Marriage means getting a whole new side of the family. Whether you are recently married and trying to set the right tone, or have spent years working to win over your spouse’s hard-to-please parents, having your in-laws’ affection is very important. While the relationship may be a lot closer than what you bargained for, you can score big points with your wife or husband by developing a friendly relationship with your in-laws. All it takes is some give-and-take, goodwill, and a big heart.
Some in-laws are naturally loving and easy going while some are tough nuts to crack. Whichever way, you need to try as much as you can to either grow/develop or maintain their affection towards you. So here are some ways through which you can achieve that:
- Be a Good Spouse and Parent
Love and respect your spouse. The best route to winning over your in-laws is by being a good spouse. Your partner’s parents may naturally admire you if they see that you are making their child happy.
Be family-oriented. Your in-laws will like you more when you prove that you value family. Being a good parent and spending quality time with your family will go a long way towards earning their respect because in the end, all they really want is for their child and grandchildren to be loved and well-cared for.
Encourage them to spend time with your children. If you try to come in between your in-laws and their grandchildren, they’ll dislike you. Be respectful of their role as grandparents and provide opportunities for them to be a part of your children’s lives. You can invite them to birthday parties and awards ceremonies. Let your children visit with them on weekends or school holidays.
- Build a Connection with Them
Be polite yet warm around them. Don’t be cold-shouldered and aloof around your in-laws and expect them to like you. Put your best foot forward and demonstrate a relaxed, inviting personality. Smile, greet them warmly, shake hands, and hug, if that’s typical in your family.
Inquire about their lives. Let your in-laws know that you’re interested in developing a relationship with them and they’ll have a positive perception of you. Do this by taking an interest in their lives and their interests.
Ask them to tell stories. You can also show interest in the lives and histories of your in-laws by asking them to tell you more about their own upbringings or what your spouse was like as a child. Sharing heartfelt or funny stories can help you bond.
Remember little details. Nothing shows your attention and consideration like keeping up with the little things. Help your in-laws develop fond feelings for you by noticing the little details that are important to them. For example, if you invite your in-laws over for dinner, purchase the type of wine they like. If your father-in-law had a big presentation at work, ask how it went the next time you see him.
Offer gifts. Another way to make your in-laws like you is by giving them gifts. Don’t overdo the gift-giving, as this can come off as insincere or make them feel like you are trying to “buy” their affection. However, gifts can be a thoughtful way to show your in-laws how much you care.
- Manage Differences or Disputes
Respect their family traditions. Your spouse may have come from a different background than your own, and you may not completely understand their family traditions. Even if you don’t understand or agree with their beliefs, you can still show respect.
Focus on the solution, not the problem. It’s easy to get bogged down in the details of a dispute, but doing so may push you and your in-laws further apart. Instead of dwelling on the problem, try to be solution-focused. Instead of going on and on about how your in-laws offended you, explain what you would like them to do in the future so the problem can be resolved. If you offended your in-laws, then apologize and move on.
Put in extra effort to regain trust. If you’ve done something to threaten the trust between you and your in-laws, show that you are trying to rebuild. Keep in mind that this relationship may be for life. Dwelling on the past won’t help matters, so make an effort to move on and regain trust.
Find common interests. Putting in a little extra effort shows your in-laws how dedicated you are to being a part of their family. Can you think of any passions they have that relate to you? If so, form a connection by talking about or engaging in these activities together.
- Practice Positive Communication With Your In-laws
Listen to your in-laws. They’re likely to be full of stories about their lives either today or in years gone by. Let them tell their tales and make yourself a rapt audience of one. You might learn something interesting, and it will make them feel good be listened to as well. Many of the stories might be about your partner, and you might learn more about them in the process. Encourage your in-laws to communicate with you.
Don’t bicker pointlessly. Families often fight about politics, religion, or the proper course to take in current events. Don’t try to change someone set in their ways. Similarly, don’t try to correct someone’s social habits. If they spit, curse, or pick their nose in public, don’t feel obligated to call them out on it.
Respect their decisions and perspectives, even if you don’t agree with them.Try not to find fault with them. Do not create a long list of grudges that you regularly churn out when complaining to others or yourself about your in-laws. If your litany of issues becomes unmanageable, perhaps you should consider talking them through with your partner, and then, if necessary, with your in-laws directly.
Treat your father-in-law and mother-in-law as you would your father and mother. Treat your brother-in-law and sister-in-law as you would your own siblings. Be friendly, cordial, and natural around them. Be honest and open in your communication. Relax when you are with them. Don’t feel as if you’re being tested or studied by them. Share with them your innermost feelings and thoughts, if appropriate. After all, your in-laws are family. Seeing them as such will go a long way toward helping you get along with them.
Don’t share your spousal problems with your in-laws. They will most times take their child’s or sibling’s side, and letting them know about problems on the home front will only make them worry. Nobody wants to hear denigrating tales about their own son or daughter; hearing such things will likely make them become defensive. Work out your issues privately with your spouse. Do not attempt to drag your spouse’s family into things or make them choose sides.
- Adapt to Your In-laws’ Behavior
Remember to set boundaries early on. Many sons and daughters-in-law will be extra accommodating in the beginning in order to win approval and make a good impression. While such behavior is natural when one is nervous and new to the family, it is important to establish boundaries sooner rather than later. This will make the relationship much easier in the future.
For instance, if your mother-in-law constantly invites herself over at all hours, insist that she make arrangements before coming over. Talk to your partner about making the suggestion instead of doing so yourself; hearing that certain boundaries need to be set will sound better from your in-laws’ child than from you.
Adjust your expectations. Meeting your partner’s family might require you to go outside your comfort zone. Don’t assume that their family dynamic will be the same as yours. Perhaps your family is reserved and doesn’t show much physical affection, while your partner’s family is boisterous and tends to hug and kiss each other’s cheeks with gusto. Try to do things their way when you’re on their turf. Remember, “When in Rome…”
- Gain Your In-laws’ Trust
Recognize parents-in-laws’ fear. As people see their children age, they worry more that they will grow further apart from their children. Parents often want to have an active role in their child’s life at any age. When a child marries, they might feel they are losing control of the child. They might not come right out and say they are worried about losing touch with their child, or losing their affection. Assure your in-laws that you want them to remain an active part of your spouse’s life by keeping in touch and visiting them regularly with your spouse. Invite them to join you during family gatherings, holidays, anniversaries, and special occasions. This will make them become more comfortable with you over time as they get to know you better.
Coined from wikihow.com