Marriage means getting a whole new side of the family. While the relationship can be a lot closer than what you bargained for, you can score big points with your wife or husband by developing a friendly relationship with your in-laws, especially your father-in-law. All it takes is some give-and-take, goodwill, and a big heart.
Here are some tips on how to be close friends with your father-in-law:
1. Listen To Your Father-in-law
He is likely to be full of stories about his life either today or in years gone by. Let him tell his tales, while you make yourself a rapt audience of one. You might learn something interesting, and it will make him feel good to be listened to as well. Many of the stories might be about your partner.
2. Treat Your Father-in-law As You Would Treat Your Own Father
Be friendly, cordial, and natural around him. Be honest and open in your communication. Relax when you are with him. Don’t feel as if you are being tested or studied by him. Share with him your innermost feelings and thoughts, if appropriate.
3. Don’t Share Your Spousal Problems With Your Father-in-law
Nobody wants to hear bad tales about their own son or daughter; hearing such things will likely make him become defensive. Work out your issues privately with your spouse. Do not drag your spouse’s family into things or make them choose sides.
4. Remember To Set Boundaries Early On
Many sons and daughters-in-law will be extra accommodating in the beginning in order to win approval and make a good impression. While such behaviour is natural when one is nervous and new to the family, it is important to establish boundaries sooner rather than later. This will make the relationship much easier in the future.
5. Address Your Father-in-law’s Fears Directly
He might not come right out and say he is worried about losing touch with his child, or losing their affection. Assure him, though, that you want him to remain an active part of your spouse’s life. Follow up on your promises by visiting him regularly with your spouse, if you can. Invite him and your mother-in-law to join you during family gatherings, holidays, anniversaries and special occasions.
6. Spend Time With Your Father-in-law
Mere exposure to someone or something over a long period of time can inspire affection. When your partner proposes a visit, make time for it and accompany them there. Your father-in-law will become more comfortable with you over time as he gets to know you better.
7. Offer Presents To Your Father-in-law
Don’t limit your gift giving to Christmas and birthdays. Unless you visit very often, find something thoughtful that your father-in-law will like. For instance, if your father-in-law plays golf, you might consider getting him a new golf hat or set of golf balls when you go away on business trips.
8. Find Common Grounds (Hobbies, Habits or Interests) And Share It With Your Father-in-law
If your father-in-law enjoys golf, invite him out for nine holes. If he enjoys baseball, buy some tickets and invite him for some one-on-one time.
9. Get Along With Your Spouse
Make sure your spouse is happy enough to report well. While it’s not realistic to expect your relationship to be perfect all the time, keeping your relationship on an even keel is a good way to endanger trust in your in-laws. Maintain open lines of communication, provide each other with love, and talk to each other as a team.
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