In most cultures, family relationships with the in-laws can make life (and your marriage) harder or easier, depending on which way they go. Of course, there are a few preconceived misconceptions about the in-laws that many people may enter into a marriage already believing.
These misconceptions can deter the true growth and development of what could be great relationships with the in-laws. Entering into family relationships without these misconceptions would be best, but we can only do that if we acknowledge what those misconceptions are and put in the effort to pull them apart or “debunk” them.
15 myths and misconceptions about the in-laws:
- Everyone dislikes their in-laws.
- In-laws are interfering and annoying.
- Perfect relationships with in-laws exist.
- The in-laws don’t accept or respect your parenting style and skills.
- Mothers-in-law are particularly difficult people.
- Both sets of in-laws have to meet and get along – if they don’t, the marriage is doomed.
- When you marry your spouse, you marry the family too.
- You won’t survive living with the in-laws.
- Father in-laws are henpecked husbands with no real opinion.
- The “no-one will ever be good enough for my son/daughter” issue.
- Mothers-in-law want to continue controlling their sons well after they get married.
- The in-laws will try to run your life.
- It’s impossible to be actual friends with (and enjoy the company of) the in-laws.
- A relationship with the in-laws will be the same after marriage as it was/is before.
- You will feel closer to the in-laws and be more willing to love them after marriage.
If you are already dealing with some of these myths and misconceptions rattling around your head, know that you are not alone. Millions of people across the globe have come to believe that these very myths will plague their lives; even if they haven’t experienced this first-hand with their in-laws (or soon-to-be in-laws) yet. Fear of being dragged into this expected way of life can sometimes drive a wedge between someone and their in-laws.
If you want to give your in-law relationship the best possible chance, it’s time to put these shameful misconceptions and myths about in-laws to rest. Read on to learn more…
Debunking 15 myths and misconceptions about the in-laws:
1. Everyone dislikes their in-laws.
This quite simply is not true. There’s a general understanding that the in-laws will be so different to you that there is no other choice but to dislike them. But what if you decide to disregard this myth and go into meeting the in-laws with the same open-minded approach and acceptance as you would when meeting would-be friends and strangers? Then, you could give your relationship a great chance and won’t be merely fitting into what an unproven myth has told you to.
2. In-laws are interfering and annoying.
Yes, some in-laws can be interfering and annoying if that is the type of people they are, but that is not a hard and fast rule. If you give the in-laws a chance and don’t assume that they are interfering and annoying, you might find that they are the opposite. Perhaps interfering behavior is just a sign that they care, and if they annoy you purposefully, perhaps it’s a sign of endearment. Always try to understand the underlying reason for behavior before you jump to conclusions.
3. Perfect relationships with in-laws exist.
If you find that you are struggling to understand why you can’t have the same perfect relationship with the in-laws as depicted in feel-good movies, it’s because there is simply no such thing as a “perfect relationship” between any two people, not just the in-laws. All relationships have their flaws, and the only way to make them work is to drop the idea that it has to be perfect and just make the most of what you do have.
4. The in-laws won’t accept or respect your parenting style and skills.
Here’s the thing about most in-laws…they simply love their grandchildren and want to be seen as great grandparents. A bond between a grandparent and child is very different from a bond between a child and parents. For instance, when a mother-in-law gives a grandchild ice cream for lunch or doesn’t immediately report when your child has broken a rule or behaved badly, it probably has nothing to do with your parenting and more to do with the bond she is trying to create with your child.
Some parents can be over-sensitive to in-laws “interfering” in their parenting when that’s not exactly what is going on. If it becomes problematic for your usual parenting and lifestyle, perhaps speak gently with your in-laws to understand the reason behind their behavior before you immediately assume that they don’t respect or like how you are parenting your children.
5. Mothers-in-law are particularly difficult people.
Mothers-in-law get a bad reputation for being difficult and actually trying to make a daughter-in-law or son in-laws’ life uncomfortable. In reality, sometimes, this is just a case of being misunderstood. Mothers will always want to love and care for their children, even if they are married.
A mother will always want what’s best for her child, which can sometimes come across as difficult behavior. If this puts you out, perhaps take a closer look at why your mother-in-law is doing certain things. If you are a mother yourself, you might understand this better.
6. Both sets of in-laws have to meet and get along – if they don’t, the marriage is doomed.
It’s simply not true that both sets of in-laws have to meet, and it is even less true that they have to get along. It can be tempting to place too much emphasis on the relationship’s potential to survive on how the in-laws get along, but keep in mind how different you are from your own family members. Sometimes people are just different and won’t be best friends. It really doesn’t say anything about your marriage or your future with your spouse.
7. When you marry your spouse, you marry the family too.
This is a misconception that has been around since the dawn of time. The truth is that when you marry your spouse, you marry your spouse. A marriage is a relationship between just 2 people and is an intimate thing. Having a relationship with the in-laws is optional, but it can stand your relationship in good stead as your partner undoubtedly wants to include it in all aspects of their life. If you choose to exclude yourself from forming a relationship with the in-laws, it can just make family time difficult for your partner.
8. You won’t survive living with the in-laws.
This particular misconception has been depicted in just about every sitcom and movie ever created. Living with the in-laws can become a necessity if you head into tough financial times, but it doesn’t have to break you or your relationship.
By setting some ground rules and really discussing potential problems that could crop up before you move in with the in-laws, you can avoid buying into and playing out this misconception. At the end of the day, it’s beneficial to you and could just be the best thing you do for your interfamily relationships.
9. Father in-laws are henpecked husbands with no real opinion.
This is another misconception or myth that is often depicted in movies and sitcoms. You will often be presented with an overbearing mother-in-law character with a husband who has to walk on eggshells around her or live out his life hiding things from her and trying to ‘have one over’ on her. Because we see it so much in our entertainment media, it can become a commonly accepted norm. This might be the case in some relationships, but it is certainly not how most relationships pan out.
If you pay attention to the relationship between your in-laws, you might just find that there’s a lot of love and respect between your partner’s mother and father. In fact, if you have the time and give them your respect, you might learn something valuable about making a long-term relationship work.
10. The “no-one will ever be good enough for my son/daughter” issue.
This is simply not true. Often a mother or father will simply want what is best for their child and will show an interest in whether or not their child is happy. This can often be misunderstood as trying to find fault with the current partner or never thinking anyone will be good enough. If you think this is playing out in your life, first ask yourself if you might be misunderstanding the underlying meaning of an in-laws interest or behavior.
11. Mothers-in-law want to continue controlling their sons well after they get married.
A mother who shows an interest in how her son is spending his money and planning for the future is merely a mother who worries how her son will do now that she is no longer in control of his finances and life planning. This is potentially a worry that a mother has her whole life. Of course, some mothers can be controlling, but it’s most often not the case.
Pay attention to the possible motives behind your mother-in-law asking specific questions and wanting to know and advise her son more than you think is normal.
12. The in-laws will try to run your life.
This is a popular misconception for people to buy into. Sometimes it can lead to people distancing themselves from their in-laws for fear of losing control of their lives. If you are realistic about it, everyone is more interested in running their own life than anyone else’s. While there is a chance that the in-laws have an interest in micromanaging your life, that chance is rather slim.
13. It’s impossible to be actual friends with (and enjoy the company of) the in-laws.
If you are trying to have the same friendship or relationship with your in-laws as you do with your regular social group, you are going to be disappointed. Keep in mind that your in-laws are older and probably more settled than you, and, in order for you to have an enjoyable friendship with them, you have to meet them halfway. Try to remember that there is a generational gap and if you go into friendship building expecting them to meet you on your level, it’s just not going to work.
Treat the friendship as a connection with someone older who can provide you with life advice and guidance. Don’t try to force the relationship into a preconceived idea of how you think things should be. You may start to derive real value from it.
14. A relationship with the in-laws will be the same after marriage as it was/is before.
This is simply not true. There’s a particular uncertainty to being someone’s girlfriend or boyfriend. Being married is an entirely different story, and once you eventually get married, the family will start to see you and treat you quite differently. They will undoubtedly see you as a more permanent part of the extended family, and you might even see them putting in more effort and time to bond with you and form lasting connections.
15. You will feel closer to the in-laws and be more willing to love them after marriage.
Unfortunately, this is untrue. If you choose to dislike the in-laws before marriage, it will be much the same after marriage. The reality is that love is a decision you make, so if you want to feel closer to the in-laws, you have to decide to love them and start putting in the work as soon as possible. Deciding to love and be close to your in-laws is one way of showing support and commitment to your partner.
Hopefully, you can read these debunked myths and see your relationship with the in-laws in a whole new light. Alternatively, perhaps you will start to notice how and where you have been applying unfair myths and misconceptions to your relationship with the in-laws where they don’t really exist.