Getting In With Your In-Laws

By  Mac Molli
Updated on 11/20/23
Getting In With Your In-Laws

Getting In With Your In-Laws

By  Mac Molli
Updated on 11/20/23
Groom Hacks

Part of the Groom Hacks

Getting In With Your In-Laws

By  Mac Molli
Updated on 11/20/23

Grandfather playing with grandchild in a ball pit

In-law relationships have a reputation for being difficult to deal with. Pop culture would lead you to believe that your future mother in law and father in law are innately out to get you and hoping for the failure of your relationship. But actually, plenty of people have a loving and healthy relationship with their spouse’s loved ones. If everything works out as hoped, marriage means you’ll end up gaining an extended family of your own. The phenomenon of having “a village” who supports you makes everything from child rearing to visiting during the holidays that much easier. It’s totally understandable that you want your in-laws to love you as much as your spouse does.  

Being in a same-sex relationship can bring forth its own challenges when it comes to the approval of family members. If someone doesn’t accept your relationship simply because you’re dating someone of the same sex or gender, you have every right to feel frustrated, upset or angry. In this day and age, it’s unfathomable that someone would hold such beliefs, but as members of the LGBTQ+ community know all too well, homophobia is far from eradicated in America and across the globe. We’ll cover how to approach family members who fall into these circumstances, too. (But if you don’t want to read further, just know that cutting them off is completely appropriate.) 

Thanks to technology, connecting with your in-laws is always feasible, even from a distance. We’ll go over our trustiest tips for making FaceTime and phone calls something that doesn’t have to be awkward or disconnected. Whether your in-laws are down the street or across the world, these tips will help you win them over in a heartbeat. 

Schedule A Time To Meet Them In Person

Meeting the parents

Maybe you’ve been seeing your man’s family for years, or maybe you haven’t even met them yet. Either way, a formal get-together to introduce each other or get reacquainted is always a good idea. You might feel more comfortable hosting, as having folks “on your turf” allows you to control the amount of time spent around each other and the setting. You can also wow them with your cooking skills, if that’s your thing. 

As an aside, including your own parents or other important members of your own family in the event might be a way to feed two birds with one scone. By combining family events, your spouse can spend time with your immediate family too, and both sides of the couple will get a chance to get to know each other. Forming these connections can make you and your spouse feel mutually closer to your respective in-laws. 

Want to kick it up a notch? Suggest cooking the meal together! Accomplishing a shared task can be a wonderful way to break some of the tension and awkwardness that can come with meeting new people. DIY pizza night or a potluck are both great options if you’re not sure where to start and want to make something everyone will enjoy.

Play The Part

Your in-laws should love you for who you are, of course, but a little schmoozing never hurt anybody. When you’re nervous, it can be easy to tense up and turn into someone you don’t recognize. (Don’t worry, it’s normal!) You might be tempted to crawl into your shell and withdraw from conversation, but approaching your in-laws with warmth and politeness is essential. And don’t worry – it’s pretty easy to approach a conversation with unfamiliar people if you know a few tricks and practice them ahead of time. If you’re not sure what to say, here are some tips:

  • When in doubt, ask questions. Take some of the pressure off of yourself by engaging your in-laws with questions about their personal lives. What do they do for work? Do they have grandkids they love? Tap into your SO for the inside scoop on what their parents and siblings are interested in. Unsurprisingly, plenty of people love talking about themselves, so directing the conversation at them will allow you some breathing and thinking room. An added bonus? You’ll come off as a wonderful listener and conversationalist. 
  • Discuss what you’re passionate about. This is where the “being yourself” part comes into play. Everyone lights up when they talk about something they truly love. Maybe you’re a fan of basketball, craft beer, or traveling. Regardless of what your interests are, you should talk about them unabashedly. Authenticity is a fantastic way to draw people in; especially new or unfamiliar folks. (After all, they’ll be in your life forever, so you may as well get comfortable.)
  • Small talk is a good icebreaker. If discussing work and the weather is how you segway into deeper conversation, that’s okay! Don’t expect an immediate heart to heart with your in-laws. Some people are remarkably open, but others take a while to warm up, and that’s okay. You may not even broach serious subjects the first few times you talk, but just keep in mind that your relationship with your SO’s folks is ever-evolving.

Communicate Through Technology

Communicate using technology
It’s not always realistic to spend time with your in-laws in person. You might live on opposite sides of the country (or world!) which can limit visits to holidays and momentous occasions. Even if you can’t make it to Sunday dinner every week, there are other methods of communication that go a long way in contributing to meaningful connections. In today’s highly digital age, communicating through technology has never been easier. Thanks to laptops, smartphones, social media, email, and other modern means, you can video and audio chat for free virtually anywhere in the world. 

General Communication Tips

  • Make It A Date: Life can get busy. Oftentimes, days blend into weeks, and all of a sudden you haven’t called your loved ones in awhile. Set a specific time and day every or every other week that is convenient to call your in-laws, and stick to it! This will make it easier to not lose touch in the first place.
  • Know Their Schedule: If setting a rigid day and time isn’t your thing, make an effort to learn your in-laws’ schedules is a great way to avoid playing phone tag. If you know that they go to bed early, 9 PM might not be the best time for a call, but early in the morning with their morning coffee could be perfect. 
  • Texting Is Great, But Calls Are Priceless: A quick text to keep up with your in-laws shouldn’t be discounted. After all, texting is especially convenient for busy people with  alternating schedules. But make sure you call or FaceTime them on occasion. Texting is great, but calling is a superior way to connect.

Creative Connection Ideas

  • Dinner and a FaceTime: Make the same dinner across a distance and enjoy it together over FaceTime. You’d be surprised at how much video chatting can make it feel as though someone is right next to you. Plus, you can ask the camera whose dish came out better and vote on winners. 
  • Movie Night: Watch a movie together by starting your pre-decided film at the exact same time no matter how far apart you are. You might not talk much throughout the movie, but small comments made on both ends go a long way in bringing forth a connection. At the end, talk about the movie or whatever you have planned for the week. Bonus points if you make popcorn and buy boxed candy.
  • Call During Your Commute: If you find it hard to make the time to connect, calling while you’re in the car is a safe bet. Trade your usual tunes for a speakerphone conversation while you make your way to work or play. It’s an easy way to break up your day without sacrificing productivity. Just be sure to use your built-in bluetooth system if you’re behind the wheel.

When They Don’t Approve Of Your Relationship

disapproving man pointing at nervous man

Navigating your in-laws disapproval of your relationship solely because you’re a same-sex couple is profoundly difficult. We can’t tell you exactly what the right way to handle it is, as a suitable response depends on your unique situation and relationship with your spouse’s family. In general, an honest conversation (or letter, or email, or text) in which your feelings are discussed can be a good place to start. If your in-laws are not receptive, you can continue to try to change their hearts, or you can take temporary or permanent space from them.

Maryellen Mullin, therapist at San Francisco Family Therapy, suggests “When you get stuck, consult a couples or family therapist together. And always make sure, harmful behavior is addressed, and that your partner is supportive of you, regardless of what their parents’ acceptance of you turns out to be.”

Whatever you choose to do, remember that your relationship is valid and worthwhile. You aren’t obligated to retain a relationship with someone in your life just because they’re biologically related to you. Keep your network of support close, don’t be afraid to establish boundaries, and discuss what you’re dealing with to a trusted friend or professional.

Final Thoughts

Getting your in-laws to see you for the amazing person you are isn’t always easy. With these tips, you’re well on your way to stealing their hearts. Through hosting, bridging the distance through technology, and communicating honestly and openly, a meaningful relationship with your partner’s family is more likely to be formed. For more advice make sure to check out our Groom Hacks page for top groom tips.

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