Arguments between in-laws can also strain parent-child relationships.

How to Deal With Angry In-Laws

by Candice Coleman

Whether you love 'em or hate 'em, your in-laws are going to be in your life for a while. Marriages young and old can sway with the strains between in-laws, but anyone can start mending the bridge to peace. If your in-laws are stomping their feet because your parents got to baby sit the kids on Saturday, or if they're furious over that joke you made in poor taste, there is a remedy for cooling down the in-laws.

Swallow your pride and pick up the phone, because today's agenda is calling your in-laws. Practice rehearsing what you intend to say to them first, although remaining calm and polite is most important. If something you did or said was offensive, you might choose to say, "Fred and Angela, I wanted to apologize about my behavior. I was trying to be funny and it got out of hand. I'm sorry that I hurt you."

Adapt your explanation if your in-laws are angry about a perceived slight, like not getting to spend as much time with the grandchildren as someone else. You might say, "I didn't realize that you were upset about how often you were seeing the kids. Why don't you come to visit tomorrow?" Whatever you do, don't lie during your apology to cover up poor behavior; not only will you be lying off the cuff, but your in-laws may be able to detect your insincerity.

Make it up to the in-laws. Sure, you don't want to be a pushover with no boundaries, but you also want to keep the family moving in a healthy manner. Invite them over for dinner or an afternoon out with the grandchildren. If they have done something nice for you and your husband, send a small gift or a thank-you note in appreciation. Taking action to keep the in-laws from feeling slighted can stem your in-laws' anger or prevent them from getting angry in the first place.

Enlist your husband's support and help. In some families, you could offer multitudes of apologies, a treasure of gold and a unicorn to your in-laws, and they would still rebuke you. If you have apologized and tried to extend the olive branch to your in-laws, but they refuse to budge, it is time for your husband to intervene and talk to his parents.


  • Food and activities can go a long way in bridging the gap. If you would like to meet with your in-laws in person, you might choose to tell them, "Why don't you come over on Friday morning? We can talk more over a cup of coffee." Holding discussions during otherwise calm times for everyone involved can help dissipate the anger.


  • Plan ahead; as soon as you learn that your in-laws are upset, try to make it right. Engaging in a power play of silence only hurts everyone, including your children, who may miss Grandma and Grandpa.

About the Author

Candice Coleman worked in the public school system as a middle school and high school substitute teacher. In addition to teaching, she is also a tutor for high school and college students.

Photo Credits

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