When it comes to spending time with the in-laws, many people feel as if it is a burden. The reality, though, is that your in-laws aren’t just anyone. They are your spouse’s flesh and blood, and because of what they mean to them, it is your responsibility to put in the effort to develop and maintain a good relationship with them.
While there is a myriad of articles out there that focus on getting along with the mother-in-law, not many pay much attention to winning over the father-in-law. If that’s the relationship that you are experiencing a bit of difficulty with, this one’s for you.
When developing a relationship with your father-in-law, remember that being appropriate and avoiding crossing boundaries is essential. If you want your relationship to thrive, be open yet careful about what you say and focus on creating the type of relationship with your father-in-law that will be comfortable, respectful, and light-hearted. If you want to delve further into how to create a better relationship with your father-in-law, read on.
12 ways on how to get along better with your father-in-law:
1. Show him respect.
Your father-in-law is most likely a considerable number of years older than you. Nothing will make him feel better than being given you respect. You can show respect by being polite, interested in what he has to say, courteous, and asking him for his advice on certain matters.
2. Include him in family occasions and special moments.
Most people fluster over making sure that their mother-in-law is happy and included, and they tend to neglect their father-in-law. When it comes to the kids’ birthdays or a family outing, make sure that you send a personalized invite message to your father-in-law too. Make sure that he knows he is wanted there and isn’t just coming along as a tag-along for his wife.
3. Take good care of his child (your spouse).
Your father-in-law undoubtedly holds his family as paramount importance in his life. If he sees that you treat your spouse (his son/daughter) genuinely well, he will have a certain amount of genuine respect and fondness for you. Don’t make a big show of it, but make sure that you are putting in as much effort to caring for your partner as you hope other people would think you do. After all, that’s who you are forming relationships with the in-laws for.
4. Show love and affection for his entire family.
It’s not just your partner who you have to show love and affection for when trying to win the father-in-law over. In fact, if he sees you treating his wife and other relatives kindly, he will know that you are a genuinely nice and good person. How could he resist warming to you after noticing that?
5. Ask him to share his stories of the past – get to know him.
One thing that most people agree on when it comes to fathers-in-law is that they love to tell stories of the good old days. Whether you find these stories interesting or not, put in the effort to engage with him and show interest – you won’t regret the connection opportunity that it provides. Laugh at his jokes, ask questions about his experiences, and get fully involved in his stories. This is the best way to get to know your father-in-law, and he’ll probably love the attention and interest.
6. Cheat a little (ask your spouse what makes their dad tick).
Forming a relationship with your father-in-law can be made a whole lot easier if you are prepared to cheat a little. All you have to do is ask your partner what makes your father-in-law tick. What are his interests? What intrigues him? What does he do for fun? What type of sense of humor does he have? Having a bit of insight before the time can really help you get a little closer to your father-in-law without having to play too much of a guessing game.
7. Don’t share your marital problems with him.
There is such a thing as “TMI” (too much information), so tread it carefully when it comes to sharing your feelings and life experiences. If your father-in-law seems like a gentle and understanding person, you may be tempted to confide in him regarding your marital problems or moan about or criticize your partner. Whatever you do, don’t!
Complaining about your partner or revealing too much information regarding your personal problems will cast you in a bad light. Rather keep the conversation light and fun. Talk to a close friend or your therapist about relationship problems.
8. Spend time with him.
You probably haven’t thought too much about spending time with your father-in-law and getting to know him on an interpersonal level. Relaxing and just being yourself in his company will be a good way to show just how much you care about being part of the family.
Your father-in-law will really appreciate it if you are keen to spend time with him. Perhaps take him out for a cup of coffee or simply spend a bit of time chatting specifically with him when you visit or go to the same family gathering. If he can see that you are willing to put in the effort to form a relationship, he will want to follow suit.
9. Ask for his opinion and advice.
When someone feels important enough for you to want their advice and opinion, it develops a relationship of mutual respect and trust. That’s precisely the type of relationship you want to nurture with your father-in-law. When trying to choose a product or aren’t sure how to approach solving a problem, make a point of asking your father-in-law what he thinks and how you should go about it…in his opinion.
10. Don’t get too familiar – set boundaries and stick to them.
The more time you spend with the in-laws, the more comfortable you may start to feel. Remember that there should always be boundaries and rules of engagement involved when communicating with the in-laws. Never get too familiar with your father-in-law. Show him respect and maintain a behavior or always be within those set boundaries. It will help him maintain a good opinion of you and never doubt if he should have been more cautious with giving you his respect.
11. Openly encourage your partner to spend time with him.
All fathers wish that their kids would spend more time with them. As we get older, we tend to overlook the importance of that relationship. Your father-in-law will feel great if you openly encourage your partner to spend time with him or include him in his life.
12. Be his supporter.
Show your father-in-law a lot of extra support. If you are having family games night, choose him to be on your team. Make sure that the family notices his achievements and generally be a good support system in the efforts he makes for the family. If he feels like you care about him, he will have a special place in his heart for you.
Getting along with your father-in-law is probably a lot easier and simpler than you initially thought. All you have to do is show him respect, be yourself, and try to relax into it. If you are nervous about it, take it slowly and don’t try to push it.
Relationships take time to develop, and chances are that if you take it easy and try to show that you genuinely want to be part of the family, everyone will see your true colors shine, and in time, all will simply fall into an acceptably comfortable place.