Meddling in-laws can ruin relationships during the holidays. Here’s how to avoid it


As the holidays approach, you may be interacting with your family more frequently. Inevitably, relatives can sometimes meddle in your personal life, creating extra stress.

That can include trouble with in-laws and figuring out how to divide family time over the holidays, said Jessica O’Reilly, a relationship expert.

O’Reilly told hosts on Global News’ The Morning Show that a common problem in relationships is in-laws interfering.

In-laws intruding on your marriage? Here’s how to deal with them

When asked an audience-submitted question on how to deal with a father-in-law who undermines a husband and his wife with their kids, and criticizes their relationship, O’Reilly recommends you talk to your partner about how you feel.

“That’s a good place to start, because she probably has a different or more realistic perspective on the situation, because she’s known the [father-in-law] for even longer,” she said. “Ask your wife how she’s feeling. She is probably is feeling some of the same concerns.”

Your partner may have a better approach when figuring out how to deal with their parents, she added. 

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Intrusive in-laws are common, said relationship expert Nicole McCance in a previous Global News report. It’s also one of the top reasons couples get divorced.

Outline your boundaries

But don’t let that kind of frustration mount and impact the relationship you have with your spouse, McCance said. 

Discuss boundaries with your partner and communicate those boundaries with your in-laws, she added.

“It might be difficult but it’s important for both you and your partner to be there,” she said. Boundaries can include how often they visit and what decisions for the family they should be making.

When outlining these boundaries, it’s important to be very specific about what you want, said  O’Reilly.

“Do you want [a father-in-law] to visit less often? Do you want to set limits on how he interacts with the kids?” she said. 

‘He had to give up his family’: When toxic in-laws ruin relationships

Sometimes in-laws may feel like they have a say in your relationship or family routine, because you use them for childcare often, said McCance.

“So it might be worth putting them in daycare to create that boundary,” she explained. “Keep the in-laws for family functions.”

Issues like deciding when to visit two sets of families between partners can also be difficult during the holidays, said O’Reilly.

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Write out which days each of you wants to see family members, and make a compromise so that it’s fair, she said.

Don’t place so much weight on a specific holiday or date being necessary to see certain family members as well, she added. 

“It’s not like you can’t feel the same love, connection and intimacy one day before [christmas], or two days after,” she said.

For more advice about how to deal with family over the holidays, watch Jessica O’Reilly in the video above. 

— With files from Global News reporter Dani-Elle Dubé

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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