The Toxic Dump: Other-in-Laws

The Toxic Dump is dedicated to the unedited chapters, traits, and tools of Toxicology that were left on the cutting room floor.

This section was left out of the book because it was too partner focused. The relationship with these women are dependent on your relationship with your partner, so the true work lies within your romantic relationship. They hold the burden of keeping a non-toxic environment, while you retain the obligation of keeping your peace.

And honestly, one section isn't nearly enough to unpack all that is -in law.

There is rarely a gray area with these types of things. It is either good or bad. More specifically, it is really good or really bad. Most women desire to be in a healthy relationship with the important women within their partner’s life. It just makes for an easier existence. No dreading the holidays, uncomfortable silences, or needing to slowly into her house because you are saying a silent prayer that this isn’t the day your fake smile fails you. 

When it is less than ideal, as difficult as it can be for you, there is only one thing you should while dealing with a less than peachy in-law situation: Put your significant other first.

They should be the first you inform how you feel and the first person to address it with the Other-in-Law. Even if she is thee most vile representation of a woman you have ever encountered, they likely share a history that includes love and admiration. Considering they probably see her in a much more flattering light, it will not benefit you to recklessly throw shade.

Your focus needs to remain keeping harmony within your relationship. If there should be an issue, do not reciprocate any negativity, discuss it with your partner, first. It is their responsibility to direct any emotional traffic between you. Keeping communication open and clear from retaliatory toxicity helps them do their job more accurately.

If there is a directly disrespectful action that cannot be ignored, and they are not immediately available to moderate, remove yourself from the situation. No, not because she deserves the privilege of being saved from your wrath but because this relationship cannot be a litmus test on how efficiently you can argue a point. I am sure you are more than skilled in the fine art of checking women. But some women are off limits. You can, and should, deny yourself that instant gratification for the betterment of all involved. I do not encourage being run over or disrespected for sport. You have every right to defend yourself. However, when it comes to Other-in-Laws, the delivery must be modified to include consideration and respect for your boo.

Intentionally making yourself the enemy of any woman they love will never work in your favor. I realize women are dismissed and disliked by their other-in-laws for no reason. The term Monster-in-Law exists for a reason. The recommendation to remain neutral is done with the understanding of exactly how much strain this specific familial relationship can put on you. Even strong relationships can teeter on the brink of destruction because of toxic interfamilial relationships. That is why neutrality on your part is so essential. If you are in a committed relationship with someone, you are mutually responsible for your individual families. It’s your responsibility to check your people for saying something out of pocket and it’s their job to ensure that wherever you may dwell within their family, it is a safe space. Period. Keeping those responsibilities separate but equal prevents one party from feeling as though they are carrying a heavier emotional burden. It also forces your significant other to play an active role in how your relationships with their family are formed and maintained.  

If your partner struggles with this, initially, try to be understanding. They may be slowly strengthening conflict resolution muscles they have never used. If your relationship with their mother, grandmother, cousin, etc does not mirror what they expect to see, it may take time for the them to figure out how to be your advocate while also protecting that relationship. Be patient but persistent. It may not come naturally, but you need to make sure your partner understands and accepts this new role for the betterment of everyone involved.

Practice support for yourself and for them. This extra step of consideration will prevent you becoming the face of the drama that may exist. Let her look crazy by herself. Your aim should be to maintain transparency with your significant other.  Things may never be perfect or close to you envisioned your relationship with his Others, but, that doesn’t prevent you from always working to retain the non-toxic version of yourself. Strive to be that person regardless of the situations that they may put you in.

Whether our family or theirs, there will always be women that stretch us. In this case, this is not an exercise we have to manage alone. Lean onto your partner and stay level within yourself.