Diagnosis: In-Law Syndrome

Written by Dan Seaborn on . Posted in Local

dan seabornOnce again, cold and flu season is again about to be overcome by a mysterious disease. This new disorder is caused from marriages that have occurred over the summer. It is typically the busiest bridal season.

All of this means one key thing: there's a whole new batch of parents out there who are going to be newly exposed to the life-threatening grips of In-law Syndrome.

In-law Syndrome (ILS) is a unique disease that appears in parents whose children are married. Parents whose children are unmarried seem to be largely unaffected by ILS; however, in some instances the onset of the disease is premature, brought on when a child gets engaged, begins dating, or (in most severe cases) develops a crush on that other kid in the playpen.

Common symptoms of ILS include guilt trips, unsolicited advice, general relational interference, and rigid holiday schedules. Excessive calling, unnecessary prying, unplanned visits, and manipulation of the grandchildren also serve as reliable indicators.

Studies have not yet determined a direct cause of ILS, but respected health officials suggest possible links to emotional dependence and/or mental imbalance on the part of the parent.

Other theories suggest possible links to empty nests, newborns, and the elevated costs of weddings—as those most susceptible to ILS are parents whose children have recently married, moved away, or had their own children.

In particular, mothers and fathers who find themselves newly retired or unemployed seemed to be predisposed to ILS, possibly due to boredom or an abundance of free time.

Generally speaking, parents who suffer from ILS are often unaware that they have been infected by the disease. Their symptoms are compulsive, and they are blind to any negative impact they cause.

For this reason, it's best to diagnose ILS in parents by watching for its side effects in their children, specifically in their sons- and daughters-in-law. Children whose parents have ILS develop a distinct set of tendencies, after all.

Often withdrawn or tense in the family setting, they are slow to trust their in-laws and can be reluctant to spend time with them in the first place. They resist real closeness with their spouse's parents—it's almost as if they expect emotional distress from the relationship.

But then again, can they be blamed? All things considered, their initiation into the family has been a less-than-stellar experience. They are the outsider, that much is clear. As a result, their wishes are disregarded, their opinions discounted, and their boundaries disrespected—all in the name of kin.

Or their preferences are ignored. Or their decisions are questioned. Or their traditions are overruled. They've been made to feel like an intruder, made to feel guilty for spending time building a marriage, simply because their spouse's parents refuse to cut the apron strings.

It makes sense, then, that the in-lawed son or daughter would keep a safe distance, doesn't it? The space it allows them is protective, a buffer against those nasty side effects of ILS.

So parents, if you're sensing a coldness from your child's spouse, have you considered the possibility that you're part of the reason why things have cooled off? Could it be that they—that you—have a case of In-law Syndrome? Could it be that if you warmed up a little, maybe they would follow your lead?

If you suspect that ILS could be a part of this equation, it's time to make a change—because even though it's not contagious and even though it's not exactly terminal, it'll make your relationship sick. And if it's left untreated, it'll leave you quarantined.
Author Information
Dan Seaborn
Dan Seaborn is the founder of Winning At Home, Inc., an organization designed to assist and encourage people of all ages and stages of family development. As a featured speaker at churches and large-scale events such as marriage conferences, corporate functions, and university assemblies, Dan Seaborn has earned recognition as a powerful and passionate communicator. Through practical illustrations and memorable real-life examples, he encourages individuals and families to lead Christ-centered homes.

Related Articles

No Related Articles Found

home app07 envelope
Submit News
RSS Feed
home app09 playVideos
faith-buttonPlease consider helping us by contributing to our publication. 

Donate directly or advertize your business on this site or in our newsletter.  It reaches thousands across West Michigan.