Q: My husband and I are newly married, and my in-laws are always making unannounced visits. We’ve subtly suggested that they call first, but so far nothing has changed. What should we do?
A: In-law relations can be especially sensitive and difficult to manage. Because this involves your husband’s parents, it’s best if he addresses this problem with his mum and dad. That’s assuming that the two of you are on the same page. If this isn’t the case, then you’ll need to resolve this issue before tackling the in-law problem.
For a marriage to thrive, a couple needs to view and recognise themselves as a family unit that is separate and distinct from their families of origin. It’s critical that they grant their new family unit precedence over the old and give priority to building and strengthening their relationship. Once you and your husband have agreed on this, you can then explain your position to your in-laws.
Hopefully, this can be accomplished by means of a good-natured, non-defensive family discussion. We’d suggest your husband begin by telling his parents how much you both love them, and that you desire their involvement in your lives. Then he should explain that, as newlyweds, you’re trying to establish a new life together, and that this requires a certain amount of privacy. Assure them that they are welcome to come by, but that you’d prefer to know ahead of time.
If they react defensively or in anger, or continue to drop by unannounced, there are probably some boundary issues below the surface that you may need to guard against. If that’s the case, feel free to call our Family Support Services at 03-7954 7920 or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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