If proving yourself to your fiancée’s friends and family were a video game, your fiancée’s parents definitely represent the boss level. At first, it might have been a little challenging to win over her friends. Then you earned a few points for dodging flaming projectiles from her siblings. However, the all-time high score will always be the love and respect of her parents. Damn…this game sounds worse than Atari’s E.T. Let’s ditch that metaphor and face the facts.
Most men spend their entire lives being taught that in-laws are a husband’s mortal enemy. From William Shakespeare to Ben Stiller, we’ve read and watched endless stories about overbearing, disapproving parents and their never-ending quest to make you feel like an unworthy little Focker.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. If you’re one of the lucky ones, you immediately clicked with your bride-to-be’s parents. If not, that just means you should put in more time and effort. Find common ground (besides their daughter) and try to connect with them on a personal level. They might not feel like family right now but years down the line, you’ll realize how important they are to you, your wife and your 16 children. No pressure. Now, let’s talk about your wedding.
During the days leading up to the wedding, carve out a chunk of time to spend with the in-laws, even if your bride can’t make it. Plan an activity that you can all authentically enjoy together. Don’t pretend to like something just for their benefit. Be yourself. Eventually, they will know the real you, so try to be sincere from get-go.
For Sports Fans
This is an easy one: roller derby! Well…maybe not. Ask your fiancée if there’s a sport that both of her parents enjoy and treat them to tickets. And, yes, it’s crucial that you pay for everything: tickets, merchandise, snacks, anything they want. Treat them like royalty, so they can get a sense of how you’ll treat your future wife.
There are plenty of large and small breweries that offer tours. You’ll go behind the scenes, learn some fun facts from an expert guide and, most importantly, sample the suds. If her parents prefer vino, a winery is another great option. Very important: Don’t get blasted but, by all means, allow the in-laws to get rowdy.
For Nature Lovers
Pack a lunch and drive them out to a beautiful location for a hike. This is an awesome opportunity to have great conversations without too much noise or distractions. You can use this time to ask them about their wedding and the early days of their marriage. Pro tip: Ask what song was played for their first dance, then make sure it’s played at your wedding and dedicate it to them.
For The Cultural
If your in-laws love the arts, treat them to a day at the museum, a dance performance or a night at the theater. If you’re thinking about going to the movies…don’t! C’mon, man…you’re better than that!
Pair any of the events above with a nice dinner to cap off your day together. Try to find a restaurant in town that everyone is talking about and impress them with your great taste. Don’t forget to make reservations! It’s never a good look to be standing dejected outside the restaurant, while you frantically scroll through Yelp for other options.
Even if the concept of “alone time” with your in-laws sounds painfully awkward, buck up and power through those feelings. The more time you spend together, the quicker they’ll start to feel like family. You can do it! It will all be worth it when your fiancé’s father walks her down the aisle and gives you a nod of genuine approval.