As much as we love our partners, sometimes we struggle to have amicable relationships with our partner's family. Family can play an important role in any individual's life, even after they get married and begin to build a family of their own. Because of this, when relationships between family members and new partners or spouses are strained, it can take a toll on everyone involved and on your relationship. While it is not possible to control the thoughts or feelings of other people, there are some things you can do to cope when your spouse's family is less than fond of you.
Focus on Your Relationship
The most important relationship that you will have in your adult life is arguably the one you share with your spouse. As such, it is important that you do your best to focus on making this relationship as strong and healthy as possible. Not receiving support and approval from your partner's family can create an additional stress and burden on you, your partner and your relationship, so it is important to ensure that your relationship is thriving as much as possible in other areas. Try to work on your communication skills, as these are the building blocks of successful and happy relationships. Focus on resolving conflict in healthy and effective ways that are aimed at problem-solving rather than laying blame. Regularly assess the health of your relationship and check in with your partner to find out if his or her needs and desires are being met to the best of your capabilities. Likewise, do not be shy about sharing your own feelings, desires and needs with your partner. As much as you wish it were true, your partner is not a mind reader, so clear communication about feelings and desires can go a long way in helping to maintain a healthy relationship.
Seek Support for Your Relationship From Other Sources
Having the support and approval of your friends and family for your relationship is an important predictor of not only your relationship satisfaction and well-being but also of your own personal mental and physical health. Family can be one of the biggest sources of support for a relationship, but this also means that when that support is missing, it can create a large void that can cause feelings of resentment and sadness within your relationship. In order to compensate for the lack of support you are receiving for your relationship from your spouse's family, try to spend time with individuals who are supportive of your relationship. If your family is supportive, make sure to spend time with them. Some research has found that the opinions of friends play a more important role in predicting relationship outcomes. So spend time with supportive friends. Relationships that experience high levels of social support from friends and family are more likely to last and to report higher levels of relationship satisfaction, love and trust.
Build a Relationship with Your Spouse's Family
Although it is not possible to force your spouse's family to like you, you can make a concerted effort to improve the relationship you have with them. Make an effort to learn about each member of your spouse's family. Ask your spouse questions about what his or her family members enjoy. If you can find hobbies, interests or values that you share with them, this can give you a good starting ground for developing a meaningful relationship. Try not to shy away from invitations to spend time with your spouse's family, as spending time together is likely the best way for them to get to know you better and to hopefully change their opinion and come to like you more. Do not alter who you are when you are around them, as it will do no good in the long run to have them like a false version of you. Present your best and most likable traits. In the end, your spouse's family most likely just wants to see that their loved one is happy, so if they see the two of you happy together, it is likely that with time their opinions will begin to change.
Demonstrate Your Commitment to Your Partner
Research has found that family members, and especially parents, tend to be more supportive and approving of relationships that have lasted longer and that demonstrate higher levels of commitment. This is good news for you because it means the longer you stay with your partner and the more that you demonstrate how committed you are to your partner and your relationship, the more likely it is that your spouse's family will come to support your relationship. Demonstrating your commitment to your partner is something that will benefit not only your relationship, but it will also help your spouse's family to see that you are a loving and devoted partner whose main intention is to care for their loved one and help bring him or her happiness and security.
- Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images