Friday, July 10, 2009

Having good success at family and extended family relationships...Life Skill No. 6

Let's face it. There may be few things more exhausting than trying to heal hurts inflicted by a family member. But it's one thing to deal with your own family. It seems to get even more complicated when the family members in question are in-laws. Then you've got to be c-a-r-e-f-u-l and sensitive to how your partner is responding to the situation, and how his or her perception of you're response may be affecting your relationship. No thanks to this stuff, a lot of well-meaning boy friends and husbands, especially, have found themselves in the cold dog house whining to come back inside.

Many of these situations can have a subtle "no win" clause built into of those circular sorta deals. It probably reads something like, "In occasions of argument with your parents, you will always support me; but in heated arguments with either set of folks, if it turns out that I'm wrong, you're to blame for sticking up for me and making the folks so upset."

Of course most dating couples probably don't know any of these things, so they won't know to read through any contractual "fine print"--that is if they could even find any. So, that's where the following suggestions may be timely and helpful.

  1. If you're in a dating relationship that feels like it could realistically develop into a long-term one, start arranging to spend time together in ways that give regular opportunity to be around your partner's family--especially the people who wield the most influence in it.
  2. The best way to manage in-law (or potential in-law) relationships is to have a good idea what they're likely to look like and be like. Empower yourself with the information you need (#1, above) to make an early decision whether to continue developing this relationship or to walk away now. If you get a clear indication that an in-law role with these people could be a doozy of a challenge, and yet you make the decision to press forward, remember the moment you made that decision--where you were, what you were doing, and what was going on around you. If these relationships do get challenging up the road, remember--you saw it coming and CHOSE to stick it out!
Be smarter. Be yourself. Have fun.