"My husband and I feel the same way about his parents. We don't like them. But whenever I say something negative about them, he gets defensive! What gives?"
Anyone who's ever spoken a harsh word against hubby's mama has encountered the same thing: a bad case of smackdown. Counselor and co-author of Mad About Us: Moving from Anger to Intimacy with Your Mate (Bethany),
Dr. Gary Oliver has this warning: "If crazy is to find out what doesn't work and keep on doing it, then saying negative things about your in-laws probably isn't anything even close to smart. Unless you enjoy being miserable."
Rules for in-law criticisms:
- When tempted to say something negative, keep quiet.
- When tempted to agree with someone from the family about someone from the family, nod up a storm inside your head. Then see #1.
- When tempted to badmouth your in-laws in front of your children, keep your lips sealed.
As much as your husband may have issues with his family, they're still his family. Only family members who have toughed it out since childhood together have a right to take issue with their own.
I know it's tough! They probably do get on your nerves. But the old saying "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all" has biblical roots. Proverbs 10:14 (NLT) tells us, "Wise people treasure knowledge, but the babbling of a fool invites trouble."
Dr. Oliver agrees. "If you must say something, start with something positive, then share one concern that maybe you and your husband can do something about."1