If you’ve recently gotten engaged, it’s likely you know everything about your future spouse: their favorite food, their favorite color, and that embarrassing story about them puking in front of their whole class in the second grade. But what do you really know about their family?
Many couples decide to make family introductions right after the relationship gets serious, but sometimes it just doesn’t work out that way for whatever reason. Maybe they live far away, you got engaged really quickly and unexpectedly, or it simply hasn’t been in the cards yet. You still haven’t met them and now that there’s a wedding date involved and you may be anxious about that long-awaited first meeting. So, when is the right time to meet your future in-laws? What do you do if your future spouse is dragging their feet on the anticipated introductions?
Here are a few tips on when to meet your future family and a few things to keep in mind to make sure the meeting goes smoothly.
You Should Meet as Soon as Possible
Once you get engaged, it’s crucial to meet your future in-laws just as soon as possible. Although you may not be living near them after you’re married, they will still be part of your family and an important part of your life. The longer you put off this first meeting, the more nervous you might feel.
Talk to your future spouse and suggest setting up a dinner date or a weekend visit, so you can officially meet your new in-laws face-to-face. Some couples may be in a situation where their families live in a different country, and it may not be possible to meet them before the wedding due to the expense of international travel. However, it’s a good idea to have a Skype conversation when you can chat with them and see each other’s faces.
The main thing you want to avoid is meeting them for the first time when they arrive in town for the wedding, because you’ll already be nervous enough about the upcoming wedding events.
What if My Fiancé or Fiancée is Resistant?
Everyone can be embarrassed about their family from time to time, but some people can have really tumultuous relationships with their family members. A bad relationship with family could stem from many things—abuse, neglect, addiction, the inability to accept a child who is LGBTQ. It may be difficult for your partner to introduce you to their family if they’ve had a difficult relationship with them in the past.
If you have a great relationship with your family, this resistance might be difficult for you to understand. Try to be supportive and encouraging if your partner is hesitant to introduce you to their family. If you can see that they’re just being stubborn, it’s also important to know when to (gently) push them toward a meeting. Weddings have a funny way of bringing people together, and sometimes it’s just the tool that’s needed for a reconciliation.
Before You Meet Your New In-laws
When the day arrives for you to finally meet your new in-laws, it’s only natural to be nervous—this is new family, after all. The main thing to remember is to be yourself, be polite, courteous, and always request baby photos of your future spouse.
Whether you have to travel to meet them or you’re just meeting them for dinner somewhere, bring along a small gift such as fresh flowers, a nice bottle of wine, or a box of candy to show them that you care.
Ask your fiancé or fiancée details about their family. Does his mother like to go to Napa every year with her girlfriends? Does her father have season tickets to a major league baseball team? Try to ask your partner for information so that you can have things to talk about if the meeting gets a little awkward.
Remember that no matter how much you love your future husband or wife, it’s possible that you may not love your new in-laws (at least right away). Many couples struggle with difficult relationships with their respective in-laws, and that’s nothing new. The important thing is that you try to get along with them for the sake of your partner, and you never know—you may get lucky and bond to your new family right away.