7 Ways to Get Along with Difficult In-Laws

Written by: Lindsey Bell

I’ve been blessed with great in-laws. Sure, we’re different and don’t always see eye-to-eye. Nonetheless, we get along great. I love going to my in-laws’ homes. Unfortunately, I know many aren’t so lucky. If you have a difficult time getting along with your in-laws, here are a few suggestions of things that might help:

1. Seek to understand, rather than be understood. This is especially true in a misunderstanding or argument. I think the words of James would go a long way to improve our relationships: “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19). Listen first. Then, once you feel like you really understand the other person, speak your case.

2. Make an effort, regardless of whether they reciprocate. In other words, take the first step. Call them on their birthdays and holidays. Send cards. Plan visits. Update them about your children via email. (Believe me, I’m speaking to myself here. This is my weakness. I’m awful at initiating.)

3. Remember special days. My mother-in-law treasures her birthday. We might be able to skimp on other holidays, but not her birthday. It matters too much to her. Make sure to remember those days that really matter to your family members. Put the day on your calendar with a reminder, if necessary.

4. Look for the good in this person and praise him/her for it. Every single person has something good within him or her. Search for this quality and tell them how much you appreciate it.

5. Communicate about issues, but always be respectful. I’m a firm believer in talking about issues that arise. It doesn’t do anyone any good to mask hurt feelings and hope they get better. On the other hand, just because you’re hurt doesn’t excuse disrespectful behavior. Be honest with them, but do it with kindness.

6. Get to know them. Maybe once you understand them better, you’ll understand their quirks better also.

7. No matter what, stand united with your spouse. Don’t allow a difficulty with your in-laws to become a difficult with your spouse. Make sure that you’re respectful about your spouse’s family when talking with your spouse about problems. You can be honest without being hurtful.

Any other suggestions? I’d love to hear them!