Here are some things to keep in mind as you welcome a new son-in-law into your family.
Move slowly into the role of mother-in-law, remembering that your daughter’s spouse arrives with his own issues, unique temperament and family rituals. Learn more about him and his family rather than expecting him to blend into yours. Remember that family loyalty goes both ways.
Imagine the situation from your son-in-law’s perspective. Recognize that he wants to build and strengthen his new family unit. Doris is trying to let go of her need to continue such a tight relationship with her daughter. “I know she is bonding with her husband, so I don’t snoop or ask too many questions. As an only child I don’t like to go halves with anything, so it’s hard for me to share my precious daughter. But I know that her husband has to be the focus for her now.”
Respect your daughter’s choice and learn to love her life partner. By focusing on how happy your daughter is and on your son-in-law’s positive qualities, you’ll be building on the mutual good feelings. This can serve as an emotional savings account you can draw on later when other situations lead to tension between you.
Hold back on your opinions, advice and constructive criticism, at least until there is more trust in the relationship. This can be a challenge, as Nancy found: “I’m very careful about what I say, so I don’t think my son-in-law knows that I'm holding back. We get along fine on the surface but I hope that some day we can deal with deeper issues.”
Clicking on the title today will take you to our article, Point of View: The Male Boomer and Long-term Relationships, which gives you some insight about what men are thinking. See if you can take any tips from these husbands that will help you understand your son-in-law a little better.