My In-laws or Relatives Are Driving Me Insane: What Can I Do? ...by Bill Knell
Let me begin covering the subject of annoying relatives and in-laws by reminding you that murder is illegal in most places. Perhaps they haven't driven you that far yet, but I'm sure you're well on the way to considering some sort of drastic action to resolve your family issues. Before you purchase that axe, sledge hammer or machine gun, let's take a closer look at the whole messy situation.
For most people, dealing with annoying relatives or in-laws is like cleaning the toilet. It's not something you want to do, but something you have to do. No matter how terrific your soul mate is and how wonderful their family seems to be, there's almost always that one individual or group connected to you by marriage that you wish would be abducted by Space Aliens. If the problem lies on your side of the family and has nothing to do with in-laws, you've probably become convinced that you were switched at birth and can't possibly be related to those people!
Problems with relatives and in-laws range from financial to personal. If you owe your relatives or in-laws money and they have no problem constantly reminding you of that fact, you are really in the soup. Your best bet for any sort of peace is to pay them back.
Most people that borrow money from relatives or in-laws tend to place themselves in a tough situation. Those kinds of lenders always seem to want a bulk settlement and have little interest in weekly or monthly payments. It's pretty obvious that if you could make such a balloon payment you probably wouldn't have needed the cash in the first place. They know that and just enjoy holding the loan over your head like a guillotine.
When you can't make that big payment, you are likely to find yourself in the family dog house as far as relatives or in-laws go. Many folks in that situation end up getting an invitation to a good ole family get together at the local Small Claims court. The best way to avoid such a mess is to make meaningful payments to your relatives or in-laws as often as you can. Set up a schedule, mail or deliver your payments on the same day each week or month, keep receipts (never use cash) and pay a consistent amount each time.
If things do turn sour and they take you to court, you will have the advantage of proof that you are paying the debt. Judges hate deadbeats. Even if your payments are not voluminous or as originally agreed to, the fact that you are paying back your relatives or in-laws will impress the judge. That may give you a chance to continue payments under court supervision instead of having an instant balloon judgment entered against you.
It's not business, it's just personal. O.K. So you don't owe them any money and can't think of anything that you ever did to your relatives or in-laws to unleash the kind of harassment they seem bent on sending your way. What do you do? The answer is tough love, and it will be very tough.
I have a close friend who has issues with her mother. To make a long story short, Mom abused her in many ways. Besides scolding her feet in hot water because she dirtied her diaper as a toddler, Mom made this woman her scapegoat and favored her brother. He could do no wrong. Dad had died when she was very young and the rest of the family turned their heads when it came to the abuse. Every penny this woman earned up until she left the house at the age of eighteen ended up in Mom's pocket.
No one wants to admit their parent is a negative influence in their life. It gets worse when the parent is a Child Abuser who simply lacks the ability to love or nurture their child. TV Shrinks, much-married Talk Show Hosts or know-it-all family members often make matters worse by trying to reunite children with parents that simply hate or have no interest in them. Even if such a reunion takes, it's unlikely to provide any relief or a permanent fix for any of those involved.
My close friend tried many reunions over the years. They were usually instigated by her Mother's need to be with someone when her brother was away. Once the brother returned, my friend was left emotionally back out in the cold. The answer for her and anyone with relatives that create or have created those kinds of problems for them is to simply stay away. Do whatever needs to be done to avoid relatives or in-laws that regularly harass or have seriously harmed you in some way. You may miss some family events, but you'll keep your sanity.
What happens if your better half has relatives that love them and hate you? Ooh, that's a tough one! It's been my experience that situations like that usually get worse and never better. Part of the problem may be that you simply had no idea that the fabulous individual you married or got involved with was related to people you just know were serial killers in another life! When it comes to relationships, meeting some of the in-laws you'll have to deal with on a regular basis before a deep commitment takes place is always a good idea. If it's too late for that, it's time for some honest talk between you and your better half.
If your soul mate is willing to hear you out and see that there may be a few screws loose in their family machine, your have it made. Discuss your feelings about the in-laws and your relationship (or lack of one) with them. Come to a consensus on how top deal with the problem and make sure it takes. If your better half just can't see the forest for the trees when it comes to their family, you've got a real problem on your hands. Now you are placed in the tough position of having to deal with the situation yourself.
If you are left to face the cast from A Nightmare On Elm Street on your own, there's a few things you can try. Try enlisting the help of other in-laws who might be sympathetic to your cause. It could be that some of them may also have felt the wrath of those creating trouble for you. Perhaps they have already found a way around the situation and can advise you? If not, you'll need to take steps that may create a bit of trouble between you and your soul mate.
Anyone involved in a relationship knows that selfishness has no part in it and can only lead to trouble. If your better half knows that their relatives are creating trouble for you and chooses to ignore that fact in favor of family bliss or for any reason at all, that's simply unacceptable. In such a case, I strongly urge you to seek family counseling with a Professional who comes highly recommended. Local family support groups may be able to recommend someone to you. The next challenge will be to get your better half to go with you. This is something you need to do. If you give in now, you may end up alone in the end anyway.
Now here's the really tough part. Have you ever considered the fact that YOU may be the problem? No one wants to admit that they are at fault, but a closer look at problems with relatives and in-laws often reveals bad behavior on both sides of the issue. Our greatest enemy can sometimes be us. We become the victim of our own failings. These failings can include being too critical, judgmental, inquiring or an unwillingness to peacefully co-exist within a group we must interact with. Sometimes it's good to take a step back from your situation and look at yourself in the mirror. If you don't like what you see, take a positive step beyond who you are and try to be someone better.
If you're not the problem, someone else is. Interaction with in-laws and relatives can be a real nightmare when they seem out to get you. Life often throws people in our face who we simply can't stand. Everything they say or do seems to be a challenge to us. How do we handle that kind of a situation? In the end, it's all about People Skills.
Those who seem bent on testing us require special attention. You cannot be cordial with them and must be on your guard at all times. That means knowing when to speak, remain quiet or respond in a way that will not provoke them further. Don't let them bait you!