Getting married is a big adjustment, and sometimes the biggest part is learning how to deal with your new in-laws. Let’s be honest—people tend to be on their best behavior before it’s a legally binding deal, and true colors are more easily revealed once you’re all one (official) big happy family. You can go from getting along just fine with your future MIL to being her mortal enemy after putting up one silly boundary after the wedding. Or maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who’s as close to their in-laws as they are to their own family (or closer!).
Sometimes, when you’re preparing to forge families after a wedding or trying to get a read on how best to handle your in-laws, it can help to know what type of in-laws you’ll be dealing with. There are LOTS of different types of in-laws, so we’re not saying yours will fit 100% into one of these categories but we’re betting you’ve got at least one bonus family member who matches up here.
The Throuple In-Laws
Maybe you missed the fine print, but you’re pretty sure you only agreed to marry one person (your partner) and there was no mention of a throuple during the engagement. And yet! Your in-laws are as involved in your marriage as you or your spouse are, and it’s a little…crowded.
Daily phone calls, multiple unannounced visits a week, asking for and talking about intimate details that are none of their business —this type of in-laws have never heard the word boundary and wouldn’t know one if it poked them in the eye while they were trying to peek into your peephole to see if someone was coming to answer the door.
They use words like ‘we’ and ‘our’ when the topic of family planning comes up and have already named your first two (unborn) kids.
The Holiday In-Laws
Oh, you thought you and your spouse would be splitting the holidays between your respective families once you were married? You clearly didn’t understand that your spouse comes from Holiday Folk. Holiday In-Laws do not *split* holidays. That’s not how they work. They host every holiday, even Flag Day, and they do not understand the concept of ‘small’ when it comes to family gatherings. Thanksgiving requires renting an event space. Christmas is a week-long event and includes multiple matching outfits.
Can’t get time off from work? Quit your job. Plans with your family? Cancel them or invite them to your in-laws. You will be expected to attend no fewer than 15 holiday gatherings a year with your Holiday In-Laws and they don’t expect an RSVP because not attending is not an option.
You saw The Annuals at your wedding so chances are you won’t see them again for a year or so. You all get along fine and the family chat is poppin’, but The Annuals are not ‘never miss an event or gathering’ people! Maybe your spouse is one of several kids or maybe The Annuals travel a lot/work a lot/live too far.
Whatever their reasoning, these types of in-laws are perfectly happy seeing their fam a couple times a year in person and a few times a week on FaceTime. You’ll still invite them to everything, knowing they won’t come. Because who doesn’t want to be included? But make no mistake—if you need them, like REALLY need them, they’ll be there in the blink of an eye.
The Social Media Oversharing In-Laws
There you are, casually scrolling the ol’ Facebook, when you get a notification that your MIL tagged you in a post. Upon review, you realize she’s just announced to all 637 of her FB friends that your period is two days late so PRAYERS THIS MEANS SHE WILL FINALLY GET HER GRANDBABY! The Oversharers mean well, they really do. Hell, they probably don’t even fully understand what it means when they post publicly that their kid and their spouse are seeing a ‘specialist’ because of a tilted uterus or poor swimmers.
Social media is still a fairly new concept for them and they still use it like they’re sitting around at their bridge game gossiping with their friends. Unless you want your MIL or FIL to announce the birth of your child before you do, you’ll have to be VERY careful with what (and when) you choose to share with The Oversharers.
The Umbilical In-Laws
Sure, your spouse has been a fully functioning adult for the last 20 years of their life…but try telling that to their mom or dad. Umbilical In-Laws never quite grasped the concept of cutting the cord, despite the fact that all their children are grown and living on their own. They are what you’d imagine attachment parenting would be if it didn’t end at grade school. If you think it’s weird that your spouse’s parents still make their doctor’s appointments and send clothes and home decor to your house without being asked to do so, IT’S BECAUSE IT IS.
Out of all the different types of in-laws, this one is probably the hardest to navigate. Because no matter what you do, you can bet your ass your in-laws will be there to correct it and try to in-law-splain how to make your spouse happy. A move abroad is probably your only hope here. But don’t even think of telling Umbilical in-Laws what country you’re relocating to; they’re retired, passported, and can’t imagine being more than 20 minutes away from their precious baby.