Let’s clear the air; it’s not entirely abnormal to not get along with your in-laws. Not seeing eye-to-eye, doesn’t necessarily mean that your in-laws are toxic. In fact, being categorized as toxic means an individual is abusive, unsupportive, or unhealthy emotionally. If your in-law is toxic, they basically bring you physically and emotionally down. When they treat you negatively, you begin to feel dependent on his or her opinion – and in many cases, you begin doubting your own opinions and views.
If your in-law is toxic, it’s important that you and your spouse become a unified front. Sit down and have an honest discussion with your partner about what is taking place and how these actions make you feel. Be clear with your partner that you cannot deal with this toxic issue by yourself. While you may not need your spouse to defend your every action, you do need your spouse to understand where you are coming from and identify the inappropriate behavior and actions taking place.
There are five signs your in-laws are toxic. Take notes and determine whether or not your in-law situation is, in fact, toxic or just annoying:
They always have an opinion about anything and everything in your life.
Does your in-law interject every event in your life? Does your in-law always have an opinion? Are you always deemed as the one in the wrong? Is your in-law constantly giving you uninvited advice?
There will be seasons in your marriage, where your in-laws feel like their opinion needs to be shared. Maybe you are a new parent, and they think they have helpful tips to offer, maybe you’re newlyweds and your in-law believes they have the age-old secret to a long and happy marriage, or maybe your teenager is acting out, and your in-law wants to share a similar experience. While it may be annoying, those seasons warrant in-law feedback. But if your in-law is constantly adding their two cents on every occasion, their actions can be classified as toxic.
If you’ve already expressed concern for their overly opinionated interjections, then it’s time to express your issues with your spouse and ask for help on how to best handle the issue.
They are mean and rude.
Does your in-law blurt out mean comments and feedback about you? Does your in-law intentionally leave you out of family events and/or celebrations? Does your in-law consistently ignore you and put you on the back burner? Has your in-law addressed you in public with inappropriate comments?
There is no excuse for blatant mean behavior. It’s important to address your in-law when the situation presents itself. Waiting to discuss the issue and allowing the rude comments to pile up will cause you to explode. If your in-law denies their own behavior, you should discuss your concerns with your spouse. It’s important to get to the root of the issue. Sometimes there isn’t a real answer, and you probably didn’t do anything. In those cases, it’s important that you do not allow their negative behavior to affect your mental health and overall well-being.
They try to pit your spouse against you.
Have you been in a situation where your in-law has tried to get your spouse to go against your view? Has your in-law made your spouse feel like the two of you were incompatible? Has your in-law blatantly made a situation appear like it’s you against everyone else?
In many cases, in-laws feel inferior in comparison to their son or daughter’s spouse. Therefore, in many cases, they create sides and try to force their adult child to choose one. For the most part, your spouse is probably already aware of their parent’s inferiority complex. Resist the urge to make your partner select you over their parents. Engaging in immature combat will only intensify the issue and create a false case for your in-laws to stand on. Voice your concerns with your spouse and consider having a mediation session with your spouse and in-laws – sometimes airing everything out in the open is the best solution.
They consistently disrespect you.
Has your in-law ever criticized your ability to do simple daily tasks such as cleaning, laundry, or cook? Has your spouse made disrespectful comments directed towards you while they were in your household? Has your in-law made condescending comments to you in front of your children?
Being disrespectful is one of the first indicators of a toxic in-law. Obviously, there will be times when your in-law may unintentionally portray disrespectful behavior; however, if you see a pattern occurring, then it’s safe to conclude that your in-law is behaving in a toxic manner. The best thing you can do is ‘kill them with kindness.’ Some people like drama – toxic in-laws live for the drama. If you don’t give them anything to dramatize, they’ll eventually move on and make someone else’s life miserable. Even though their disrespectful nature is bothersome, don’t react – especially in front of your spouse. Do your best to stay calm and reserved. Two wrongs will never make a right.
They ignore you and pretend like you don’t exist.
Does your in-law pretend to not hear you? Does your in-law pretend that they didn’t see you at a family event or gathering? Does your in-law constantly ignore you when you are around?
Being ignored is hurtful, and in a way, a toxic in-law is passively aggressive. Not only is being ignored incredibly hard to grapple with, but it’s also very confusing because you probably didn’t do anything to deserve this treatment. Pick your battles wisely. Ask yourself, do you have anything nice to say to your in-law? Can you just let it go? If the answer is no, then politely acknowledge their presence and drop it. If you feel the need to address the issue, calmly ask your in-law what’s wrong. It’s a good idea to also ask your spouse if they recognize that your in-law is ignoring you, too.
In-laws can be tricky. In some relationships, you only have to deal with toxic in-laws on a holiday basis; however, in other cases, the encounters are far more frequent. Regardless, it’s important to have open and honest discussions with your spouse about your concerns and your in-law’s behavior. Always remember, you are not alone. A lot of people deal with toxic in-laws every day.