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As a newlywed, you probably want nothing more than to have a positive, loving relationship with your partner’s family. Unfortunately, this eagerness to be accepted into the family and, quite frankly, naivity can sometimes cause people in new marriages to overlook red flags and even feed into some unhealthy patterns with their in-laws that they will later come to regret.

According to Cambridge University psychologist Terri Apter, three out of four couples will experience conflict with their in-laws. And as Dr. Yvonne K. Fulbright explained in an essay for Psycholgy Today, “the most typical complaint DILs (daughters-in-law) have of their MILs (mothers-in-law) is that they are overbearing, pushy, and disrespectful of boundaries.”

Unfortunately, these habitual boundary violations often go undetected and unchecked for long periods of time and when the couple attempts to establish clear boundaries, conflict and bitter feuds ensue. The best way to maintain a healthy relationship with overbearing in-laws is to recognize their tendency to overstep and establish clear boundaries early on. However, in order to do so, you first need to recognize the earliest signs that they may be attempting to interfere. Here are some of the major ones.

They overwhelm you with lavish gifts

And money. While some in-laws are simply kindhearted and generous, others use money and gifts as a means of control. They give so freely that they begin to feel as though their contributions give them the power to significantly influence decisions made by you and your spouse. You can usually distinguish between plain old generosity and giving with ulterior motives because giving will begin to make you feel overwhelmed and uncomfortable.

They show up unannounced

It’s common courtesy to call before stopping by. A subtle and often overlooked sign that in-laws lack boundaries is habitually showing up unannounced. That may very well be common practice within their family, but they should also consider and respect the boundaries of their new son or daughter-in-law.

They apply pressure in seemingly innocent ways

In-laws will often offer advice, opinions, and suggestions about how their child and spouse should do things. However, some will make suggestions and then proceed to apply pressure until the couple gives in. During the early days, the pressure is applied regarding innocent and seemingly trivial matters such as what color to paint the couple’s new living room or which curtains would look good in the kitchen; however, it quickly spawns into openly opinionated discussions about parenting choices and which house the couple should purchase as their forever home.

They want to be included in everything

Unity should definitely be the goal, but newlyweds will also have to begin creating their own traditions, which means that it’s impossible and unhealthy for couples to include their parents in everything. An early sign that the in-laws are becoming a little involved is when they become unreasonably upset when the couple fails to include them in every little outing or aspect of their lives.

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