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Getting Along With the In Laws

By: Sarah Clark (ILEX) - Updated: 25 Nov 2012 | comments*Discuss
In Laws Relationship Partner Stress

When you first meet a partner, the last thing you think about is the in laws, they are just something you’ll have to deal with at Christmas and weddings, right? Wrong. In laws – or not getting along with them – can be a major issue in a relationship. The issue can get even more pressing if you have children...the in laws will want to visit and probably tell you exactly how you’re doing everything wrong too. So it’s important to establish a good relationship from the start if you can.

Make The Effort From The Start

When you first meet the in laws, it’s a big moment. The first impression you make is going to last...and probably be used against you at some point if it’s not good! Do your best to make them feel welcome if they are coming to your home, even if you are really not looking forward to meeting them. You never know, they are probably really great people, and you could foster a great relationship with them right from the start.

Expect to be grilled by mothers on behalf of their precious boys – and the same goes for fathers if you’re going out with his daughter. No dad wants to imagine that his daughter is having sex, even if she’s thirty-something, so bear that in mind and avoid any references to your sex life whatsoever!

In Laws Can Be Irritating

Think of all the things that drive you mad about your partner, and all the things that stress you out – then remember that he or she must have got them from somewhere. Probably the parents. Try to overlook these little irritations, and see the positives in them.

Of course your partner may have got his kind heart from his father, and his work ethic from his mother. So overlook the fact that father and son just sit there doing that same little thing while they eat that drives you insane...

Your partner might seem to overlook the things that drive you mad about the in laws, but that’s because he’s probably pretty used to them by now. Be tolerant...but the best advice is to try and get to know them. Ask about their lives, find out about them and show an interest. If they think you are interested in them, they will warm to you.

Competitive In Laws

You might think you know your boyfriend/husband better than anyone – until you meet his formidable mother who could win a Mastermind competition based on every aspect of her son’s life. Face it, you’re always going to lose that one. So give in gracefully.If you know he hates watching cricket really, but he’s just watching it with his old dad to keep him happy, it’s churlish of you to make that point. It’s not going to make you popular.

Telling Tales

In any relationship you’re likely to come across family secrets, and if you’re told something in confidence by your partner, bringing it up at the dinner table will only lead to stress. It might well be common ‘unspoken’ knowledge that his brother has been in trouble with the police, but it’s not really your place to start a conversation about it – anything slightly taboo or embarrassing is best left unsaid unless they bring the subject up first.

There might also be things about your partner that he has shared with you and not his parents. Unless you want to have a really stressful conversation about what you can and can’t say to the in laws, these little secrets are best left alone.

Until you know the in laws really well, definitely avoid getting into arguments about politics and religion, or anything slightly controversial. As you get to know how the land lies, you might be able to get away with the odd dirty joke – or you might find that your father in law has his own inexhaustible supply of them.

Just remember that although it’s important to get along with the in laws, for the sake of your relationship, they normally go home eventually!

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