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8 ways to upgrade your relationship with your in-laws
If you are interested in staying with your spouse then you may be selecting your holiday company for the rest of your life. Here's how to make that a good thing. - photo by Davison Cheney
Life does not have to be poorer because you don't see eye to eye with your spouses parents. There is flexibility all around, and a comfortable place for everyone in the family.

If there isn't such a place set out for you, you may need to make one -- and you may need a shoehorn.

Count on there being a few insane times with the "fam. Trial and error may be your best bet in the evolution of the relationship between you and the in-laws. Here are a few things to try.

Respect the line of authority

When the husband has issues with the in-laws, the wife should be instrumental in assisting. Likewise, if the wife has issues with the in-laws, the husband should step in and step up. When it is apparent that the couple is a functioning team, the hassling tends to curb. Don't leave your partner hanging. Both of you need to be on the same page -- that's how families work.

Beware the un-budging

There is a bit you will have to give, and there is a bit they will have to give. It's called compromise, and it happens in relationships. You may hate swearing, and they may speak like sailors on leave. You loosen up a bit and they can clean it up a bit. Compromise.

Acknowledge boundaries

Is your personal life off limits to Facebook? It's OK to let them know that -- politely. For example, tagging photos is fine as long as you have given your permission. And it's OK to say, "If you borrow my rototiller, please return it in a timely fashion." Of course, what goes around comes around -- be sure to show them the same respect.

Breaks all around

Give everyone a break. The world does not center on you or your feelings. Be kind to others and they might come around. You do not need to be the enforcer. It's OK to lighten up. Choose to not be offended. One man recently said that he went for years thinking his in-laws were out to get him until one day he saw himself through their eyes. He changed his attitude and the relationship changed as well.

(Maybe they are out to get you)

If your in-laws have you in their sites, be straightforward and plain with your intentions. Communicate freely with your spouse and make sure that you are approaching any potential problem from the same angle. Be transparent and true to your spouse, and be kind about it while you are at it. Let the in-laws fall where they may.

Focus on your relationship with your spouse

There are lots of cute bumper stickers that affirm that you married the entire family when you married your spouse. There is truth to that. However, your in-laws pick up and go home at the end of the day. You go into your bedroom and close the door. Remember that.

Show and tell

Many people learn too late that your parents and your spouses parents only know what you have told them. If you continually go to them with your problems, or your spouse only tells her parents about her difficulties -- that is what your in-laws will know of your relationship. Don't use parents as a negative complaint board or they will start misjudging your partner based on what you have told them.

Join in the crazy

The "What the heck" approach might not be the worst thing you can do. So go ahead and roll with the punches, knowing that the in-laws may not change their behavior one bit. Focus on your spouse and your love for him or her. The rest of the family may follow along.

... or not.
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