It’s that time of the year when many of you cringe at the thought of being at your significant other’s home, especially when this involves traveling and meeting the parents for the first time. Here’s some secrets to not only help you enjoy your time with the family and quite possibly even win them over!
- Do your homework. What are their traditions, attitudes, behaviors, and boundaries? Does the family hug and kiss or is a handshake more appropriate? Is everyone expected to dress up for dinner for the holiday meal or go to church? Or is the family more casual, watching football, and playing games? The less surprises, the more comfortable you and your partner will feel.
- Find out about sleeping arrangements. Is it possible to stay at a nearby hotel? Will they become offended? Are they expecting your partner to stay in the old childhood room while you settle into little Susie or Bobby’s room?
- Bear gifts. Just as in many Asian cultures, bringing gifts demonstrates your generosity and thoughtfulness. Gifts don’t have to be expensive. In fact, homemade cookies, ornaments, scented or distinctive candles, flowers, and toys for younger siblings in the house, can represent good will.
- Show genuine interest. Have the mindset that you want to get to know the family of your beloved to better understand and appreciate them for the influences and contributions to your partner’s life. Ask open-ended questions to show your interest as you nod, smile, and show that you are actively listening and understanding their point of view and feelings.
- Use your best etiquette. Momma was right! Being well mannered with plenty of “please” and “thank you,” to demonstrate appreciation wins them over.
- Get involved. Instead of sitting on the sofa acting like a “guest” while others are preparing or cleaning up, offer to help. Your beloved’s family will respect and like you for pitching in and see that you are willing to assist others.
- Back off. Allowing your partner’s family and your beloved some private time together is indeed a sign of your maturity and confidence. Your significant other’s family will appreciate and hold you in high esteem that you are secure within yourself to “share” your partner. You might go for a walk or exercise, or listen to some music in your room to unwind so that you can be even more comfortable around the family. Likewise, participate in family activities to more easily feel included and develop a relationship with them.
- Don’t overdo the passion. It perfectly acceptable and encouraged to have the special look in your eyes for each other, to hold hands, or to give each other a quick hug or kiss. However, save the passion for when you are alone or the family may feel uncomfortable.
- Treat your beloved with love and respect. Although family members may tease and joke about your partner, you don’t need to join in. If you do use sarcasm or criticize your partner, may cause them to become defensive. Instead “go with the flow” and simply enjoy the conversation. As the opportunity rises, give compliments, recognize efforts, and show gratitude.
- Be yourself! You don’t have to be someone else. You are good enough exactly the way you are. Share information that you are comfortable discussing and use appropriate boundaries.
Remember this is your opportunity to get to know important family members and build their trust and respect. The more you engage and listen to them as they provide clues to their values, needs, and wants, you create the probability of a warm and loving relationship.
In the end, friendship and affection are the gifts that last a lifetime. When you are kind and considerate to family, your partner loves you even more…further creating that circle of love.
Finally, have fun and enjoy the ride as you ACT on Love!