You’ve found Mr. Right. Now, the only problem is, how do you handle his family? Whenever two families merge there is bound to be some tension. Here are a few tips on how to keep the peace with your guy’s family:
1) When discussing your in-laws with your partner, remember to always focus on the behavior, not the person.
Your blood begins to boil every time your mother in law says to you, Should you really be eating that second piece of pie? or gifts you yet another pair of Spanx. What you’d love to say to your partner is: I really can’t stand your Mom. But, saying this kind of thing will inevitably cause problems. Regardless of how annoying they may seem to you, your partner loves his family. A better way to approach the situation would be by saying, When your family member does or says _______, it makes me feel _______. Family is such a sensitive issue. By focusing on the behavior, you avoid personal attacks.
2) It’s important to set clear boundaries and communicate as openly as possible with your in-laws.
When something bothers you, you may feel that the best course of action is to push things under the rug to avoid conflict. However, when conflict is suppressed, tension builds and this can eventually lead to blow-outs. For example, your in-laws keep asking you about when you are going to start producing grandchildren. You’re nowhere near ready to start having kids (you’re still trying to figure out how to keep house plants alive). It’s OK to let them know that these kinds of inquiries make you feel uncomfortable. If you don’t say anything, they will never know. However, try and be as diplomatic as possible. If you don’t feel comfortable speaking to your in-laws directly, have your partner speak to them. Touchy issues are sometimes better received if the messenger is their own offspring.
3) His family isn’t perfect and neither is yours.
There are probably things that other people might find challenging about your family. For example, you might think that uncle of yours who loves to break into drunken choruses of Elvis tunes at family dinners is endearing, other people might not. We’re all accustomed to our family’s quirks which, in turn makes it easier for us to pass judgment on families that aren’t ours. Your in laws aren’t right or wrong, they’re just different. Keep this in mind and try to be patient with them.
4) Be the bigger person.
Even though there may be things that bother you about your in-laws, try and find some common ground where you can connect with them. Maybe that means spending an afternoon with your mother in law, letting her teach you how to make her famous apple pie (even though you prefer to do all your baking with the help of the Pillsbury dough-boy). Or it could mean taking the time to listen to one of your father in laws long rambling, stories about that time he was in ˜Nam. Most likely your in-laws want you to like them as well. Taking time to get to know them better is a small investment that can pay off immensely in the long run when it comes to avoiding future conflict.