Getting Along with Your Future In-Laws
Getting Along with Your Future In-Laws
We’ve all heard them; the in-law horror stories. Don’t even pretend like you haven’t, because you know you have a friend or co-worker who is forever whining about how awful her in-laws are.
And you also know that you have long dreaded ending up in a similar situation.
The truth is, when we fall in love we aren’t always thinking about what kind of complete package the person we are falling in love with has to offer. We just love them; who they are and how they make us feel. And when we’re just dating, that’s enough.
In fact, that’s everything.
But when the time comes to move past the dating stage and into wedded bliss, other people start to come into play. Friends and family on both sides begin to take on bigger roles within your relationship, and meshing all those personalities together often requires a bit of finesse and patience.
So now that the question has been popped, how can you ensure you won’t be the one telling in-law horror stories 5 years down the line?
Well, the first step is ridding yourself of any and all expectations. We all have that pretty picture in our heads of being one big happy family once the vows are exchanged, but it’s important to remember that things don’t always work out that way – and that you don’t always have a ton of control or say over any of it. Yes, you can try your hardest to get along with your in-laws, and you should, but sometimes you have to know when to accept people for who they are.
Even if that means accepting people you otherwise wouldn’t always want to be around.
So start off by removing any and all preconceptions you may have had about whom these people are or what kind of long-term relationships you may form. If you get your heart too set on those expectations, they can be difficult to let go of down the line and can add to resentments later on.
From there, make a genuine effort to get to know your in-laws separately from your spouse. Invite the sisters out for manicures or drinks and ask mom to lunch. Even if you otherwise fear you don’t have much in common, this is an opportunity to find some middle ground and to bond with the other people in your fiancé(e)s life who love them as much as you do.
Another important way to set the stage for positive future in-law relations is to include them in some aspects of the wedding planning. Maybe your betrothed’s mom would like to join yours for dress shopping, or perhaps dad has a great recommendation for someone to cater the wedding. Obviously, you shouldn’t compromise what you want for your big day in order to please anyone else, but if you can make them feel like you want them to be a part of the planning – it can set the stage for more inclusive relationships later on.
Of course, it is also important to establish boundaries, and doing so in the beginning is always easier than waiting years and changing the rules. So if in-laws become a bit overbearing in their attempts to help with the wedding, use that as an opportunity to thank them for their willingness to help while also asserting your own desires for the big day. There are ways to do this kindly and without stepping on toes, so long as you are willing to proceed with caution while still remaining firm.
Granted, the reality may be that your in-laws really are just a nightmare, and no matter what you do – there will be a battle of wills between you all for the next 30 years. In that case, try to remember that these are the people who are most loved by the person you most love. Sometimes seeing the relationships through your fiancé(e)s eyes can help you to gain a greater respect and understanding for these people you otherwise don’t see eye to eye with. Learn to choose your battles and to show the kind of respect you would hope to receive, even if you aren’t always receiving it yourself.
And then, consciously plan nights out with your friends around the times when you know you are going to have to be around your in-laws – that way you have ample opportunities to vent to those who care about you when the stress of dealing with your new family gets to be too much.
If all else fails, bring a puzzle to do at family gatherings. Its amazingly distracting while still keeping you “present”.
Then again, if you are one of the lucky ones who is inheriting in-laws you absolutely adore and love to be around – embrace it and enjoy those relationships for all that they are worth. You, my dear, may just have won the marriage lottery!