In-law problems are among the top reasons for divorce, says Jenna D. Barry, the author of “A Wife’s Guide to In-laws: How to Gain Your Husband’s Loyalty Without Killing His Parents.” . By uniting as a couple, you have the power to eliminate this threat to your marriage.
Although everyone yearns for a strong, healthy marriage, sometimes couples feel torn. It’s impossible to please everybody all the time, so when there’s a conflict between the needs of a spouse and the needs of a parent, you need to know who is top priority.
“Focus on making your spouse your first priority,” says Barry at Hitched, “Even if it upsets your mom and dad. If your parents have healthy behavior, they will gracefully step aside and encourage you to make your spouse a top priority. They will value your needs as a couple and be respectful about their phone calls, visits, etc. If, however, your parents have destructive behavior, they will manipulate you with guilt to keep you in the role of an obedient child instead of allowing you to be a loyal spouse. They will feel entitled to call or visit whenever they want, and they will act offended whenever you try to draw healthy boundaries with them.”
Being committed to building your marriage is all about mindset. Learning to think the right way will help you make the right decisions.
4 harmful things to say (or imply) to your spouse:
* “I don’t have the courage to say ‘no’ to my parents, so I’m saying ‘no’ to you.”
* “My parents’ behavior is perfectly fine; your behavior is the problem.”
* “Let’s not do anything to upset my folks.”
* “My parents’ needs are more important than yours.”
4 great things to say to your spouse:
* “You are my first priority. Your needs are important to me.”
* “I want to support you, but I’m not sure how to do that. Please tell me.”
* “Let’s try to figure out a compromise we can both live with.”
* “Can you help me figure out a tactful way to tell my parents what we’ve decided?”
Choosing to be a loyal husband or wife is the first step toward a stronger marriage and a more adult relationship with your parents. Your behavior will have multiple benefits. For example, when your mom knows that your wife comes first, you will have eliminated the need for them to compete over you, and mom may give you more privacy. Your spouse, who knows that you value your marriage over your relationship with your parents, will likely try harder to please you by becoming more reasonable about issues involving your parents.
Becoming truly independent from our parents is one of the best gifts we can give our spouse. That doesn’t mean we should cut off contact with our parents or start being hateful toward them. It just means that pleasing our spouse should take priority over pleasing our parents.