How to Deal with an Annoying Father-In-Law


young couple with inlaws outside by a wood fence

When you got married, you probably heard that old adage about marrying the whole family. But sometimes in-laws aren’t always compatible with us. That leads many people to wonder how to deal with an annoying father-in-law.

Well, here’s what I know from many years of marriage:

With an annoying father-in-law, have clear communication with your spouse, clear boundaries, but be prepared to tolerate his behavior to a certain degree. But if he is rude, verbally abusive, or toxic, make it clear to him and your spouse you are not willing to tolerate the behavior.

It can be difficult to tell the difference sometimes between just being annoying and being purposely toxic.

In this article, we’ll talk about how to handle a toxic father-in-law. We’ll also distinguish between toxic behavior and simply annoying behavior. But for just annoying behavior, do be prepared to put up with it to a degree for the sake of your marriage.

But don’t worry. We’ll cover some coping tips too!

Fighting a little more often than usual?

You might wonder if it’s healthy or normal to have so many arguments. In my recent article, find out why arguing every day might be the best thing for your marriage.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

I’ve been on the brink of divorce and saved my marriage, and I KNOW you can too, even with toxic in-laws driving a wedge between you and your spouse!

I’ve been in your shoes. You want to move beyond the pain. And you desperately want your marriage to have trust, mutual acceptance, and respect, You don’t need to be best friends with her parents, but it’s frustrating when you feel belittled, and feel like you always come 2nd.

Luckily, all hope is NOT lost, and there is something you can do, even if your spouse isn’t sure they want to save the marriage. 

The website Regain offers licensed therapists who specialize in couples counseling and will work directly with you and your spouse online; anytime and from anywhere.

Serious about saving or improving your relationship?

CLICK HERE to answer a short quiz and see if Regain is right for you.

Is it normal to not like your in-laws?

It can be normal to be annoyed by your in-laws, just like any other family member. This is especially true if there is tension between you and your spouse, as they will always side with your spouse. But at a minimum, there should be mutual respect.

Ideally, your in-laws should feel like family.

But that’s not always possible, and I get that. But at a bare minimum, they should be respected, and they should respect you, too.

This is especially true if your wife is close to her family. If your wife is close to her family, your in-laws are going to be a big part of your life.

If you’re lucky enough to have a close relationship with them, too, that’s fantastic! But if you’re not close to them, then it’s okay to just be polite and respectful.

If you don’t like your in-laws, keep a healthy distance between you and them. Be respectful to them when they are around, and don’t bad mouth them to your wife.

Your priority is to your wife and your marriage. If your wife is close to her family, it is crucial to your marriage to try to have a civil relationship with her family.

Otherwise, you could hurt your wife and damage your marriage.

One of the most important things to remember is that you can’t control other people. But you can control how you react to other people. So, if your in-laws are being rude, focus on your response. Be reasonable and respectful.

Don’t get defensive, and if at all possible, just don’t engage.

Is it a macho thing for a father-in-law to be rude to his son-in-law?

Fathers have always been protective of their daughters, both while dating and even in marriage, as almost no one will ever be seen as good enough for their daughter. But, it is not acceptable for a father to be rude and disrespectful to his son-in-law.

If you find that your father-in-law is constantly rude to you, talk to your wife about it. Your wife is likely aware of the tension, even if you don’t mention it. But you should discuss your position with her.

Express how it makes you feel when your father-in-law is rude to you.

Unless you are mishandling the marriage, are abusive, or cause some sort of pain to their daughter, there is no reason for your in-laws to be disrespectful towards you.

In-laws can be jerks for numerous reasons. Why your father-in-law is the way he is, isn’t really your concern, though.

What is important is that you and your wife display a united front. Have a calm discussion with your wife. Discuss how to handle your father-in-law, and be willing to compromise if necessary.

Try not to disagree with your wife in front of your in-laws, either. Doing so could provide an opening for them to pick at your relationship.

You should also know when to engage in conflict with your in-laws.

You may be tempted to tell your father-in-law off when he’s rude to you. But this could mean escalating things and just making it worse.

Instead, when your father-in-law makes a snide remark about your career, turn it around on him.

Instead of getting defensive, ask him about his career. This will take the focus off of you and will give him the opportunity to talk about something he loves – himself.

You’ve vowed to spend the rest of your life with your wife. This means that you get to spend the rest of your life with her family, too.

Even if you don’t become best friends, it’s imperative that you at least try to make your relationship with your in-laws work.

If your marriage is failing, then check out this quick video on the 7 Steps to Fixing Your Marriage that will help get yours back on track.

Do couples divorce because of in-laws?

Couples do divorce because they can’t get along with their in-laws, especially when they feel a lack of support from their spouse in helping them set boundaries. But when husbands have a good relationship with their wife’s parents, the risk of divorce actually decreases by 20%.

One finding of a 26-year longitudinal study of married couples is that marriages last longer when the husband reports feeling close to his in-laws.

Interestingly, that same study showed that when women are close to their in-laws, they are more likely to get divorced. (source)

Luckily, divorcing due to the in-laws are low on the list of reasons for divorce.

Lack of commitment, infidelity, too much conflict, and substance abuse are all reasons for divorce. While there are many reasons for divorce, not getting along with your in-laws doesn’t have to be one of them.

Women pay close attention to the relationship between their parents and their husband. And when husbands make an effort to get along with their in-laws, the wife feels taken care of, too.

If you take the time and effort to forge a relationship with your in-laws, it shows that you really care about your wife. If you find that your marriage isn’t as exciting as it once was, it may be time to rekindle your marriage.

You can rekindle your marriage by spending quality time together, appreciating your wife without expectation, and making sex a priority.

To learn more, read this recent article. These small things can help not only to rekindle a stale marriage, but they can actually be small beginning steps to repair a broken marriage.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Should my wife stand up for me against her dad?

A wife should let her father know if he is behaving disrespectfully towards her husband. You two should present a united front and be clear about what is and isn’t acceptable. But don’t ask her to choose between you or her father.

The bottom line is that you two need to work together.

She will likely see the tension between you and her father, but unless you say something to her, she may think you have it under control.

She’s probably not going to stand up for you over small things. If he’s just annoying or makes little jabs about your job or the way you dress, she’s probably not going to say anything.

But if you are at a family gathering, for example, and your father-in-law is arguing with you, and it escalates, she needs to have your back whether she agrees with you or not.

Especially if your father-in-law is making personal attacks.

She should stand behind you completely, regardless of what the argument is. Then, when you are on the way home, or after everyone leaves, or when you are alone together, the two of you can talk about what happened.

Even if she doesn’t agree with what you said, she should always show solidarity with you. This shows that the two of you are a team that can’t be separated.

A husband and wife should be an unbeatable, inseparable duo

If you and your wife’s dad are bickering, no, she shouldn’t get involved. You’re a big boy, you should be able to handle yourself in those situations. But if he is being degrading and nasty, she should absolutely stand up for you against her dad.

If you expect her to stand up for you in every little situation that comes along, she could come to resent you. Just like if she never stands up for you, it could cause a rift in the marriage.

If you find that your wife is constantly putting her family ahead of you, there could be more underlying issues that need to be dealt with. It can get very frustrating if your wife goes to her dad when she needs guidance or has great news to share.

You want to be her person, and for a good reason.

Generally, a wife puts her family before you either because she hasn’t established healthy, clear boundaries with them or she doesn’t have complete trust in you.

To learn more about why your wife may be putting her family before you, read this recent article. What really surprised me was the 1 thing that almost all of us do that pushes our wives away without our even realizing it.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

What are the signs of a toxic father-in-law?

The signs of a toxic relationship with a father-in-law include abuse of any kind, condescending or passive-aggressive comments about you or your wife, or doing or saying things to drive a wedge between you and your wife.

Abuse of any kind, whether physical, verbal, or emotional, is never okay.

It is unacceptable and unhealthy in a relationship, especially in one where you are essentially bound forever. If physical abuse happens even one time, it is a cause for concern.

If this happens, the two of you should be physically separated until your father-in-law finds better ways to deal with his anger or control.

Consistent verbal abuse is also toxic and needs to be eliminated.

Another sign of being toxic is if your father-in-law is constantly trying to control or monitor you or your wife. He doesn’t get a say in where you live, travel, or whether or not you have kids. He shouldn’t be calling either one of you several times a day.

He shouldn’t have free access to private email accounts, social media, or phones.

Healthy relationships also require the ability to say “no” when it’s necessary. If saying “no” to your father-in-law results in arguments or withdrawals, then there is an unhealthy element there.

If you’ve stopped saying certain things to your father-in-law because it isn’t worth the emotional labor, then you have an unhealthy relationship.

You should be able to bring up tough conversations without fear of your father-in-law retaliating. If your father-in-law doesn’t take criticism of his poor attitude or behaviors, then he is not open to accountability or change, which is another sign of toxicity.

Emotionally mature people are willing to take ownership of their behaviors, attitudes, and decisions.

They are willing to be accountable and accept responsibility for the consequences of those behaviors, attitudes, and decisions.

If your father-in-law is not willing to take ownership or responsibility when he falls short, whether it is hurting you or his daughter, you won’t be able to maintain a healthy relationship with him.

If you are a wife that is reading this article, and you feel like your husband hates your family, there may be a reason for that.

A husband may hate his in-laws if he feels disrespected by them, if he thinks they are a bad influence on you, or if you are not focused enough on your marriage.

To learn more about why your husband may hate your family, read this recent article.

It’s not always easy to navigate bad blood between your spouse and family, but that article can help clear up why it’s happening.

Just click the link to read the article on my site.

Is it okay to stay away from in-laws?

If the in-laws are toxic or abusive, it is acceptable not to visit them as long as it doesn’t drive a wedge between you and your spouse. However, if they are a minor annoyance, visit them occasionally as a supportive spouse, and do your best to maintain a respectful relationship.

Ultimately, you don’t want your feelings about your in-laws to drive your spouse to divorce.

If your in-laws are toxic, then it’s probably better for you and your wife to stay away from them. But if they are just annoying, you should find a way to be around them.

Even if they are simply annoying, it’s okay to avoid them on a minor level. But if the avoidance creates a wedge between you and your wife, that’s not good in the long term.

As a spouse, it’s very upsetting to be torn between people you love.

If your wife loves you and her dad, it will hurt her terribly if you dislike each other. Even if, at the moment, your mutual dislike has little bearing on your day-to-day life, it could have an impact long-term.

For example, when her dad gets old, she may be the one to take care of him.

This can be really hard on her because she’s going to be potentially living with two people that don’t like each other. While she should always have your back and be on your side, it’s important for you not to cause hurt, too.

If you truly love her, it is important to make her happy.

We go to great lengths to make our children happy because we love them. The love for your spouse should be no less. In fact, it should be more.

This doesn’t mean you have to compel yourself to like your in-laws. Of course, you can’t force liking, but you can make an extra effort at diplomacy.

If your marriage is failing, then check out this quick video on the 7 Steps to Fixing Your Marriage that will help get yours back on track.

How do you get your father-in-law to like you?

A father-in-law will respect their child’s spouse when he feels respect both towards himself and his child that you married. Additionally, take an interest in him and his interests.

Remember, good fathers, are very protective of their daughters.

But that’s also true even if we’re talking about his son. They want to know that you will be there to support her and to take care of her when she needs you.

Letting go of a daughter is not easy for a father. However, he will feel much better if he knows that you are taking care of his daughter and living a good life.

Take care of him and his family, too.

If he needs something – if his car has broken down or needs help painting the house, offer to help him with no strings attached. And be grateful when he helps you out.

Fathers also want to be respected. Showing respect, even when you have different views on things, will go a long way in the likability factor.

Finally, get to know him. Spend time with him and find some common ground.

If you have common interests, it’ll give you a chance to bond and show him that you can’t be all that bad. If you don’t have anything in common, be open-minded and ask him about what he enjoys and dislikes. Who knows, you may even find a new interest!

Did I answer everything you wanted to know about how to deal with an annoying father-in-law?

In-laws can be very tricky. When you get married, you marry your spouse’s family, too.

In an ideal world, you would love your spouse’s family as much as you love your spouse. While that’s not always possible, it is possible to be respectful and polite, even if your in-laws are jerks.

Whether it’s a husband or wife, your spouse should always be by your side, especially when it comes to dealing with their toxic father.

I’ve been on the brink of divorce and saved my marriage, and I KNOW you can too, even with toxic in-laws driving a wedge between you and your spouse!

I’ve been in your shoes. You want to move beyond the pain. And you desperately want your marriage to have trust, mutual acceptance, and respect, You don’t need to be best friends with her parents, but it’s frustrating when you feel belittled, and feel like you always come 2nd.

Luckily, all hope is NOT lost, and there is something you can do, even if your spouse isn’t sure they want to save the marriage. 

The website Regain offers licensed therapists who specialize in couples counseling and will work directly with you and your spouse online; anytime and from anywhere.

Serious about saving or improving your relationship?

CLICK HERE to answer a short quiz and see if Regain is right for you.


 

Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell is a husband, father, martial artist, budget-master, Disney-addict, musician, and recovering foodie having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Whole Foods Market. Click to learn more about me

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