Planning a wedding on it's own can be stressful, right? Layer in on top of that family politics and opinions and it can become overbearing. But rest assured there's a way through everything, even when dealing with inlaws. Now before we dig into strategies on how to handle in-laws let's all acknowledge the pink elephant in the room and face that this possiblity exists. We all want our new families to be perfectly connected with easy flowing communication all filled with warm hugs and relaxing afternoons sipping tea. And for many that exact scenario exists. If you are one of those lucky brides then this post isn't for you. If you have some struggles with your new family, then read on to learn how to turn a Monster-In-Law into a Mother-In-Law.
First, recognize that you are becoming part of a new family. And while you "marry" the whole family, you fell in love with your finacee and that's a lot different. Even in the best case scenarios, it'll take time and effort to build a warm caring relationship. There could be cultural, religious, geographic, social or whatever differences and with some time on your side, you can learn all about them and they can learn all about you.
LISTEN & LEARN
Be open to learning about your fiancees family and share who you are with them. You want to create your own relationship with them that is independent from your fiancees.
HAVE AN OPEN MIND & AN OPEN HEART
Take the lead and reach out to your in-laws. Even if the start is difficult, even if it remains difficult. Stay engaged with them in effort to build respect and forge a meaningful relationship. Often you're thrown in the mix with the in-laws right when the planning begins which immediately puts the relationship in a challenging spot. You're marrying their son, or daughter, there's likely money involved and a whole lot of opinions. This relationship is for the rest of your life though, so take the high road as much as possible and stay focused on the bigger picture not your wedding day only.
PLAN OF ATTACK
Have a, or several, heart to hearts with your fiancee and be on the same page before taking on both sides of parents. It is your day so the tighter your plan is, the better your communication will be with other family members and less confusion wil unfold. Decide what your overall plan and vision is, how involved each parent will be and what you can do to tailor your needs to that parent. What kind of tasks which each parent be best for and what areas are you open to receiving input on? Keep all of your outgoing communciation unified and controlled and don't underestimate the value of flowing praise and thank you's!
This is the crux of all these new relationships. Both of you have been a son or daughter much longer than you have been a fiancee or the pending husband and wife role. It's a huge transition for everyone and there can be conflicting loyalties or pressures that can create strain between the two of you. Here's some ground rules, don't ever complain about your fiancees family, even if he does. Listen emphatically but joining the effort can lead to issues between the two of you if he takes it personally. When dealing with the in-laws, deal with them as a couple versus mother-in-law and father-in-law, this will go a long ways in you staying unified and conversations remaining balanced between the four of you.
This is a hard one, but try not to take offence. The most important relationship is between you and your fiancee. If you feel out of the loop from "inside stories and laughs" that get shared, be comfortable in reminding them that you weren't there and you'd love to hear about the story. Your relationship with your in-laws has lot's of time to develop. Give it that gift and allow it to bloom slowly. Your days of becoming an in-law are forever and some processes take more time than others. Respect that.
BEYOND THE WEDDING DAY
Create your own unique relationships with your in-laws outside of the wedding planning. Make it a point to discuss other topics and find common ground that can become ongoing conversations. It's really important to build a bond and direct communication is essential for this. Be unified whenever it's about plannng for your big day but initiaite your own dialogue for anything outside of it.
Bottom line is this. Your in-laws will be a part of your life forever more. Take the time to engage, nurture and relate. It's so worth it in the end!