Ask Evie: I Accidentally Found Out My In-Laws Can’t Stand Me. What Do I Do?

Welcome to Ask Evie, our advice column. Readers can submit their questions, and our editors will dish out their best advice!

By Evie2 min read
Pexels/Eugenia Remark

READER’S QUESTION: "Dear Evie, I just saw a text exchange that my mother-in-law and sister-in-law sent each other about how they can’t stand me and being around me because they think I’m too loud and exhausting to be around. They can’t even stand being around me for an hour. 

What do I do? Do I change my personality for them? Do I try to avoid them and have my husband be the only one who is around them? I have already phased off the Zoom calls they do because I noticed they really just want to talk to their son, and they couldn’t care less about me. I try to ask them questions and adjust to their family and way of life. I try to listen often and barely mention anything and talk in very limited ways. When I talk, I can get animated and excited to share things, and in my family this is normal, but his family is more reserved. How do I still support my husband and his relationship with his family when they seem to despise me?”

EVIE’S ADVICE: Combining two very different family cultures is a common challenge, so you’re hardly the only person in this predicament! Ideally, both you and your in-laws would be flexible and willing to embrace some aspects of each other’s backgrounds. Since you cannot control what other people do, however, you can really only focus on what you and your husband can do, and it sounds like you have already modified some of your behavior around his parents. We would recommend that you don’t withdraw from every opportunity to converse with his family because you don’t want to make his parents think that you are shutting them out, which will only cause more drama.

If his family is very quiet and reserved and uptight, then spending time with somebody who is full of the zest of life might feel a little shocking to them. Sometimes, reserved people are uncomfortable around big emotions, even if they are positive emotions. Unfortunately, they may not know how to take it in and process it or to feel that way themselves. Matching their energy and volume may be useful in conversations for the time being, but don’t take their criticisms as a sign that you should become a quiet or cold person overall. Your zest for life and enthusiasm are probably some of the qualities that enchanted your husband, so don’t feel embarrassed about them.

Your zest for life and enthusiasm are probably some of the qualities that enchanted your husband, so don’t feel embarrassed about them.

When his family calls, you should still say hi and ask about each family member, but then you can hand the phone over to your husband to do the majority of the talking. You want to maintain polite relations with your in-laws, especially if you hope to have children someday and for your children to have a good relationship with their grandparents.

We know how difficult it can be to read a text exchange that wasn’t intended for your eyes, especially if it’s about your personality and not something you can easily change. As we’re approaching the holidays, you may feel your emotions bubbling up and feel like you’re walking on eggshells when you’re with your mother-in-law and sister-in-law. You should bring this text exchange to your husband’s attention if you haven’t already – not for him to get involved, but so that he can recognize why you might feel uncomfortable in a group setting over Thanksgiving and Christmas. Maybe he can empathize with you, and if he feels like you’re in an awkward position, he can jump in with equal enthusiasm so you feel less alone. However, if it gets to the point where you feel like your in-laws are being straight-up rude to your face, then your husband should step in to help improve the relationship and understanding between you and his family. 

Have a question you want our advice on? Email it to us at