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In-Law Problems Can Be Worked Out

Dear Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee,

My problem is my in-laws. They never approved of me, never liked me, and never accepted me. This has been a constant problem, and it is causing big problems between my husband and me. I am so unhappy that I'm seriously considering divorce just so I won't have to deal with them anymore. I do love my husband, but I can't take anymore of their garbage. We have been married 5 years and have a beautiful little boy.


End of My Rope

Dear End of My Rope,

Your complaint about in-laws is very common and often a source of friction between married couples. You didn't mention the specifics about why they haven't accepted you, what they do to show their disapproval, or what you and your husband have done in reaction to them.

However, from your readiness to divorce over this in-law problem, it appears that your husband is not supportive of you. Most couples that "stick together" over in-law issues will prevail. Your in-laws sound like they have been able to divide and conquer. If you divorce your husband, you will play into their hands. You have two important reasons to stay together: you love your husband and have a child.

In-law problems can be worked out. Here's how to start:

1. Keep your contacts with them to a minimum. Spend as little time with them as possible. Do not invite them over unless it's absolutely necessary. If they want come over and visit, then let them be entertained by your husband and son while you go run an errand, or make yourself scarce somewhere around the house.

2. Your husband needs to be supportive of you. If his parents snub you in any way, it's his responsibility to put a stop to it. They are his parents, so it is best that he speak up. Otherwise, it just gives the in-laws more reason to disapprove of you. His support of you is not being disloyal to his parents. It simply shows his parents that he respects you, and they must as well.

3. Do not invest yourself emotionally in them. Do not hope for a close relationship with them; their actions show it will never happen. Keep reminding yourself that they are the ones with the problem. Do not go out of your way to please them. For example, if it's their birthday, then it is your husband's responsibility to buy the card/gift and send it to them on behalf of both of you.

4. When around them, act pleasant so as not to give them any ammunition with which to use against you. Being pleasant does not mean you allow them to insult you. If they do insult you, shrug it off in a humorous way, then leave the room and busy yourself with something else.