Annoying In-Laws

Annoying In-LawsHow to Handle Annoying In-Laws

You can choose your spouse but you can’t choose your in-laws. You are in a relationship with the whole “package” and sometimes that comes with the in-laws from hell.


  • How to come together as a couple to manage difficult In-Laws.
  • Create boundaries
  • Communicate your needs

The “Dog  House” – What Not to Do

  • Don’t Keep It In: (Balloon Analogy) This will cause a “pressure cooker” response and sooner or later you will explode.  Holding in emotions will only create resentments and distance.
  • Don’t Shut Down: Stop talking, stop eye contact, avoid events.  Better yet, Threaten to cut the relationship off completely.
  • Don’t Criticize Them To Your Husband: (Brother Analogy) All this will do is come off negative and attacking.  It won’t help your position at all. Most people don’t take it lightly when you talk about their mom.
  • Avoid React Mode: Sometimes we get this “knee jerk reaction” and don’t really think about the impact our moves may have on the relationship.

The FIX – How to Address Difficult In-Laws

  • Kill Them With Kindness: You have to make many attempts at having a positive relationship with them, for the sake of your marriage. Smile. Speak, and be polite. You don’t have to be best friends with his mother, or even call his father ‘dad,’ but you should at least make the relationship as cordial as possible.
  • Keep It Simple: If they make your skin crawl, stomach in knots, keep things short and sweet.  Have your conversations short, yet cordial.
  • Stand Up For Yourself: Although you want to keep the peace, it is also not okay to allow them to run over you.  It’s okay to ask for respect.
  • Understand your feelings: Since you may have some build up, write it down, figure out what is going on inside.  What exactly are you annoyed about?  How do they make you feel?  Do you feel less than, dismissed, ignored, attacked?  Write it down so it will help you organize your thoughts.
  • Be mindful, yet honest: Once you have things pin pointed, sit your partner down to talk about your experience.  Be mindful, these ARE your partner’s parents.  Don’t Attack or Blame when sharing.
  • Ask for Reassurance/Support: Your skin is crawling and your stomach is in knots by just the thought of the in-laws, it is time to get support from your partner. Your partner can’t read your mind.  Your partner won’t know how to support you unless you ask in a vulnerable way.  Be explicit and specific on what would help reassure you or help you survive.
  • Create a Game Plan: At future events where you have see the in-laws, set up a plan of attack.  Set up codes (pulling the ear kind of code) for when you have had enough, and how you can check in throughout the dinner.
  • Seek Support: There is a teeny tiny possibility that you may be over reacting and may need a neutral party to help you figure it out.  OR your in-laws may be simply nuts and you need a professional to help you figure out the steps needed to handle crazy people.  Net that Neutral party to help you navigate the situation.
  • Keep Your Distance: If all else fails and they are just crazy, keep your distance.  Protect yourself and don’t put yourself in a compromised position. You and your relationship is more important than anything else.


Couples Communication Tips – Jennifer Chappell Marsh, LMFT

Are Your In-Laws Driving You Crazy?– Jennine Estes, LMFT


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