Best Practices For A Marriage: 5 Tips For Dealing With The In-Laws

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Some people like their in-laws. Some of us win the lottery, and get on with our significant other's family just as well (if not better) than we get along with our own. For everyone else, though, getting along with the in-laws can be tough. In some cases it can be downright Herculean. If you're not one of the blessed few who have common ground with your in-laws, then you should keep this list of tips in mind. Especially around the holidays.

By the way, if you need some support on your marriage, I offer a free call to help you clarify things- schedule it here!

5 Tips For Dealing With The In-Laws

Tip #1: Set Boundaries

This can be awkward, but sometimes the best thing to do is to sit down with your in-laws, and talk about your boundaries for you, your significant other, and any children you have. Be reasonable, and keep things light, but make sure you communicate clearly what you expect, and what you need from your in-laws. This might lead to some head-butting, especially if you have grandparents who want to spoil your little ones, but it's also the best way to get results. Remember, you're all adults here, and you should be able to solve things just by talking them out among yourselves.

Ideally, anyway.

Tip #2: Take Time For Yourself

If you get along well with your in-laws, then being with them might feel refreshing. Just like spending time with good friends. However, if you have to stay on your guard all the time, that can quickly sap your strength. Remember to take a break, and to catch your breath. When you feel your reserves getting low, it might be time to take a nap, go run some errands, or get lunch with some friends. Whatever you do, make sure it will relax you. The key to making sure you can deal with your in-laws is to never let the pressure get higher than you can take. That's how fights start.

Tip #3: Prepare

An ounce of preparation is worth a pound of cure, or so the old saying goes. When it comes to dealing with your in-laws, this is astonishingly true.

You know them. You know what causes arguments, and you know what smooths things over. So, before you spend any time with them, do some preparation. Maybe that means planning a family meal so you can all spend the evening together to start off the get-together on a high note. Maybe it means taking a day or so for yourself so you'll be ready to handle the pressure of spending time with this part of your family. Think of it like stretching before a workout; you're less likely to hurt yourself if you go in prepared for what's coming.

Tip #4: Make Sure You And Your Spouse Are On The Same Page

Coping with your in-laws can be hard. Coping with them alone can be an impossible task. So make sure you sit down with your significant other, and talk about what you need from them. Don't make it about you versus your in-laws, because that can lead to hurt feelings all around. Instead, make sure your spouse knows what you need from them, and that you both agree on how to handle certain situations. You need to be a collaborative unit, instead of working separately.

Tip #5: Don't Take Them Personally

Your in-laws are just people. Sometimes their comments, habits, or way of being might be abrasive, or exhausting, but you need to ask when it's being directed at you, personally, and when it's just how they are. Because a lot of the time, it may have nothing to do with you, and everything to do with them. And if it's their problem, you shouldn't stress yourself by making it your problem.

Tips for Blended Families Celebrating Thanksgiving

By Sylvia Cochran

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Are you combining your spouse’s children with yours this Thanksgiving? His/Her, mine and ours is not always a recipe for blissful success.

Instead, there is a good chance that underlying emotional currents will make this Thanksgiving meal memorable for all the wrong reasons. Celebrating a grace-filled Thanksgiving takes a lot of effort on your part — but it is well worth it.

By the way, if you need some support on your marriage, I offer a free call to help you clarify things- schedule it here!

Recognize That You Are the Norm

The University of Houston reveals sobering and enlightening step-parenting statistics. Figures show that 50 percent of youngsters are currently raised in blended families. This dynamic is quickly eclipsing all other types of family setups. A somewhat surprising statistic points out that over 50% of second/third marriages that end in divorce are caused by the children. It is clear that children have a lot of influence on family dynamics. Holidays — including Thanksgiving — are prime time for stress and strife. 

Recognize Why Kids Can’t “Just” Fit In

There are feelings of betrayed loyalty and the fear of betraying a biological parent’s allegiance. There are new family members to get to know and adapt to. Competition between half siblings is common. Thanksgiving traditions vary. Holiday customs are different and beloved tasks may go by the wayside in a new family. 

Recognize That Taking Vows United You and Your Spouse, Not You and the Children

You new wife may have promised to love, honor and obey; your new husband may have sworn to cleave unto you until death do us part, but your step children have taken no such vows. They are simply along for the ride. Do not expect them to live up to your vows — after all, they were left holding the bag the first time around. If your spouse is a serial-marriage partner, there is even less of a chance that the children might willingly give their hearts.

So What’s the Step Parent To Do At Thanksgiving?

What tools does a step parent need?

Practice applied Christianity. Treat the stepchildren the way you want to be treated. If you want respect, treat the children — regardless of age — with respect. Christ’s Golden Rule is clear: Model the desired behavior. Of course, note that Jesus did not specify an amount of time for another person to reciprocate; in fact, he left the reciprocation blank. Instead, Christ intended for you to be exemplary — no matter what.

Be comfortable in your role. You will never be a new mom or dad. The kids already have one. Do not demand to be called mom or dad; do not refer to the bio-parent as real mom or other mom. A step parent has a different rank in the familial hierarchy than a parent; do not try to aspire to a seat of honor that is not yours to occupy. Instead, flesh out your role of step parent as a positive influence on — and provider of care to — the children.

Become unified with your spouse. Present the kids with a united front when it comes to acceptable and unacceptable behaviors, consequences and expectations.

Start new traditions. Do not try to compete with the bio-parent at Thanksgiving. Whether you are in a custodial or non-custodial position, remember that the old traditions mean a lot to the kids. Start your own, so as to differentiate your home from the other parent’s residence. There is no need to one-up the mom or dad.

Respect the other parent. Go out of your way to defer to the other parent. Children will feel more comfortable with you, if they realize that liking you will not in any way jeopardize their loyalty to their mom or dad.

Do not expect Rockwell. You knew ahead of time that you were entering into a blended family situation. Do not (now) bemoan the unfairness of having to hold up your plans and dreams to accommodate a court-ordered visitation schedule. Do not rebel when the children fail to sit at the table with bright eyes that gaze adoringly at you as you present the turkey. This is rarely the case for nuclear families and is made more difficult for blended families, where intense likes and dislikes create an emotional undertow.

 With God’s grace, it is possible to make it through the holiday season in general and Thanksgiving in particular. Just remember: God’s grace was meant to be shared and freely given away — not demanded for oneself and then hidden from prying eyes.

 Source:

University of Houston; https://prtl.uhcl.edu/portal/page/portal/SOE/Programs/COUNSELING_MS/Counseling_Resources/Files/BlendedFamilies.pdf

Walking On Eggshells: Talking to Loved Ones About Money

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Attempting to broach any serious conversation with a loved one can lead to major anxiety depending on the topic at hand. Over the years, it has become more accepted to have frank discussions regarding a litany of subjects that were, at one time, considered too sensitive to approach.

 The money discussion seems to have remained the steadfast untouchable topic among some. However, open and honest discussion about money issues with friends and family doesn't have to be an uncomfortable chore.   Here are some easy-to-follow tips on opening up the lines of communication about money with those nearest and dearest to you.

  1. Start Slow - You may want to ease into the money conversation, especially with regards to older family members who may not be as open to frank money discussions. Maybe bring up a recent news item that is topical and could lead to a deeper discussion about money matters. 
  2. Remember You Are Not Alone - Money stress and worries are very common. It may surprise you to find that issues you are grappling with are issues for those you love as well. Finding common ground can help the discussion stay friendly and useful for all involved. 
  3. Stay on Point - When discussing something as personal as finances, it can be easy to veer off topic or begin to accuse or object. You may find that breaking the talk up into smaller talks held over a longer period of time is more effective. 
  4. Comparison is the Thief of Joy - Try to avoid comparing your financial situation with that of your loved one. We all have our own stories and we may be only receiving one side. Focus on your own situation in the midst of money discussions. If your discussion is one of concern or an attempt to help your loved one, try to remain focused on their current financial fitness and your role as listener.

  The goal in any potentially awkward discussion is to remain focused, calm, and reasonable. This is important even in the face of a discussion partner who may not always approach things the same way. If a discussion begins to go "south" it is probably best to take a step back and attempt to address the issue at a later date.   Money discussions do not have to leave a bad taste in anyone's mouth. If you concentrate on the purpose behind the discussion and the connections you have (and want to maintain) with those involved in the conversation, the result can be win-win for everyone.

I offer a 45 minute complimentary Clarity Session to show you how I can help you. Click here to book your session now!

Talking to Loved Ones About Money: How to Offer Useful Guidance

Talking to Loved Ones About Money: How to Offer Useful Guidance

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Let’s face it: conversations about personal finances are usually uncomfortable. Especially with family members. Especially when your advice is past due. Although your parents, children, siblings, and significant other may trust your opinion on everything from fashion to food, schooling them on their spending habits can poke at their pride and force pushback.

 

 They must be willing to listen to you     

If they’re suppressing embarrassment, guilt, and shame while you’re talking, any financial brilliance you can offer is irrelevant. The key is to find a balance between being understanding and dishing out the tough love that’ll give them the help they need. You should be direct and logical; it’s not by chance that you’re the one in the financially superior position, so show them how you got there. Use examples from your own life that resemble their situation, if applicable. If you can relate to them in a personal way without using a condescending tone (easier said than done), you will give them an invitation to humility while giving credibility to yourself.

        

You have to know your stuff

If you’re not a financial advisor, it can be risky giving guidance to other people. Your intentions may be pure when you tell your brother how beneficial a 529 college savings plan can be for his children, but you might be causing more harm than good if the drawbacks aren’t clearly explained, as well. Do your best to share as much information as you can, but make sure your words aren’t the sole reasoning for their decision-making. Your full discretion here is vital. The endgame should be the improvement of their researching and analytical skills rather than simple memorization of individual facts and figures.

 Follow up and show continued support  

Giving your loved ones a copy of your fancy budget template and telling an inspirational, “I clawed my way up from the depths of debt” story are great ways to open their eyes and get them on the right track. It’s important to remember, though, that inspiration is perishable. Your motivated mentees have already made poor financial decisions that have resulted in poor financial situations. Changing the way in which they handle money is a slow process that requires patience. Your approachability is paramount; they need to know that you’ll have their back if they don’t get it quite right the first time around. Checking in with them periodically might seem annoying, but they’ll know it’s for their own good, and they’ll appreciate it more than they might admit.           

I offer a 45 minute complimentary Clarity Session to show you how I can help you. Click here to book your session now!