Getting to know your father-in-law can be a nerve-wracking experience. You want to make a good impression but at the same time you’re going to be nervous and don’t want to say or do something wrong. As intimidated as you might be, this is the time to be confident, friendly, and charming. The following tips could help get you on your way from the two of you being almost strangers to having a good rapport.
Find out what he does and doesn’t like
If you don’t know your father-in-law very well, ask your partner what he does and doesn’t like. For example, if he loves scotch, giving him a bottle of his favorite would be a great idea, but if he doesn’t drink, it’s a present that might not go the way you expect. This tip also pertains to conversation. Stick to topics you know he’s okay with discussing and speak (in a respectful manner) about topics he’s not a fan of only if he brings them up to you first.
Be curious about his interests
People like talking about things that are important to them, so strike up a conversation with your father-in-law about topics you know he cares about. Some topics could include his family, food, friends, pets, sports, job, hobbies, culture, and where he grew up.
Ask for advice
Asking someone’s advice shows that you have respect for their opinion which could go over big with your father-in-law. You could ask his input on topics ranging from how to grill properly to what to wear to a particular event. Even if you’ve already made up your mind about a certain situation, ask what he thinks anyway to get his point of view.
Invite him along
Going out with your partner? Invite your father-in-law along. This could especially go over well if you know he’s a fan of where you’re going whether it’s a sports game, a restaurant, a park, or somewhere else. You obviously don’t have to invite him all the time, but doing so once in a while could show that you’re making an effort to form a stronger bond. It also shows goodwill in that you’re not trying to interfere in the relationship between him and his child.
Bring a gift
If the visit to his house is pre-planned, bring a small token gift such as a nice cigar or a couple for the two of you to enjoy. This is especially important to do for a special occasion like a holiday. Don’t panic; your partner will be able to tell you what’s a good item for you to bring.
Avoid negative behavior
It doesn’t matter how long you and your partner have been together, your father-in-law will always be noticing your words and actions. This doesn’t just apply to the family and your partner, either, but also random strangers you come across. Don’t forget to always say “please,” “thank you,” and “excuse me,” give genuine compliments, and offer to help with clean-up after a gathering. Never say anything negative about anyone he loves, don’t talk about a fight you had with your partner (or anyone else for that matter), or constantly complain. Be as positive as possible; no one wants to be around negativity.
There are a few more things to keep in mind when it comes to building a good relationship with your father-in-law, the first being not to lie. For example, if you’re not a fan of the same artist, movies, or sports teams, don’t pretend to be. Just be yourself. If his child chose you to be their one-and-only, then you have to hope that your father-in-law will see many of the same wonderful qualities. Relax and give the friendship between the two of you a chance to develop in a natural fashion without being forced.