In-laws and your wedding. As it turns out, you aren’t just marrying one person. You’re marrying their entire family. That means their overbearing mother is now your overbearing mother-in-law. Their over-dramatic sister is now your over-dramatic sister-in-law. Their no-social-skills creepy uncle is now your no-social-skills creepy uncle-in-law. So naturally, you’d like to be on everyone’s good side. Here are a few lessons to take with you after your wedding to keep things smoothed over with your new side of the family:

1.) Lay some ground rules. Take it from me. I lived directly next door to my in-laws at one time. When we first moved in, she stopped by all the time, and since I worked from home then, that meant my day was full of distractions. She’s stopping by to drop something off, say hello to the puppies, and ask my boyfriend a question. All innocent, of course, but still fairly intrusive. So before we both had a mental breakdown, we laid a few ground rules; text us first before you come over, try not to come over before noon (I work mostly nights), and remember, we can’t miss you if you’re always here. The problem is solved, and we get along better than ever.

2.) Make sure the family knows that decisions are made together. This way, one family can’t see you or your spouse as the bad guy. Explain any large decisions from the perspective of both of you and use the word ‘we’ as often as possible. “We both feel we’d rather stay in tonight” or “We’re waiting to have kids” make it clear that both of you are in agreement about the decision you have reached.

3.) No choosing sides. When you agreed to spend the rest of your lives together, you agreed to stand up for each other through thick and thin. That means if you have a problem with your husband’s mother, he should take care of it, and vice versa. You are responsible for each other’s happiness, and if that means an unpleasant conversation with a family member or two, so be it.

4.) “What happens in this house…” Before you ever get into a fight (yes, at some point in the next 30 years, you will fight about something), discuss what will and won’t be shared with your family. That way, the first time you run off to vent to your sister, you won’t overstep any boundaries. You know you both will need to talk to someone else about certain issues, but you deserve an unwavering and agreed-upon level of privacy.

5.) Pick your battles. Sometimes, it’s just not worth the trouble, and agreeing to disagree is better. There are going to be situations where compromise is not an option. These situations are often politically or religiously affiliated, so know when you’re walking on shaky ground and watch yourself accordingly. If your grandma has a problem with the two of you living together, unmarried, you don’t have to hide it from her. Avoid bringing it up and rubbing her face in it whenever you see her.


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