By Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD
No matter how difficult your in-laws are, they’re still your spouse’s parents. Whether their bad behavior is aimed at you or your spouse (or maybe both of you), it can help to know how to keep a potentially explosive situation contained – or at least as calm as possible.
Do what you can to understand your spouse’s relationship with their parents and provide the support that your partner needs. For instance, though Nancy’s father-in-law constantly criticized her husband Sal, he was nothing but nice to Nancy. So, when her father-in-law came for visits, she purposely engaged him, pulling his attention away from Sal. This was helpful because Sal appreciated her efforts. If, however, he saw it as Nancy siding with his father, Nancy would have needed to find a different way to help.
It’s essential that you confirm with your spouse that your actions (or planned actions) leave them feeling supported. In addition to looking to your spouse fo…