What To Do If Your Parents & Your SO's Parents Don't Get Along

by Korey Lane
Originally Published: 

Perhaps one of the most intimidating parts of a relationship is meeting the parents. No matter how long you've been together, when you first go to meet your partner's parents, and vice versa, it can be scary. However, one part of relatively new relationships that you might not think about until it happens is having your parents meet your partner's parents. Parents meeting parents can be incredibly intimidating, and hopefully it goes well, but what are you supposed to do if your parents and partner’s parents don’t get along very well? Honestly, it might feel like it's your responsibility to fix everything, but it's actually not up to you.

First of all, know that it's totally normal for your parents and your partner's parents not to get along. "Parents, in general, create a little world of values, interacting styles, and views of men, women, child-rearing, politics, the world, and more," licensed clinical psychotherapist LeslieBeth Wish tells me in an interview for Elite Daily. "As you mature, you have greater wisdom and freedom to differ from your parents. But, most likely, your parents stay the same. And, as a result, it is also no wonder that your and your partner's parents will not see eye-to-eye." Basically, parents tend to be set in their ways, so it can be difficult when they meet someone who isn't similar to them.

Additionally, Wish says if your parents and your partner's parents don't get along, it's best for you and your partner agree on how to handle it — or how not to handle it. "The differences in yours and your partner's parents does not have to be a problem for you as a couple," Wish says, "as long as you set some mutually agreeable guidelines that include not criticizing, blaming, or disrespecting the other's parents, and not expecting your and your partner's parents to be best friends." If you can do that, then the whole issue doesn't have to be an issue at all.

Now, if you and your partner are still not sure what to do, Wish has some advice. "Some couples inform both sets of parents about potential differences, as well as ask your parents to be civil — and to suspend any talk about those hot-topic differences," she says. "You can prepare each set of parents by giving them topics that might be shared interests such as travel, hobbies, cooking, sports, and anything else you think they might share." Obviously, if your parents are going to meet your partner's parents for the first time, it's understandable that you'd be nervous, so being prepared is a great idea no matter what.

The most important thing to keep in mind, Wish says, is that your focus should be on each other, not the conflict. "Both you and your partner need to develop 'meet-the-parents' awareness triggers so that you can avoid dumping your conflicting feelings on each other," she says. "You also need to develop ground rules of your behavior, as well as more realistic expectations of what you want to accomplish when everyone gets together. There's a reason why few in-laws vacation together!" Keep in mind that as long as you and your partner remain committed to each other, your parents not liking one another isn't a deal-breaker. You two are what matters, so don't let the drama get between what's really important.

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