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A marriage usually means you’re gaining a brother, sister, whatever. But what if it turns out to be a mixed bag, and the new addition is obnoxious, domineering, and overbearing? When you’ve tried your best to integrate the new family member, but his or her behavior continues to rankle, how do you cope without losing your relative?

1) Ignore what you can. Choose your battles. There’s no point in picking a fight over every little thing your in-law does which gets your goat. When his or her irritating habits or remarks are not directed right at you, try to let them roll off your back. Do allow for simple differences between people.

2) Recognize and avoid the triggers. Before coming in contact with the in-law, visualize the scenarios which always manage to get under your skin. What is it that is said or done that makes your blood boil? Once you determine those triggers (which tend to be the same emotionally, manifested in various ways), think about ways in which you can avoid them. Does someone always make an ignorant remark whenever politics, religion, or animal rights are mentioned on TV? Leave the room once the channel hits that kind of program or commercial. Make a quick escape.

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3) Work on being friendly. Taking a moment to say or do something pleasant and kind is greatly rewarding both for you and for the recipient. Instead of just going through routine motions, try to greet your family members amiably with sincere warmth and affection. No matter how small or insignificant a gesture may seem, it still goes a long way to create a relaxed and cheerful atmosphere for all. Furthermore, you can combine a good-natured smile with a thoughtful compliment to help achieve a sense of civility.

4) Avoid making the relative who has married the overbearing in-law choose between you and his or her own spouse. Putting your relative in that position is asking for trouble. Remember the time to discuss these issues is before the marriage; it becomes a lot more complex afterwards.

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