect which he expects or if he is not able to meet the expectations and demands of his in-laws, he might bear a greater share of stress in order to maintain his family and marriage.
From the wife’s perspective
Marriage and the thought of moving into her partner’s family may cause anxiety in the first place. Being accepted and being able to adjust to an entirely new family can cause stress. Here in-laws can cause a lot of emotional stress and drain out
- Either intruding into the couple’s marital relationship and not giving enough breathing space
- Or by being too rigid and not able to accept the differences. They may comment on her or insult her and her family
- Or if there is a complete detachment and emotionally cold relationship with the bride
It is thus very much important to share a good relationship with your in-laws, just like you do with your spouse. The in-law issues can extend from parents and include brothers and sisters in law too. Even though it is challenging to share a healthy relationship, the effort is worth the overall health of your marriage and family.
Wise decisions and strategies, always help us solve such issues. Instead of having a fight within the marital relationship, it is better to solve the problem from its root cause.
Here are a few things the partners can do to deal with such issues.
- Always have a clear communication with your spouse, and establish a clear boundary about in-laws for both of your families. Treat both of them as fairly as possible. This objectivity is the key to a healthy relationship.
- Effective and clear communication and a free time between the couple is always necessary. This not only strengthens your marital relationship but develops mutual trust, beliefs, and values.
- The couple needs to have a united front on every problem. And it is usually better if the immediate family member communicates about such things. If the husband has a problem with his mother in law, it is the wife’s job to step in and vice versa in the other case. This is because the primary members of the family are easily accepted and forgiven.
- Whenever you face a criticism, try to take it constructively and prove your competence. However, if you feel that the criticism is emotionally draining, question yourself once. Why does their opinion matter so much? Do they have a point? Am I overreacting? And try to think rationally. Take the time to put yourself in their shoes, and consider if what you feel is criticism, is really coming from a negative place, or if they simply have a very different perspective from you.
- Don’t be swayed by stereotypes. Make an effort to observe and understand your in-laws, then deal with the situation.
- According to Dr. Phil, sharing the negative points of your partner with your respective family members is one of the greatest cause of stress. The couples might patch up but parents will never forget their negative side. You need to fix a marriage, within the marriage, not by turning away from the marriage to your parents.
- Always stay connected with your in-laws. By a phone call, or meeting once in a while. Have some matters of your own to discuss Take your in-laws out shopping and eat out with them once in a while. Laughter is a great binding agent, Go over some old photo albums together in your spare time.
- Try to think of collective good in most of the situations. Instead of fighting for the right, try to fight to be happy. Even though you know that your in-laws are completely wrong in your perspective, consider alternatives try to compromise and be flexible.
- Grandparents can be a great source of additional love and security for you and your children, so try to do your best to let them meet up your children.
Hence, building a good relationship is just building yourself in a better way. Finally, as we say to all our clients dealing with any issue, it is a function of how you view the problem and how much control you allow it to exert over your own feelings. More than trying to change them trying to accept and change ourselves is the better way in dealing stress. This is because healthy relationship increases a physical, mental and emotional health of individuals.