SGR 016 | What To Do When Your Family Doesn’t Support Your Relationship


It’s Sunday afternoon and you’re getting ready for dinner at your parents’ house. It's a weekly tradition that your family has preserved for years. You should be looking forward to it, but instead the anxiety starts creeping in.

What kind of snide comment will your mom make about your partner?

Will she tell you for the millionth time that she ran into your ex and that he is still asking about you?

Will your dad snub your partner, again?

Will this, once again, cause a Sunday night fight between you and your partner?

When your family doesn’t support your relationship - it sucks!

It feels like you are being pulled in opposite directions and there is no “right” way to go. You want to be there for your partner, but you also want to honor your family.

It leaves you in an impossible position. You have to justify your relationship to your family and then do damage control in your relationship.

It can feel like conflict is inevitable in all family situations, which undoubtedly sucks all the good out of what is supposed to be “good times.”

When your relationship isn’t supported by your family, it can feel hurtful, lonely, and isolating. The damage it can cause in your marriage and in your family is overwhelming.  

There are ways to strategically set boundaries that help preserve your peace of mind and allow your partnership to thrive and family relationships to feel more pleasant and controlled. This week we are talking about:

  • Why family sometimes doesn’t support a relationship
  • How it feels when your relationship doesn’t get the support it needs from those closest to you
  • How this conflict can impact you as a couple
  • How to support each other when your families aren’t on board
  • How to set healthy boundaries with nay-sayer’s

We also made a very helpful bonus for anyone going through this - The Boundary-Setting with Nay-Sayer’s Worksheet - that allows you and your partner to put your relationship first and form healthy (and anxiety-reducing) boundaries with family and/or in-laws.



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Show Notes:

SGR 001 - Communication that (Actually) Works
SGR 002 - Getting Back to the Honeymoon Phase - One Habit at a Time
SGR 004 - How to Get Divorced - What NOT To Do In Your Relationship
SGR 005 - How to Win A Fight
SGR 009 - Why Happy is Overrated
SGR 013 - When Married Life Doesn’t Feel Like A Fairy-Tale

Short on time? Here’s a list of today’s topics and when to listen:

  • Why families don’t support relationships at times - 2:08
  • How it feels when your relationship doesn’t get the support it needs from those closest to you - 8:22
  • How this conflict can impact couples - 13:08
  • How to support each other when your families aren’t on board - 18:59
  • Having empathy for your partner - 21:11
  • How to set healthy boundaries with nay-sayer’s - 25:07
  • Meredith and Marina’s Takeaways - 38:33


Meredith: Hey there and welcome to episode sixteen of the Simply Great Relationships podcast. We’re so glad you could join us today. I’m Meredith Silversmith and this is Marina Voron. And today, we are talking about what to do when your family doesn’t support your relationship.

Marina: That’s a big one.

Meredith: That is. It’s a big one and it’s a tough one. So, today we’re gonna be covering why this happens, how it feels when your relationship doesn’t get the supported needs from those closest to you, how this can impact couples and relationships, how to support one another when the families aren’t on board and how to set healthy boundaries with Nay-sayer’s. So, we’re gonna cover a lot of good stuff today. Really important. And make sure you stay with us until the very end because we’ve got a great bonus for you and we’ll tell you how to get it.

Marina: So, I guess, let’s start with “Why does this happen?”.

Meredith: Mhmm!

Marina: Why do sometimes families have a hard time supporting a partner?

Meredith: Yeah! It’s an excellent question! I think, what I’ve seen a lot of is parent’s expectations.

Marina: Mhmm!

Meredith: Right? So, parents have an expectation of what type of partner they wanna see for their child, what type of life they want to have, things like that and if your partner doesn’t necessarily fit that mold, that can trigger some issues.

Marina: Yeah! Definitely! I’ve also seen when I’ve done deeper work with older couples who have children where they’re not approving of a partner, sometimes, it’s a little bit of a projection where the partner reminds them of somebody from their life. Maybe an ex-partner of theirs or somebody that’s triggering to them and they are projecting onto that but it’s very hard to have awareness into that and it’s very hard to manage that and say “Well, I’m not reacting to this person. I’m reacting to that person.” but I noticed that it can be like “Well, he reminds me of this one and that one was bad so he’s bad also”.

Meredith: Yeah! Definitely! And I think, probably one of the most common one which is pretty self explanatory but important to mention, there was some incident with the partner, right? There was some issue, some argument, some situation that went unresolved and wasn’t discussed and now, they are just feelings of resentment and anger and hurt and frustration building up between the family members and this partner and it just sort of snowballs from there.

Marina: Yeah. What I really see is sometimes when people come in and describe these incidents, I’m like “That could’ve been nipped in the butt real quick” but what tends to happen is because they’re undiscussed, because they’re not brought up, those feelings, it’s like the little seeds of contempt growing to big beautiful trees or big ugly trees because they keep on being unresolved and it’s really triggering to people and it sets the whole system. A couple of times, we’ve already talked about this concept of negative sentiment override where the relationship overall feels negative. There is no buffer for negative stuff. Any tiny thing that when you’re in positive sentiment override, you’d completely brush off. In negative sentiment override, what it actually does is it gets exacerbated and is felt as really big. That’s what happens. So, it’s like the parents can never do anything right. If mom didn’t check in and say, “Oh, how’s your new job?”, “That’s it. She hates me, she doesn’t approve of me” or if the partner doesn’t check in with dad about how his hip is feeling, “Oh, she’s uncaring, she’s doesn’t care about my family, she doesn’t care about my health”, anything small gets so, so, so overworked because the whole system is in negative sentiment override and everything is looked at as so major.

Meredith: Yup! Those are good examples. We’ve talked about negative sentiment override in the past. We’ve talked about it in the context of the romantic relationship, right? Partner to partner. But the reality is that the emotional bank account and the potential for this negative skew or positive skew exist in every relationship. So, don’t think you’re off the hook with the family and the in-laws because it applies there, too.

Marina: Mhmm!

Meredith: Have you seen much with enmeshed families?

Marina: Oh, of course! Of course, I think because of the demographic that we kind of work with. I feel like enmeshment, it’s almost like a cultural phenomena of a lot of the cultures that are very present in our area. So, I’m definitely seen it. What’s your experience with the enmeshed families?

Meredith: Yeah! I think that, enmeshment, just to give you a concrete definition, means basically, the extended family is over involved in their child’s life and child, meaning adult child who may be 30 years old but the parents still feel like they should have some level of control and influence and say and if there’s something that the partner suggests or feels or acts like that’s contrary to what they think is best, it causes problems because it’s seen as a loss of control of their son or daughter to this other person. So, that’s how I’ve seen it.

Marina: Yeah! It’s letting go of their baby and a lot of times, people don’t wanna let go of their baby.

Meredith: Yeah!

Marina: Yeah, I’ve definitely seen that a lot. I don’t know about you but I see that a lot in terms of like families that also have external relationships outside the family. So, they’re a family but they may also be in business together.

Meredith: Oh yeah!

Marina: Family but, you know, dad and son work at the same company or where there’s dual relationships, I feel like there’s almost more room for enmeshment and it’s something to be extra aware of because I think that’s a pattern I’ve noticed a lot.

Meredith: Yeah! Absolutely! When we think about what it feels like for the couple, you’ve got two people on different sides of this thing. So, you’ve got the partner whose partner it is, whose family is not in agreement or not supportive of their relationship and then you’ve got the partner who’s got the in-laws who are not supportive of their relationship. So, when I think of the one whose family it is, the feelings that can come up are feeling hurt, feeling lonely, feeling like an outcast. They’re often compared to siblings, I think. I find that a lot like compared to siblings or sibling’s partners and compared to cousins. A lot of comparison, a lot of effort put in by the extended family to make it clear how far off track they are.

Marina: Yeah. It’s like “Well, your sister married this guy, why couldn’t you marry a guy like that?” or “Well, your brother is with this kind of partner and look how great their relationship is. Why can’t you also do that?”. It’s almost like not embracing each child’s individuality. It’s saying “Well, we’d love a monotonous, uniform, consistency in partners between our children”.

Meredith: Yeah!

Marina: Which is not realistic. But yeah. I think it’s really hurtful and I’m sure it brings up a lot of feelings of insecurity, self-doubt. I think it’s really hard when the people who you love most and love you most antagonize your relationship.

Meredith: Mhmm! You have to keep justifying and keep explaining. “Why” is probably a big question. “Well, why did he do this?” or “Why did she do that?”. Everything’s sort of under the microscope. So, you have to constantly justify “Well, because of this” or “Well, because of that” or “We love each other” and that’s not a good dynamic to have at play with your own family.

Marina: Mhmm!

Meredith: So, that’s tough.

Marina: And then you don’t get to be in your role. You don’t get to be in role of son or daughter or sister, you have to be in role of lawyer having to be on the defensive all the time and as we talked about plenty of times, being in constant defensiveness mode really sucks. It takes a huge toll on you.

Meredith: Yeah! Absolutely! And it’s more negativity, right? Even when the defensiveness is warranted, it’s still one of the four horsemen.

Marina: Yeah!

Meredith: And it’s still chipping away at that emotional bank account with your parents or your brother or your sister, whoever’s getting involved. So, definitely a dynamic we wanna see be different. What about for the other partner? What do you think it’s like for the partner who is coming into this family?

Marina: Oh, gosh. It’s probably just rejection. Like, so much rejection, disrespect, feeling not valued, feeling not important. I think all of us really wanna be accepted and embraced by our in-laws and not getting that, again, probably self-doubt, a lot of insecurities that are triggered that are like “Why me? Why am I being treated like that?”. Even if you are taking accountability, it’s like “Well, why am I not accepted?”.

Meredith: Yeah! And those are really tough and it can be even harder when the family is vocal about their disapproval because I think there’s two, maybe it’s not as black and white as they’re being two kinds of families in these situations.

Marina: Probably a spectrum.

Meredith: Definitely a spectrum but they’re certainly your families who are gonna say it. You know, make comments right to the partner versus families where things happen more behind the scenes but both are difficult.

Marina: I think both are really hard to manage and it’s almost like there isn’t a better one when it’s really overt. It’s hard because you’re being attacked obviously. You’re probably gonna go and preemptively defensive saying like “Well, I did this…”, you know. If it’s behind the scenes, you’re going in not knowing how to act and you’re probably so over stressed out about your behavior because you know you’re being scanned and judged at all times. Yeah, that makes functioning at Sunday dinner pretty hard.

Meredith: Absolutely. So, that’s the impact to individuals, right? Those really tough feelings come up but what about for the couple? How does this play out in terms of the relationship?

Marina: These feelings, when they live within us obviously come out in our relationships. It’s really hard to feel a sense of rejection and judgment and not being accepted by our in-laws or not having our partner be accepted and have that live within us not in our relationships. I think it creates a lot of room for conflict over our extended families and over extended family rituals and over traditions and how we celebrate holidays, how we celebrate birthdays. All of this stuff, even watching the kids, things like that, things that should be pleasant and exciting to talk about become issues and also, I think there’s a huge sense of walking on eggshells because it’s like “Well, I wanna be able to get my peace out but a part of my peace is insulting your nearest and dearest”. So, think a lot of conflict.

Meredith: Yeah! A lot of conflict. I think what happens is it makes sense that there’s conflict around “Well, where are we gonna spend this holiday?” or “How are we gonna celebrate my birthday?” or something that I see come up a lot is when kids are involved and it’s like mother’s day or father’s day and it becomes, you know, everybody’s got a mother so “My mother-in-law wants to celebrate but I’m a mother too. Don’t I mat…”, you know, I’ve seen that fight play out with adults.

Marina: The “Don’t I matter”.

Meredith: The “Don’t I matter”, “Aren’t I important?”, “I don’t wanna spend mother’s day with your mother who hates me”, right? Like this sort of dynamics. You could see how that could play out over and over again. And especially when children are involved. When you talk about splitting time and try to make things reasonably fair and even, that gets really, really tough when there’s conflict of one of the families or one of the families who’s really disapproving of the relationship because I have seen, even when that’s the case, I haven’t seen a lot of disapprovement carry on to the grandchildren.

Marina: Mhmm!

Meredith: It kinda stays with the partner but then they wanna have that 100% relationship with the grandchildren which I think is really hard to navigate for some people who are being targeted.

Marina: Yeah! Of course, because it’s like, well, you can be like “This is your grandchild. Why can’t you be like this to me?”. It’s like a really conflicting message you’re receiving that even as an adult is really hard to get of “Well, you can be so kind and warm and loving and affectionate but why am I not getting that?”.

Meredith: Yeah! Absolutely! And then you think of childcare playing out and, you know, it’s the partner who’s feeling ostracized going to feel comfortable leaving his children or her children in the care of someone who the feel hates them.

Marina: I think it really opens up the door to use children as pawns.

Meredith: Yeah.

Marina: And I think, in that situation, talk about an “everybody loses” situation. But I think, the core of this is there are such power struggles that play here and cute little grandbabies are really, really high stakes, you know. So, I think if it gets to that point, nobody wins. Nobody feels good in that system.

Meredith: Yeah, absolutely. What are some things you’ve started where you’ve heard from families in the past from couples who are facing this problem?

Marina: Just that it sucks. That it sucks, it’s hurtful, it’s lonely, and it’s impactful.

Meredith: Mhmm.

Marina: It’s almost like, I call it gumby arms. The partner whose family it is feels pulled in one direction by their parents and one direction by their partner and they can’t really be present in either one.

Meredith: Yeah! That’s very hard. And I know, I’ve heard a lot in my office like “I feel like I’m giving up my family for you” even no matter how invested they were in their relationship or are in the relationship, there comes this breaking point where they feel forced to choose and that’s really difficult. And then for their partner on the receiving end of the negativity, they could feel like “Your family hates me for no reason”.

Marina: Mhmm!

Meredith: Sometimes, nothing happened, right? Sometimes, all you did was sort of step into a family where the dynamic was not one that could accept you in and that’s really challenging as well and I think the stressor being there and being so present especially around the holiday times, it just leads to more arguments and sort of fuels arguments that are unrelated.

Marina: Mhmm! Definitely! And I think all of that is, again, it trickles down into the couple’s dynamic, so, what’s the best way for couples to support each other when families aren’t on board?

Meredith: Yeah. Communication, you know, we always talk about communication. And communication’s extremely important because as much as we might think we know what it feels like, it’s really important to keep each other up to date on when you’re at with it because your feelings may change. Your feelings may sort of lessen or you may go into a more neutral space for a while and then something might happen that triggers it and you’d feel more negative. So, it’s really important to keep up to date with your partner by sharing how you’re feeling, you know, the partner who’s being targeted, sharing how you’re feeling without attacking the family.

Marina: Yeah. I think that’s the real, real key is focusing on your own feelings, not on a running list of the transgressions the family has made against you.

Meredith: Right. And there’s this funny quote. It’s not really a quote but it’s just this way of saying things when there’s this conflict that my friend and I always say and it’s just like “Your mother”. You know, when you hear that when they come in? It’s just like “Your mother did this and your mother did that and your mother…” it’s just got all this contempt in there. So, you don’t wanna speak like that. Again, that’s you. You’re using “You” statements. We want you to use “I” statements. “I’m feeling really hurt”, “I’m feeling really misunderstood”, “I’m feeling really alone in this because when I heard your mom say ‘X’, I felt this way”, right? So, the same way you would do with your partner, you’re doing it talking about this situation. And if you haven’t downloaded the communication tip sheet from episode one, definitely go back and get that because you need that if this is going on.

Marina: Yeah and I think it’s only natural for people to wanna defend their parents.

Meredith: Mhmm!

Marina: So, if you’re starting with a like “Your mom did…”, obviously, that’s gonna bring defenses right up and your conversation’s not gonna go where you need it to go.

Meredith: Yeah!

Marina: So, I think that’s a big one. The next one I think for really managing the situation well is having empathy for your partner and of course, you should have empathy for your partner but in this situation, if your partner is the one that’s not being accepted, having empathy, that’s a hard situation for them to be in. If your partner is the one with the family that’s not accepting you, having empathy for the fact that that’s a hard situation for them to be in, that nobody in this system is in an easy place.

Meredith: Yeah.

Marina: So, really, really buying into that idea that it sucks for you but it sucks for everyone also. So, almost like letting go of this victim mentality. Like “I’m the victim and they’re the bad guys”. It’s like “No, we’re all kind of holding on to our own hurt and suffering”. Even the in-laws or parents are suffering in their own way and again, maybe not using the best language to express it but nobody is generally happy in this situation. So, cultivating that empathy can really, really take things down emotionally and making them more manageable.

Meredith: Definitely! And trying to use that, I mean, this is a tall order but trying not to take it personally for either partner, right? Coming from a place, I think, talking through this today and listening to this episode trying to take the situation you may be in and put it in context. So, if you know this is stemming from your in-law’s divorce or you know this is stemming from their enmeshment. I talk a lot about like “This is my stuff and this is your stuff or this is their stuff”. So, everybody’s got their stuff. This is probably one of those situations where it is your in-law’s stuff that’s getting in the way. So, that really doesn’t have much to do with you. It affects you very much but it’s not a personal thing so trying to keep that context in your mind and not take it personally and try to say “Okay, I know where this is coming from. This is coming from their history or their expectations” can help reduce some of the emotionality.

Marina: Yeah and I call that being the Buddha meditating half of the mountain because it’s really hard but I think once you’re able to set that boundary, you will never have control over how your in-laws or your parents feel about you or your partner, but you do have control even though it may not feel like it at times. This is why you kinda have to level up to Buddha level. You do have control about your level of emotional reactivity to it and really understanding that there’s my stuff and there’s their stuff and my partner’s stuff helps tap into that locus of control of like “This is not my stuff to react to. This is my stuff to kind of put on the boat and sail it out of my peripheral vision”.

Meredith: Mhmm.

Marina: Again, yes, this is something that is 100% easier said than done but I always think of it as a practice. It’s like working out a muscle. The first time you do it, it’s gonna be so, so hard and you’re gonna have all kinds of feelings come up after it but the more you practice it, the better you’ll get at it.

Meredith: Mhmm! Definitely! So, I mean, talking about boundaries. Boundaries and setting healthy boundaries are really good way to handle this type of situation. What would you suggest for that? What are your thoughts on healthy boundaries?

Marina: So, I think we all need healthy boundaries to protect our relationships. I think the first thing about setting healthy boundaries, the biggest key about it is to be on the same page with your partner. Not to be on the same page with you family, not to be on the same page with your in-laws. To be on the same page with your partner. You and your partner are the unit.

Meredith: Mhmm!

Marina: So, for me, that’s the biggest starting point and the question is “How do we protect us?”.

Meredith: Yeah.

Marina: “What is best for us?”, “How do we minimize the impact on us?”. Some people who are listening may think of “Oh, wow. Well, that’s a little selfish. That’s a little entitled” but really, being self-loving and self-preserving as a couple is saying “I wanna invest in my relationship and I wanna minimize the damage that’s coming into it”.

Meredith: Yeah, because if you’re at the reality is, this is, assuming you are in a long term, committed relationship or you’re married or, you know, where your relationship is going anywhere, right? If the goal is to preserve your relationship and the goal is to stay married or stay together in as much peace as possible, this is how you do it. So, whether you like it or not, this is the way. So, something to think about. And I think what’s really great is our bonus today touches on just these things so we’ll talk about it later but it’s gonna walk you through this process. So, that’s really exciting.

Marina: Mhmm!

Meredith: You gotta put your relationship first, right? It’s gotta come before your family’s needs. And that’s not to say that you don’t care about their feelings or you don’t care about their opinion, but when you’re investing to build your life with somebody else, that’s gotta take top spot and then from there, you sort of navigate the rest of the world.

Marina: Mhmm! And I’ll add a little caviac here because I think there are times when your family’s gonna come first, sure. Like, somebody’s not doing well, if there’s a crisis. Sure. But you need to think about times when your family comes first are the exceptions and times when your relationship comes first are the standard. It’s when that’s flipped that we see a lot of the issues.

Meredith: Mhmm! Yeah! And I think it’s also, you know, this calls to both partners to put each other’s families… to be mindful of when each other’s families have to come first.

Marina: Yeah.

Meredith: So, the hope would be if somebody were sick in the extended family that the partner whose family it is and the other partner would both feel that this is a priority right now.

Marina: Yeah. And also, putting your relationship first does not mean rejecting your family.

Meredith: No.

Marina: There’s enough love in your heart for… you know, I think that’s where people… Sometimes, when I say this to couples in session and I said this a lot of times to couples in session to put their relationship first. It doesn’t mean being rejecting of everybody else, it doesn’t mean never seeing anybody else or saying “No”. It just means that there’s a hierarchy and your relationship’s first. Your family’s close second. It’s not like your relationship’s here and your family is way, way down there. It’s just having that mindset.

Meredith: Mhmm! Definitely! And… it’s so hard to explain sometimes but we’re not necessarily talking about so much day to day because sometimes, when I talk about this with couples, we think about like division of time. “How much time are you spending with your partner versus your family?”. It’s not really that. It’s more values, ethics, beliefs when you’re making decisions. The priority needs to go and the weight needs to go to your relationship but that doesn’t mean that you as an individual shouldn’t jump on the phone with your mom or dad when you’re driving home from work two or three times a week or have coffee with one of your (parents). You know, it doesn’t mean the absence of that. It means that the bigger picture, values and decision making, need to weigh heavily in your relationships as a priority.

Marina: Mhmm! On a really practical level, though, in terms of how to set really healthy boundaries, I think it’s always important to figure out what is essential and what’s just like a “nice to have”, “would be nice”, because I think this is where a lot… this is where the day to day stuff really can cause a lot of conflict because couples have different definitions, don’t get on the same page with this, and something that your partner thinks is a “would be nice” is a “have to” in your eyes and then it’s like “Well, you’re prioritizing them over me”. So, I think I should give an example because I don’t know if people know what I’m talking about here, but something like if we’re talking about rituals of connection within the family, larger family context. Let’s look at something like having a weekend meal versus thanksgiving. So, a meal every single weekend, that’s 52 days you’re committed to a year to have a meal with your extended family. Do you really need to commit 52 times?

Meredith: Probably not.

Marina: That would be a “it would be nice if”, but maybe not an absolute essential as opposed to something like thanksgiving when everybody’s together and it’s really important and there’s a lot of traditions and stuff around it. That might be a “have to”. So, it’s like really getting on the same page in terms of what are “have to’s” and what are “would be nice if’s”. So, even if you don’t make 52 weekend meals a year, if you make 20, that’s good enough.

Meredith: Yeah! That makes a lot of sense! I think that’s a really good practical suggestion. And you know, when you’re in those situations, you don’t have to shoot for best friends. You don’t have to shoot for mother-in-law-daughter-in-law or son-in-law relationship of the year. Go for cordial respectful. Be nice enough, be respectful enough, be friendly enough. You don’t have to be the best of the best of the best.

Marina: Yeah. Nobody’s side you have to be best friends and you know, the reality is not all of us win the in-laws lottery. That’s just life, but I think if you start with “I just need to be cordial and respectful”, not like integrated like another child in the family, I think that does plenty and I think a part of that is also having empathy and putting yourself in the shoes of the family or again, like we talked about, having empathy for everybody in the situation because the situation is hard for everybody. So, really pushing yourself to have empathy is a boundary. It’s a personal boundary because saying “No, I wanna be stuck in this position”, it’s like righteous and indignation where “I’m right and I’m the victim and everybody else is out to hurt me”, that’s not a boundary. That’s probably worked for anybody.

Meredith: Yeah. Definitely not. This is a tough one but we have to say it, if something happened at some point, this conflict or this dynamic is stemming from an incident, it would make sense to apologize and take ownership of your slice of what went wrong and that’s not to say that you’re gonna own 100% of the problem or you’re going to take all the blame, but to say “You know what? I know that 3 years ago when we didn’t come to Christmas, that really was hurtful and I’ve learned a lot since then and I feel badly and I’m sorry”. I think that that can go a long way, waving the white flag. And just to point back to an episode where we go into a lot more depth on this, number five, “How to win a fight”. Not number five, is it five?

Marina: I think so.

Meredith: I think it is, “How to win a fight”. That’s a really, really good episode where we go in depth how to work through this kind of process and you could totally apply the skills to this situation.

Marina: Yeah. And the reality is, even if you apologize, this may be a perpetual issue with no resolution, and most likely it is. I say 9 out of 10 times, this is pretty perpetual. So, to focus on acceptance that this is the situation and making the best of it. We talked about in a previous episode that perpetual issues, the real solution to them is improving quality of life so priming yourself to be less emotionally reactive to the situation, not putting this expectation that tomorrow you’ll wake up and you’ll have this wonderful family and everything will be great and changed and better and everybody’s gonna sing Kumbaya in the park. Just kinda having a reality check with yourself that this is a perpetual issue and again, this goes back to going cordial and respectful. That might be the best you can get but that doesn’t mean that that’s not good enough.

Meredith: Yeah! And you know what gets in the way of reducing emotional reactivity is “shoulds”.

Marina: Mhmm!

Meredith: These beliefs about what should be. “It should be like this”, “It should be like that”, “She shouldn’t dislike me”. All of these beliefs are not serving you. So, if that’s what you find you keep coming up against that you can’t reduce the emotionality because of all the shoulds that are running through your mind, you’ve got some individual work to do to release that and to shift how you’re thinking about it because you’re just gonna be stuck in that place otherwise.

Marina: 100%. You kind of need to accept people for what they’re able to give you and saying “My mother in-law should be my best friend and we should be texting each other everyday and we should have this wonderful relation…”. That may not be in your or your mother-in-law’s capabilities.

Meredith: Yeah! And that’s okay!

Marina: And the “shoulds” of that are getting in the way of you having a totally cordial and respectful relationship that’s good enough.

Meredith: Yeah! Good enough is good enough.

Marina: Yes.

Meredith: I’m a big believer in that.

Marina: Huge believer in the “good enough is good enough”.

Meredith So, look. As always, we don’t want you just to listen. We want you to listen and integrate this in your relationship especially if it’s something you’re struggling with. We have put together our boundaries setting with “Nay” sayers worksheet for you. If you are facing this problem, definitely download it. You can get it at and work your way through that with your partner and see how that alleviate some of the stress from the situation.

Marina: Let’s talk about takeaways.

Meredith: Hmm. Yeah.

Marina: What would you say your big takeaway from today is?

Meredith: Even though I know it already, it’s just again a refresher of “don’t expect that things are gonna change”. Don’t come from a place necessarily of “Well, if I do this, it’s gonna get better” or “If I do that, it’s gonna get better”. And that’s not to say be hopeless but it’s to say work towards, work MORE towards acceptance and making the best of the situation and doing the small things you can do as an individual to contribute positively but don’t keep expecting radical change. I think that’s a big takeaway.

Marina: Mhmm!

Meredith: What about for you?

Marina: For me, it’s, again, it’s a refresher, but that your relationship has to come first in this that you need to look at your unit as being at the top of the hierarchy and you always need to ask “What’s the best for my unit?” not “my extended unit” that involves everybody because that’s gonna lead to a lot of sabotage. Knowing that that is the priority and setting up boundaries and rules of engagement accordingly to prioritizing your relationship.

Meredith: Yeah. Very important.

Marina: Mhmm! Alright! So, that’s all for today. We hope that you take these tips and start using them right away. I know a lot of people can relate to today’s episode. We’d love for you to continue the conversation with us in our Facebook group where we’ll hook you up with tips, with tricks, with exclusive live streams and if you have questions for us, we’d be happy to discuss any questions you have or if you can share experiences, we’d absolutely love to hear what your experience with this has been and if you’re integrating any of the tips, how that’s working out for you. You can find our group at or click the link on our website which is

Meredith: Alright. That was a long one! That was a doozy of an episode! I hope you guys had a lot of takeaways! So until next week! We’ll see you then!

Marina & Meredith: Bye!