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relationship with your in-laws

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Resolving relationship issues with our own blood relatives can be challenging, but trying to fix problems with your in-laws is even harder. These are also people who will be in your life forever but may not exactly be who you would have picked to have that type of access had you been given the option. But you love their son or daughter, so here you are. Doing the work and dealing with the conflict and trying to get along with a new set of parents.

Conflict with the in-laws is incredibly common. There are a lot of strong feelings there. You love your partner deeply. Your in-laws love their child deeply. You both have intense emotions about the wellbeing of your spouse, and maybe the children you have with that spouse. And there is – even if nobody wants to admit it – some feelings of entitlement surrounding your spouse. They feel entitled to having things their way, being the ones who birthed and raised them. You feel entitled to having things your way, being the most intimate relationship in their life today. It’s a lot to contend with. We spoke with licensed marriage and family therapist Melissa Dumaz (pictured below), author of The Love Challenge, about the most common in-law issues that occur and how to address them.

Melissa Dumaz

Source: Annie Vovan / Annie Vovan

I don’t like them; they don’t like me

“One of the biggest issues is a partner or a spouse not liking their in-laws or feeling unliked or unaccepted by the in-laws. That is usually more deeply rooted and must be worked on. It’s not a miscommunication. That can definitely impact family gatherings, advice or words of wisdom we take from family, and much more,” Dumaz states. “When it’s a matter of ‘I don’t like them,’ possibly do some exploration around what that is. Some of that may start internally. Ask yourself, ‘What is it about them that I don’t like? Whatever those things are, can they be mitigated through communication, or through me sharing this with my spouse so he can be in communication with his parents about it?”

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