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.

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  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

  3. MyMother In Law has joined forces with my husband’s ex wife.  She has excluded me from his family, has conspired against me with ex wife.  I have no relatives within 4,000 miles from me.They have both made multiple fraudulent phone calls to child protective services in hope that they can get my ex wife and my husband’s children with the ex wife “to be like it used to be”.  My children and myself have been under multiple attacks.  Now my husband created $30,000 plus debt and has got an inheritance from his late grandmother and my husband gave it to his mother, hiding this from me.  Now my husband is behind my back conspiring against us financially and I do not know why.  NOW, the ex wife is filing for child support and she doesn’t have custody of the kids.  My husband’s mother is also conspiring against him with the ex wife.  We are about to go into financial ruin due to my husband’s loyalty and ignorance to his mother and ex wife.  I am trembling with fear because I feel so alone and I need to shield my children from the devils.  I am venerable because of my loyalty and dedication to my marriage.  He turned his back on me.  His mother and ex manipulated this situation using his two kids from the prior marriage as tools.   I am praying for any advice I can get.  I don’t want to be thrown out on the street with our three children.  He cares nothing for the children with me, only for his previous children.  He is now ready to abandon our entire family entirely leaving us penniless with nowhere to go while he moves back in with his mother.   HELLLPPPPP!

  4. You need a lawyer and fast!! Don’t leave it until it’s too late. You might be loyal but he isn’t!! Start writing everything down . Keep a log of everything. Try to keep financial proof of everything he’s done. Take all the emotion out of this and think like a business person.

  5. Manny, so sorry to know that is what you are going through right now. No advice, other than I was there with my ex’s in law and that relative’s disrespect and abuse ended our relationship. It was too upsetting and when you see everyone else not going through this kind of awful disrespect and abuse, you kind of lose it. You know?

  6. Mavis Ayinbotimah Adongbono

    My husband doesn’t stay with me, he works at Tamale and stays there leaving me with his parents and mother in-law has polluted his siblings mind that I don’t respect and the all hate me as if that is not enough, she started cooking up stories to my husband that I don’t respect and always insults her, always causing problems between my husband and I and ever this happens he will tell me we should end the marriage because I don’t respect so it keeps happening time without numbers and have always try to let him understand that what ever his parents are saying is not true but he will never believe me, then I told him to let me join him at the tamale but he refused and now this has caused a lot in our marriage so now we are almost at the last stage of ending the marriage and we have a son. So what do I do

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