The Sunday Times

“How can I get my husband’s family to like me?”

From stand-offish in-laws to other vexing issues of a personal nature, clinical psychologi­st Jo Lamble answers questions from readers looking for expert advice

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Q

My husband’s family don’t really like me. I used to shrug it off while we were dating, thinking things would get better once we were married. But three years into our marriage and they still don’t like me. They’re polite, but that’s it. They never ask about me or try to talk to me. Lately things have gotten worse because one of his sisters is a COVIDdenie­r and it just makes me angry. I have to bite my tongue but I think my disgust is obvious. How do I make things better?

A

Firstly, is your husband fully aware of the situation? Does he understand how hard it is for you? Sometimes these scenarios can seriously damage the marriage if there’s no empathy. And speaking of empathy, you need to also consider viewing your in-laws through an empathetic lens. It may sound strange when you’re the one being ostracised, but having empathy for others can actually protect our feelings and make us take things less personally. What’s your theory on why they don’t like you? Has there been history of this sort of behaviour with other partners in the family? Are there significan­t difference­s in how you think (apart from the COVID thing)? Are they having trouble relating to you because of how you were raised or how you’re choosing to live your life? You don’t have to defend who you are, and you don’t have to change. There’s something going on for them that makes it hard for them to accept you. And unless you’re specifical­ly told what that is, I’d pour your energy into your marriage and do what they do – be polite, but that’s it.

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