In-laws can be tough to deal with – just ask anyone who has in-laws! But what happens when one of your in-laws crosses the line and starts taking over your life? Your relationship with your partner is dwindling and your daily life is being affected because of it – how can you confront this situation without hurting your partner or causing more of a problem than there was to begin with?
Dear Dan and Jennifer,
My relationship is like a car going 200 MPH backwards! Her mother is taking over our relationship to the point where I work late just so that I don’t have to go home… Nothing I say or do seems to matter. When it comes to sex, I’m not even going to go there… The only reason I stay is for my daughter. What’s the best way to handle this mess and get my sanity back?
When The In-Laws Start Stepping In
Whether your in-laws have been in the picture the whole time or are just now starting to come around, your relationship with your partner can seriously suffer if your in-laws start taking over your life. Whether they’re constantly at your house with their grandchildren, or insisting you and your partner do things their way, having an in-law that is too close for comfort is never a healthy or happy situation to be in. What do you do?
Evaluating Your Reactions
The first thing you need to do is sit down and really think about how you feel about the situation. Write it down if you have to, but you can’t confront it if you don’t know exactly what is triggering your feelings of discomfort. Are you working long hours just to get away from your in-laws? Is there something in particular that they do that bothers you, or are they simply too involved in you and your partner’s life? If it’s overwhelming you and you’re unable to have a good relationship with your partner because of your in-laws’ involvement in your life, it’s time to really dig deep and evaluate why you’re upset and exactly what you’d like to see change.
Confronting The Situation
When you get ready to confront the situation, don’t do so without your partner by your side. This isn’t just “your” problem – it’s your partner’s problem too. Your in-laws’ involvement in your life is affecting your relationship with your partner, as well as your entire family. You need to address this situation as a “we.” Talk to your partner openly and honestly about how you feel about the situation and avoid being condescending, negative or petty. You certainly don’t want to make this an ultimatum or not – it’s not about your partner having to “choose” you over your in-laws or vice versa.
Once you’ve spoken to your partner about your feelings and you’re ready to confront the situation with your in laws’ as a couple, sit down and have an honest heart to heart talk. Again, avoid being negative or petty, as this can cause more harm than good. The idea is to just get your feelings out there and let your in-laws know that they’re overstepping their boundaries. Suggest that they watch their grandchildren for a weekend while you and your partner get away, or something similarly constructive. Plan family dinners together and stick to those plans – stay away from unannounced visits and so on. If your in-laws just don’t want to step out? Talk to your partner and consider moving. It doesn’t have to be far, but a little bit of physical space in between your family and your in-laws might be exactly what you need to get through to them.