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My Articles: Improving Relations: Avoiding Family Fueds

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Avoiding Family Fueds
When you meet the man of your dreams, everything seems perfect. You find your perfect house or apartment, you make your move and then you set about choosing the colour scheme. Things couldn't be better. But as with all good things in life, you never get the good without the bad and with your perfect boyfriend comes his 'perfect' family. Experience of your own family throughout your life will tell you that no family is flawless and you have to be prepared to walk into the middle of feuds, secrets, and traditions which have been in place for generations. And you have to know how to cope with one of the most frequent stresses and strains in a relationship.

Your Mother-in-law sits proudly at the head of your new family, commanding everyone's respect. Behave towards her the way you expect your own mother to be treated, but understand that you will not always be given the benefit of the doubt when you make a mistake. Only your mum will give you that. Her number one priority will always be her family and her son is a central part of that. She will always know best when it comes to her daughter and she might even use you to try and get that through to your partner. She has carried him, given birth to him, fed him, clothed him and loved him all her life. You, on the other hand, have only been on the scene for five minutes and she is naturally wary of your intentions. Despite the myriad of mother-in-law jokes floating around, chances are she is a reasonable and sane person who wants to be convinced that you are good for her son. Prove that you are and you will win her love and respect. Show her that you're not and you will unleash her wrath which will probably never subside, at least not fully.

Father-in-laws are a different kettle of fish altogether. Where the mother is a domineering figure, the father usually adopts the strong, silent approach. His silence is acceptance to a point, never seeming to have much to say but speaking volumes in the process. Men are, by nature, unemotional creatures, but there is always something that will trigger an outburst and that is usually a threat to his family's harmony. Don't assume that just because he rarely speaks up that he has to be convinced of your credibility any less. Upset his wife or son and he will automatically swing into attack mode, making his feelings clearer than crystal, not afraid to say things which your mother-in-law may find to upsetting to discuss.

Sisters-in-law are usually the fun part of the package. They'll be eager to divulge your partner's gory past and will more than likely be supportive of your relationship. She will want to be your friend (especially if she is younger than your partner) and will defend you more than any other family member. A sister-in-law is a fantastic asset to have on your side; she will put forward your case if you're not there and inform you of the gossip behind your back. Maybe it's the usual tight bond between siblings that allows sisters-in-law to accept you from the outset. But remember ? she is first and foremost your partner's sister, and that is where her loyalties lie.

Brothers-in-law. They're men. They're unemotional. They're not interested in what you're doing with his brother other than being content in the knowledge that you make him happy. Like a mini-version of the father-in-law, they will talk about nothing much but tear you apart if you step out of line.

The extended family today is nowhere near as close-knit as it was in days gone by. Just because your immediate in-laws and partner talk about aunts, uncles and cousins with derision does not mean that you have license to join in. They have had a lifetime of experiences with these people and they will always be regarded as family, regardless of their actions. You are an outsider and families never like strangers to agree that their family is far from perfect. Watch what you say and who you say it to until you are sure that they can be trusted. A misplaced word to a bitter cousin can be as devastating as a crude comment to your mother-in-law.

You can get on with your in-laws as well as you do with you own family (sometimes even better because you get to start with a clean slate). Courtesy and respect cost nothing and if you give then you should definitely be receiving. If you feel you are being unfairly treated by any one of your in-laws, discuss it with your partner, there might be a logical explanation and he might be able to help you overcome your differences or act as a go-between and rectify the problem. Don't just waltz in and expect to be accepted immediately, it takes time to show that you are good enough to be with their son/brother/grandson. The charms and good looks you used to win your boyfriend over will be redundant with your in-laws; you are just going to have to rely on your personality. Have you got what it takes?
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