Written By: Danielle Culpepper, LPC
In the intricate dance of relationships, the dynamics between spouses and their in-laws can sometimes become a challenging waltz. When faced with disrespectful in-laws and the added complexity of a partner who doesn't provide the support you need, it can feel like a storm brewing on the horizon. However, it's crucial to weather these emotional tempests with resilience and open communication. Here's a guide on what to do when your partner doesn't support you in the face of disrespectful in-laws.
Reflect on Your Feelings:
Before addressing the issue with your partner, take some time to reflect on your emotions. Are you feeling hurt, frustrated, or neglected? Understanding your emotions accurately can help you express yourself more clearly and provide insight into what specific behaviors or comments have been bothering you.
Choose the Right Moment:
Timing is key when broaching sensitive subjects. Pick a calm and private moment to discuss your concerns with your partner. Avoid bringing up the issue in the midst of a family gathering or when tensions are already high.
Express Your Feelings:
Clearly communicate how the disrespectful behavior of your in-laws makes you feel. Use "I" statements to express your emotions without sounding accusatory. For example, say, "I feel hurt when your parents make comments about me" instead of "Your parents always make hurtful comments"
Express Specific Concerns:
Be specific about the disrespectful behaviors that are causing distress. Instead of making broad accusations, share concrete examples that illustrate the impact on your emotions and well-being. This allows your partner to better understand the issue and work together with you to find solutions.
Share Your Needs:
Clearly communicate your needs and expectations regarding how you want to handle the
situation. Whether it's setting boundaries, seeking support, or addressing the behavior directly with your in-laws, let your partner know what actions would make you feel supported. Collaborate on finding mutually agreeable solutions.
Avoid Blame Games:
Focus on the specific behaviors that are causing distress rather than blaming your partner for their family's actions. Encourage open dialogue by expressing a desire to find a solution together rather than placing blame.
Ask your partner about their perspective on the situation. They may not be fully aware of the impact their family's actions are having on you. Understanding their viewpoint can pave the way for a more empathetic conversation.
Work together to set clear boundaries with your in-laws. Discuss what behaviors are
unacceptable and communicate these boundaries with your partner. Having a united front can send a powerful message to your in-laws about the importance of respect.
Help your partner see the situation from your perspective. Share your experiences and emotions, emphasizing the impact of disrespectful behavior on your mental and emotional well-being. Building empathy can strengthen your bond and encourage your partner to take a more supportive stance.
Focus on Self-Care:
Dealing with disrespectful in-laws and a lack of support from your partner can be emotionally draining. Prioritize self-care to maintain your mental and emotional well-being. Engage in activities that bring you joy and surround yourself with a supportive network of friends or family.
In challenging times, it's essential to remember that relationships require ongoing effort and communication. By addressing the issue with empathy, establishing boundaries, and fostering open dialogue, you can work towards a healthier dynamic with your partner and navigate the storm of disrespectful in-laws together.
Written By: Danielle Culpepper, LPC
The holiday season is a time filled with traditions, memories, and meaningful moments. For newly married couples, it presents a unique opportunity to create shared meaning and establish new traditions together. “Shared Meaning” as defined by Dr. John Gottman, simply when couples move from “Me” to “We”.
Shared Meaning is usually discussed in the context of every day rituals and understanding and creating shared goals in the relationship. But by intentionally crafting your own holiday experiences, you can strengthen your bond and build a foundation for a lifetime of shared memories. In this blog post, we will explore practical tips and ideas to help newly married couples create shared meaning during the holidays.
Reflect on Individual Traditions:
As a newly married couple, both partners bring their own family traditions and holiday experiences. Take the time to reflect on these individual traditions and discuss which ones hold significance for each of you. This reflection will help you understand each other better and determine which traditions you want to carry forward, modify, or create anew.
Sit down together and discuss your priorities for the holiday season. Are you more focused on spending time with extended family or would you prefer a quieter celebration? Is there a specific activity or tradition that holds special meaning for both of you? By aligning your priorities, you can create a shared vision for how you want to celebrate the holidays as a couple.
Create New Traditions:
Building new traditions as a newly married couple is an exciting opportunity to establish shared meaning. Consider incorporating aspects from both of your backgrounds or personalities into these new traditions. It could be anything from a special holiday meal, a yearly getaway, or starting a unique ornament collection. These new traditions will help shape your shared history and deepen your emotional connection.
Blend Cultural Celebrations:
If you and your partner come from different cultural backgrounds, use the holiday season to blend and celebrate both traditions. Embrace the diversity within your marriage by incorporating cultural practices, cuisines, or decorations from both sides. This celebration of diversity will bring richness and depth to your shared meaning during the holidays. Even if your social culture is similar, Dr. Gottman says that each relationship is a “cross cultural experience” simply because each partner comes from a different family system. Each partner brings a unique sense of what their familial culture was, and when they come together a new culture is forged. The intentionality behind that new culture is a strong determinate for how healthy the family system will be in the future.
Volunteer or Give Back:
Creating shared meaning extends beyond the relationship itself. Look for opportunities to give back to your community or support causes that hold personal significance for both of you. Volunteering together or participating in charity initiatives will not only strengthen your bond but also create a shared purpose during the holidays.
Communicate and Compromise:
The key to creating shared meaning as a newly married couple during the holidays is open, honest communication and willingness to compromise. Talk openly about your expectations, desires, and concerns regarding holiday celebrations. Avoid assuming or expecting your partner to automatically know what you want. Be open to compromise and find a balance that considers both your individual preferences.
Focus on Quality Time:
Amidst the busyness of the holiday season, prioritize quality time as a couple. Create opportunities for uninterrupted moments together, whether it's a cozy night at home, a leisurely walk together, or simply enjoying a cup of hot cocoa by the fire. Nurturing your connection and being present with each other will build a stronger foundation for shared meaning.
Remember that creating shared meaning during the holidays is a journey, and it may take time to establish your own unique traditions and customs. Embrace imperfections and be open to adjusting plans or traditions as needed. Focus on the joy, love, and togetherness, rather than striving for perfection.
As a newly married couple, the holiday season is an opportunity to strengthen your bond and create lasting shared meaning. By reflecting on individual traditions, establishing priorities, creating new traditions, blending cultures, volunteering, communicating, prioritizing quality time, and embracing imperfections, you can nurture your connection, deepen your love, and build a foundation for a lifetime of shared memories.
Cheers to a holiday season filled with love, meaning, and joy for all newlyweds!
Written By Danielle Culpepper, LPC
As the holiday season approaches, families are often filled with excitement and anticipation. However, amidst the joy, the increased stress and expectations can sometimes lead to conflicts. It's essential for parents to recognize that conflict is a natural part of life and, when handled appropriately, can serve as a valuable learning experience for children. Here we'll explore why modeling healthy conflict in front of your kids, especially during the holiday season, is crucial for their emotional development.
Realism in Relationships:
Children who grow up witnessing their parents navigate disagreements gain a realistic understanding of relationships. By openly addressing conflicts, parents show that it's normal for individuals to have differences and that resolving them is a crucial aspect of maintaining healthy connections. This realistic portrayal helps children build a foundation for their own future relationships, emphasizing that disagreements can be resolved with communication and empathy.
Teaching Conflict Resolution Skills
Modeling healthy conflict provides an opportunity to teach children essential conflict resolution skills. When parents handle disputes calmly, respectfully, and constructively, children learn the value of effective communication, active listening, and compromise. These skills are invaluable life lessons that contribute to a child's emotional intelligence and equip them to navigate conflicts in their own relationships as they grow older.
The holidays can be a stressful time, with increased expectations, financial pressures, and family gatherings. Modeling healthy conflict demonstrates to children how to regulate emotions in challenging situations. When parents express their feelings without resorting to aggression or avoidance, children observe effective emotional regulation, providing them with a roadmap for managing their own emotions during difficult times.
Experiencing conflict, especially during the holidays, allows children to witness resilience in action. When parents demonstrate a commitment to working through challenges, they instill a sense of resilience in their children. This resilience becomes a powerful asset as children face their own adversities, teaching them that conflicts are not insurmountable obstacles but opportunities for growth and learning.
Fostering Open Communication
Modeling healthy conflict encourages open communication within the family. When parents openly discuss their disagreements and resolutions, children learn that communication is a powerful tool for maintaining strong connections. This openness creates a family culture where everyone feels heard and valued, contributing to a sense of security and belonging.
While it may be tempting to shield children from conflict, especially during the holidays, it's crucial to recognize that witnessing healthy conflict resolution is a valuable part of their emotional development. By modeling realistic relationships, teaching conflict resolution skills, demonstrating emotional regulation, building resilience, and fostering open communication, parents can create a foundation for their children to navigate relationships and conflicts successfully in the future. Embracing the challenges of conflict during the holidays can ultimately contribute to a more connected and resilient family unit.
From In Love to In-Laws: Setting Boundaries with In-Laws During the Holidays and Nurturing Your Relationship and Marriage
Written by: Danielle Culpepper, LPC
Not only is the holiday season a time of year filled with joy, love, and togetherness. For many couples, it can also be a challenging time when boundaries with in-laws are pushed and tested. When our in-laws do not respect the boundaries of our relationship or marriage, it is essential to establish and communicate clear boundaries to ensure a harmonious holiday experience. In this blog post, we will discuss practical strategies to set boundaries effectively and maintain a healthy relationship with your in-laws during the holiday season.
Acknowledge and Reflect
Before addressing the issue with your in-laws, take a step back and reflect on your own perspective. Consider the differences between the intention of their actions versus the impact it has had on you or your relationship. This introspection will help you approach the situation with a clearer mindset and avoid unnecessary conflicts.
Establish Clear Communication with Your Partner
Before discussing the boundaries with your in-laws, ensure that you and your partner are on the same page. Sit down together and establish a united front, clearly outlining the boundaries you both feel are necessary. Agreeing on these boundaries will give you the confidence to communicate them effectively to your in-laws.
Choose a Calm and Private Setting
When discussing boundaries with your in-laws, it is crucial to choose an appropriate setting. Make sure it is calm, private, and allows for an open conversation. This will create an atmosphere where both parties feel comfortable expressing their concerns and perspectives without distractions.
Express Your Feelings Respectfully
When talking to your in-laws about boundaries, it is important to approach the conversation with respect and empathy. Express your feelings honestly and assertively, focusing on using "I" statements to avoid sounding accusatory. For example, say, "I feel overwhelmed when we have so many schedule changes during the holidays" instead of "You always disrupt our plans!".
Employ “Fair Fighting” Rules
If discussions with your in-laws historically turn into heated arguments, focus on using techniques to keep the conflict productive. One of the most useful fair fighting rules to abide by is to discuss one topic at a time. Don’t let “You come over unannounced” turn into “Last year you invited other people”. Once you introduce a new issue, the discussion gets off topic and can get heated, which means you are less likely to solve the original problem. Choose one topic and stick to it.
Clearly State Boundaries
Take the time during the conversation to clearly and calmly outline the boundaries you and your partner have agreed upon. Gently explain why these boundaries are important for maintaining a healthy relationship and emphasizing the need for mutual respect. By clearly expressing your expectations, you help your in-laws understand and potentially modify their behavior.
Offer Solutions and Compromises
While it is essential to set firm boundaries, remember that compromises can be beneficial for maintaining peace within your extended family. Offer solutions that meet both your needs and the needs of your in-laws. For example, if they typically drop by unannounced, suggest scheduling specific visiting hours or arranging a family gathering to ensure quality time together.
Enforce Consequences if Necessary
If your in-laws constantly disregard your boundaries, you may need to enforce consequences. It can be challenging, but standing by your boundaries reinforces their importance and protects the sanctity of your relationship. Discuss with your partner, maintain unity, and implement consequences that are appropriate for the situation, such as limiting contact during the holidays.
Focus on Building a Positive Relationship
While setting boundaries is crucial, it is also essential to nurture a positive relationship with your in-laws. Look for opportunities to create new traditions together, involve them in holiday planning, and show appreciation for their efforts. Maintaining a healthy, respectful relationship benefits not only you but also your spouse and the entire family.
Setting boundaries with in-laws can be challenging, particularly during the holiday season when emotions run high. However, prioritizing your relationship and marriage by establishing clear boundaries that command respect is an important part of maintaining a healthy environment for everyone. By approaching the situation with empathy, clear communication, and a focus on building positive relationships, you can navigate these challenges and create joyous, harmonious holiday memories for years to come.