One of the difficult challenges of your married life is dealing with a father-in-law who seems unhappy about your presence. Whether he is aggressive, cold, distant, or brutally rude, these pointers will help you build a closer relationship with your spouse’s dad.
Enter his world.
Discover a mutual ground or ask about his interests to let him know that he is essential. If he loves traveling, ask him about the places he’s been to. Does he like doing DIY projects at home? Get him a concrete saw and join him in accomplishing little renovations. Everyone loves talking about themselves and the activities that make them feel energized. Keep trying and take advantage of every opportunity to get closer.
Skip topics that can trigger debates.
Avoid discussing things that lead to arguments. Politics, religion, and philosophy are just some of the issues that can trigger a clash. Save yourself from stress by keeping the conversation light. When you feel frustrated or annoyed during the dialogue, you have to be careful about your tone of voice. Your father-in-law can be a bit sensitive, and the way you speak can evoke resentment.
Give him TLC through gifts.
Even if your father-in-law has everything, sending him a thoughtful gift can put that elusive smile on his face. Giving him something special on his birthday or Father’s Day will show him that he is an integral part of your family. However, do not be tempted to get a wholly generic gift. Your gift should align with his wants and interests. If he loves reading, you can get him a Kindle, which will enable him to carry a thousand books anywhere without having to worry about back pain.
Older people cling to their values and opinions because it offers them comfort and safety in the changing world. Your father-in-law’s disapproval might not be outright rejection. His intention is probably good, and he only wants the best guy for his princess. Try to focus on his real purpose rather than his criticisms.
Wear his shoes, so you’ll understand where he’s coming from. Always remember to keep your cool and do not take anything personally. Spare him from insults even if you have to bite your tongue. Say something nice even if it means gritting your teeth. If everything in your mind is negative, keep your mouth closed and fake a smile.
Stop comparing him with your father.
Always remember that your dad and your spouse’s father are different individuals with different behaviors and character. While it is your dad’s responsibility to give you unconditional love, your father-in-law did not sign a similar contract. You have to accept that he might not treat you the same way your father does. Keeping your expectations reasonable will save you from feeling distressed.
It takes time to earn trust and build good relationships. Just like you, your father-in-law has needs, hesitations, and doubts. Give him time to accept the reality that he just gained an additional member in his family.
Your father-in-law will be a part of your life for many years, so you must invest in building a positive relationship. It can be challenging to interact with him, but your consistent respect, gratitude, and compassion will help you create a much closer connection tomorrow or the days to come.