Dear 'GMA' Advice Guru: Bette Alkazian

Read responses to viewer-submitted questions from one of our finalists.

ByABC News via GMA logo
December 3, 2010, 10:21 AM

Dec. 21, 2010 -- Bette Alkazian from Westlake Village, Calif., is a finalist in the Dear GMA Advice Guru Contest. Read her response to a viewer-submitted question below!

Question from Charlotte in Virginia: "I am writing to you about our daughter who has been married for over three years. She expresses displeasure (initiated by her husband) about the close relationship my husband and I have with her in-laws. My daughter feels that we are intruding upon their time with the in-laws; this is not the case. My husband and I have enjoyed a close, friendly relationship with the in-laws and are baffled and resent being told to back off. We do not see the logic. We were told that to have a relationship with his parents is not normal. Is she right?"

Bette's Advice:

Dear Charlotte,

Mothers-in-law have historically gotten a bad rap! Your case is no different, I'm afraid. In my private practice, the issue of in-laws always has a very high emotional factor. In your case, we have two sets of in-laws. Double trouble! So, first take a deep breath and try to get some distance so you can see the situation from another perspective.

Family relationships, in general, can be very complicated. It sounds to me like this situation has its own set of difficulties, whether you agree with the reasons or not. There are likely to be many layers of family history, long-standing family dynamics and feelings that have not been well-communicated at play here that we cannot begin to understand or dissect.

In my experience the parents and in-laws with the best relationships with their kids are the ones who are respectful of their adult children's lives and keep a healthy distance. There are few demands and little or no intrusion in their business, unless invited in, of course.

You mention that you do not see the logic in this situation. I suggest that you not look for the logic, but that you consider the feelings of your daughter and her husband above your own. Even if you think that this issue is initiated by your son-in-law, you honor your daughter by treating them as a team. They may perceive a threat or experience the relationship in a way that hasn't yet been revealed (and may never be). Regardless of whether or not you agree, I assume that you value your relationship with your daughter and son-in-law. Arguing or attempting to make sense of it may jeopardize your relationship and cause greater tension.

Your warm relationship with your son-in-law's parents will be a great advantage during the many life-cycle events in the coming years around grandchildren, holidays, etc…perhaps the young couple will come to appreciate that eventually. For now, honor your daughter and trust that, in time, this will all sort itself out.