Why it’s so hard to get along with your in-laws

Differing expectations for how to manage things — such as holiday plans, child-rearing, visiting frequency, home presentation, and even work balance — can also contribute to a strained relationship. These unmet expectations, at either end, are a breeding ground for messy emotions, ranging from anger to frustration to sadness.

“Unmet expectations strain all relationships, but the stakes are high in in-law relationships because they are stakeholders in your marriage, and your children if you decide to have them, as well as your household and even issues like finances,” says Dr. Durvasula.

To help bridge the gap between differing expectations, make sure you and your partner are on the same page, especially on topics that are particularly contentious with your in-laws.

“A united front makes a huge difference,” says Dr. Durvasula. “You do not want to be figuring things out on the fly with your spouse while in the cross hairs of your in-laws. If you and your spouse are on the same page, then you can take the path of least resistance with in-laws and just smile politely and say ‘sure,’ but then do things the way that you and your spouse believe is appropriate for your relationship.”

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