That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. (Genesis 2:24)
How many times have we watched a Hollywood film and cringed at the dynamic of the bride-to-be and her in-laws? We laugh at her expense, but when it becomes your turn to get engaged and become a part of your fiancé’s family, the idea of not being accepted or fitting in might terrify you.
I’ve mentioned before that I was in a long-distance relationship for a year before getting married and moving thousands of miles to begin a life with my husband. One thing that made my transition harder was trying to make up for all of the time I didn’t have in the same space with my new in-laws. There are some things I did that aided in my transition to becoming a newlywed, and I have some tips that may be helpful to you in the future. Here are four ways you can start off on the right foot and calm the fears you may have about your relationship with your husband’s loved ones.
1. Make time to blend with his family. If there’s one thing I regret not doing more when I was dating my now-husband, it’s spending time with his family. Because he and I were in a long-distance relationship, most of our time together in person was just the two of us. You may be thinking, I have the rest of my life to get to know them. All that matters is us right now. But part of what makes the dynamics of a marriage work is knowing each other’s backgrounds. How does your fiancé’s family communicate? How does he handle conflict with them? Most likely, you both are on your best behavior before the wedding, so it’s good to see how he’ll interact with his family and how respectful he is to those he’s comfortable around. When you understand the personalities of his loved ones, you’ll know which jokes won’t fly, or that his mother loves sappy greeting cards so you can get her some to show your affection for her.
2. Learn how to handle touchy subjects. Fortunately, my husband and I both come from Christian homes. Even though they looked at us sideways when we broke the news, telling our parents we were in love and wanted to get married soon after meeting each other sunk in easier because they knew what our walk with God was like. Unfortunately, not everyone comes from a Christian background, so your beliefs may not be accepted. You may even be ridiculed. If that’s the case, it’s important to stand your ground in your faith as a couple. Keep the respect when you’re around his family while still taking advantage of opportunities to share why you have the beliefs that you do. This also goes for any touchy subject where you might have differing points of view.
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. (1 Peter 3:15)
3. Put yourself in the mix. One of the things I mentioned was how my long-distance relationship made it harder to spend quality time with my future in-laws. If you live close by, make sure to purposely plan dinners or go to gatherings to show that you want to be an active part of the family. Also, one thing I was able to do was keep an open dialogue with my family members about my relationship and made sure my boyfriend did the same. Having him put in a good word and be open to conversations about me answered some of the initial questions they had and made it easier for them to understand that we were in an intentional relationship.
4. Understand how to keep the peace. How do you deal with criticism, arguments or people who are hard to get along with? You’re not going to be able to prevent negative interactions from happening, but you can control how you react and what things you feed into. No family is perfect, so starting on the right foot looks like avoiding gossip, not getting wrapped up in arguments, and making sure your actions and speech are positive, uplifting and problem-solving.
Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. (Hebrews 12:14)
I hope this helps you to think ahead to when your future husband comes into your life. If you’re already married, it’s not too late to begin doing these things to strengthen your relationship with your in-laws.
Have you experienced getting on the right foot with your in-laws? Do you have any other tips you’d like to share? Please let us know in the comments below.