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Managing in-law relationships

The in-law relationships can cause a lot of stress during this time. And unfortunately, you dear groom are in the middle of it all. The reason these relationships can be so difficult in the beginning, is you're attempting to merge together families with different ways of doing things. Even when the families are a lot alike, they won't see eye-to-eye on everything. To add to the difference of opinions, layer on the fact both families love you individually and to see you take on differing perspectives from the way you have always done things, leads them to believe you're compromising your happiness for that of someone else's. Even when that is not the case.


The foundation you lay during the wedding planning process will set boundaries (or lack there of) for the way this relationship builds for the remainder of your marriage. Unfortunately, it doesn't always get easier. The key to managing this relationship from the get-go is: unite, then divide and conquer.


All decisions from here on out should be determined and agreed upon between you and your bride before communicating to families. Families have a way of cornering its members into independent quick decisions (this happens on both sides). Whatever you do, don't jump to an answer. Phrases like "let me check with (insert partner's name here) before I commit" should replace terms like "sure", "ok" & "yeah".


I know, this can be a reprogramming of sorts for you guys. Often times guys tend to tune out their mothers as they go on and on with details. Your brush- off conditioned responses of "sure" while your eyes are on ESPN is going to be taken as a yes from your mother...and she will run with it. The next thing you know, you're faced with (A) going back on your decision to your mother (which she will blame on your future bride) or (B) forcing your new bride into something she's not comfortable with (which she'll blame on your mother). So remember, check on everything from here on out. Your bride should be doing the same.


Once you have come to a consensus, each of you should go to your own families and communicate the message. You know your family dynamic best and she, hers. Throwing an outside person into sometimes difficult conversations can cause problems. Everyone is just getting to know one another and may not feel comfortable expressing their opinions, which will cause more confusion and hurt feelings. So take it alone, at least in the beginning.


You've made a decision as future man and wife. You must own this decision and stick to it, no matter how persuasive either family is. This will set the precedence for future decisions made. Once the families see when you make a decision as a couple it�s final and they can not manipulate you, they will eventually stop trying. And whatever you do, do not blame the decision on your significant other. This will only lead to trouble and tension. All decisions should be joint decisions, even when the may have taken a lot of compromising on either of your parts.


Keep in mind, this is just the beginning and these relationships will take managing for a lifetime. The best you can do right now is lay a good foundation and hope that everyone respects one another.

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