My father once told me that marriage links two families together for life, connecting their histories, values, family tree etc. In one word, marriage creates proximity which leads to influence. This influence could be positive, negative or a combination of both. This is why the classic advice for marriage is often “what God has put together, let no person put asunder”. However, the question is, what can a young couple do in order to manage the new relationships in their lives? Are there proven tips for managing the new members of the family?
As a young couple, you may think or say that things will sort themselves out. This is true, but it may not be in your favour. According to Pam Lidford, one of the leading Personal coaches in the UK, she asserts that when it comes to relationships, “you must begin the way you want to progress”. In other words, just like a competent builder will tell us, the foundation of a building determines how high, strong or long a building will stand, so great effort must be invested at this phase.
Considering the fact that all relationships are mutually defined, what do you do to define the appropriate boundaries without erecting the ‘great wall of China’? For the purpose of being effective, I would like to use the relationship between mother-in-law and daughter in law as a scenario to drive home my point.
A Little PR Won’t Hurt
Speak well of your wife. Do not discuss her weaknesses with your mother. Some men complain of their wives’ cooking, homemaking, dress sense etc when talking with their mums. Without sounding offensive, let her know This is immature and a flame lighter. Speak well of your mum too.
Be Proactive with Boundaries
Define clear boundaries. Let your mum and wife know the boundaries. For your mum, the boundary may be that she cannot come into your bedroom, criticize your wife publicly etc. Also, ensure your wife understands that whatever she sows is what she will reap; she will be a mother-in-law someday.
Let Sleeping Dogs Lie
Do your best to avoid conflict. If you know that your mum and your wife are likely to have regular conflict due to their personality, love for you and so on. Do your best to avoid bringing her to live with you unless it is ABSOLUTELY necessary. Let sleeping dogs lie.
Add the ‘WOW’ Factor
Surprise your mum by sharing her likes and dislikes with your wife so that she can relate better with her. Also, occasionally buy gifts that will thrill your mum, and let your wife present it to her.
Public Reprimanding is a Big No-No
Do not correct your wife in full view of your mum. Every discussion and disagreement MUST be done behind closed doors in a hushed voice. Do not give room for your mum to play the role of a referee between you and your wife.
Bring Out the Diva
Treat your wife with utmost respect. Remember that you set the precedence on how your wife would be treated. Treat her with respect both in private and in public. People often respect wives whom their husbands respect and value. Openly celebrate her contributions in your life and children’s.
Speak with a Unified Voice
Many voices is called noise while a unified one is called a message. Ensure that your stand on family issues are the same. More so, when giving a gift, clarify that it is from your wife and yourself; always show your wife’s willingness to support your family.
Keep your mouth shut. Unless it is ABSOLUTELY relevant, avoid discussing the gifts and investment you are making in your wife’s family. Doing this may spark unnecessary tension and jealousy.
A relationship is a living organism. How you nurture it determines how it will grow …enjoy your relationships
Victor Akunna is a UK based Relationship Coach, and a member of The Coaching Academy, UK. He is focused on helping individuals, couples and companies build sustainable and valuable relationships with key stakeholders. He and his lovely wife, Chidi, run The Foundation For Family Affairs. Follow him on Facebook; Twitter BBM PIN 73E8821E