Five Things Never To Discuss With Inlaws

Your spouse's family may be nearly as close to you as your own. Don't jeopardize the relationship by discussing these five things.

Having "in-laws" means just that; you are related to a spouse's family by law, if nothing more. For some folks, that's all their relationship amounts to. But other couples enjoy each other's family.

Whatever your relationship with the in-laws, you can help to protect it and avoid potential conflict by steering conversation away from these five delicate topics:

1. Money and finances. As a general rule, avoid discussing your finances, savings, checking, budget, debt, or other money issues with your spouse's family. If there are problems, they are likely to blame you rather than their child. After all, blood is thicker than water. Plus, discussing finances with older people may appear to be a plea for help. At the very least they may be tempted to offer unwanted advice. Even if you do appreciate their counsel, if something goes wrong, bad feelings will follow. Family and finances don't mix.

2. Your spouse's flaws. Even if the spouse's family agree with you, they are apt to side with their family member. And they will not forget your criticism even when the relationship improves. While you need not cover up all problems or wrongdoing, it is better not to say too many negative things about their beloved or they may bounce back on you.

3. Child rearing practices. It is possible that the in-laws may disagree with some of your child rearing practices, including nutrition, discipline, and allowance, to name a few. While you may wish to seek their advice or respect their suggestions, you are under no obligation to follow their advice blindly. If you do not subscribe to some of their responses to your children, such as spoiling them or expecting too much in the way of grades or chores, simply avoid the topic. If they raise it, listen patiently and say, "Thanks for the advice. I'll give it some thought." However, when your kids visit their home, you can ask that certain practices be changed or eliminated:

"When Billy comes over this weekend, would you mind not swearing in front of him? We're trying to teach him to mind his tongue at school, and really appreciate your help."

4. Intimacy. Never discuss your private time with the in-laws unless you have cultivated a highly confidential relationship. In many ways, it's a bad idea. For one thing, it may be difficult for them to imagine their loved one in an intimate embrace. For another, that is part of the marriage that should not be shared with others. Your spouse may be embarrassed if his or her parents are hearing things about the romantic side of your relationship.

5. Strong personal opinions. Two topics that can easily rile people up are religion and politics. You should probably avoid discussing these with your spouse's family if you want to remain on good terms with them. Obviously there can be exceptions if you share similar views on these topics. But if not, don't try to force your views on the spouse's family or hold a grudge if they see things differently than you do. After all, the relationship is more important than an opinion.

When you married your spouse, you married the in-laws, for better and for worse. Just as you work on the marriage, put a little effort into building a positive relationship with your in-laws. Your spouse will appreciate it and everyone will live happily ever after.

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