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Are We All In This Together?


How do I navigate feeling deeply misunderstood by my in-laws and not let it affect my relationship with my spouse?


Dear Unsigned,

In-laws are an integral part of the package deal you accept when you decide to marry someone. Every family has different priorities and customs, and the best way to navigate feeling misunderstood by your own in-laws depends on the complex relationship you have built with them over the duration of your courtship and marriage.

Is the problem you’re referencing a festering misunderstanding that has dragged on for years, or is it perhaps a more recent slight that can be repaired with a quick, possibly uncomfortable conversation?

You refer to feeling “deeply” misunderstood, so I’m afraid it could be the former.

The relationship you have with your spouse is the key to this issue—he or she should know why you feel deeply misunderstood. Attempting to conceal the discomfort you feel will only make things worse.

There’s a one-and-done rule that I advise following in situations like these. Make a single effort in good faith to fix whatever problem exists. Be honest, do not assign blame, but DO describe the circumstances that led to you feeling misunderstood.

You and your spouse should be a united front on this issue. It’s not your spouse’s role to play referee, he or she should be unequivocally on your side (not in the middle). After one good faith effort, you must move on. You cannot force any other person to see your point of view. Do not let a problem with your in-laws destroy your marriage.


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