Advice for Couples: Dealing with Boundary Crossing In-Laws

Now that the holiday season is almost here, let’s talk In-laws…

I can’t tell you how many clients come to me with problems related to their parents or parents-in-law.

For instance, one woman felt pressure to go into debt and buy very expensive gifts for her husband’s parents because the parents spent so much money on her children. I told her to stick to her budget and not change her behavior based on someone else’s. I also asked her to have her husband tell his parent’s they didn’t want their children spoiled with such expensive gifts.

Yesterday, I was watching Dr. Phil and there was a woman that had to be the most intrusive and mean person I’ve ever seen on television. I kept thinking it had to be an act. She hated her daughter’s choice of a husband and made sure she told everyone…every 30 seconds.

Dr. Phil threatened to take her off-stage so he could talk to her daughter. He added this great advice:

When there’s trouble in a marriage, it’s your job to handle your people.

In other words, the wife needs to deal with the trouble-makers in her family and set firm boundaries with them, and the husband should to do the same with his family.

Then he told the young woman,

Your people are out of control!

Gretchen Rubin at The Happiness Project just happened to post on this same subject today. Here’s another article I wrote about managing holiday stress.

What advice would you give newlyweds for dealing with boundary-crossing inlaws? What advice would you offer for dealing with holiday stress?