Paul: For many married couples, in-laws can be a source of great stress and discontent. We are fortunate that our experience has been very different. When we were first married, I really appreciated how my parents treated Stephanie like their own daughter. They engaged her in meaningful conversation, sought out her opinion about things, and made it a point to include her in all family events.
Steph: It is true - Paul’s parents treated me like one of their own children. Paul’s mom shared some of her favorite recipes with me and gave me the inspiration to give out baked goods to family and friends at Christmas! One of my fondest memories is her making me a special dinner on my birthday. Reflecting on that now still fills my heart with gratitude since I know being loved and welcomed into a husband’s family is a gift not every daughter-in-law receives.
Paul: When our son got married, we vowed to continue this tradition and communicate our love and fondness for his wife. We frequently tell her how much we love her and appreciate the wonderful companion she is to our son. We also have taken this in-law embrace to another level – including her parents in our affections as well. Imagine the stress this takes out of the holidays for everyone!
Steph: One of the things we value about our son’s in-laws is not only did they raise a kind, loving, and genuinely good hearted daughter, but they also love our son and he loves them. One of the ways we first tried to build relationship with our son’s in-laws was to invite them over for dinner and to accept their invitations to dinner. When our son proposed, we called his fiancé’s parents to share in the joy of our children’s engagement and to let them know we wanted to share in the cost of the wedding. The whole wedding planning process was full of joy and the day itself was magical.
Paul: As we’ve discovered in our own marriage, building strong, caring, loving relationships takes intentional effort. It requires decisions to love and deliberate acts of inclusivity and acceptance. Staying on the “in” with our in-laws means putting any potential differences aside and choosing instead to focus on our common bonds. Even though our son and daughter-in-law live across the country from us, we still make it a priority to stay connected with her parents as we live fairly close to one another. We share meals and visits as friends – this keeps our relationship happy and healthy. We prefer being in-law friends rather than outlaw strangers!
Steph: If you don't have a great relationship with your in-laws we hope this article might help you to intentionally form better relationships with the next generation of in-laws.