When you forge a partnership, your priorities change. No matter how much you love your parents, they naturally begin to take second place to your partner. You focus your time and energy on the relationship and turn to each other for advice, support and decision-making.
While most parents understand this in theory, some have a hard time when it comes time to actually let go. The key to dealing with your partner’s family actually lies within your relationship. That means you and your partner must set the ground rules for dealing with family, and support each other in making them work. Use the suggestions below to make this happen.
When you and your partner commit to a relationship, you are joining two different families who often have two very different ways of living. Most problems with in-laws arise when couples assume they feel the same way about the role of their families and don’t communicate their expectations.
It’s important that you and your partner negotiate the rules for family. Take the time to ask specific questions: How much time will you spend with them? Where will you spend holidays? Will they be involved in your decision-making? Will they contribute to your finances or holiday travel? Once you’ve established those ground rules, make a commitment to stick to them.
Another common problem with in-laws is interference. Well-meaning mothers (and fathers) often try to insert themselves into your relationship – usually to offer “help” and advice when you’re having problems. This interference is dictated by how much you share with your parents and in-laws. As a couple, you have to set boundaries for how involved they will be in your relationship. Will you turn to them for advice as a couple? Will you share your problems with them individually? Or will you stay silent when there is conflict?
Your families will only know the details of your relationship if you share them. If you’re frustrated with your partner, it may seem natural to vent to family. But remember that once you’ve shared your problems, you can’t take them back. Even if you can move on and forgive your partner, your parents may not forget.
In many ways, you are ambassadors for your relationship. If you are happy with your partner, be sure to communicate that with your families through actions and words. No matter what, you and your partner should stay united. Avoid arguing in front of parents – but if it happens, don’t allow the family to weigh in on the matter. And if there is conflict between your partner and your family, never gang up against them. While the goal may be to diffuse the situation without taking sides, at the end of the day, your loyalties should always remain with your partner.
If you remain mindful of these three things and stick to your promises to each other, you will be sure to experience delightful times with your blended families. Even if others are misbehaving around you, try and stay detached. Remember, above all else, you are ultimately only accountable to honoring your beloved. So it’s really rather simple, stay focused on the one you love and have a happy relationship!
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