So you’ve found the man or woman of your dreams and you’re getting married! Congratulations! Now you and your soon-to-be-spouse can ride off alone into the sunset and live happily ever after…except that’s not exactly how it works, is it? While the two of you have found one another, everything else doesn’t just fade away when you get married. In fact, marriage is about the joining of two complete lives, which means that it’s also time for your two families to become one.
With so many horror stories about in-laws, it’s not surprising that brides and grooms develop anxiety over this concept. Pop culture is brimming over with examples of bad in-law relationships, after all. I am here to tell you, however, that your significant other’s family members are not villains…at least not usually. I was blessed with absolutely amazing in-laws. I could rave all day about how much I adore them. That said, developing this kind of relationship with them took time and it was not always easy. Letting people into your life and accepting them for who they really are is never easy, but the following tips will help you create and maintain healthy relationships with your in-laws.
Acknowledge that They Are Human
No one is perfect, even your spouse-to-be! He or she may be perfect for you, but that is not the same thing. We are all human and that means we are all flawed in our own unique ways. You have likely known for years that your family is flawed, so why would your significant other’s parents and siblings be any different? As you continue to get to know each other, you are all going to make mistakes. It’s inevitable. Someone will say the wrong thing or stick his or her nose where it does not belong, but that’s OK. What matters is that you treat each other kindly and with respect.
Remove Yourself from Potentially Bad Situations
We should always strive to be kind to others. That said, we all have bad days. If you slip up or find yourself in a situation where it becomes difficult to remain respectful, remove yourself as quickly as possible. Blowing up and saying a thing out of anger is never good and, unfortunately, these things also can never be unsaid.
It may take years to develop a good relationship with your in-laws, but you can do significant damage to those bonds in a matter of mere seconds when you’re upset. The best course of action is to step away, cool down, collect your thoughts, and then address the situation in a reasonable manner afterward.
Take Part in Their Traditions
Every family is different and, over time, most develop various traditions. Instead of dismissing these, try to take part in them when possible. At the very least, ask about the differences you notice. The holidays offer great opportunity for this. Your in-laws may give each other holiday pajamas on Christmas Eve every year, for example. Inquiring about where the tradition came from shows that you care about their family history. It can also mean a lot if you show interest in participating.
Welcome Them into Your Life
Conversely, make an effort to invite your in-laws into your life. This does not have to mean asking them over for dinner every Sunday or inviting your mother-in-law to your girls’ night; it does mean opening yourself up when you are with them. Sharing the things you are passionate about with your in-laws is a great way to express who you really are…and who you are is pretty great. After all, your significant other certainly must think so! In all seriousness, opening up to others is the first step in developing truly lasting relationships. Taking time to do this with your in-laws sends the very simple message that you want them to be part of your life. That sentiment alone will do wonders.
Accept that There Is no “Right” Way
As a perfectionist, I know just how difficult it can be to accept other’s ways of doing things. When building relationships with your in-laws, however, it’s important to acknowledge that there is no one “right” way to do anything. Try to accept that there are other perspectives other than yours and that many roads can lead to the same destination.
This can be particularly difficult to do during the holidays. You and your family may have certain traditions, while your significant other and their family may have different ideas. It’s imperative that you and your spouse-to-be discuss small details like this ahead of time with each other and with your families. Compromise will likely be necessary, but as long as you all communicate openly, there should be no major issues.