The stuff you find on the internet, boy. While I'm sure that it comes as no surprise to a lot of you, so this probably goes without saying, a lot of people are not exactly besties with their in-laws. In fact, a survey that was featured in Real Simple's article, "This Is How Often Parents-in-Law Should Visit, According to Married Couples" cited that (catch this) 47 percent of in-laws considered themselves to get along extremely well with their child's spouse while only 27 percent of couples agreed (see, there's already a breakdown in communication right there). What's even bigger than that is a whopping 70 percent of couples said that the in-law dynamic has played a major role when it comes to the stress and strain that they've experienced within their marriage (chile…CHILE).
Because this is something that I hear quite a bit whenever I'm listening to married folks share the points of frustration that they have with their own partner's family members and because I also know that the holiday season is typically the time when having up close and personal dealings with in-laws is almost unavoidable, I thought it might help to ask five husbands and five wives in my world (middle names only) to share with me some of the things about their in-laws that get under their skin, along with what their workaround is, so that their can truly be peace on earth and goodwill towards men — until the holidays are over.
Lenae. 36. Married 7 Years.
In-Law Pet Peeve/Trigger: An Overbearing Mother-in-Law
"I know how cliché it sounds to have a controlling mother-in-law. Mine comes with a twist, though. We get along really well. Problem is, we're both big on special occasions and want things to go the way we envision them, and rarely do we have the same vision. Since Thanksgiving is a bigger deal to me and Christmas is a bigger deal to her, we try and get her to come for the first holiday."
"My husband spoke with her about four years ago about how she needs to act like a guest and not a host when she comes to visit, so I will discuss with her ahead of time about what she'd like to do and give her the floor on what we agree on. Whenever we're at her house for Christmas, she tries — emphasis on tries — to return the favor, so it generally works out for the good."
Milos. 40. Married 10 Years.
In-Law Pet Peeve/Trigger: Traditional In-Laws When I'm Non-Traditional
"If you're single and reading this, hear me when I say that it's the little things that can destroy a marriage. I love my wife, but I really did underestimate how much traditions matter to her until after we got married. While I couldn't care less about any holiday, she's like on crack about them. All of them. So are her parents. They want to watch the Macy's Day Parade. They want to string popcorn on the tree. They want to watch holiday films for hours on end. I used to get irritated about it being on-10 in my house. Now, I just accept that it's only once a year, so long as they don't try and force me to do things that I don't want to do in my own house…what's a couple of Hallmark movies and a big ass tree gonna hurt?"
Jasmine. 29. Married 3 Years.
In-Law Pet Peeve/Trigger: "Disrespectful" Grandparent In-Laws
"When you're the grandchild, having grandparents who spoil you is cute. When you're the parent who has to deprogram the mess that your in-laws made after being with you for a week, it's pretty frustrating. Take gifts, for instance. My husband and I don't like our kids having a ton of stuff. Meanwhile, our parents couldn't care less. His mom is super dismissive in this way, so what I've learned to do is just graciously accept what she sends but not give my kids everything at once. Sometimes, they don't receive some of her presents until after Valentine's Day — and I'm totally fine with that."
Osborne. 25. Married 1 Year.
In-Law Pet Peeve/Trigger: In-Laws Who Refuse to Leave Their Home
"I'm so glad you're going with middle names because when I tell you that no one represents what it means to wear out your welcome like my mother-in-law does? F — k. Because my wife lived at home until we got married and her mother is newly retired, she tries to see us, damn, it feels like every other month — and not for a long weekend either. This will actually be our second holiday [season] as a married couple and what I've requested of my wife is to let her mother know, ahead of time, that she is welcome to come for Christmas and stay through New Year's Eve but New Year's is our time."
"According to her, her mom is fine with it. I've kind've learned that when you set the boundaries on the front end, you don't get blindsided as much on the back. And what if she dismisses my request? Well, we'll have to talk about visits being shorter, moving forward. My wife agrees with this strategy. As long as you and your spouse are on the same page, everyone else will just have to…adjust."
Mercedes. 42. Married 8 Years.
In-Law Pet Peeve/Trigger: Super Horny In-Laws
"Laugh if you want to, but that scene in Boomerang with the horny parents? I feel his pain. I should've known that when my mother-in-law got me a rainbow set of crotchless panties at my bridal shower that she was gonna be a problem but the only thing worse than you thinking that your parents can hear you having sex with your boo is you hearing your man's parents doing it. And no matter how many hints or sighs that I drop, they just think it's funny. It's not like two people who've been together for over 50 years still wanting each other is a bad thing, so my husband and I just invested in a firmer mattress and got them a 'Do Not Disturb' sign. Oh, and confined them to the guest bedroom only because I'll be damned if I walk into the bathroom…like I did a few years ago!"
Shino. 47. Married 12 Years.
In-Law Pet Peeve/Trigger: Nosy Mother-in-Law
"I don't know if there is a nosier woman than my mother-in-law. She feels totally justified too. I think a part of it is because she controlled so much of her children's lives, even well past college, so she thinks that I am just another relative to run. One year, I actually left my phone out and open in the kitchen before turning in. I changed my wife's name in my contacts and we had phone sex for like an hour. The next morning, my mother-in-law was in the kitchen, telling my wife that I was cheating on her. You should've seen her face when we told her that it was us! She still butts her head in more than I would like her too but that definitely reeled her in."
Imala. 24. Married 2 Years.
In-Law Pet Peeve/Trigger: Super Religious In-Laws
"Watch those Bible-thumping folks who think that they can pick and choose a Scripture to manipulate you. My in-laws are ministers and whenever I do something that they don't like, they come with that 'Honor your father and mother' stuff. Umm, I have parents. Anyway, what I've learned to do is remind them of the Scripture that talks about wearing out your welcome. It's Proverbs 25:17, if you're curious. I also talk to them about how the Bible also says that love is not rude [I Corinthians 13:5], so to try and be super preachy or to make people uncomfortable in their own home, that doesn't sound very 'Christ-like' to me. My father-in-law? I think he respects that I know how to apply the Word. My mother-in-law can't stand it, but she complies because the Bible also says to submit to your husband, and he agrees with the importance of choosing their battles when they are in our home. Checkmate."
Christian. 28. Married 4 Years.
In-Law Pet Peeve/Trigger: Passive Aggressive Father-in-Law
"I don't think my father-in-law has ever known how to be direct. Everything comes in the form of a hint. 'I mean if you're going to get a ham instead of a turkey when that isn't traditional, go right ahead.' I'm more aggressive in my communication — you know, straight to the point. I don't feed into the nonsense. I used to try and pull stuff outta him, but I've learned that only enables the same behavior. These days, if he doesn't come direct, I act like he didn't say anything at all. I don't know how it affects him, he's passive-aggressive, remember? It definitely takes my stress levels down, though."
Krista. 32. Married 5 Years.
In-Law Pet Peeve/Trigger: In-Laws Who Wear Out Their Welcome
"I wish I could say something different, but my hubby's family is loud and combative — not either or…both. And they like to come to our house because it's out of town for them and a lot of them don't like to travel much. How I survive it is they get a firm in and out date, a lot like a hotel. During the time when they are with us, they get treated like royalty but that is only for three days firm. If they want to stay longer than that, we will pay for an Airbnb for two days and beyond that, it's totally on them. No one can act like a victim when the boundaries are stated upfront."
Elenio. 33. Married 3 Years.
In-Law Pet Peeve/Trigger: Turn-Up Father-in-Law
"My father-in-law is buck wild. I mean, BUCK WILD. You can't contain him, so why even try? The first and last night of his stay, he's usually with us. The rest of the time, he's in a hotel (he pays) and we cover the cost of a rental car. We also give him a list of things to do, clubs and bars included. The reason it's best is because we've got kids and he sometimes comes in drunk — a fun drunk but still drunk — or with company and we don't need all of that…traffic. You would think he would take it personally, but he actually loves the freedom to be able to spend time with us and hang out in another city on his own terms. The in-law thing is about meeting in the middle. Do that and you're all good.'"
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