How do I better manage my behavior around my in-laws when it is difficult to be around them?
I love my wife. We have been married for almost ten years. But it is getting harder and harder to be around her family. They are all very smart people. Her mother is a very good person who is unfortunately in poor health. Her older brother is a good guy too but he lives on the other side of the country so I don’t see him much. But her father, sister, and younger brother are difficult to be around. Her father is stubborn and has no respect for other people’s time. Her older sister is a paranoid control freak and a world class manipulator. Her younger brother and his wife think they are the family power couple/ royal couple and that the world revolves around them. I get stressed out dealing with them and sometimes I let my anger out, which stresses my wife out. I am helpful to my wife when we visit, but that makes her family think I am the errand boy. This caused an issue on our last visit because I was helping out and her sister kept ordering me around and her dad and brother snapped at me. This caused me to get very angry in front of my wife and her family over a minor issue later on that day. Suffice it to say she was surprised. I later explained to my wife what happened and she said that she understood. But I am sick of being this way around my wife’s family. It’s not healthy. And it is wrong and not good for my wife and kids to see this. Yet I feel powerless around my wife’s family and this lack of situational control that I think I have causes stress. How do I fix this?
- JerryLv 71 month agoFavourite answer
"sometimes I let my anger out"
You can't change these people but you can change the way you respond to them. Responding with anger is a choice, a choice that becomes a habit. I'm not saying it will be easy, but you CAN break that habit of responding with anger. You can choose to respond in some other way, to think about them in some other way. You can be detached and patient, even amused.
"Yes, my FIL is stubborn and thoughtless, but I'm used to it and don't let it bother me."
"Yes, Sissy is a paranoid manipulative control freak. I pretend to take her seriously but inside I'm laughing at her.
"Yes, Bro & Wife are arrogant snobs, but they're not worth getting upset about."
You can't control this situation, can't "fix" this situation. All you can do is CHOOSE to respond with resignation and acceptance rather than anger and resentment. Like the hippies used to say "You can't push the river man, you have to go with the flow."
That doesn't mean you have to be a doormat, have to allow yourself to be taken advantage of. You're allowed to respond with polite refusals like
"No, I'm not going to do that for you." "Why not." "Because I'd rather not."
"Obviously our ideas in this matter are very different. But we shouldn't get angry at each other or quarrel about it.
Remember, you don't have to LIKE these people, don't have to support or approve of their choices, their behavior, the way they treat you. You just have to make up your mind that nothing they say or do is worth you getting all worked up about.
- TjLv 71 month ago
She would be visiting them alone. I would never be with them. Your wife knows what they are and if she cannot understand you not going near them, maybe its time to rethink her. There are many in my family i do not like, and I never see them. If there is a function that they are at, i stay far away, if one tries to approach me, i walk away, if i have to, i go home. with or without the wife, and she knows it.
- Dr. StephanieLv 71 month ago
One alternative would be for you and your wife to agree that you will not participate in gatherings with her family. I know this is disruptive and not the typical pattern; however, you can choose to avoid them and she can continue to be part of their lives without you present. Frankly, I don't see any other alternatives.
- Anonymous1 month ago
In MY marriage MY family is MY problem, and my husband's family is HIS problem.
Where is your wife in this? If you are saying you can't control your anger, get into therapy.
Know how I fixed things with MY dysfunctional family? I haven't seen them in 12 years. My children will NEVER be exposed to their toxic behavior.
It's just that simple.
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- Anonymous1 month ago
With questions like this, an example or 2 is always helpful. For all we know, these people are so toxic your kids shouldn't be around them. On the flip side, maybe you're overreacting to typical and minor tensions that arise when families get together.
I do have a question. Is your wife doing enough from her end to "protect" you from all this? Assuming these people truly go out of their way to hassle you, it's HER job to address it, not yours. This is a long time marriage guideline. Each spouse is responsible for protecting the other from any negativity that arises from their side. I can't even picture my husband standing by silently if someone in his family goes after me.
As you already know, you're not handling this well, but the solution might be getting her to see that you wouldn't tolerate anybody in your family treating her like crap. This doesn't have to be an argument or anything, but maybe she needs to step up to the plate. She's the one in a position to tell these people if they can't treat her husband with respect, she'll stop visiting.