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
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
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
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
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
DO consider doing something that’s time-limited and easier. If
you go to dinner in a restaurant, everyone might be a bit
DON’T hesitate to ask your spouse how it went when it’s over. A
“debriefing” can help both of you.
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