Managing Expectations About In-Laws

It seems like every movie stirs up the idea that relationships with the in-laws are never easy – either she’s stealing their baby boy, or he’ll never be good enough for their little girl! And while some welcomes are less than warm, our wish for you is that you are excited to unite families. Whether your soon-to-be in-laws can’t be more excited about your pending nuptials or the tensions are high, we want to encourage you to strengthen those relationships and be open with your fiancé about your anticipation, concerns and expectations.

Getting Off on the Right Foot

Before they officially become your in-laws, it’s important to build relationships with your fiancé’s parents – and this can start with wedding planning. Yes, it’s your big day, and you and your soon-to-be spouse should have the final say on all decisions. That doesn’t mean you can’t ask your MIL’s opinion on a few of those decisions! Showing her you value her opinion will go a long way.

Chat with your fiancé How can I make your parents feel at ease about our marriage?

Is there anything they want to help with?

What are some ways I can bond with your family before the wedding?

Make a Plan for Holidays

As you establish your life with your new spouse, holidays will become exciting times to create new traditions together. It may also be the first time your new spouse isn’t spending the holiday solely with their parents. Before getting married, discuss which holidays matter most to each family. Maybe your parents love to host a big Easter meal, while your in-laws keeps it simple – choosing to celebrate Easter with your family makes the most sense, but be sure to celebrate another major holiday with your in-laws. Keeping a healthy balance will ensure that everyone is satisfied. If there is no easy solution, consider hosting so that you can bring both families together!

Chat with your fiancé How do you plan to spend holidays while we are engaged? Once we are married? What are our parents’ expectations of the holidays? How can we have healthy conversations with both sets of parents to create a good plan?

Spending Time with Your Families

It’s important to remember that not every family is like yours, and there may be many differences between the way you and your fiancé were raised. If you haven’t already, take the time to share about your childhood with each other, and discuss how important your family is at this stage in your life. While you may not have the greatest relationship with your parents, your fiancé may greatly value his time with his parents and wants to continue seeing them often. Talk about your expectations regarding time spent with each family – that way you aren’t surprised if your spouse asks you to join his parents for Sunday dinner every week.

Chat with your fiancé How often do we want to see our parents?

What role do we want them to play in our marriage?

When They Become Grandparents

If children are in the plans for you and your fiancé, it’s important to understand their expectations for their parents’ involvement with your children. Perhaps one of you feels strongly that your parents shouldn’t be around your children, while the other wants Mom and Dad to help raise the babies. Knowing where you each stand helps you be united in your decisions. Remember, your in-laws may be looking to you to continue their family line, and it’s important to consider how they feel.

Chat with your fiancé

What kind of relationship do we expect our kids to have with our parents?

Do we want our parents or in-laws to have an active role in our children’s lives?

When Conflict Arises

Conflict is inevitable in every relationship, but navigating conflict with the in-laws is a tricky one. The last thing anyone wants is to create family tension – especially if it puts your spouse in the middle of it! You will quickly learn where you and your in-laws differ in opinions, parenting styles and any other possible topic known to man. The trick is learning how to manage conflict, strive to keep the peace, and retreat when necessary. Remember that there are some hot-button issues that may simply need to be avoided, and not every conflict has a resolution. Your in-laws are likely set in their beliefs, and it isn’t your job to change their mind, no matter how passionately you feel about certain topics. Just remember that they are family, and they matter to your spouse.

Chat with your fiancé

How do we set boundaries with our parents, so we both feel in control of our marriage?

Are there any parts of your current relationship with my parents that you are concerned about? How can we work through those concerns together?

Other Questions to Discuss with Your Fiancé

Is it okay for the in-laws to stop by unannounced? How would we handle this? What are your expectations for your relationship with your in-laws? Are you okay with me talking to my parents about fights or problems we have? Do you think you will ever have a parent live with us when they are older?

Want more tips and tricks for a happy marriage? Let's chat!

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“Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate." - Mark 10:9

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