In-laws get a bad rep. Some awkwardness is inevitable as you want to impress your future family and they want to make sure you are a good match for their son, brother, or nephew. But in-laws can be great. The bond between family is different than that between any friends, and you can experience the benefits of a whole new family if you put forth some effort to make a connection. If you’re at a loss for how to bond with your in-laws, look below for some recommendations to put into practice even before the wedding.
Look into their history
You are joining a new family, know what you are getting yourself into! Ask to sift through old family scrapbooks and heirlooms. If they have one, look over your fiancé’s family tree. If they don’t, do research to find potential ancestors. This activity not only allows for bonding, opening up the conversation to funny stories and meaningful memories. But it will also provide your new family with a gift for them and future generations.
Every mom has a recipe she is proud of or one that is practically a family heirloom. Show genuine interest to learn how to make this meal, side dish, or dessert. Invite your soon-to-be mother-in-law to the grocery store to purchase the exact ingredients. She might have specific brands or types of ingredients that she prefers, and the being together initiates bonding.
Even if you did not cook the meal together, sit down for breakfast, lunch, or dinner with your soon-to-be family. A meal forces communication but eliminates tension, as everyone is seated around a table together while uniting over the culinary creations set before them. These culinary creations can be something made from your own kitchen from your own family cookbook. Or, you can visit your local fast food joint. No matter where this family dinner lies on the spectrum, the result is the same: bonding.
While you can shop for wedding-related items, these can very easily present a source of conflict rather than unity. Step away from the wedding planning and ask the females on your fiancé’s side of the family out for a shopping spree. Be sure to run this idea past your man first to make sure that his mom, sisters, aunts, and grandmothers actually enjoy this activity
Many of the problems between new additions to families stem from a lack of communication. You cannot avoid problems by avoiding your in-laws. Your future family will appreciate any efforts you put forth. This can be difficult if you and your fiancé live a significant distance away from the rest of his family. Send his family updates on your lives through pictures, letters, video chat, and phone calls.
Do it yourself
Kill two birds with one stone and have a craft night! This gives you a chance to hang out with your in-laws while preparing inexpensive items for your wedding. You can make signs, invitations, favors, centerpieces, and other decorations. Stick to relatively simple projects if you hope to actually use these DIY items in your wedding. But if you just want to have a fun night of crafting and don’t expect to get anything useful out of it, look up challenging projects on Pinterest and crown a best and worst.
Share a hobby
You and the man of your dreams share similar sources of amusement, entertainment, and obsession. These interests are at least partially responsible for how you fell in love. Your fiancé and your in-laws are bound to share similar interests, therefore, logic suggests that you and your in-laws will also share some interests! Figure out these hobbies and then take the initiate to do these hobbies together. This could be as simple as an afternoon of binge watching Say Yes to the Dress or as elaborate as a ski trip to Colorado.
Change their name
Start calling your fiancé’s mother, mom and his father, dad. Refer to his siblings as your siblings and other relatives as your relatives. It is completely acceptable after you are engaged — be careful venturing into this territory before then. This is a simple step that can make a world of difference. The reasons lies largely in the subconscious, as both you and your in-laws come to terms with your new relationship. Attaching the tag “in-laws” to their titles prolongs distance, rather than intimacy.
Bring the families together
Marriage not only affects two people, uniting two individuals together for the rest of their lives. Two whole families join together for both the wedding itself and forever. Between showers, birthday parties, and holidays, you and your man’s families will have to get along even past the big day. Give all involved parties an opportunity to bond with a day at the park, pool, beach, or backyard.
Armed with these recommendations, bonding with your in-laws shouldn’t seem so difficult. If one of these activities or steps does not produce the results you desire, keep trying. Bonding takes time, so start the process now, even before the wedding takes place!