Relationship with My in Laws

Updated on October 31, 2018
K.W. asks from Altadena, CA
16 answers

Hi, I need some advice about my relationship with my in-laws. So my in laws ( i am included my husband’s parents,sisters and brothers) are good people.I have nothing against them. I really don't. I’m not close with any of them & I’m okay with that. Honestly, I rather not go over there because they all always filled with drama. I feel like the less I’m around that type of energy them the better for me. I don’t loose any sleep over it. When I do see them The convo is super awkward due not having anything to say to each other. My mom says that I need to put effort in to trying to build a relationship with them. But when I think about, they have never even tried that with me. They can go weeks without seeing my kids and not even call or text to see how they are. Am I wrong for not wanting to have a better relationship with them?

* We have 3 kids together.. my husband completely understands the whole filled drama
( they seem to let other people’s drama affect them for whatever reason and they get to involved emotionally) he is the black sheep of the family.

I see it this way. I rather not go, opposed to me just sitting there and on my phone the entire time trying to find something interesting to do to pass time.

What can I do next?

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answers from Norfolk on

I would say that while you don't have to be best buddies with them, cultivating a slightly warmer relationship might be a good idea.
If you really don't have much in common - try trading recipes with them.
Talking about food and cooking can bring people together.
If it fizzles and never takes off - at least you can say you tried.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

We don't live near any family...we see family about 2x a year. No one texts or calls to see how the kids are. I mean, we talk on birthdays and my husband does call his mom about every other week. We are busy. They are busy. I honestly don't think about them not calling or worry about being slighted. I am thinking you are little overly sensitive about that. (which I get! I'm overly sensitive about some things in life). I've been with my husband for 26 years now. I remember feeling like my in-laws were SO different from my family and thinking I had absolutely nothing in common with many of them. I also remember thinking critical thoughts bc they did things differently. I can honestly say that by putting in effort to get to know them over the years, to ask them about themselves and their problems each time I see them, and to find common ground and to show empathy that I feel pretty close to all of my husband's family now. I think you should take the "long view" and just make an effort each time you do see them. It doesn't take too much effort. Don't really expect more from them. This is how they are and it will cause you less distress if you just accept it. If they are terrible people then I would not say that, but it just sounds like they are different than you are, they don't put in much effort and don't stay in contact as much as you would like.

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Boston on

Oh boy. Put your phone in your purse and learn the art of chit-chat. This is family who, if things go right, you'll have in your life for as long as you live. I agree with your mom that you have to put in some effort here and spend time with them when the opportunity arises. Don't be that spouse who is never's awkward and is noticed.

My in-laws (technically my ex husband's family at this point) are wonderful people who rarely text or call unless it's for a logistical reason like making arrangements to see each other. They live out of state most of the year and even when they're here, can be so busy that we don't see much of them. My parents and siblings live locally and we see each other generally every 6-8 weeks or so, for birthdays or holidays. We're all busy and have lives - it doesn't signal disinterest.

They might not be your cup of tea, but put in the effort to spend time with them and find something to talk about. When I'm at someone's house and things are a little awkward, my fall back is to ask - sincerely - what I can help with. Maybe you can do something in the kitchen (clear the table, dry dishes) or take the kids outside to play. Find some way to connect - they're your family, and you'll never know what your relationship can be if you tune them out and don't try.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Not everyone has a close relationship with their own family, let alone their in laws.
Your husband really should be taking the lead on this. Does HE want to spend time with them? Do THEY want to see him and the kids, and you?
If he's okay not spending a lot of time with them then you really don't have a problem. Just live and enjoy your life.
On the rare visits with them just be polite and make small talk. No need to get sucked into their drama.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I've never had a comfortable relationship with my in-laws. That's because my husband does not.

My in-laws don't respect my husband or his boundaries. People who are into drama/negativity (my in-laws bond over venting) don't tend to respect boundaries. So it's hard to feel comfortable around them.

Mine ask very pointed questions and gossip. You don't feel like sharing because they generally trash people who aren't present. Hard to form relationships.

You don't say what your husband's relationship is like with them. That would be helpful.


If this helps (not much to go on here), just be yourself. If you're just positive, pleasant and respectful - then let whatever relationships form naturally. Maybe you've tried in the past and none did. If so, then just visit now and then so that it's not awkward. Awkwardness tends to add to drama. Keep visits short and sweet.

We have a signal for when we visit with my husband's family. If it gets too negative, e.g. they start to criticize my husband, I get up to leave the room - to use the washroom for example, and catch my husband's eye. That's his cue to cut the visit short. He will have already tried to change the subject by this point, or have asked them to stop politely - without getting into it.

It's how we've avoided the negativity. You might want to come up with your own plan to avoid it when visiting.

It is easier to do this when visiting at their place we have found. It's harder to get them to leave.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

My first question is this: what does your husband have to say? If he is happy with the status quo, then I see no reason to change it.

I think that if you are polite, friendly, and don't get sucked into their drama, things are just fine. If you want conversation to be less awkward with them, think of a few neutral topics in advance (asking about nieces/nephews' activities, etc) so that you have something to say to them when you get there.

Another idea is to think of things to do together. For example, instead of going to their house, invite them to one of your kids' performances/games/etc. Then there is less pressure to make conversation because everyone is watching the performance, but you are still involving them in your kids' lives.

ETA: I fully agree with J.B. and love her phrase 'the art of chit-chat'. When you are there, put down your phone and practice.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Wausau on

Sometimes close relationships are not meant to be.Getting along passably well with respect and politeness is just fine.

The thing that stands out in your post is "My mom says...." so I wonder why you're having the conversation with your mom. On the surface it sounds like the problem is your mom's involvement in something that is not her business. However, your mom wouldn't know about this stuff if you were not talking about it to her. Talking about it suggests that you're more bothered than you're willing to admit.

You need to figure our what you really want and how you really feel before you can make any decisions about what to do going forward.

Added: Sitting on your phone at a gathering is generally going to be seen as rude, particularly when done by adults. Try keeping your phone off for the duration of a visit. Even if you don't interact much, pay attention to the people around you. You will never have a close relationship with people that you basically ignore.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Yes, you should keep trying. These people are your family, your children’s family, and it will be worth the effort if you can try. Take charge of the conversation, ask them about your husband when he was a child, their own lives as children, as young people, learn about them, show interest. Tell them about your kids, what they are doing, who their friends are. As someone else mentioned, food is always a safe topic, maybe movies or television shows, whatever they like to do, whatever you like to do. Don’t sit on your phone and act bored. Don’t expect them to text or call and don’t take it personally if they don’t. Not everyone has the same toolbox of things they do, but unless they are mean to you, you should keep trying.

I'm not clear on what "drama" is here, or what being the "black sheep" looks like. If they say something that you find upsetting, it would be nice if your husband could step in and say, “mom, that sounds upsetting, I’m sorry that happened”, and then change the subject. If he can’t do it, you can. You can acknowledge their feelings without getting into it with them. If they carry on, then it’s time to make an excuse and cut the visit short, “it’s been so nice to see you all, sorry we can’t stay longer,” and leave. The only thing that would justify not having a relationship with them would be if they are actually mean to you, your husband, or your children. Then your husband should be clear that is not acceptable and you will leave if it happens, and then leave. If that doesn't change that behavior, then you should minimize contact.

You are teaching your children how to treat people, and someday, you will be glad you did.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I see my sister's and brothers in law for holidays. Occasionally we will bump into each other at a store or something. One of them lives about 2 country miles from our house and they drive past the house regularly and never stop to see how we are doing. I never get calls or texts. and I do not worry about it. Growing up I saw my cousins on my mom's side once a year if at all. so I don't see an issue with your relationship with them. Just talk food weather and such when your around them. And try not to think much of them when they are not around

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

You write that they are "good people" but are "always filled with drama" and the conversations you have with them are "super awkward".

That's a bunch of very vague terminology!

If they are "good people" who are also your relatives and your children's grandparents, it is worth making an effort to spend quality time with them.

For conversations, people often enjoy talking about themselves. Can you make an effort to fix the "awkward" conversations by having conversations about the stuff that makes them "good people"? Do they have interesting careers, do volunteer work, bake a great pie recipe? And then you can talk about yourself too, without it being awkward, when you find some common ground.

You do not provide details about what you mean by "always filled with drama". You mean that they are "good people" who: argue with each other? have legal problems? have crazy romantic relationships? If you can define exactly what the "drama" is, there are probably ways to avoid it when you spend time with them.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

ETA - HOW FREAKING RUDE OF YOU!!! Go there and stay on your phone??!?! HOW FREAKING RUDE!! that's the example you are setting for your kids. And we wonder why our kids don't know how to COMMUNICATE face-to-face with people! They have RUDE parents TEACHING them how to behave!! SHAME ON YOU!!


Welcome to mamapedia.
How long have you been married?
Are "your" kids with your husband or step?
What does your husband say about all of this?
Why do you feel they haven't tried with you? Maybe they have but you are so cold to them that you can't see their attempts?

What bothers me is you say "MY KIDS" like your husband had nothing to do with it. If he's their step-dad - why do they need to call and check in on kids that aren't even blood related to them?

You're setting the example for your kids. Is this the example you want to set for them in relationships?? If your answer is "i'm okay with the example I'm setting" then you go with it. If it makes you stop and pause? Maybe you need to tone down your attitude towards them and soften YOUR HEART a tad. You actually sound like an "ice princess" to me - all about YOU and YOUR kids and you look down at them. Remember - this is the man you chose - you knew them before you said "I do", correct? And you STILL married him knowing this was going to be part of your life.

You really need to be POLITE. You need to set the standard for behaving and teach your kids to be NICE and POLITE and you say NOTHING untoward about them. Don't crinkle your nose and roll your eyes. You expect them to call and check in? Well maybe they expect you to put in 50% as well.

Try it. You might see the drama decrease when you put something in.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Your post doesn't contain many details, so it's hard to know what you mean by drama and so forth. I think there should be some safe topics - like what your husband was like as a kid or who has the funniest story or best birthday/holiday memory. If they don't talk to you in person, I don't see why they should text/call you about the kids. I do think you can keep your distance if you want to (and if they are angry or dramatic all the time, you probably should). You don't say whether they do objectionable stuff in front of the kids (in which case, you should take the kids home or into another room). You don't say what your husband does about this - what he says at the time, whether he speaks up, or whether he is in touch re the kids. He should take the lead with his family, and you should with yours. But if they're truly this awful, maybe it's better that your kids aren't too involved with them, lest they grow up thinking these are the values you and your husband embrace.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

My in-laws (or my husband's siblings) would NEVER call or text to see how the kids are. That just isn't them. My husband's family gets together on holidays and that is pretty much it. They each drive to see the parents separately when they can (my husband gets up there about once every month or so), but never use it as an excuse to get together. Sometimes my husband brings a kid or two with for the visit, but it depends. They just aren't involved grandparents that way.

Why are you trying to change what works for them? Because it doesn't work for you? Who says that your way is the "right" way?

Be nice, be polite, be friendly, be helpful (geez, sounds like a boy scout!). You can even be yourself. But don't expect them to change for you.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Aguadilla on

I have a similar situation with my husband's family which mainly consists of his mother and sister, both very problematic people filled with drama because of poor decisions and they like to involve my husband in it as well. I cut them out of my life and our daughter's 11 years ago and I have no regrets. My husband still communicates with them which is fine by me and I am usually the one that reminds him of calling them once in a while or going to visit his mother. He is not like them and cherishes the peace in his own home so his visits to them are few and far apart. My advice is this: Keep any uneeded drama out of your home. However, if they are not the toxic kind or expect other to resolve their issues, then do include them in family activities which I am sure is not much during the year to endure. However, do teach your children to keep the peace but to also know when to draw the line when it comes to dealing with others drama.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

If you're on your phone, of course they won't include you. Would you talk with anyone who's obviously not interested in you?

I know a person who brings and reads a book. Only people who talk with her are friends. I suggest she does this and perhaps you also because she's not comfortable talking with people she doesn't already know well. By reading she is more comfortable. I'm glad she still comes. I talk with her. She doesn't complain that she's left out.

I suggest that participating with family is important especially for children. I suggest that even tho you think you have nothing in common with you, you do have your husband who is a part of this family.

I urge you to turn off your phone and be the one who talks with them. I suggest that once you accept them as family you will be able to do chit chat just like you'd do in any other group.

Perhaps you aren't in a group that does chit chat. If that's the case, pick a group and practice on them. You can chit chat at the grocery store with those in line. With employees at any store.

My daughter hesitantly joined a Toast Masters group. She made casual friends and gained confidence.

I used to get impatient with people who seemed to be all about themselves,, especially when drama was involved. I learned to listen without getting involved. I nod my head, say things like that must be upsetting. Just half way listen without trying to join the conversation.



answers from San Diego on

Some people are just pills, energy suckers, and not worth your time or energy. You will never win favor or fit in, so don’t even try.

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