People tell you that you marry your wife’s family when you marry her. But my wife’s family is more than I bargained for, and my loving but passive wife doesn’t do anything about it. Her siblings are loud and obnoxious, and I don’t enjoy spending time with them. My wife, however, prefers to avoid confrontation, and she insists I join her for numerous family events.
Frankly, I’m getting sick of having to be with these people, who get on my nerves, insult, and manipulate me. My wife would like me to meet with her siblings and talk out our differences, but I’d rather relocate to get away from them. What should I do?
Answer: Unfortunately, unless you marry an orphan with no siblings, you do indeed marry the family of your husband or wife, too. While you don’t have to be as intimate with your in-laws as you are with your spouse, you do have an obligation to try and make the relationship work. For your wife’s sake, you should try to communicate with your in-laws and explain what’s been bothering you.
Try to come to a resolution, even if you don’t agree. That doesn’t mean feigning forgiveness. That means agreeing to disagree and committing to respecting one another.
Relocation seems a bit extreme. But you can create some distance for yourself. You don’t always have to join your wife when she wants to spend time with her family. You and your wife can create guidelines about when you can stay away.
Maybe, the two of you will agree that you should join her and her family for major holidays, but you can stay home for minor ones or events, such as celebrating your niece’s first steps. Whatever you decide, you should discuss the issue together – and you should both be satisfied with the compromise. In addition, your wife might lay the ground work for an improved relationship between her family and you.
While you don’t always have to participate, you should still remain civilized and try not to hold a grudge. Allowing resentment to build and having this tense relationship with the in-laws will eventually influence your wife and, as a result, your marriage.
It could cause tension between the two of you, and that’s exactly what you don’t want. On the other hand, this doesn’t mean that you have to become best friends with your in-laws. You just have to be civilized with one another.
Be sure to keep open the lines of communication with your wife and be careful not to bad mouth or criticize your wife’s family. When tempted to say, “Your brother is a real jerk,” say, “Your brother and I approach life differently.” Instead of saying, “I hate hanging out with your family,” say, “I want to hang out with your family sometimes because I know it’s important to you, but there have been too many get togethers, and I’m overwhelmed.” Some might call this sugar coating, but I think it’s smart marital diplomacy. There’s no need to hurt your wife’s feelings, especially if the problems you’re having are with your in-laws and not your wife.
Your in-laws are your family now, too. Family doesn’t always get along. Personalities clash. People misbehave and don’t treat each other well. You both grew up in different circumstances, which shapes your experiences and expectations. But you’re still family and that brings with it some responsibility. Your wife’s siblings will be her siblings forever. One way or another, you have to learn to live peacefully with them, if for no other reason than you love your wife.