You will not always click with your partner’s family right off the bat. It can take a while for you to warm up to each other. And sometimes you just clash and learning how to get along with your partner’s family seems out of the question. But, you don’t want your relationship to suffer because you don’t get along with your partner’s family.
Whether you go to their house for dinner once a week or only see them on holidays, it is important to care for that relationship.
If you are planning on being with your partner for the long haul, forging a relationship with their family is important. You may not become best friends, but you can learn how to get along with your partner’s family.
[Read: Tips you need for meeting the parents for the first time]
Why don’t you get along with your partner’s family?
Before you start learning how to get along with your partner’s family, figuring out why you aren’t getting along is a good way to start.
Do you not know them well? Maybe you just need more time. Are they cold towards you? Maybe they are just protective or nervous. Do you not get along because of a misunderstanding or an assumption?
Are you distant from your own family? All of these things come into play. Your relationship with your partner’s family is complicated.
Knowing why you don’t get along plays a big hand in changing that. You can focus on fixing the problem if you know what it is.
[Read: 10 simple ways to deal with difficult people]
How to get along with your partner’s family
Getting along with your partner’s family is about you, them, and your partner. Finding a balance of being yourself and getting along with people you may not click with isn’t always easy, but it is worth it.
You may not be able to become close, but you should be able to get along while you’re together. If this is a struggle for you, these tips should help.
#1 Be yourself. Just like the nerves that come with dating, meeting your partner’s family is just as nerve-racking. You want them to like you and you want to get along. When things don’t flow easily, it can seem hopeless.
But, a poor first impression or even awkwardness can be solved. Let yourself relax around them. Instead of putting pressure on yourself, remember this is your partner’s family which makes them your family. Being yourself will let them see the real you, just as your partner has.
I know you want to fit in, but this is already a group of people who know each other inside and out. Being on your best behavior won’t help them and you feel at ease. [Read: How to stop being so sensitive to everything all the time]
#2 Find common ground. You may clash with your partner’s family on topics like religion and politics. But, that doesn’t have to end your chances at getting along. When you are together, try to focus on the things you have in common.
At first, you can talk about your partner, but then talk about sports or cooking. Find a few topics that are safe zones and stick to those. [Read: 14 courteous ways to charm your partner’s parents when you meet them for the first time]
#3 Ask them questions. It can be awkward with your partner’s family, especially if you don’t know each other well. Instead of just trying to fit into the vibe they already have, take initiative. Ask them what they like to cook or about their hobbies.
Get to know them alone, without your partner. This will help create a relationship you don’t need to depend on your partner for. This will also put them at ease. When people talk about themselves, they feel more comfortable and this will help them open up around you. [Read: Practical ways to help deal with difficult in-laws]
#4 Lend a hand. Trying to be helpful is always a good way to get on their good side. Offer to help with the dishes, stir something, or even refill drinks. When you show up at their home, bring drinks or a dessert.Taking any stress off of them will remind them that you are doing these things for your partner too.
#5 Talk about the good old days. Ask them to share stories about your partner’s childhood. Talk about toys you all remember from the ‘90s. Bringing up topics that are positive is always a good place to land.
If they pull out the photo albums, you know you did well. [Read: How to talk to anyone and master the art of being a conversationalist]
#6 Make plans. It can seem awkward but making plans with your partner’s family on your own shows initiative. Ask your partner’s mom to go shopping or their sibling to go to lunch. This helps you connect outside of family gatherings.
Having that connection will take the pressure off of the whole family being there and needing to fit in.
#7 Be polite. This is obvious, but everyone’s idea of manners is different. Always be sure to say please and thank you. Wash your hands and don’t reach over the table. Cough into your elbow and excuse yourself to blow your nose.
What you may feel comfortable with at home isn’t always okay at someone else’s. Pay attention to what everyone else does and do a little more. You’ll fall into the rhythm of what is comfortable. [Read: Proper social etiquette and rules that redefine social manners]
#8 Talk to your partner. If you can’t seem to break through, talk to your partner. Ask them why things aren’t smoother. Ask them if they have any ideas of what you can do to get along with their family. Also, ask if they wouldn’t mind supporting you more by guiding conversations or talking you up a bit.
#9 Listen and remember. Remember, you aren’t putting on a show for your partner’s family. When you ask them questions, listen to their responses and interact. Remember how they take their coffee or what kind of wine they drink. When you pay attention to these things, you can follow up on them later or even pick out gifts for them that are more personal. [Read: Interfering parents and how they can affect your love life]
#10 Let it be. Don’t push too hard. Some people just aren’t welcoming and have no interest in connecting. That can be disappointing, but if it is your partner’s family’s choice, then you have to live with it. As long as they aren’t being cruel or disrespectful to you, it may be best to let it be.
Hang out with the kids when you are with your partner’s family or find something to keep busy. It isn’t the best option, but it may be something you have to live with. [Read: How to be an adult: 15 mature ways to handle situations like a grown up]
#11 Talk to them. If all else fails and you can’t figure out why you don’t get along with your partner’s family, talk to them. Whether it is their whole family or one person in particular, pull them aside and have an honest chat.
Don’t accuse them of anything, but let them know you’d like to be closer because they are so important to your partner. See what they say. They may have not realized the situation or are just shy. A simple conversation can help break the ice.
[Read: How to have a difficult conversation without losing your nerve]
Learning how to get along with your partner’s family isn’t natural for everyone, but with patience and understanding, you can create a lifelong bond.
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