“So, I want you to meet my parents.” This simple turn of phrase can turn anyone’s blood cold. Putting up with your own family is bad enough, and now you’re being thrown into a situation where you’ll be subject to the judgement of everyone from your beau’s parents, to their five-year-old niece. (And being called a weenie by a toddler stings more than it should.) Dealing with in-laws is essential in any kind of serious relationship, so knowing how to get through the experience in one piece is definitely a plus, especially when trying to make a new relationship last.
Put on Your Best Face (and Shirts, and Pants)
Pretend you’re going to a job interview, and really give them the best impression of you possible. Scrub yourself clean, get your hair cut, and dress neatly and conservatively. If you’ve got a wilder sense of style, you might consider it dishonest to not be upfront about it; however, it’s really best to approach a situation this emotionally-charged on more neutral grounds. You can show off your tattoos and piercings when you’re more established.
Yes, They’re Wrong – But Don’t Be Confrontational
It’s hard enough to keep your cool on hot-button topics with your own family, but starting in on an argument with your in-laws is a recipe for disaster. Whether it’s opinions on politics or opinions on your suitability for their child, it’s best to be calm and collected in a discussion, if you can’t avoid the situation entirely. One little argument can sour opinions for years and years to come.
Don’t Just Focus on the Parents, Go for the Bigger Picture
Your partner’s parents are the most obvious target, but remember that they probably have a larger family you should also take into consideration. Siblings, cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles – they’re all parts of your partner’s life, and may even potentially be bigger parts than her parents. Talk to your partner and see who really means what to her.
Marriage Won’t Magically Make Your In-Laws Like You
Your in-laws are just scoffing at you because they think you’re just using their precious baby for cheap dating thrills, right? Showing them that you’re really in it for the long haul will surely improve their opinion, right? Wrong. Relying on marriage (or even worse, children) to improve your in-laws’ opinion of you not only doesn’t work, but places far too much undue stress on you, your partner, and your relationship. So not only are you still stuck with a hateful family, but a relationship that’s shakier for it.
If It’s a Lost Cause, Don’t Sweat it too Much
As the old saying goes, you can’t please everybody. Some parents and families won’t like new additions to the crowd no matter how good you are, or how desperate you are to please. In these cases, remember that you’re dating your partner, not their families. Your partner’s opinion of you is what matters here, and if you’re happy together, no amount of sneering comments from your in-laws can break that up.