Getting to know your in-laws is a process filled with surprises. It renders some bittersweet experiences in your memory box. However, daunting this task may seem, it is an inevitable one. So why not approach with a plan? Here's taking a look at how to get to know your in-laws better the real way!
"I haven't spoken to my mother-in-law for eighteen months. I don't like to interrupt her." ~ Kenn Dodd
Marriage is an idea of a happily ever after with your spouse for better or worse. It is a picture painted with hues of idyllic colors and rosy tints of how tomorrow shall be. But, there are certain non-negotiables that come along with a marriage.
Your parents-in-law are those components of your marriage that often go unnoticed before the wedding. In fact, their role in your marriage comes as a stark reality only when the newness of a wedding begins to fade out.
It is natural for several newlyweds to feel inhibited by their in-laws. Since you haven't spent much time with them, it is only obvious to feel like you are living or sharing an equation with strangers. But, your in-laws too are in a similar state of mind.
Finding a place in a new family is a lot about accepting and adjusting. These words may play the heavy in your head. However, if they are taken with a little pinch of salt, some good humor and a generous heart, you will be able to slide into your new role quite easily. So let's understand a few intricacies of a relationship you are about to build.
Make the First Move
While you wait for your in-laws to make the first move, the situation keeps getting more awkward. A casual conversation is always a good start. Pick a common topic such as movies, shopping, cooking, gardening or music to initiate a conversation.
Every parent-in-law loves to talk about their child. This is a good chance to make both your father and mother-in-law participate in a long conversation over old photographs and videos.
An evening spent in reminiscing the old times will also give you an insight into your spouse's past, upbringing, and the extended family. This takes us to the next point of making notes while you getting to know a little about your in-laws.
Take Mental Notes
Conversations are clever informers of things which go beyond the obvious. A light conversation over photographs, gives you enough scope to observe tiny details.
For example, vacations the family has been to, outings they bond over, favorite uncle and aunts, some memories they hold close to their heart, how the family has progressed, their trials, tribulations, triumphs and so on.
As you get your in-laws talking about their hobbies and other things of interest, keep taking mental notes of things you can pursue further and those which you must avoid. For example, if the family bonds over cookouts, then that's your lottery ticket to winning them over to your side!
Plan Enjoyable Activities
The mental notes have to further materialize into plans to bring the family together.
To mark your place and role in the family, you have to take up the challenge of arranging successful and cordial gatherings with family members. The task is a daunting one, but it will also be a rewarding one.
Every parent-in-law likes it when the extended family gathers and appreciates the newlyweds. In which they too feel appreciated in raising a child and helping the new nest to set up.
Going out for dinners to their favorite restaurants, taking vacations together, impromptu shopping sprees or movie plans are a few more suggestions for bonding in a fun way.
While you are making a serious effort at getting to know your in-laws, there might be those phases when you feel let down.
A slight falter in your behavior can get all your efforts so far, crumbling down like a pack of cards. There would be times when your in-laws initiate a getting together and you don't quite feel up to it due to the way they have behaved. However, staging a participative demeanor goes a long way in earning a few more brownie points.
The reasons for your anger with or disappointment in your in-laws could be justifiable. However, considering the bigger picture and keeping up the participation is a positive way of showing your forgiving and generous side.
Marking Silent Boundaries
While interacting with your in-laws, it is important to understand that they too are trying to adjust with you. The initial dissonance is the main cause of friction.
To avoid this, it is crucial to set boundaries, meet midway over certain points and turn it into a resonance. It is easy to avoid overexposure or making rituals out of occasional meetings.
For instance, do not make up rituals such as weekend dinners or involving your in-laws in every outing.
Keeping a respectful distance will always give you an objective view in moments of crisis and prevent you from getting over-involved emotionally. Talk to your spouse and with mutual agreement, you can communicate your boundaries clearly to your in-laws. However, keep in mind that every family has a different way of communicating.
Your Marriage Comes First
The emotional disinvestment from a child after marriage is never easy for any parent. This does create a sense of insecurity amongst them and often becomes the cause of a rift between you and them. However, it is important as a husband or wife to defend your relationship against outside threats.
If you let your parents walk over your spouse, will lead to cracks in your marriage and may take years to heal. Have a clear discussion with your partner and explain the need and necessity of defending. When your in-laws see unity of a husband and wife, they too will respect your bond. A strong team has a better chance of winning a battle than a bigger team.
A year into your marriage will help you understand your parents-in-law better. You will also learn a lot about yourself and how you can make the two compatible.
At this juncture, with a clarity in your understanding, it is time to set your boundaries. The next step is to troubleshoot their unrealistic expectations, make your place and move towards cementing your bond with them. Be firm in your opinions, but always respect your in-laws.
Show them that you can help them in their troubled times and that you will make them a part of your happy moments. Strengthening a relationship is lifelong endeavor. But keeping a bigger picture of a happy spouse and raising a healthy family, will always remain your source of motivation in getting along with your in-laws.
The long effort of knowing your in-laws will be filled with ups and downs. It largely will be an investment that you will have to make with no guarantee of returns. The key to knowing your in-laws thoroughly is observation.
Remember that there will be times when you will not want your in-laws to be a part of your life, but seeing past that moment of anger is the only solution for carving out everlasting relationships and some unforgettable memories.