The truth is we can pick our partners, but we can’t pick our partner’s family which means we get the good, the bad, and the awkward when it comes to dealing with them.
Managing how your parents’ involvement in your relationship can be tricky, especially if your partner is the ultimate mama’s boy or daddy’s girl.
Family members who don’t have a healthy understanding of boundaries may stop by your place at unwanted times, call to check in every night, or stick their nose in your personal business way too much.
If it feels like they’re wreaking havoc on your relationship, it’s time to set some serious boundaries. Here’s how to properly draw the line between your partner’s family and you two as a couple.
Know Your Own Boundaries First
Once you take the time to understand what works and doesn’t work for you, you’ll be in a better position to be flexible yet strong,
For example, if family members are exerting pressure on a person to get married and have children, a helpful, positive response might be, ‘I feel stressed when you bring up wanting me/us to get married and have children. I promise I’ll be the first to break the news, though!’ this sounds nice, right? you have made it clear to however this person is that the decision to do what is expected from you is entirely up to you as couple or you as a person when yo are ready to.
Decide What’s Not OK to Share
This is something you and your partner have to settle on ahead of time and may be more of an issue between you two than with the family.
You may need to help him/her learn to keep certain things between the two of you. Their family doesn’t need to know everything. As a couple, you can and, in fact, should have some secrets. Things like your salaries, debt, or decision not to give birth or wait a little longer is entirely your business, not theirs.
Avoid Insulting Their Family
When setting boundaries, make the conversation less about what your partner’s family is doing (or not doing) and more about what you need, don’t attack or make blanket statements, instead make it about what will support your relationship. even if they are wrong, you simply cannot insult them but rather find a way around to solve whatever issues that may come along.
Talk about what you enjoy about their family first, and then address any annoyances or concerns if there are any but whatever reason you have you cannot insult your partners’ parents.
Be Clear Yet Flexible
Some people use “boundaries” as an excuse to disguise highly rigid or stubborn attitudes for example having the mindset that it has to be your way all the time, this type of attitude is destructive to relationships with family and otherwise over time.” Not to mention that it could make you sound like these issues are all about you, rather than you and your partner, as they should be.
Be Ready to Follow Through
Once you’ve reflected and settled on what you think is an appropriate boundary to establish with your partner’s family, it’s important to be firm and hold your ground. It’s important to demonstrate that you’re committed to a boundary, make sure it’s something you’re willing to follow through on. For example, say you agree just this once to go to church together, even though you’re not religious, your partner’s family may continue to pressure you in the future, knowing they were able to convince you once.
Have a Plan if Boundaries are Crossed
Setting a healthy boundary is a two-part proposition, number one is making a request of someone else to not infringe on your physical/emotional space and number two is to know what you’ll do if the other person does not want to comply which you can let them know or no.” For example, if you’d prefer not to talk about politics, but your partner’s family loves it, you could decide to go for a walk or join another conversation without necessarily showing a bad attitude.
Let Your Partner Take the Lead
While you can set the boundaries that make you feel more comfortable, at the end of the day this is your partner’s family, so giving him/her the space to figure out how best to manage their family can be productive, the two of you need to talk about what boundaries you want to set, but they have to take the lead. If they aren’t on board, it won’t happen, having them talk to their family conveys this as his/her position and not something being driven solely by you.
Keep Your Distance
A recent study shows that more than half blame their in-laws for relationship problems and around one in five would divorce their partner’s parents if they could! These are extreme circumstances but if you’ve tried setting boundaries with no luck and you start feeling like your partner’s family has your relationship teetering on the edge, you may need to physically move further away from them.