Even with the best intentions, meddling parents can contribute to extra tension and stress between yourself and your partner. Whether they simply want to offer advice or put pressure on you, parents shouldn’t have too much influence in your relationship.
Find out why meddling parents can have a negative effect on your relationship and try a few tips that will help you set boundaries and keep them there. It’s not a good idea to go against his parents, so focus on your own and share advice with him on how to handle his parents.
Why Meddling Parents Can Ruin Your Relationship
A 1972 study introduced the notion of the “Romeo and Juliet effect”, a theory that claimed love grows stronger when couples have to deal with interference from parents. However, the original research has been disproved a 2014 study, “Revisiting the Romeo and Juliet Effect,” published in the journal Social Psychology.
With almost 400 subjects, half dating, half married, the researchers analyzed two questionnaires, one related to parent approval and interference, and another to the level of commitment and love experienced in the relationship.
The results were not surprising, with married couples that had to deal with meddling parents reporting lowers levels of love and commitment in their relationship. Dating couples didn’t seem to be affected by interfering parents in the same way.
However, allowing for a lot of parents interference while you’re dating can set a precedent that your parents will continue to use even once you get married, causing problems in your relationship.
How to Deal with Meddlesome Parents
When meddling parents start interfering in your relationship, the effect isn’t just more fights between yourself and your partner. Whether you’re close with your parents or don’t need their approval, constant meddling can also influence you subconsciously. In order to minimize the negative effects, here are the 5 steps you should take.
Respect Their Advice and Point of View
You don’t have to put their advice into practice, but it’s always important to show you listen to your meddling parents. When they don’t feel heard, your parents can double down and give you even more unsolicited advice. Make sure you listen to their point of view at least once, and promise to take their advice into consideration, even if you don’t plan to.
Set Clear Boundaries
Once you’ve let your meddling parents say their peace, it’s time to set boundaries. As an independent adult, you have nothing to lose from standing up to your parents. If they want you in their life, they have to learn to accept and respect your choices. Tell your parents when it’s appropriate to give you advice and when their unsolicited opinions are crossing the line.
Sometimes, good communication is the missing ingredient in the relationship with your meddlesome parents. If they feel you’re shutting them out, they’ll have even more opinions about your relationship, and those opinions will be based on the little they know. Keep them in the loop with important decisions and explain your reasoning, so they don’t continue to think they hold important arguments you haven’t considered.
Tell Them to Trust Their Parenting Skills
When they’re not sure you’d make the best decision on your own, meddling parents will continue to offer unsolicited advice. It’s important to reassure them that you’re doing your best and that they should trust the way they raised you. Explain that their constant advice makes you feel undermined, that doesn’t just hurt your current relationship, it also hurts your relationship with them in the long run.
Avoid the Ultimatum
Even if meddling parents reach high levels of interference, it’s better to avoid any ultimatums. You can tell them they’re pushing you away, but threatening to remove them from your life, and from the lives of their current or future grandchildren, should be a last resort. Try to solve the issue with every other option available before trying an ultimatum. It can get them to back off, but it can also damage your relationship with them.