Listen carefully, boys and girls, this is important.

When you get married, like it or not, you marry into each others families. Most of us have no idea what that means until we’ve been married a while. We assume that because our intended is the epitome of wonderfulness, their parents are great as well.

picture of puppets or dolls of an older man and woman. They appear to be man and wife.

If you are lucky, and I hope you are among this most fortunate group, your new or future in-laws already know that

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Here are Twelve Things You Want Your In-Laws To Know…

  1. Respectful Boundaries

    Treat their new son or daughter-in-law with the same respectful boundaries with which they treat their own child.

  2. Do not assume instant love

    Good in-laws know relationships need time and nurturing to grow.

  3. Never give unsolicited advice

    Never. They wait to be asked and even then answer only the question posed and wait for the next question.

  4. Visit only when invited

    Limit calls to a reasonable once every few days. If the newlyweds are living with them good in-laws are clear about where their kids’ space begins and ends.

  5. Never Complain

    Never complain about the non-blood family member to their adult child. If they have a problem with their child-in-law they think long and hard before deciding it is necessary to tell that person directly. Most good in-laws just hold their tongue.

  6. Wait To Be Asked

    When good in-laws visit they resist the urge to point out and fix whatever is broken. No matter how handy they are, a good in-law waits to be asked and then helps (if they want to) without conditions.

  7. Defer To The Newlyweds As A Couple

    Understand that the adult child’s allegiance must be with their spouse. Good in-laws defer to the newlyweds as a couple and make it clear that they are there for both of them. They never assume they can come between them by working one against the other. Or by saying something absurd like, “But I’m your mother so, of course, you want to please me no matter what your wife/husband says.”

  8. Blend The Traditions Of The Two Families

    Good in-laws understand the new couple needs to blend the traditions of two families and find their own way of doing things. Good in-laws do not presume that “Our way is the *right* way.”

  9. The Good In-Law Is Flexible and Sensitive To Their New Child-In-Law

    Don’t insist on the new relative call them ‘Mom’ or ‘Dad’ or ‘Mother Brown’ or ‘Miss Sally’. The good in-law is flexible and sensitive to what their new child-in-law is comfortable with and figures it out together using a good dose of humor.

  10. Resist The Urge To Enable

    Resist the urge to enable troubles the new couple may have; not “rescuing” them by throwing money at the problem or in any way encouraging dependence rather than independence.

  11. Are Not Competitive

    Are not competitive with the new couple or with the other set of parents.

  12. Have A Life Of Their Own

    Good in-laws have satisfying lives of their own and mind their own business.

And as a bonus:

Good in-laws understand that becoming a grandma or grandpa is not license to ignore 1-12.

If you’re not so lucky, and there’s a lot of us who aren’t, you might discover your most excellent loved-one was a changeling raised by wolves. Or worse yet, your new in-laws may become a serious obstacle in your road to marital bliss, threatening the very core of your relationship.  If you’re in this group look for a post coming soon: When In-Laws Go Bad – Not A Joke. 

Reference:  Toxic In-Laws: Loving Strategies For Protecting Your Marriage, by Susan Forward, PhD in the carousel over in the side bar –>

Elvira G. Aletta, PhD, Founder & CEO

Executive & Personal CoachingIndividual & Relationship Counseling

The Studio at Explore What's Next

Life gave Dr. Aletta the opportunity to know what it’s like to hurt physically and emotionally. After an episode of serious depression in her mid-twenties, Dr. Aletta was diagnosed with a rare kidney disease that relapsed throughout her adulthood. While treatable, the cure was often as hard to bear as the disease. Later she was diagnosed with scleroderma, another chronic illness.

Throughout, Dr. Aletta battled with anxiety. Despite all this, Dr. Aletta wants you to know, you can learn to engage in life again on your terms.

Today Dr. Aletta enjoys mentoring the EWN therapists, focusing on coaching and psychotherapy clients, writing and speaking. She is proud and confident that Explore What’s Next can provide you with therapists who will help you regain a sense of safety, control and joy.

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