With Christmas approaching, we noticed an increase in requests for counsellors on our site. When we investigated, we realised that the increase was mostly due to the fact that partners and in-laws were seeking counselling together to resolve their differences.
Due to this, we decided to work with counsellors on the site to create a guide on how to relieve the tension between partners and their in-laws.
Try to understand the other person’s perspective and respect it
Thinking about a situation from other person’s point of view can be a tricky thing to do, but crucial. In a stressful situation, you need to distance yourself and consider how you would feel in the other person’s shoes. That way, you’ll be able to empathise with them more and be able to resolve the situation.
Find something to bond over
Finding something your partner and parents both like might be difficult, but it gives them a topic to talk about. It could be grandkids, football, a hobby – anything! This demonstrates to them that they have something in common and can discuss something at length. Once they find a topic they have in common, they may find more and build a better relationship.
Concentrate on something else
By focusing on an activity, it diverts their attention to something else and not the uncomfortable situation they may be in. They could watch a film or play a board game, anything that will distract them. It also allows them to relax and have fun in each other’s company.
Your partner and parents need to learn to be more flexible around each other. This also means compromising with each other on different situations. It takes a lot of patience on both sides, but it’s something that will greatly help ease the tension and lighten the atmosphere.
If you feel an argument brewing, walk away
If you, your partner or your parents begin to feel an argument is about to happen, excuse yourself and leave the situation. During an argument, things can be said in the heat of the moment that cannot be taken back. It’s best to leave the situation and discuss it at another time when everyone is calmer.
Try to forgive and forget
It’s a difficult thing to do but trying to forgive and forget is crucial to improving relationships. There may be something that happened years ago that caused the rift and because no-one has wanted to forget about it, no-one’s moved on. Try to confront the problem, explain why it was an issue and then set out to resolve it.
Set healthy boundaries and don’t be afraid to enforce them
An issue that may be arising is the lack of boundaries parents have when at your house. To prevent this, you need to clearly tell them what you and your partner are and are not comfortable with and they need to respect that.
Focus on the positives
Everyone has their good points and it’s important to focus on those rather than the bad. While it’s not always easy, the effort you put into focusing on the good things will give you a more positive view, which will, therefore, improve your relationship.
Have realistic expectations of people
No-one’s perfect and people do get on one another’s nerves. It’s important not to have unrealistic expectations of others and accept they have flaws (and that you do too!).
Talk about the issues in a safe environment
There is most likely a root cause to much of the conflict between partners and in-laws and it’s important to be able to discuss this reason in a safe environment where everyone can talk freely. With the conflict out in the open, it gives everyone a chance to address it and try to resolve it.
We also have dedicated family counsellors on site, if this is something you feel you need: https://www.bark.com/en/gb/services/family-counselling/