Visits With In-laws

May 1, 2011, 1:32 pm

This article is exclusive to Hitched Magazine:

Letter from Reader:  The last couple times we have visited my husband’s parents in Europe, they were very hard on me. I was visiting them with our babies in tow, that were in diapers and not sleeping at night. Needless to say I was very tired. My husband’s parents not only not help me with the children, but complain behind my back that I do not help them (with dishes, food preparation) while I am there. They told my husband that I have very bad manners and am inconsiderate. For this reason I do not feel welcome in their home. I would like to ask my husband that for this next visit, we either go out to eat, or I would be willing to cook for everyone at the apartment we always rent while we are there. I think however, that my husband would prefer to just keep going over to their home, in no small part because he does not want to risk upsetting them. We only visit once a year at best. Is my request unreasonable or is it fair for me to ask this of my husband?

Visits With Difficult In-laws
By Jenna D. Barry

Visits with in-laws can be stressful when husband and wife don’t make each other’s needs a top priority. It can be difficult to put on a cheerful attitude when our spouse’s parents criticize our actions and gossip about us. Here are some ways to behave assertively in order to have better visits in the future.

1. Make an effort to see things from your husband’s perspective so that you can work together as a team instead of taking opposite sides. For example you could say something like, “I know it isn’t easy for you to be assertive with your parents” instead of, “You are such a coward when it comes to standing up to Mommy and Daddy!”
2. Communicate with your partner before visiting his family. If you anticipate certain problem scenarios, discuss your feelings without criticizing your husband or his parents. Let him know that his behavior will have an affect on how well you get along with his parents. For example you could say, “I feel unwelcome in your parents’ home. I’m willing to do my part to make future visits more enjoyable for everyone, but that will only happen if you and I work together as a couple.”
3. Work toward a win-win solution based on his needs and yours. For example, if your in-laws expect you to help in the kitchen, (a) suggest going out to eat instead, (b) host dinner for everyone at your place, (c) have your husband help in his parents’ kitchen while you watch the kids, or (d) help your in-laws while Hubby watches the children.
4. Do what is in your power to put an end to gossip. It may seem that the biggest problem is that your in-laws think negatively of you, but that’s not the case because their opinion is not fact. You aren’t a terrible daughter-in-law just because they think you are. They could think the sky is yellow and grass is purple, but that doesn’t mean it’s true. The main problem is that your husband is listening to his parents say negative things about you. Confront him calmly and say, “I feel betrayed when you listen to your folks say negative things about me. The next time they start to gossip about me, I need for you to tell them you aren’t willing to listen to them criticize your wife anymore. Tell them to speak directly to me in the future instead of putting you in the middle.”

You can’t control the way people treat you, but you can control the way you react. When you start behaving in a new way, you will transform from a helpless victim into a confident adult.

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.” Find more at

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

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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.

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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.



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