Holidays With Your In-laws

October 29, 2010, 6:56 pm

Holidays With Your In-laws
by Jenna D. Barry

Some people look forward to spending the holidays with family, while others would rather be run over by a reindeer.  Some folks anticipate a time of love and joy– while others can’t wait for this season of guilt and manipulation to be over.

It’s true that some in-laws are stereotyped unfairly, but others really are difficult to be around.  Some mothers-in-law gossip about us, pry into our personal lives, and manipulate us with guilt. Some fathers-in-law criticize us, offer unwanted advice, and meddle with the way we raise our kids.

Spending time with our spouse’s family is part of the marriage commitment, so we might as well learn to make the best of it.  Here are five ways to improve visits with your in-laws:

1.  Get out of victim mode.  You are an adult on equal standing with your in-laws, so don’t behave as though you are a child on an inferior level to them.  Their needs and opinions do not outrank yours.  Be confident and assertive (but not antagonistic, hateful or vengeful).

2.  Unite as husband and wife to deal with difficult in-laws.  Make decisions based on your needs as a couple, and then communicate and draw (reasonable) boundaries with Hubby’s folks as needed.  If your partner struggles with making you a priority over his parents, then educate yourself on how to gain his loyalty.

3.  Learn how to minimize destructive gossip.  Avoid criticizing your husband’s parents in his presence because that will trigger his instinct to defend them. When necessary, vent your frustration to a counselor or support group instead of your family or friends.   Apologize to your in-laws for gossiping about them,  tell them you intend to stop doing so, and ask them to show you the same respect.  Ask your spouse to refuse to listen if his folks start to talk behind your back.

4.  Be prepared to handle difficult situations with your in-laws.  Memorize some key phrases to use when your in-laws ask intrusive questions, interfere with the way you raise your kids, offer unwanted advice, manipulate you with guilt, etc.
“That’s classified.  I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.”
“Let‘s talk about something else instead.”
“You’re entitled to your opinion, but I‘ve made my decision.”
“I know you’re just trying to help, but this isn’t your decision.”

5.  Learn to let your in-laws be upset.  When you start behaving as a confident adult, they may act offended, cry, throw a tantrum, gossip about you, accuse you of being disrespectful, etc.  They might test you to see how serious you are about setting boundaries (just like a toddler would), so it’s very important that you stand your ground (in a respectful manner) instead of arguing, apologizing, or giving excuses for your behavior.

When you start to behave in a new way, your in-laws will begin to treat you differently.    And who knows?  Someday you may actually look forward to the holiday season.

Jenna D. Barry is the author of “A Wife’s Guide to In-laws:  How to Gain Your Husband’s Loyalty Without Killing His Parents.”  To join her support group or find a counselor, please visit

If you liked this article, we’d be honored if you shared it. Thank you!

Bookmark and Share

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Buy the book!

You can have a GREAT marriage, even if your in-laws aren't so great!

Click here to buy the print version!

Click here to buy the e-book!

You may be quick to blame your in-laws for your marriage problems, but in reality the biggest part of the problem isn't your in-laws, it's your husband's loyalty to them.  When a man marries, he is supposed to transfer his loyalty from his parents to his wife. His behavior plays a key role in how well you get along with his parents.  The goal of this book is to help you gain your husband's loyalty.

If you are in need of hope and encouragement, this book is for you!  Jenna Barry offers hilarious, heartfelt advice about how to have a terrific marriage in spite of difficult in-laws.  As a wife who has personally experienced the despair that comes from having an unsupportive partner, she suggests specific things to say and do to gain your husband's loyalty.  This book won't teach you how to become best friends with your in-laws, but it will teach you how to think and behave in a new way so they no longer have any power over you.  A Wife's Guide to In-laws has over 40 cartoons, two fun chapters written just for your hubby, and worksheets to help the two of you reach loving compromises about common problem issues.

Click here to read Reviews & Endorsements!

Spread the word

Bookmark and Share


Tell a friend!

Tell a friend about this website!

Your Email:

Friend's Email:

Check it out:


About Jenna

As a wife of 22 years, Jenna D. Barry (a pen name) has learned how to gain her husband's loyalty through communication, persistence, and a whole lot of love.  She has familiarized herself with the needs and frustrations of other wives by participating in on-line in-law support groups and by talking to marriage therapists, friends, family, and co-workers.


Jenna is the author of the book, A Wife's Guide to In-laws:  How to Gain Your Husband's Loyalty Without Killing His Parents. She has been a radio guest on The Mike Bullard Show and her articles have been published in newspapers, websites, and magazines worldwide.  She writes monthly articles for Hitched Magazine and has been quoted in The Washington Times,, The London Free Press,, etc. She leads a support group for daughters-in-law right here.



October 2010
« Aug   Nov »





© A Wife’s Guide to (difficult) In-laws - All Rights Reserved
Nada theme by Adjani