Ignoring in-laws might appear convenient, but is actually not the right way to handle relations with your new family. Understanding is a far better and sustainable alternative than ignoring.
One of the biggest challenges in marriage is getting along well with your in-laws. Some married women do not see the need to establish a good relationship with their in-laws.
For Christine Kyomukama, a mother of two, for as long as her relationship with the husband is okay, the rest do not matter. “Some in-laws are unpleasable. Some even go an extra mile to do whatever it takes to make the marriage fail. In this case, why should a woman waste her time trying to please them?” she asks.
However, Margaret Tumusiime, a relationships counsellor with Girl Talk Uganda, says in-laws play an important role in a relationship. She says a good relationship with your inlaws will reduce conflicts that may arise when two people from different backgrounds come together to start a life together. She explains that the sources of conflict range from financial issues, lifestyle expectations, your individual roles in the marriage and the impact of your career choices on your family.
Paul Mubiru, a relationship counsellor in Mukono, says when you have a good relation with your in-laws; they will love and support your family.
“When you have children and your own family grows, you know that you can count not only on your own spouse and yourself to love your family, but the love of your parents and your in-laws too. That love is unconditional, and they are likely to do the best they can to support you and to try to help you and your spouse in building a positive and healthy environment for your children,” he says.
He notes that having a good relationship with your in-laws is a form of insurance when you run into a difficult standoff with your spouse. “Even though they may not completely side with you, they are likely not to overly be bitter with you,” he says.
You cannot love or even be with your in-laws when you judge, condemn, and criticise their actions and words. It may be a bit too early to be talking about loving your in-laws, but if you can adopt an accepting mindset, then you will be much happier in their presence. Christine Nsokwa says she is guilty of being so judgmental of her in-laws, and it makes her feel unhappy and unkind.
“You do not have to be a Christian to adopt the “Judge not, lest ye be judged” perspective of life. This tip for a healthy relationship with your in-laws will bring you peace, which will make you a peacemaker in your in-laws’ house,” she advises.
The most important tip for a healthy relationship with your in-laws is learning how to practice humility. Tumusiime says you are just as aggravating as your in-laws are. Your quirks, weaknesses, and issues are just as confusing and difficult to accept as your in-laws’ quirks, weaknesses, and issues. You are not perfect. “You are human, and you are making mistakes. What is not okay is ignoring your own flaws and weaknesses, and focusing on the faults of others,” she advises.
Don’t escalate the situation
Tumusiime says in case you have an in-law that is hard to deal with, it is important not to escalate the situation.
“Becoming excessively emotional never does anyone or any situation any good. Once certain words leave your mouth, you can never return them,” she advises.
She adds that it is also advisable to keep your expectations reasonable. “Do not expect your in-laws to treat you the same exact way your mother or father would have treated you because that will be over expecting,” she says.
Don’t compete for attention
Tumusiime says it is also not advisable to compete with in-laws for attention from your spouse. “If your spouse is attached to his mother, learn to love his mother but not to compete with her for the son’s attention,” she advises.
Evelyn Kharono Lufafa, a counselling psychologist, says if you have serious relationship issues with one particular in-law – whether it is a mother-in-law, father-in-law, brother-in-law or sister-in-law, try not to put yourself in a situation that involves lots of alone time.
This protects both you and them from potential problems, and always ensures you have a witness for things said and done.