I can’t stand my partner’s family! Here is one of the complaints I hear most often, not only in the consulting room but also on the train or in conversations with colleagues and friends from different environments

The relationship with the in-laws is one of the most complex we can establish. This is probably why there are endless jokes about mothers-in-law.

Let’s see how can you deal with this big challenge. 


I can’t stand my partner’s family!


There are families in which relationships with in-laws, brothers-in-law, cousins, etc. is wonderful and enriching.

But at the other extreme, there are many others in which these relationships are a cause of conflict and can greatly deteriorate the couple relationship.

I can’t stand my partner’s family. Why is it?

Generally, what is normal for one person may be unbearable for another. And discussions to defend who is right do not usually result in a viable agreement for both.
After having said or heard repeatedly “I can’t stand my partner’s family” there are people who end up seeing their families separately: “If you want to see your parents, you go with the children and I’ll stay home”.

This solution that does not satisfy anyone and specially in the long term, is not your best option.

But let’s dig in the reasons that are at the root of this complicated relationships:


1. Your family is more important than me

You may have the feeling that for your partner, his family is more important than you.

Let me give you an example. You have already mentally organized what you will do this Saturday, your partner agrees and you are about to start enjoying your plans.

Suddenly a call from your in-laws ruins your plans in two seconds. It turns out that they need help moving a piece of furniture or they thought they would come to visit you this afternoon. Or maybe it’s been a long time since you haven’t met…

Maybe you don’t have a bad relationship with your in-laws, but you can’t stand it when your partner makes these decisions that affect you without even consulting you.

2. His/her family gets involved in everything

In other words, your partner’s family interferes in your affairs.

In the extreme, we may find that your partner’s family has the keys to your house and can come and go as they please. They can even get in and organize your refrigerator or your closet to your desperation.

But there are also more moderate versions such as your in-laws being able to give their opinion and even pressure for the decisions you make as a couple to change.

The worst thing in these cases is not so much that they want to give their opinion but that your partner doesn’t stop them. Or that they might be more influenced by their familiy than you would like.

All this obviously leads you to clearly state “I can’t stand my partner’s family.”

3. No one understands his family 

Your in-laws are weird, you don’t understand how they can be like this. You have a very clear idea of what a normal family is and your in-laws don’t fit this description even remotely.

Obviously they are completely different from your family. Because they are very noisy or because they don’t speak. Either because they argue about everything or because they agree like fools. Maybe because they are very messy and dirty. Or they are so scrupulous and orderly that you don’t know where to go when you are at home…

Whatever the reason, they seem like a bad influence on your partner and of course on your children. And you don’t feel like spending time with them at all because they get on your nerves.

The reasons for conflict can be very varied, but the three that I just mentioned tend to be the most frequent. In fact the clash occurs between your family model and the family model that your partner has.

Does it sound familiar to you?

The relationship with your mother-in-law, a classic

A few months ago, I prepared this video for people who wrote to me with questions on the subject. Turn on the subtitles and take a look at it because I think you will find it useful.

How can I change the relationship with my in-laws?


The first clue I will give you is not my creation but rather I heard it for the first time from the pediatrician Carlos González. He said it in a conference of his and it really is a very forceful phrase: “There is something that your in-laws did very well.”

What will it be?

Well, they gave life and they educated the person you have chosen to share your life and create your family with: your partner.

Even if you don’t like how they treat their children, your partner has gotten out of there and it’s not so bad, right?

Another clue that can help you is to think that your partner’s family is very important. Just like yours is for you.

Don’t ever say “I can’t stand my partner’s family” and use this sentence against your partner.

Having your partner against your family of origin is difficult, hard and very painful. Just because you don’t like them it doesn’t mean you have to attack them. Mainly because this attack will only make your partner defensive. It won’t help you change anything.

Talk about yourself, about how you feel, about your needs or about what you would like instead of speaking badly about your mother-in-law.

This way you will have a better chance of reaching an agreement. Don’t hold back and try to be as flexible as you would like your in-laws to be with you.


Photo credit: Roberto Condado / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

¿Te has cansado de las discusiones constantes con tu pareja?

¿De esas discusiones por tonterías que salen de la nada?

¿Quién querría vivir en un campo de minas si pudiera evitarlo?

Y es que por mucho que digan que los conflictos son normales, hay formas y formas.

Y una cosa es discutir de vez en cuando y otra cada dos por tres.

Pero no te preocupes, es algo mucho más frecuente de lo que te imaginas y tiene solución


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