In-laws have a bad reputation!

Romeo and Juliet, Meet the Parents father, and Megan Markle with Oprah shaking her head

Yet many people have a great relationship with their in-laws!

What are their secrets to success?

Meet Taylor

Flaticon IconTaylor recently got engaged, and is about to meet their significant other's (SO) parents for the first time and wants to make a good impression.

Cat stuck in pine tree on thin branch, meowing, with caption,

Here are some first steps that Taylor can take:

  • Dress on the conservative side

  • Bring a small gift like a plant or cookies

  • Think of some safe {think neutral} topics of conversation

  • Be themselves!

Quiz

What would be a safe topic of conversation for the first meeting with in-laws?

Favorite travel destinations

Religious beliefs

Recent argument you had with your SO

Who you voted for in the latest election

Continuing Along A Good Path

Wooden pathway leading into a beautiful green woodsy scene.Photo by Gary Meulemans on Unsplash

The first meeting went pretty well and Taylor hopes to keep things going in a upwards direction. Paying attention to these three areas will help Taylor and their future in-laws create a positive, long-term relationship:

  1. Be open

  2. Establish boundaries

  3. Find common ground

Be Open

Young woman opening door, waving hello, and gesturing guests to come in.

Chances are, your in-laws are different from your parents. That could feel like a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your relationship with your own parents. Either way, try to keep in mind that "different" doesn't mean better or worse.

Try to get to know their history, culture, and family traditions. This will help you understand them better and can lead to mutual appreciation.

They may express themselves in a way you're not used to. Again, try to keep an open mind. They might be more or less expressive than you and your parents. It will take a while to figure this out.

Help Taylor: Uncomfortable Conversation

Flaticon Icon

Taylor is at a picnic with their SO and in-laws. Taylor's father in-law says, "I notice you have a lot of tattoos. I don't like those things."

What would be Taylor's best response?

A. "Not everyone likes tattoos, but each one has a special meaning for me."

B. "I'm sorry you don't like them; there are some things about you that I don't like."

C. "You're pretty judgmental. I guess we just need to agree to disagree."

D. "I knew you'd hate my tattoos. My parents hate them, too."

Quiz

What would be the best response?

A

B

C

D

Establish Boundaries

This will take some time! You are all trying to get used to the "new normal."

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What will you call your in-laws?

Ask: What would you like me to call you?

Or: Is it okay if I call you Joe and Mari?

Flaticon IconHow comfortable are you sharing your number and social info with your in-laws?

Try to make a plan for how you will respond if your in-laws start following your Insta or texting you a lot.

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How will you respond to unsolicited advice from your in-laws?

In a perfect world, this would not happen! The best way to respond is usually to say thank you and move on.

And remember....

If conflicts arise, it is really important for your SO to have your back!

Help Taylor: Texting Buddies Flaticon Icon

Taylor thinks their in-laws are pretty cool, but Taylor's mother-in-law likes to send texts all the time. The texts include pictures of Taylor's SO as a kid, daily updates, check-ins, and random GIFs. Taylor feels this is too much, but isn't sure what to do.

Quiz

What could Taylor do?

Send message in all caps saying STOP IT!

Text back once a day

Ask their SO to talk to their mom

Ignore the texts

Time Together

  • Will you see each other every week?

  • Will you go on vacations together?

  • What about family dinners, holidays, and special occasions?

Bulldog wearing glasses with text that says Let's Negotiate

Your in-laws love you and like to see you, but you might not all be on the same page here. You and your SO will need to talk this over, come to some agreements, and then communicate to your in-laws what you as a couplehave decided.

Help Taylor: Weekend Visits

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Taylor works long hours during the week and loves to catch up on sleep on Saturday mornings. Taylor's SO and in-laws are morning people. The in-laws have been showing up for surprise visits at 7:30 on Saturday mornings and making comments about why Taylor is still in bed. What should Taylor do?

Quiz

How can Taylor handle this problem?

Ask SO to speak with in-laws

Put a stop to weekend visits

Become a morning person

Laugh it off

Find Common Ground

Keep Calm banner with crown icon along with text, You Have Things in Common.

🌺 HOBBIES & INTERESTS 🐟

Gardening, stamp collecting, walking, art, reading, fishing, social causes... the list is endless! Make a plan to do one of these things together.

🎶 FAMILY TRADITIONS 💃

It's nice if you already have some shared family traditions, but if you don't, share them with each other. Food, music, and holiday celebrations are examples of traditions you can combine or share.

🏀 SPORTS

It's fun to cheer on the same team, or have a rivalry if you route for opposing teams! Plan to watch a game or attend a sports event together.

💕Of course, the most important thing you have in common is your SO! You all love the same person! 💕

Take Action

Establishing a good relationship with your in-laws takes some effort, but will bring harmony to your life and marriage. It's well worth taking the time to work it out. After all, these could be the grandparents of your future children!

Here is something to work on over the next few weeks:

Leo DiCaprio toasting champagne. Text: Here's to good times with your in-laws!

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This Byte has been authored by

MD

Mary Ellen D'Intino

Instructional Designer | Social Worker