Marriage, or the start of living together, brings much happiness, but it also brings the dreaded in-laws. The announcement of their first visit releases millions of butterflies in the pit of your stomach and you instantly go into overdrive in preparing for the upcoming nightmare.
Just stop and breathe, and again.
To get through this visit, and the many more to come, remember the following do’s and don’t’s during their visit and afterwards.
1 | Don’t hold your new spouse accountable
Always remember we can choose our friends, but we can’t choose our family. Just because the in-laws have views, opinions, and manners different than you and your new spouse does not mean your spouse is responsible for this. He or she may be just as offended as you are but has learned to go with the flow.
2 | Do be nice
We reap what we sow. If we approach a situation with negativity, chances are people will respond in kind. Smile at your in-laws instead of frowning at their behavior. Remember, their visit will end and things will go back to normal. (Unless your in-laws have moved in, then you may find little comfort in this article and you might need to find a new place to live.)
3 | Don’t make negative comments about them to your spouse
Criticizing your in-laws in front of your spouse might make you feel better but not your loved one. We take criticizing our parents personally as it can be seen to be an indirect criticism on us. After all, we are a product of our parents.
4 | Do debrief with your spouse
Talk to you partner about things that mattered to you after the visit is over. Talking about it might give your spouse an opportunity to understand your perspective and help you work through some of the negative emotions.
5 | Don’t sweat the small stuff
If you can ignore their annoying behavior, do so. Hopefully the visit is short and life will soon return to just you and your spouse.
6 | Don’t be afraid to set guidelines
Try and do this in a calm manner, without confronting them or showing anger. For example, if your dog does not get fed scraps from the table, say so. “Please do not feed Charlie food from the table. It doesn’t agree with him and instills bad manners that last long past your visit. Thank you.” Please and thank you still go a long way.
7 | Don’t offend easily
This goes hand in hand with getting to know your in-laws. Sometimes we can take offense too easily, particularly when none is intended. You’ll need to get to know your “new family” to understand the fine nuances in communicating with them. What you find offensive might be considered funny in other households. Remember the original mantra, take a deep breath in and out, and again. It’s amazing how deep breathing can get you through the most stressful situation.
8 | Get to know your in-laws
Remember Shrek’s words, “They judge me before they get to know me.” Don’t judge your in-laws too quickly, take time to get to know them. It took time to get to know your spouse, your friends, and acquaintances. Give your in-laws the same courtesy and get to know them before you judge them.
9 | Do be yourself
Just like you need to get to know your in-laws, they need to get to know you. Be yourself. Don’t pretend to be something you are not. Building relationships on unstable foundations is never a good idea. Your spouse loves you, chances are your in-laws will like you too. What they won’t like is someone pretending to be something else.
10 | Do celebrate when the visit is over
There’s nothing wrong with being pleased about the in-laws leaving. At the end of the day, you married your spouse, not his or her in-laws.
If you follow some or all of the suggestions offered here, your relationship with your in-laws should be a relatively good one. However, if it turns out to be a disaster and the relationship is a fractured one, try and keep your sense of humor. Remember, there’s always someone worse off than you.