I recently heard my new neighbours screaming at each other at the top of their lungs. Doors slamming, I thought to myself - I could never be in a relationship like that. I absolutely hate shouting and drama so that's definitely not my (or Ben's ) fighting style. But beyond that who am I really to judge whether they are in a happy relationship or not.
That interaction got me to further question relationships and in particular family dynamics. I was always fairly independent and mostly made my own decisions after moving out at 19. Some decisions were beyond stupid admittedly but, I feel I learnt along the way and am happy where my life is today. My parents and sister live their own lives and whilst we are close we definitely don't live in each other's pockets.
I guess when you enter into a relationship you assume that your 'normal' will be your partner's 'normal' and that the way your family operates is how your partner's family operates. Whilst the focus tends to be on the awful mother-in-law I don't think that is necessarily fair. However, I feel that whilst a relationship between a couple can be largely uncomplicated, the relationship with new family members may not be.
So I guess you have either two options - run away with your partner to a remote part of the world (and make sure not to tell anyone where you are going) or try to figure out a middle ground between your normal and your partner's family's normal.
The aim is of course to find some sort of balance where everyone involved is respected and happy. Whilst that may take some time (and truck loads of energy and patience), I don't think it needs to be something that comes between a couple. Sometimes it's okay to take a few deep breaths and a step back, retreat into your bubble with your partner and just let the world go by.