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Saying no to the in-laws without breaking up the family

We all want to get along with our extended families, but does it ever seem like your mother-in-law can't leave well enough alone? How do you walk the line between standing up for yourself and maintaining good relations with the in-laws?
Katie Nielsen, FamilyShare Modified: May 12, 2014 at 8:06 am •  Published: May 23, 2014
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When you get married, you aren't just aligning yourself with one person, you're also suddenly connected with a plethora of in-laws who all have opinions, ideas and existing relationships with your spouse. Sometimes, it all gets a little overwhelming. It's a good idea to talk about these feelings early on in your marriage or even in your courtship so your significant other understands where you're coming from.

An important point to remember is that marriage entails taking two people from different backgrounds and upbringings and fusing them into their own new unit, separate from the originals. Though you may often turn to one set of parents or the other for advice, the ultimate decision should lie with you and your spouse. And if you have some extra concerned in-laws who would like to have a little too much input in your marriage, you must also learn to say, "No."

Show an increase of love

When you need to say no to some well-meaning suggestion posed by your mother-in-law (maybe she thinks washing dishes by hand is faster and more sanitary than using a dishwasher), always remind her that your refusal doesn't mean you don't love her or value her opinion.

For instance, you may respond, "That's an interesting idea, but I think I'll keep doing dishes the way I've always done them. I really appreciate the advice, though. Your dishes are always so clean." You don't have to back down from your point of view to find value in what your in-laws have to say.

Strike a compromise

If both sets of in-laws live near you, holidays can become an issue. Who will you spend time with first and for how long? Can you really eat two Thanksgiving dinners in one day? In these and other circumstances, have a transparent conversation with both parents to let them know you love them both, but this time you'll be spending more time with your own parents. At Christmas, you'll spend more time with your spouse's parents.

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