Just to clear things up, I want to dispel a terrible rule from your head:
Just because you are marrying the person does NOT mean you are marrying his family. If you and your S.O. are in a happy relationship and on the same page about where you stand with one another, his parents and family mean zip, zilch, nada. You have two priorities at this point: 1.) your happiness; and, 2.) your S.O.’s happiness. You are first because you have to spend every day with your thoughts, feelings, and emotions. That is not a free pass to be narcissistic and selfish, but be aware what is healthy for you and your mental/emotional state. Your S.O. follows because ideally you love this person and do want to be a positive fixture in their life. Don’t try to control their emotions or tell them how to feel, but be a support and gently, but firmly, be honest.
Now that is out of the way, let us talk in-laws. Stereotypes aside, relationships with in-laws can be great. My sister loves her in-laws and they love her. Everyone is all smiles and you can feel the love in the air. These could be strained interactions from personality clashes or other circumstances. Or they can be knock-down arguments where your sister in law calls you a lying, thieving psychotic gold digger who is below her brother, all because she is angry no one seemed to care she blew back into their lives to ask for more money and a place to stay. Too specific? Whoopsie.
1. Talk it out.
Sometimes nothing gets the job done better than a sit down dialogue. Sure, it might be awkward at times, but if you want to have a closer relationship and all parties are willing, this can really help. After all, some understandings can stem from a simple miscommunication. Clear that up and next holiday gathering might not be so painful.
2. Ignore it.
Have you ever heard the adage, “Pick and choose your battles?” Here is a good example of applying that notion. If you deal with in laws who are constantly complaining about everything and seeking external validation via you and your SO, just tune it out. If it is more of an annoyance than an emotionally jarring jab, let them moan and just think about how peaceful it will be when you are both in your separate spaces again.
3. Cut off communication.
This does not mean telling your SO they cannot talk to their family. That is another conversation that is entirely up to you both to discuss. However, it may be best for you to remove the toxicity from your life and in this case that means the in laws. If you have tried to talk and find yourself demeaned further, you have every right to not sit around and take it. Maybe after that, they will see you are serious and reconsider a relationship. Maybe not. But you have an obligation to yourself to not have people in your life who diminish your well-being.
4. Get your feelings out.
Maybe it’s a blog post, or just venting to a friend, or maybe it’s a journal entry. Whatever way, it can be extremely cathartic. When I talked to one therapist about this, he said you do not have to share what you write, but you should not feel bad if you do. This is not about sticking it to your in laws. This should be about putting your emotions and thoughts on paper (or keys) so they aren’t swirling around your head and affecting your overall health. If you choose to post it or read it aloud to your SO, remember that just like your in laws words hurt you, your words are equally powerful. Find ways to take the negative situation you have altered to help others find the best way to better their own situations.
These are not catch-all options. I have passed through all four before finding my best situation. There are no doubt other avenues out there to take in trying to deal with mommie in law dearest, but I advise exploring options best for your situation and reaching out to a counselor if you find it affecting your health in adverse ways. This is about you and your SO keeping your relationship happy, healthy, and strong and your in laws should not be standing in the way.