Home > Mom's Life > Family Relationships > Dealing With In-Laws > The Four Stages of Getting to Know Your In-Laws

The Four Stages of Getting to Know Your In-Laws

In This Article:

Page 2

Meeting: Letting It All Hang Out

Stage #2: Getting the lay of the land. Here, you scope out the situation to see how things are done. By now, the honeymoon has ended and reality is rearing its ugly head. There's probably a lot of scratching, odd noises, and grousing going on as you try to figure out how the game is played.

It usually takes about a year for in-laws to reach the Meeting stage when they set aside their "company manners" and reveal their real natures. Warning: This is when you'll start seeing your father-in-law in his T-shirt or your mother-in-law in her well-worn house dress at Sunday dinner. This could be what's in store for your hunk or beauty queen in 25 years.

Family Matters

Accept that your in-laws aren't your parents. As a result, they're not likely to abide by the same rules your folks did. Think "different," not "better" or "worse." Compromise on differences that are less important and negotiate those that are more central.

The Meeting stage can be very tense as you learn the rules that govern your in-laws' lives. Jimmy's experience was fairly typical:

I was staying at my in-laws' house for the weekend shortly after Beth and I got married. I took a shower in the morning and decided to shower again after tennis. My mother-in-law was furious. "We have a cesspool problem in this area," she hissed between clenched teeth. "No one takes two showers. How inconsiderate you are." I was shocked because she had always been so nice to me. Who gets so bent out of shape over a shower or two?

It's not the shower, bunky. It's the tension of redefining roles and welcoming a newcomer into the family dynamic. No matter how careful you are, you're bound to step on someone's toes. Relax; that's natural at this stage of forming a relationship with your in-laws.

Your in-laws are not under any obligation to make the process easier for you, though. Some in-laws are just not ready to accept newcomers to the family. By not making it easy for the newcomer, some parents try to maintain their roles as they existed before the marriage. But you can't go home again, as novelist Tom Wolfe said. Holding on too tightly can damage the relationship on all ends.

Sometimes, the new in-law (probably you) becomes the focus of existing tension within the family. This helps the family relieve its own fears -- by dumping them all on you.

If you encounter this problem, try a little communication. No armchair psychology, please. Instead, simply state your feelings and wait for the person's response. Even if your attempt doesn't work, take heart: Matters usually get easier as the relationship continues. People often run out of energy. Besides, time has a way of putting matters into perspective.

Next: Page 3 >>

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Dealing with In-Laws © 1998 by Laurie E. Rozakis, Ph.D. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


Vote Now for the Children's & Teen Choice Book Awards
Voting is open now through May 3 for the Children's and Teen Choice Book Awards — the only national book awards program where the winning author, illustrator, and books of the year are selected by young readers. Encourage your child to vote for his favorites today!

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books!
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our new Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme, and create reading lists for kids!

Top 10 Math & Science Apps for Your Whiz Kid
Looking for the best math and science apps for kids? Check out these cool apps for all ages, which will grow your child's love of the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and math).

Registered for Kindergarten — Now What?
Wondering what to do now that you've signed your child up for kindergarten? Try our award-winning Kindergarten Readiness app! This easy-to-use checklist comes with games and activities to help your child build essential skills for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Facebook icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks