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Escaping Your In-Laws

Aug 17, 2007
Living next door to toxic in-laws can undermine your self-confidence, your close relationships and your marriage...

"If you've ever wondered whether you are the only one to have experienced problems with your in-laws, you will find that you are not," says Faith Powers, during a recent interview with Inside Success.

Faith's expertise in the subject came from 21 years of personal experience. "When you marry someone, you marry their whole family." says Faith, a fact that most newlyweds don't realize.

Here are strategies to maintain your self-confidence and avoid letting your in-laws take over your life:

Keep your sense of humor: You can use laughter to 'fit in' to a family who doesn't readily welcome outsiders. Laughter is a great way to keep up your own health as you deal with stressful situations. When you want to cry, try to see the humor in your dilemma. Look at it from an outsider's point of view. Dealing with toxic in-laws is emotionally draining, and laughter recharges your batteries. You can't beat a humorous moment for releasing the hormones that make you feel better.

Set boundaries: We all need privacy in our relationships. One of the major problems with meddling in-laws is that they barge in at all hours of your life, and expect to be treated as honored guests. Faith's experience has been that even when she bent over backwards to please her in-laws, they had nothing but complaints for her. Faith advocates setting limits with in-laws right after the wedding - if not before, as bad habits are hard to change.

Be observant: In the early stages of a marriage, it is easy to ignore the red flags of future problems. Pay close attention to how your date, fiance, or spouse interacts with family members, and vice versa. Advance warning about how intrusive the new in-laws want to be can make all the difference. For example, a mother-in-law's dependence on her son for emotional or financial support is warnings of trouble down the road. So is excessive criticism of her child's new spouse.

Defend your boundaries: We all push boundaries. Your in-laws are probably going to push yours and you need to be ready. Faith reached a point where she would anticipate visits from her in-laws, and refuse to allow them into her home when she felt too stressed to deal with them. Ask your spouse for help as a mediator. If you can't trust your spouse to stand up for you, then you have a much bigger problem than in-laws.

Make a plan: If you have decided to get out of an irresolvable abusive marriage, quietly make a plan and treat it like your business. Most victims of domestic violence live in survival mode, constantly fearful of what their spouse may do to them or their children. A plan and a goal can get you a lot farther a lot faster than just running.

Your plan should include the following three things.
First, find a sanctuary. It is so important to arrange for safe places to go in emergencies. Having a sanctuary is like insurance for you and your children. Second, keep in mind that while you're still married, you have access to legal documents that will be unavailable after you leave. Take the opportunity to make copies of deeds, assets, and income records. Third, get proof if you can. Don't forget to keep a journal of abusive incidents as well.

Moving on: The final advice is don't let the past rob you of your future. We all have regrets about past events; it's part of being human. The key is to accept what has happened and move on. Depression likes to strike when you are at your weakest and years of abuse can rob you of your objectivity when it comes to your self worth.
Set new goals and stay focused on the future for inspiration to keep going. Make friends with your future and tell your past to get lost. "You can do anything your set your mind to", says Faith. "Just look at me!"

Try these techniques out and you'll better be able to focus on the overall goal of getting along with your in-laws.
About the Author
Randy Gilber "Dr. Proactive" enjoyed working with domestic violence in-law survival expert Faith Powers during an Inside Success Radio interview.
Listen to her interview at http://www.insidesuccessradio.com/Guests/Faith-Powers
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