What are the tell-tale signs his family don’t like you?
As horrible as it sounds, there can be plenty of ways that your partner’s family show you that you’re not good enough for their child. According to Anita Chlipala, founder of Relationship Reality 312, a pretty good indication that your presence is unwanted is when they just aren’t that interested in getting to know you. “If you meet someone for the first time, there’s really no reason why you shouldn’t be curious about them,” she says. But if they’ve made up their mind on you, they might not even make an effort to learn anything about you.
Family therapist Nicole Richardson adds that aggressive questions aimed at you, reticence from your partner to leave you alone in a room with family members and a lack of invitation for family events and activities are also sure-fire signs you’re not welcome.
Hilda Burke, integrative psychotherapist, couple’s counsellor and life coach, says the result of a strong disliking can change from person to person. “One person could try to hide their dislike by being overly polite, trying a bit too hard, another might not hide it at all and make insulting or disparaging comments to another’s face.”
Can this become detrimental to a relationship?
“Only if the couple lets it,” says Hilda. She adds that it’s important for you to acknowledge that, while this whole situation is hard for you, it’s no doubt far harder on your partner who’s likely stuck in the middle: “You should remember that however much you clash, you both just want the object of your affection (partner/brother/son) to be happy. In-law fighting will definitely not help that cause.”
Ammanda Major, senior consultant on sex therapy for Relate, agrees with this sentiment, suggesting that if problems continue, to take yourself out of the equation completely: “We want our partner to support our point of view- perhaps we even give them an ultimatum – ‘it’s me or your family.’ This may seem like a good idea in the heat of the moment but try to consider how it may affect your partner. They’re likely to feel very caught in the middle and in most cases it’s not fair to make them choose. Not only could it result in unhappiness for them but it could mean they end up resenting you. If you really can’t get on with their family and are no longer on speaking terms, allow your partner to continue their relationship with them on their own.”
What steps can you take to rectify the rift with both your partner and their family?
This can be hard, but Hilda advises no matter how frustrating your partner’s family may be, you must accept that this is who they are. The second step is to set some boundaries: “If the family member is too overbearing, it’s important that the couple agrees on boundaries between them to manage this. The important thing is that they both come to an agreement on the family’s place in their relationship.”
But Hilda also suggests that the problem might not actually be with your partner’s family, and to shake that feeling of being disliked by your in-laws, you must first make sure it is legitimate and not just a paranoia. “[Their behaviour] could just be how they are with everyone – not necessarily a sign that you’re personally disliked,” she says. “Often when I work with a client who feels their partner’s family is against them, this feeling is also there in relation to other people too, perhaps a work colleague or someone else in their personal life. Sometimes it’s even passed down between generations – several of my clients have felt their in-law’s dislike them and it’s often been the case that their mothers have experienced the very same feeling, so it’s almost ‘set up’ in them to look for signs that the in-laws dislike them.”
Visit HildaBurke.co.uk for more information.
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