When you first get married, you may not realize the ongoing involvement you’ll have with your spouse’s family.
Since not every family dynamic is the same, it’s a good idea to observe and learn from your spouse’s interactions with their family members. This way, you’ll understand how to promote relationships that are more positive with your in-laws.
Using these techniques can help you build strong relationships with your spouse’s family members:
- Show an interest in your in-laws. This will help you to learn more about them and their relationship with your spouse.
- Listen well. An important part of any respectful, cordial relationship is to be a good listener.
- If they’re telling a funny story about your spouse when he or she was a child, listen with great curiosity.
- Listening well goes a long way toward demonstrating your interest in your in-laws (see #1).
- Interact with your in-laws. Taking the time to have a chat with your in-laws demonstrates you want to have a relationship with them.
- What do they like to do?
- Do you and your in-laws share any hobbies, like golfing or reading?
- Finding commonalities between you and your in-laws will galvanize your relationships and give you plenty of things to talk about that interest both of you.
- Take special care to use social manners. Out of respect for your spouse, if your in-laws are present, practice those all-important social graces, like saying, “Please” and “Thank you.”
- Include your in-laws. When making plans for holidays and special occasions with your spouse, take the lead in inviting your in-laws to share in the occasional celebration. When you do, your spouse might mention to your in-laws that it was your idea to invite them.
- If your in-laws know that you’ve gone out of your way to include them, it will make a good impression.
- Stay out of their arguments. Avoid becoming entwined in any negative exchange your spouse might have with anyone in their family. As you probably realize, most families have the occasional tiff, episode of hurt feelings, or misunderstanding.
- In the event there is ongoing stress in your spouse’s relationship with anyone in their family, support your spouse – yet refrain from making any negative statements about your in-laws.
- Because your spouse will most likely be able to forgive and forget their own family members a lot quicker than you will (because they’re “family”), it’s best to not generate strong negative emotions about your in-laws.
- If you can remain somewhat supportive of your spouse, yet neutral in the “situation,” you’re more likely to be able to continue to build and maintain your own relationships with their family.
Building relationships with your in-laws is integral to experiencing real sharing with your spouse. A close relationship with your partner’s family will enable you to learn so much more about your spouse and their life. Plus, seeing their relationships in action will also help you to better understand your spouse and their beliefs, opinions, and motivators.
Practicing these suggestions will help you to construct the most positive relationships possible with your spouse’s family members. You’ll discover some of life’s greatest joys by building wonderful relationships with your in-laws.