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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

5 Things You Might Be Doing to Keep Your In-Laws Coming Back for More

You love your partner and his or her family. There have been times when these people have been there for you when your own family has failed you. Sometimes they don’t mind reminding you of their support by the many requests they ask of you. You are beginning to suspect that certain members of your partner’s family might be taking advantage of your kindness, but how do you know and what might you be doing to continue to obligate yourself to the in-laws.
One. Borrow money.
Let’s begin with the obvious request, money. Whether your in-laws ask to borrow, invest, or keep it, there is more to money requests than meets the eye. Chances are your relationship with the in-laws is wrapped up in it. You gave them gifts of money and they did the same. You or your partner asked for money and they in turn expected some form of repayment. You may have already took care of the past debt, but somehow got yourself in situations that keep putting you in a repayment position despite the fact you already repaid them. Don’t you think it’s time to gradually cut off all the gift-giving and favors? Now if you haven’t repaid some or all of the money, then you will continue to feel obligated until the debt is fulfilled, but be careful the longer you drag things out, the more likely the in-laws will take advantage. You will know that your relationship with the in-laws is money focused based on how frequent the subject comes up between you and they.
Two. Making promises to help with household chores and errand running.
Once you start doing something for someone on a continual basis, they will expect it. The minute you begin to slow or stop doing all those nice things, your in-law will start making you the butt of conversations with relatives. “He used to help me out, but not anymore…she just isn’t the same, she stopped doing…” If you don’t start making a habit of doing something for people, they won’t expect it. But if you are already doing some things for the in-laws and you are beginning to resent what you do, make it clear in advance of doing any activities that you will no longer be able to do them. It may be difficult at first to hear about your in-laws talking negatively about you or treating you different because you are no longer doing what you use to, but just think, you won’t feel obligated to him or her anymore.
Three. Being available for most, if not all, family functions.
It doesn’t matter rain or shine, you are there at your in-laws’s events with family in tote. Despite your reservations about some of these functions, you keep going anyway. Keep showing up and in-laws will get use to you coming around and may even volunteer your services at their events. Initially, when you are just getting to know your partner’s relatives, this is good, but in time you will want to come to some events, but not all of them. If you regularly come and then suddenly stop, relatives will talk, let them. Some in-laws may use your absence negatively to get what they want; others may be happy they can have their loved one to themselves, and still others don’t care if they see or don’t see you at an event. Don’t let coming to or sitting out a family event affect your relationship.
Four. Answering every “emergency” call.
It doesn’t matter where you are, work, school, or at a friend’s home, when the phone rings, you can be reached. Your in-law may already be used to connecting with you via phone, so when his or her “version” of an emergency comes up, this person expects you to be there. Sometimes these phone calls are nothing more than a need for attention especially when they can’t reach your partner. Rather than, rearrange your schedule every time, an in-law has an emergency, redirect the call to your partner, and/or a 911 operator.
Five. Requesting favors from in-laws and/or accepting gifts.
Whenever you put yourself in a position to ask someone else for something, you will feel obligated. When you accept a gift (especially an extravagant one,) you may also obligate yourself without knowing it to the in-laws. Whenever possible try to avoid asking the in-laws for anything when you know you can’t return the favor. Avoid accepting gifts from in-laws you suspect are putting you in a position to do for them in the near future. Be bold when given something to you and your partner from an in-law you know doesn’t like you by asking, “What are you expecting in return?” When the in-law claims, “Oh nothing, you know we are family. I just wanted to give you something nice.” Be sure to keep the item in its original contents until you know the in-law isn’t looking for you or your partner to do anything in return. This way if he/she should ask a favor, you can return the gift to him or her.
In closing, when you find that you are doing any of these things often and experiencing feelings of resentment, do sit back and ask yourself, “What happens if I can no longer accommodate?” Will this relative still talk about how much he or she loves me? Will your partner continue to dote over what you do for his or her family? Although actions speak louder than words when it comes to love, how much will the person or family members still love you when there is no action?
by Nicholl McGuire

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