A great relationship with your in-laws can be one of the key factors in maintaining a happy marriage. This is especially true for a husband and his wife’s parents.
In a 26-year longitudinal study involving 373 couples in their first year of marriage followed up over time, psychologist and University of Michigan research professor Terri Orbuch found that a couple’s risk of divorce decreased by 20 percent when the husband reported having a close relationship with his in-laws.
Establishing a good relationship with your wife’s father can be especially difficult. There’s a reason movies and TV shows stereotype fathers of daughters in as stern, staunch, and virtually impossible to please, especially when they meet their daughter’s boyfriend. So, how do you become a fantastic son-in-law and earn the unconditional love of your wife’s dad? We have a few suggestions below.
1. Show interest in his interests
Just as you probably won your wife over being attentive to her, it’s important to pay attention to your father-in-law’s interests and use your observations to strike up more meaningful conversations with him. You may find that you share some hobbies or that you’re cheering for the same football team. Knowing what he likes can make it easier to establish a better relationship with him.
2. Spend pressure-free time together
A lot of the first few interactions you may have had with your father-in-law might have been fraught with pressure. There’s meeting him for the first time, the time you asked for his daughter’s hand in marriage, and then the wedding planning. In order to truly bond, try setting up time together where you can just relax and bond. This is where the first suggestion comes in handy. Maybe he likes fishing. Take him to the lake and, armed with your surf rods and bait, start getting to know each other.
3. Lend a hand
One of the things that effectively bond men together is hard work. When you’re visiting and you notice your father-in-law is trying to fix his car, offer your help. And even if they’re not asking for your assistance, offer anyway. Maybe you can mow the lawn, chop firewood, or simply put the dishes away after a dinner your in-laws hosted. Lending a hand will endear you to your father-in-law and show that you’re eager to put effort around the house.
4. Be a good husband
As obvious as it sounds, it bears repeating: the secret to impressing your father-in-law is by being a great husband to his daughter. Just put yourself in his shoes for a bit: if you have a daughter, you’ll only want the best for her and that includes her finding an amazing husband. More than riches and grandchildren, most fathers want to know that their child is in a happy, respectful, and loving marriage.
So if you want to strengthen your relationship with your father-in-law, demonstrate how strong your relationship is. Show them that you’re affectionate towards your wife, that you make her smile, and that you worship the ground she walks on. When all of these are genuine, your feelings for her will shine through and your father-in-law will be able to see that.
Through these meaningful gestures and genuine affection, you can form a bond with your father-in-law that’s as strong as your devotion to your wife.