Welcome to the Healthy Families forums!

This is a space to ask questions, share experiences and support each other. Find a relevant thread or start your own!

Before you can post or reply in these forums, please join our online community and have a read of the community rules. Forum membership is open to anyone residing in Australia.

  • share on Facebook
  • share on Twitter
  • Print page

Topic: Issues with setting in-law boundaries

6 posts, 0 answered
  1. nellie158
    nellie158 avatar
    1 posts
    14 January 2021
    Hi all,
    This will be the first time I have posted on a forum. I am currently struggling with holding my ground when it comes to creating boundaries for my in-laws. We have had a few disagreements over the last few weeks due to my partner and I feeling like his family are over-stepping. There have been times in the past where we have tried to set boundaries, but I end up folding and making concessions so that I don't have to deal with negative reactions from my partner's family members. I have been told by my psychologist that I am a "people pleaser" so find these situations very uncomfortable. However, recently both my partner and I stood firm on something that was important to both of us. My partner ended up in separate arguments with his mum and sibling (the last thing I wanted) because they wouldn't respect it. The latter got very emotional about it and their response was that he was acting unlike himself and that he shouldn't bottle up his feelings and he should talk to them next time (this response make me feel very responsible for his behaviour despite him saying it was how he actually felt). I found it very frustrating because we had both tried to calmly make how we felt about this particular issue clear. His family seem fine with him now, but his parents seem icier towards me since.
    I just wanted advice on ways to approach issues like this so that they won't end in conflict. Both my partner and I really enjoy spending time with our respective families, so I don't want this to change.
  2. Juliet_84
    Valued Contributor
    • A special award for members who go above and beyond to support others here on the forums
    Juliet_84 avatar
    437 posts
    14 January 2021 in reply to nellie158

    Hi nellie158,

    I want to welcome you to the forums, and say that I’m sure there are a lot of people who can identify with your current situation (myself included!). It can definitely be a tricky thing to navigate when your in-laws consistently overstep the boundaries. I think you have done a really good job so far, and it’s really helpful that your partner sounds as though he is on board and feels the same way. It can be particularly tricky if a partner is used to allowing this type of behavior and doesn’t see anything wrong with it. I think that you just need to keep doing what you are doing, setting clear but firm boundaries, sticking to them and not getting dragged into their emotional blackmail afterwards, which is just an attempt to make you back down. It will be tough for the first little while but they will get used to it. Let them be icy with you if that’s how they want to be, remember that you’re annoyed at them as well! There may be someone in the family who is easier to discuss things with, if so you may consider sitting down with them and clearing the air and explaining what you want from the relationship

    1 person found this helpful
  3. white knight
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    • Awarded by beyondblue for providing outstanding peer support to the online community over a period of 3+ years.
    white knight avatar
    8528 posts
    14 January 2021 in reply to nellie158
    Hi, welcome

    It's easy to forget we married/defacto our partner and not his family, although some in-laws struggle with some jealousy/protective issues.

    My advice is to be firm but fair in your stance but above all- calm.

    Google this

    Beyondblue topic wit, the only answer to torment

    Beyondblue topic in-laws the best approach

    As well, there is no harm in drifting a little.

  4. smallwolf
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    smallwolf avatar
    4632 posts
    14 January 2021 in reply to nellie158

    hi and welcome to beyond blue... from another people pleaser. Which by the way, there is nothing wrong with. there are both pros and cons here. It is something I have spoken with my psych about. I have also had chats about boundaries and asserting myself (or rocking the boat to see what happens). In my case, this has been related to work.

    As Juliet_84 said, they are probably not used to seeing this side of you and wondering where did this come from?

    When I had to practice the above, I was very nervous the first time. Once I got through it, it was OK... in that I could do it and the world would not end. Sometimes there is the occasional bit of guilt that I did that wrong when I don't get the response I was looking for. When you say icy, in my situation, they hate me now.

    Putting aside the icy response, how might you have felt if you did not assert yourself?

    In my circles it becomes a lost opportunity where I might berate myself for not standing up. Aside from the suggestions from Juliet_84 it can get easier the more you try it.


  5. Mental_Peace
    blueVoices member
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    Mental_Peace avatar
    7 posts
    20 January 2021 in reply to nellie158

    Hi nellie158,

    Welcome to the forums. I am a newbie here myself but I must say that I have gone through such situations several times and truly appreciate that they are sensitive, tricky and consume a lot of one’s mental space. Well done on identifying the issue and trying to solve it.

    Easier said than done..but this is what helped me.

    Over the years, I have tried to be more interactive and open with my in-laws. Very difficult for an introvert like me. Sometimes it has helped, sometimes it hasn’t but am learning each day and adamant that things will change for the better.

    I have come to realise that usually no one is nasty just for the sake of it. There’s a story behind people’s different perspectives and why they act the way they do..and this is what I seek to identify..eg in this case, why do you think they are overstepping the boundaries? Keep making the change you would want to see, although slowly, taking baby steps..so eventually it becomes part of the new normal. Be consistent with your approach.’Sustain the change and allow them to get adjusted to the new norm.

    When your partner is ready to listen, do share your thoughts in a calm way.

    Hopefully things improve for you quickly.

    Best wishes

  6. geoff
    Life Member
    • Awarded by beyondblue for providing outstanding peer support to the online community over a period of 3+ years.
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    geoff avatar
    13644 posts
    20 January 2021 in reply to nellie158

    Hello Nellie, and a warm welcome to the forums.

    It's good being a 'people pleaser' but it also means that you can get hurt emotionally because the urge to please your in-laws can be damaging to yourself when you only want what you've decided on but they disagree with, it's your house and remember times change, not only between generations but how you were brought up.

    Pleasers develop the behaviour pattern of constantly trying to please others in order to avoid the displeasure of others and I'm sure this includes many of us who bring parents ( in laws) friends/family over to our place.

    Rules between you and your partner are made, no different than they are at your in laws place, where you can do or participate in doing this or not allowed to do that, this is how it should be when they visit your place.

    They might not accept it at first, but at their place, you have to, they will learn to become accustomed to your rules.

    Best wishes.


Stay in touch with us

Sign up below for regular emails filled with information, advice and support for you or your loved ones.

Sign me up