So you have met the person with whom you connect, and you have decided to travel through life with them. You’ve set your hopes and goals for the future, and everything looks bright. Except there is one problem: your in-laws don’t share your rosy view of the marriage, and they have set out to ruin your relationship.
Dealing with complicated family relationships can be a challenge that can easily tear your marriage apart and cause you to end up divorcing if you let it. The key is to set boundaries to protect your union and then enforce them.
How In-Laws Can Ruin Your Marriage
There are many ways that in-laws can destroy your marriage, both intentionally and unintentionally. Understanding these tactics can help you to head them off before they erode entirely the bond you have developed with your spouse.
Intentional Sabotage and Jealousy
Most people grow up to be healthy adults who form attachments with other adults while still enjoying their parents’ relationship. They acknowledge that these are two separate relationships, and there is room for everyone to receive love and attention.
In some cases, parents are unable to allow their adult children to move into their relationships. They may intentionally try to sabotage them from receiving love from their new partners.
A toxic mother-in-law may treat the new wife with hostility, exclude her from family events or bad-mouth her to her son. They may try to convince their sons that the daughter-in-law is not good enough for him. This is not only hurtful to the daughter-in-law, but it is also stressful for the son who has to deal with the infighting.
They Force Partners to Choose Sides
In-laws sabotage a marriage by consistently forcing their child to choose them over their spouse. They may demand that a woman spends the holidays with them instead of with their spouse or create arguments and demand that their child take their side.
Adults who cannot defend their spouse against their parents often find that the relationship with their partner erodes as a result. In many cases, this leads to the eventual divorce of the couple. That’s why it’s critical to put your spouse before your parents.
They Overstep Boundaries and Invade Privacy
There have been stories of in-laws who have read their son’s emails, listened in on phone calls, opened the couple’s mail, and gossiped about them to friends and family. Toxic in-laws may go around gathering “intel” on their child’s spouse, attempting to find out anything they can to break up the couple. They visit unannounced and may even access the couple’s home when they are away.
In many cases, in-laws will encourage their child to talk to them about the couple’s problems, then offer “advice” that will break the couple apart. This is an unhealthy behavior, and it can lead to the eventual breakup.
How to Keep Your In-Laws from Ruining Your Marriage
The best way to keep your in-laws from sabotaging your marriage is to keep them out of it, for the most part. They should not be involved in marital conflicts. Avoid living in the same household with them if they are going to cause problems. If possible, move to a different neighborhood, creating both a psychological and physical boundary between you.
Align yourself with your spouse. Do not allow your parents to bad-mouth your spouse, spread nasty rumors about them, or otherwise try to pit you against each other. The new family takes priority over the relationship with your parents, and you and your spouse need to have a united front when it comes to attacks from in-laws.
Finally, manage your parents. Don’t allow them to sabotage your relationship. Establish boundaries early on and let them know that disrespecting your spouse or your marriage is not acceptable.
Marriage is hard enough without complicated family relationships, sabotage from in-laws, and ongoing conflict. Take steps to keep your in-laws from destroying your marriage and enjoy a healthy and happy life with your spouse.