Portland Marriage Counseling: How to Be a Good In-Law to Your Son or Daughter’s Partner

January 1, 2014 by

One topic that comes up with some frequency in Portland marriage counseling is a couple’s relationship issues with their in-laws. Couples may view their in-laws as a source of strain and long to figure out the secret to getting along better with their partner’s parents. However, I’ve also talked to parents who are stressed out and unsure how to be good in-laws to their child’s spouse. Today I want to take a look at that perspective and discuss how to best support a married son or daughter’s partner.

Advice for Good In-Law Relationships from Portland Marriage Counseling

Don’t let hurt feelings fester. A lot of relationship issues between married couples and parents come up because of misunderstandings or hurt feelings. It’s natural to feel protective towards your child. When their partner becomes an important part of their life, you might feel like your relationship is being threatened. If you harbor resentment towards your in-law, try spending time with them and accepting them as a part of your family.

Know that your child may adopt some new family traditions. When your son or daughter marries, they are starting their own family and their own traditions. While you might be initially hurt, you need to learn not to take it personally and to look for compromises. Talk to your child and their partner about creating traditions you can share in.

Respect the autonomy of your child and their partner. You may have certain ideas about how your child’s marriage should work based on your own marriage, but you need to remember that every relationship is different, and your child and their partner will figure out what works best for them. Avoid giving relationship advice unless it’s directly asked for, as unwanted advice may come across as criticism or disapproval.

Don’t put your child in a difficult place. Whatever you think of your child’s partner, don’t complain to your son or daughter about the person they married. This puts them in a tough position between two people that they love and may end up sending them to Portland marriage counseling or straining your own relationship. Unless you feel that their wellbeing is truly being endangered by their partner, it’s better not to say anything.

Know that there will be occasional challenges and disagreements. Navigating in-law relationships can be difficult, especially when you feel that you have very different philosophies from your child’s partner. Know that you will not always agree with the decisions your child and their partner make, but you need to learn to compromise and respect their right to make their own decisions.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to have a good relationship with your son-in-law or daughter-in-law, consider talking to a therapist. Portland marriage counseling isn’t just about dealing with relationship issues in your own marriage; it’s about developing the communication skills to have healthy relationships with all your