So you just got married and now you’ve got a whole second family. Here’s how to survive the transition and thrive long-term, courtesy of psychotherapist Tina B. Tessina:
DO understand how your spouse relates to his or her parents.
DON’T assume that family relationship will resemble the one in your family.
DO take the time to get to know your in-laws—if you’re separated by distance, write or e-mail each other.
DON’T take offense easily—you may just not understand the family dynamic.
DO check with your partner about family customs. Will his mother expect a hostess gift? A thank-you note? What do they like to eat? What’s their sense of humor like? Can you talk about politics or religion in front of them?
DON’T criticize your partner’s family. Rather, ask for explanations of things you don’t understand.
DO be polite and friendly—use your most charming ways around your in-laws.
DON’T assume they understand how you feel—they may not have a clue. Along those lines, don’t take their comments and reactions personally. You may not understand them as they were meant.
DO think about what will work best for you and your partner before you try to please your partner’s family.
DON’T ignore your partner while you’re with your family. You can talk to your sister, but make sure you check in with each other frequently.
DO consider doing something that’s time-limited and easier. If you go to dinner in a restaurant, everyone might be a bit better behaved.
DON’T hesitate to ask your spouse how it went when it’s over. A “debriefing” can help both of you.