How to Get Along With Your In-Laws

Relationships with in-laws can be challenging, cause discomfort, and wear down the bond between a couple. Here, we'll share some tips to help smooth the situation.
How to Get Along With Your In-Laws
Elena Sanz

Written and verified by the psychologist Elena Sanz.

Last update: 11 April, 2023

When a couple unites, their families also often begin a process of practical and symbolic convergence. In fact, not only do different members of the families share moments together but the influence of these relatives could mark the course of the relationship. Unfortunately, these links don’t always flow easily. On the contrary, they tend to be a source of conflict and discomfort. Therefore, we’re going to suggest some helpful guidelines for getting along with your in-laws.

The creation of a new conjugal nucleus represents a family adjustment that can generate a temporary stage of disorganization. Including a new son or daughter-in-law in the family is essential for the continuation of the lineage, but their arrival isn’t always greeted with maturity and respect. Similarly, being part of an already-established family structure isn’t easy. It requires flexibility and tolerance.

When any of the parties in this equation aren’t willing to compromise, negotiate, empathize, and assume the natural changes that come from the union, conflict occurs. Fortunately, there are some tips that can help smooth these relationships.

Getting along with the in-laws

Whether you’re in a new relationship or you’ve known and lived with your in-laws for a long time, you may not know the protocols or levels of trust necessary to interact with them successfully. In fact, you may have disagreements not only with your in-laws but also with other relatives of your partner.

There’s no magic formula here. After all, everyone is different and every family has its own dynamics and rules. However, the following guidelines should prove helpful.

1. Accept that it’s a time of transition

The fact that a child is in a long-term relationship, marries, or starts their own family is an important moment of transition for their nuclear family. Like any change, this transformation is challenging and takes time to be accepted.

Therefore, be patient with your in-laws and also with yourself. Don’t pretend that everything is simple and perfect from the start. Take it easy and allow yourself to get to know these people (and let them get to know you).

2. Define roles

Conflict might arise if your roles aren’t well defined and you assume roles that don’t correspond to you. From the beginning, both of you must know that, in order to create a life together, you must prioritize your roles.

This may mean spending less time with your family of origin or changing certain dynamics. In fact, this is crucial if you want to put up a united front against any possible complaints or claims from families who are rather political.

This doesn’t imply forgetting the important role that parents, siblings, and other relatives continue to play in your partner’s life. You must respect their place, their opinions, and the relationship they already have with your partner, without turning it into a competition.

Meeting between in-laws, daughter and son-in-law
Although there’s no universal formula, even less a magic one, to soften the relationship with the in-laws, empathizing, giving in, and negotiating can be helpful.

3. Talk to your partner

Living with your in-laws can be an issue that generates the utmost discomfort. It can also be a potential source of conflict. For this reason, it’s important that you and your partner talk about it together, negotiate, and agree. Figure out how important it is for you all to live happily together. Work out how many times you’re going to meet up and how flexible these times are. Agree to what extent you’re willing to share each other with your respective families.

Remember, there are no correct or incorrect answers here. The answers lie in what feels comfortable for both of you. However, you must both agree, so reproaches won’t arise later.

4. Offer cordiality and respect

Getting along with your in-laws doesn’t mean that you have to become great friends and confidantes. In reality, there may or may not be an affinity, so don’t put any undue pressure on yourself or them.

To coexist happily, all you need is cordiality and respect. You can show this with small gestures. For example, being kind in your interactions, avoiding controversial topics, collaborating at home, or offering help in what you can contribute when sharing your time.

Relations between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law and sons-in-law and fathers-in-law tend to have a really bad press. Therefore, it’s best to be prepared for the worst. Somehow, it’s taken for granted that there’ll be rivalries and disagreements and that living together will be a bitter process. However, just as with other people, you might find you share certain interests, hobbies, or views with your in-laws.

For this reason, you should try to cultivate your own bond with them. It could be as simple as being attentive to them, making a call on their birthday, or asking about their day. Indeed, self-disclosure and sharing help build emotional intimacy and bonds. You may even discover, along the way, that you actually have more of an affinity with them than you thought.

Mother-in-law and daughter-in-law in conflict sitting on the sofa
Relationships between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law are among the most ‘condemned’ by the press. However, it isn’t helpful to be influenced by this bad reputation.

6. Be assertive

Since these are particularly complicated relationships, you must be assertive. This communicative style will allow you to set healthy boundaries if you feel that your in-laws are offending you. It’ll also help you express your opinions and requests firmly and respectfully. It’s especially useful when resolving conflict. That said, it may be necessary to work on it beforehand.

To avoid arguments, you might often allow hurtful comments to pass you by. But, they ultimately only make you resentful and the situation will become more difficult. Alternatively, you might choose to complain to your partner. However, this places them in the difficult position of mediating between you and their parents.

If you know how to address the individual with whom you have a problem and express yourself appropriately, you’ll have a great advantage. In fact, if you can listen, empathize and, at the same time, make assertive requests, you’ll probably turn the bad relationship around.

7. Take care of your mental health

As you can see, getting along with your in-laws isn’t only related to how they behave with you and you with them. In reality, there must be good communication between you and your partner and you need to know how to manage a range of personal skills. If some of these elements are missing, you can enlist the help of a professional.

Finally, if after applying all the above guidelines, your relationship with your in-laws continues to be conflictive and exhausting and you can’t maintain cordiality and respect on both sides, the healthiest thing to do might be to maintain a prudent distance.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Carreño Meléndez, J., & Morales Carmona, F. (2016). La familia política como factor de conflictos en la pareja con esterilidad. Perinatología y Reproducción Humana30(2), 82-89.
  • Estremero, J., & Bianchi, X. G. (2004). Familia y ciclo vital familiar. Manual para la salud de la mujer19.
  • Legorreta, L. (s. f.). ¿Cómo llevarte bien con tu familia política?

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.