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So you have met the person with whom you connect, and you have decided to travel through life with them. You’ve set your hopes and goals for the future, and everything looks bright. Except there is one problem: your in-laws don’t share your rosy view of the marriage and have set out to ruin your relationship.

Dealing with complicated family relationships can be a challenge that can easily tear your marriage apart and cause you to end up divorcing if you let it. The key is to set boundaries to protect your union and enforce them.

How In-Laws Can Ruin Your Marriage

According to BTL Family Law, the divorce rate was closer to 50 percent in the 1980s. Since then, the divorce rate has declined, but only by about five percent. Taking proper steps before and during the marriage can help change these stats.

There are many ways that in-laws can destroy your marriage, both intentionally and unintentionally. Understanding these tactics can help you head them off before they entirely erode the bond you have developed with your spouse.

Intentional Sabotage and Jealousy

Most people grow up to be healthy adults who form attachments with other adults while still enjoying their parents’ relationship. They acknowledge that these are two separate relationships, and there is room for everyone to receive love and attention.

In some cases, parents cannot allow their adult children to move into their relationships. They may intentionally sabotage them from receiving love from their new partners.

A toxic mother-in-law may treat the new wife with hostility, exclude her from family events, or bad-mouth her son. They may try to convince their sons that the daughter-in-law is not good enough for them. This is hurtful to the daughter-in-law, but it is also stressful for the son to deal with infighting.

They Force Partners to Choose Sides

In-laws sabotage a marriage by consistently forcing their children to choose them over their spouses. They may demand that a woman spends the holidays with them instead of with their spouse or create arguments and demand that their child take their side.

Adults who cannot defend their spouse against their parents often find that the relationship with their partner erodes as a result. In many cases, this leads to the couple’s eventual divorce with the help of a divorce lawyer. In many cases, this leads to the eventual divorce of the couple. That’s why it’s critical to put your spouse before your parents.

They Overstep Boundaries and Invade Privacy

There have been stories of in-laws who have read their son’s emails, listened in on phone calls, opened the couple’s mail, and gossiped about them to friends and family. Toxic in-laws may gather “intel” on their child’s spouse, attempting to find out anything they can to break up the couple. They visit unannounced and may even access the couple’s home when they are away.

In many cases, in-laws will encourage their child to talk to them about the couple’s problems, then offer “advice” that will break the couple apart. This is an unhealthy behavior, leading to the eventual breakup.

How to Keep Your In-Laws from Ruining Your Marriage

The best way to keep your in-laws from sabotaging your marriage is to keep them out of it, for the most part. They should not be involved in marital conflicts. Avoid living in the same household with them if they will cause problems. If possible, move to a different neighborhood, creating a psychological and physical boundary between you.

Align yourself with your spouse. Please do not allow your parents to bad-mouth your spouse, spread nasty rumors about them, or otherwise try to pit you against each other. The new family takes priority over the relationship with your parents, and you and your spouse need to have a united front when it comes to attacks from in-laws.

Finally, manage your parents. Please don’t allow them to sabotage your relationship. Establish boundaries early on and let them know that disrespecting your spouse or marriage is unacceptable.

Marriage is hard enough without complicated family relationships, sabotage from in-laws, and ongoing conflict. Take steps to keep your in-laws from destroying your marriage and enjoy a healthy and happy life with your spouse.

Alicia Trautwein is an Autism advocate, writer, motivational speaker, and dedicated mom of four. Alicia’s desire to advocate for Autism comes from her own autism diagnosis and that of her three children, niece, and brother. Her life’s mission is to educate on autism acceptance and change the world for future generations of autistic individuals.

2 Comments

  1. My name is Manny, i had a question, hopefully there is someone out there who can lend a little friendly advice. But my wife’s father has a history of being a drunk, he has a history of abuse and neglect to my wife. She has some trauma from her childhood with him. Now in the present day as adults, she continues to want to have a relationship with him and i support that. However last July 4th of 2021, My in law and I had a huge argument. He over steps his boundaries at our home and over stays him welcome, he’ll stay for weeks sometimes and just do nothing but sit, drink or smoke. He still has terrible habits and is very much a man who speaks his mind inappropriately even if that means hurting someone’s feelings in their own home. He has a certain manipulative power over my wife. She won’t do anything about it. The argument i was refering to earlier in this comment is in reference to his vulgar demeanor on that day. He argued with me on how i run my household. I had finally had enough and confronted him about his attitude and that if he didn’t like how i ran my home, he could leave. Instead he called me names in front of my wife, disrespected me and my wife before finally leaving. He even stood up to me with an aggressive physical threat toward me. From that one action, i was convinced he has ZERO respect for me or my wife. My wife is now pregnant with our first child and we haven’t seen him in 6 months. They have proceeded to make plans for the holidays without asking or notifying me at all. I have tried to talk to my wife many times over a long period of years. I want her to understand he needs boundaries. But she refuses to listen, she’s so worried about their relationship souring over protecting our new family in our own home. I don’t know what to do… it causes arguments and i keep getting the same results and now he will be coming over soon for the holidays and i don’t want him here. Not until he can apologize to my wife and I. But she is so scared to stand up to him. How can i set healthy boundaries with an in law when my spouse isn’t understanding or willing to try??

  2. This article has helped me a lot. I’m currently working on something similar and I found this very useful for my research. Thank you

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