In-laws can be a point of tension in any relationship. They will likely do things differently from your family and will often have expectations that you do things their way. In the same way, you may expect them to act the same way as your family. Both parties can forget or overlook these differences on a day-to-day basis, but when in-laws visit you, things can get very difficult. You can improve the situation by planning the visit in advance, making an effort to have a good time while they are home, and evaluating the visit to improve on future occasions.
Method 1 of 4: Plan the visit
Step 1. Talk about the visit with your partner
For the visit to be successful, both you and your partner must be on the same page. While planning the visit, discuss all the necessary arrangements with your partner. Also, talk about the familiar and everyday aspects that your in-laws are and are not welcome to get involved with.
Step 2. Make the necessary arrangements
If your in-laws live far away, they are going to need a place to sleep. Make room in a spare bedroom or convert another room into a temporary bedroom. If you prefer your in-laws to stay elsewhere, help them find comfortable and reasonably priced accommodation.
To alleviate the stress of suggesting accommodation, offer to pay for part or all of it, if your financial means allow it
Step 3. Set the limits
You must agree in advance with your partner what involvement the in-laws can have in their daily activities. Consider limits on things like parenting, housekeeping, and family decisions. Come to an agreement that works for both of you and makes you feel comfortable and at ease with the visit in question.
For example, it might be unacceptable for your in-laws to feed the kids junk food before dinner. Make this limit known
Step 4. Create moments of escape
If you know you will need a break from the visit, plan to do some chores during the visit. You can arrange to run errands, take important calls, or attend a class or meeting at this time. However, be careful not to overdo it. Staying away during the entire visit is likely to be seen as rude.
Plan with your partner a break from the pressure of caring for your in-laws. Each of you will need to know when these breaks will be and what you plan to do with the in-laws
Step 5. Find ways to entertain your in-laws
Instead of giving yourself a break, you can also consider giving your in-laws a break. Find some form of local entertainment for them or recommend a good restaurant. This will give you some space and will be seen as a kind gesture towards your in-laws.
Method 2 of 4: Handle the visit
Step 1. Keep your limits
Regardless of the limits you set, you have to maintain them during the visit. In general, it is best for your partner to address these limits with your in-laws when possible. This will show that you are both on the same page.
For example, if your in-laws want to give your kids candy before dinner, your partner might step in and say something like, "The kids should have dinner first, then they can eat candy. That's our rule."
Step 2. Communicate directly with your in-laws
When your partner is not available to discuss these limits, you will need to step in and maintain them. You should also engage in conversations with your in-laws and not let your partner take care of everything. This will help you build a relationship with your in-laws and make future visits less awkward.
For example, if one of your in-laws says something that you find offensive, you can say something like, "Please don't say things like that in front of me. You have a right to your opinion, but hearing you say those things bothers me."
Step 3. Keep your family routine
Keeping a routine helps everyone. However, this is especially important if you have children, as you will need to maintain a sense of normalcy. Make sure everyone keeps going to work, school, and extracurricular activities during the visit. This will make the visit more enjoyable and facilitate the return to normal life once the visit is over.
Step 4. Include your in-laws
Keeping a normal schedule doesn't mean you have to exclude your in-laws. Let them attend extracurricular activities with the children. You can even ask them to help you drop off or pick up children from school or to take care of them at night. They will enjoy spending time with their family and you may also get a break.
Step 5. Take some personal time when you need it
You are not obliged to attend to your guests twenty-four hours a day. If you need to relax, you can take a walk or go to bed early. Just politely apologize and take whatever break you need.
Method 3 of 4: Deal With Problems
Step 1. Let the little things go by
Tension points are likely to arise with your in-laws. When this happens, make a conscious effort to decide if it's worth standing your ground or letting it go. If the offense isn't a big deal, don't bring it up. Your in-laws will leave and things will be back to normal in no time.
For example, letting kids stay up late one weekend playing board games with their grandparents is probably excusable
Step 2. Stand firm
If you feel strongly that something needs to be addressed, you should do it. When your in-laws cross your boundaries, letting it slide will only make things worse. This will give the impression that the rules do not apply to your in-laws or in their presence.
- For example, if a father-in-law undermines the way you raise your children, you need to address it immediately to prevent it from happening again. You can say something like: "I make the rules for my children and they will be followed even when we have company."
- If your in-laws are visiting frequently, you may have to address things more often than if they only come once or twice a year.
Step 3. Avoid unrealistic expectations
Your partner's family will likely do things differently than you do. Holidays, traditions, and everyday life can be very different for your in-laws. Give them the space to be themselves and avoid pressuring them to adapt to your way of life.
Try to see things from their points of view. Just as it would annoy you if they forced you to change your customs and traditions, it is unfair that you are too strict and try to force them to do things your way
Method 4 of 4: Return to Normal
Step 1. Evaluate the visit
Once the visit is over, discuss it with your partner. Analyze what things went well and what things might need to be changed in the future. Try to keep a positive tone during the conversation so your partner doesn't get too uncomfortable.
Step 2. Consider making adjustments as needed
Your in-laws can bring up important points while they are visiting. If they say something that makes you rethink the way you do things on a daily basis, talk to your partner to adjust your routine. If things didn't go so well on the visits, talk to your partner about how to improve the next visit.
- For example, if your in-laws' stay at home caused a lot of stress, you can suggest that the next time they visit you pay for a hotel room.
- There is always room for improvement, so consider each visit a learning experience. Reflect on your mistakes and try to plan ways to avoid them on your next visit.
Step 3. Wait at least a month before having company again
Give your family time to resettle before you have company again. This includes in-laws who just left. Once everyone is back to their normal routines, you can consider inviting more company.