Relationships are much like those famous Imperial Russian Faberge eggs – they can be incredibly beautiful but fragile. Handled with care, though, they can last more than a lifetime.
There are many things that can influence your relationship with a spouse or significant other, but few are as powerful as in-laws. For better or for worse, they can bring to your relationship an entirely different dynamic that can be hard to resist or ignore. In fact, surveys have revealed that in-law-induced stress is tied with work-related stress for having the most detrimental impact on spousal relationships. Fitting into a new family can be problematic, especially if you’re close to your own, which can lead to all kinds of active and passive tension. Regardless of how you feel about them, once you have in-laws you have to learn to deal with them, somehow and someway.
Fortunately, journaling is a wonderful tool for easing tensions and helping you explore this additional, influential relationship that – whether you like it or not – has an impact on you and your mate. Journaling can reveal ways that you can politely and positively request breathing space and some boundaries for separation from in-laws that will enable you to chart your own path as a couple, with the support of your parents.
There are several common mistakes that couples make in their relationship that can cause in-law stress, including:
Not establishing boundaries from the beginning What your two sets of parents expect from you is not nearly as important as what you, as a couple, expect – and need to receive – from each other. Journaling can help you organize your collective thoughts regarding what’s truly important to you two and what needs to be prioritized over parental expectations and requests. It’s critical that you set boundaries with your parents from the very beginning, much in the same way your parents set boundaries for you when you were growing up.
Not setting grandchildren guidelines Introducing a grandchild into the couple/parents relationship gives rise to a whole new dynamic. Some grandparents can be relentless in their quest for grandchild time, doting and lavishing attention on the baby that can cause additional stress for you and your significant other. An important element in the development of a new family is the time needed to bond and nurture with your child, free from outside intrusion and influence. Once again, journaling can help you explore ways to gently but firmly establish guidelines for how, when, and where grandparents can interact with their grandchild.
The great holiday debate Sooner or later, every couple experiences “the great holiday debate” – with which set of parents are you going to spend which holidays? This volatile question can cause a tremendous amount of stress and guilt unless it’s discussed and settled long before it’s time to get in the car or head to the airport. Add grandchildren to the debate and the issue can grow even more complex and hard to reconcile. Journaling can help you analyze the situation in a time and place of your choosing to ratchet down the stress and make it easier to arrive at a mutually-agreeable answer.
Not understanding the differences between your families No two families are exactly alike and most are distinctly different. This can become even more evident – and irritating – if one or more parents fail to see their child as an adult and continues to treat them as if they were still a kid. It’s easy for any individual to look at another’s family and become exasperated or even downright angry: “I can’t believe your parents do this, that way”….”What family does that?!”…..”Nobody in their right mind would do that!” It’s easy to see how that kind of frustration can lead to stress, both within the relationship and with one or both sets of in-laws. Fortunately, journaling can help you and your significant other sort through the differences and reach an understanding of how and why the other’s family does or believes the things they do. Journaling can lead you to some kind of reconciliation that enables the two of you to take a deep, collective breath and deal calmly and rationally with familial differences.
If you’re in a long-term relationship –married or not – in-laws or their non-marital counterparts are going to be a fact-of-life that must be dealt with. How the two of you handle that will decide if the relationship is going to be a positive or negative one. Therapeutic journaling is a powerful tool for examining your relationship as a couple and with your in-laws. And it can help you develop ideas to effectively deal with it all to ensure that everyone can live happily ever after.
If you want to learn more tips for handling relationship stress with in-laws, please download the free eBook titled The Journaling Guide to Manage The Stress and Strains of Life.