The term outlaws is an outdated word used to describe those who have broken the law and/or are no longer protected by the benefit of the legal system. Another definition by Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary is “one that is unconventional or rebellious”. Do any of these fit for your in-laws? A rebel? An unconventional person? One that functions outside the system? So why are they call “in-laws”? In-Law is defined as a relative by marriage . Which definition is more appropriate for your “laws”?
There have been many jokes made about relationships with in-laws. The jokes are there because the reality is that this can often be a stressful relationship. Humor helps us cope. Growing up with our own families and their idiosyncrasies can be difficult enough, then we are challenged by our spouse’ family.
For some, the in-law relationship can offer “gifts” that you may not have received from your own parents. For others, it can bring new opportunities for growth. There are certainly relationships that bring both strengths and challenges.
If you struggle with your relationship with your in-laws, there is hope. Explore the following thoughts as you answer true or false.
- My in-laws have only good intentions. T or F
- My in-laws will probably not change. T or F
- I feel comfortable setting limits with my in-laws. T or F
- My spouse and I support each other. T or F
- My spouse and I speak honestly about our feelings regarding our parents. T or F
- My in-laws only want the best for my spouse and I (and our children). T or F
- I am as assertive as I would like to be with my in-laws. T or F
- I have enough support systems (e.g.: friends) that I can discuss my feelings with. T or F
- Understanding my in-laws helps me to better understand my spouse. T or F
- I have choices as to how I cope with my own stress. T or F
After you have completed these, look at how many true you have versus how many false. The more false you have suggests the more attention that is needed for your relationship with your in-laws. Attention may mean examining your own thoughts and emotions and their impact on you and your family. The more trues you have, the more accepting you are of your in-laws and your relationship with them. We all do what we do for a reason. Your in-laws have reasons for doing what they do, too. Watch out, you may be an in-law yourself either now or one day in the future!