Got Monster – In Laws? 5 Tips for Surviving the In-Laws
With Spring Break around the corner, everyone is planning their family get-together’s. ‘Yay?’ you think, as you fill your suitcase with dread and postpone that vacation to Aruba. With your in laws getting ready to brew a pot of stress with you as the main ingredient, it can get pretty hectic. In-law relationships, particularly the mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationship, are often the most difficult ones to navigate during the holidays. Heck, a mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationship can be the most difficult to navigate anytime, right? All too often we focus on all the things our in-law did or didn’t do, letting it fester for days, weeks, sometimes even months.
Unfortunately letting these scenarios between you and your mother-in-law or daughter-in-law play over and over in your head will only make you feel worse. It also does nothing to help you make sure that things are different between you the next time the two of you are together. To overcome this, you should try to reflect on what your relationship with your in-laws is like, how you’d like it to be and what you will do differently to make the relationship better and closer to what you want.
I know, I know, the last thing you probably want to do is focus on her. After all, she’s the problem, right? She’s the one who says things and does things she must know by now are going to drive you crazy. It is easier to do nothing, avoid her if possible and convince yourself this relationship is hopeless. To be honest, though, doing nothing, being passive or reactive only makes you feel more hopeless and helpless. It also sets you up to continue the same old pattern with her again. But here is a chance to empower yourself and take charge of this relationship in a way you never have before. What better place to start than with setting goals for the upcoming year or create your New Year’s resolutions around your relationship with your in-law.
Here are 5 tips for setting successful goals for 2016 that will improve your relationship with your mother-in-law or daughter-in-law:
1. Write down 2-3 things you would like to change in your relationship and keep this list in a place where you can see it on a daily basis.
2. Describe these changes as clearly as possible so that you know exactly what you expect. What precisely will this new behavior in your in-law look like? Allow yourself to visualize this new behavior you want to see. (When you know specifically what it would look like you will be in a better position to know when you get it.)
3.Determine behaviors you will do to create this change. Clarify specific behaviors you will do that will make it easier for your in-law to respond to you differently.
4. Write down a step-by-step plan (baby steps) of what you will do to achieve these changes. Allow yourself to visualize each step of the plan. To do this ask yourself, What would this look like? The more detailed and specific you are the easier it will be for you to know what you need to do to create the change you want.
5.Check off each (baby) step in your plan when you take it. Doing so allows you to see the progress you’re making toward changing your relationship with your mother-in-law or daughter-in-law.
It is important to keep in mind that changing your behavior and acting differently with your in-law is not something you can do once and expect her behavior to be immediately changed and what you’d like it to be. You need to continue with your new behavior over and over again before you will start to see change in her. But trust me, it will happen!
Bonus thought – Since you have visualized and know exactly what you are looking for in your in-law’s new behavior, you will be able to spot it (or some part of it) much easier. This will help you build momentum to continue with your goals for changing your relationship with her.
These 5 steps will not only help you be successful in changing your relationship, but these are steps that will help you feel more empowered. Remember – One person can make a difference. One person can change a relationship.
Deanna Brann, Ph.D. has over 30 years of experience in the mental health field as a clinical psychotherapist specializing in communication skills, family and interpersonal relationships, and conflict resolution. After running her own private practice for more than 20 years, she spent time later in her career providing business consultation to other private practice professionals in the health care and legal fields. As both a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, her own personal experiences led her to research the subject. Her first book, Reluctantly Related, began the discussion of examining and bettering the MIL/DIL relationship and is followed by her newest book, Reluctantly Related Revisited. Brann holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology, a Master of Science degree in Clinical Psychology, and a Ph.D. in Psychobiological Anthropology.
Connect with Dr. Brann at www.drdeannabrann.com or http://www.inlawsos.com/
twitter – @deannabrann