Extended families are common in Singapore. When we get married, we rarely do so without a wedding ceremony to which not only the couples’ friends and immediate families are invited, but also all the friends and families of the parents from both sides of the marriage.
Whether the wedding feast is cooked by your mother and the festivities are held at your home, or whether they take place in a fancy hotel across town, you know that weddings are not just a statement for the couple to be married, but also a statement of the support which the parents from both sides of the marriage give.
In-Laws Can Strengthen a Marriage
After the wedding is over and your real marriage begins, the true role of your in-laws in your marriage begins to take shape. If you are able to find some common ground and appropriate boundaries with your in-laws, and if you can find a way towards a supportive and positive relationship, your in-laws can become a huge source of support in your marriage.
They Love Your Family Too
When you have children and your own family grows, you know that you can count not only on your own spouse and yourself to love your family, but the love of your parents and your in-laws too.
That love is unconditional, and they are likely to do the best they can to support you and to try to help you and your spouse in building a positive and healthy environment for your children. This help can extend to being there to support you in times of crisis, acting as role models and teachers to your children, providing additional child care support and lending you their experience and expertise in life.
Being Filial is Important
Having a good relationship with your in-laws is important because it allows you and your spouse to fullfil your filial responsibilities. When you make an effort to get along with your in-laws, your spouse will reciprocate and try to replicate that relationship with your parents. If you have a family policy of treating both sets of parents equally, then this means that both of you can demonstrate your support and love for your parents as they grow older and need to depend on you more and more.
Being able to be there for both sets of parents means that you and your spouse will feel better about yourselves and your own relationship. It will remove one source of conflict and will reduce the tension which comes from taking sides in a relationship. Your love and care of your parents and in-laws will also be a model of the values which you hope to teach your own children. When youo are good to your in-laws, you teach your children the importance of family values.
Reduce Conflict in Your Marriage
When 2 people from different backgrounds come together to start a life together, there is always the potential for conflict. Common sources of conflict range from financial issues, lifestyle expectations, your individual roles in the marriage and the impact of your career choices on your family. With so many areas of conflict, it always helps if you can reduce the list of possible problem areas in your marriage. Having a positive or at least a non-antagonistic relationship with your in-laws will go a long way towards reducing stress in your marriage.
If you are able develop rapport and a genuine affection for your in-laws, this is the best situation. If however, your personalities don’t allow for this, then maintaining a cordial and respectful relationship and finding a way to respect your boundaries and compromising a little, is still better than engaging in an all-out conflict or a cold war which could fester and undermine the most important relationship you have in your marriage – the one you have with your spouse.