6 signs your in-laws are meddling in your relationship, even if you get along

6 signs your in-laws are meddling in your relationship, even if you get along
a couple with a mother-in-law in the middle
Oliver Rossi/Getty Images
  • Even if you get along with your in-laws or partner's parents, they can impact your partnership.

  • A therapist shared some signs that an in-law might have too much say in your relationship.

  • In-laws who openly gossip and make non-emergencies feel urgent can influence your marriage.

Whether you're thinking of marrying your partner or are in a long-term relationship, there's more to consider besides the relationship between you two: your relationship with their parents.

April Eldemire, a licensed marriage and family therapist practicing in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, told Business Insider that she's seen many couples start off loving their in-laws or partner's parents.

But then, over time, "things happen along the way and they start to have some differences or some disagreements or some struggles," she said. "You can really form a wonderful relationship, but then there can be some things they may do that seep into the relationship or cross a boundary that you weren't expecting."

Eldemire shared some of the subtle signs an in-law (or future in-law) is meddling in your relationship — even if you generally get along.

1. Your partner agrees with them before consulting with you

Eldemire said that a key marker to watch out for is how your partner makes decisions that involve you.

In a healthy relationship, "the partner goes to you first and has a conversation around the in-law's need or request," she said. For example, if their dad asks you to spend extra days with them on vacation, your partner will first go to you to ask if that's OK before giving an answer.

"You're forming your own family now and you become the priority," Eldemire said. It's not that your partner's parents aren't important, but they should understand that you make decisions as a team now "out of respect for this new relationship that you're trying to build."

2. Your partner drops everything for them in non-emergencies

Another big thing to look for is how your partner responds to their in-laws' calls and texts. If you're in the middle of spending the holidays with your parents and your mother-in-law calls because she feels lonely that day, your partner might drop everything to talk to her.

"There's sort of this guilt-ridden relationship between them," Eldemire said. If your in-law is a reactive parent who can't control their emotions, it can make it hard for your partner to set boundaries with them. Non-emergencies, like their parent feeling sad or anxious, can feel very urgent.

3. They make big milestones extra stressful

Big milestones like marriage, pregnancy, or buying a home together can be stressful on their own. But Eldemire said that overly critical parents can add to the chaos.

"They can really put a damper on these beautiful moments because they might be selfishly wanting having their own expectations around how this might go," she said.

They can have high demands for how the wedding should go, because they're paying for most of it, or have strong opinions about your birth plan — all of which can be made worse if your partner concedes to their wishes.

4. Your partner feels like their spouse, not their child

In some cases, your partner can be a parentified child, used to tending to the physical or emotional needs of their parent or parents. These in-laws "treat your partner like their spouse and not their child, asking them to do things that a partner or a spouse should do, rather than what a child should do," Eldemire said.

For instance, a parent may call your partner every time they want to vent about the other parent or a family member — something they should tell a friend, not their child.

As you start to take priority for your partner, an in-law can become jealous, Eldemire said. It can lead to them being charming to your face, but planting passive-aggressive comments and seeds of doubt in the relationship.

5. They gossip about other family members

As you get to know your in-laws more, one or both might be comfortable sharing all the details of their family dynamics with you, Eldemire said. You might hear negative things about their daughter-in-law or gossip about an incoming divorce.

While the intent may be to include you in the family, badmouthing other family members "does break down trust," Eldemire said. "You internally store a message in your mind that says 'let me not say too much.'"

Fear of what your in-laws may say behind your back can make you hold back on discussing conflicts with your spouse — especially if the conflict involves their parents.

6. You don't feel fully secure around them

While plenty of in-laws can be cordial and welcoming, Eldemire said that time is really the test of true closeness.

In a healthy dynamic, "the further along you are in the family, it feels more natural, it feels more inclusive," Eldemire said. You can start to open up with them more and feel like they truly have both your and your partner's best interests at heart.

Eldemire said that "how warm and genuine a family is and how much they embrace you as your own person and self" are important factors in feeling safe and secure around them. But if you feel like you can't freely make some choices without incurring their wrath or disrespect, it's a sign that they have too much sway in your partnership.

Read the original article on Business Insider