Why is it important to Set healthy and clear boundaries with in-laws?
Are you newly married and have you and your partner learned about the importance of setting healthy boundaries in a marriage? Have you worked hard to identify what your boundaries are and are you determined to respect them so that your marriage is successful?
Good for you.
What many people don’t know is that it can be very important to, from the get go, set boundaries for your in-laws as well. Why? Because your in-laws will be a part of your lives for a long time and your relationship with them could have a huge effect on your marriage.
Let me tell you why boundaries with your in-laws can make your marriage stronger.
5 Ways Healthy Boundaries With Your In-laws Makes Your Marriage Stronger
#1 – Setting boundaries will create clarity.
While now that you are married you have created the beginning of a new family, for all of the previous years of your life you have been a member of your original family.
Things that formed this original family – holiday traditions, gender roles, financial considerations etc – were the foundation upon which that family existed.
Now that you are married, those things, those things that lay the foundation for your original family, might not exist in the new family.
I know when I was married, my husband’s family had always lived close to each other and, as a result, they spent a lot of time together, particularly around birthdays and holidays. My family had always been more spread out and our time together was somewhat limited and we lived more independently of each other.
I was hoping that our new family could live in a way that was more aligned with my original family. My ex wanted to spend holiday times with his family. And his family expected it too.
In retrospect, I believe that if we had set boundaries early on, boundaries with both of our families about how we were going to spend birthdays and holidays, instead of having to have conflict around them every time one arose, then we would have saved ourselves a lot of conflicts, conflict that was part of the erosion of our marriage.
So, setting boundaries early on with your in-laws allows everyone to know what to expect going forward so that conflicts and hurt feelings can be kept to a minimum.
#2 – The new relationship must take precedence.
One of the most important reasons that healthy boundaries in a marriage may apply to in-laws as well is because the marriage of two people creates a new family.
This new family is new and untested and needs its own time to develop into what it is going to be.
It is of the utmost importance that this new family take precedence, that the wants and needs of this new couple are taken into consideration above the wants and needs of the original family.
This is not to say that the original family should be shunned but that the wants and needs of the new family are discussed first. Once that discussion has been had, the new family can make a decision, together, about how they are going to proceed.
For my ex and I, we never truly made a decision about what was important for our family. Every time a family conflict arose we punted it to the next holiday. If we had only made a conscious decision, for ourselves and OUR family, then we both would have been happier and there would have been less conflict.
#3 – Everyone needs to know what expectations are.
Unmet expectations are the number one thing that can cause problems in any relationship. And, unfortunately, no one usually knows what those expectations are. This isn’t done maliciously – it just never comes up, not until someone gets hurt.
If you can set expectations early on with your in-laws you can prevent hurt feelings on both sides. In the example of my ex and I, perhaps if we had clearly stated at the beginning of our relationship what it was that we expected around the birthdays and holidays if we had engaged in a discussion with our in-laws about what we all wanted, then a whole bunch of conflict would have been avoided.