Returning Veterans | In-law Relations

Your Spouses Parents


Ok veteran, let’s try this scenario on for size. You’re coming home from a long deployment and you haven’t established a relationship with your in-laws yet. It’s important that you get out in front and establish some standard operating procedures.

The first rule should establish the protocol going forward. That means if her parents need to be corrected, she should do it and take full responsibility. If your parents need correction, you handle that and take responsibility without placing blame on your wife.

I like to tackle the big problems first and sometimes the little things get taken of along the way. In-law competition is often a major issue but you can get in front of it. If you’ve got kids, let both sides know they’re welcome to visit their grandkids (at your home) anytime. Let them know that for awhile, you’ll be staying home to celebrate some holidays. You’ll do this to establish traditions with your kids the way your parents did when you were growing up. Doing this also cuts out the competition over who’s relative you spend more time visiting.

This leads me to to another protocol. There are probably issues both sets of in-laws have that you don’t like. Maybe there are drug & alcohol problems or bad language. Whatever their problem, you shouldn’t expect to change them but you do have total control over what’s allowed in your home. Not everyone knows how to be a good in-law or grandparent. If they’re receptive to learning, see the section on In-Law Relationships for a little guidance. If they refuse to follow your rules, with your kids, in your home, you can limit or eliminate visits. 

Now here’s a move some of you might find difficult to do but it will make a difference. Take a new picture or use an existing one that includes both you and your in-laws. Have it printed, framed and then display it in a prominent location in your home. Don’t mention it to anybody, just do it. When your kids or grandkids visit, they will notice and they will love it. This bridges gaps that typically exist between families and especially in-laws. The veterans home becomes a place where everyone is represented and both sides are welcomed.

Always show respect for the in-laws because the better your relationship, the more harmonious your return home will be. Your kids will be watching and learning from the kindness and control you exhibit in these situations. You might one day be fortunate enough to have a great relationship with her parents. I’ve certainly had the pleasure to experience a great relationship with the parents of my wife.