When your daughter gets married there are several emotional hurdles that you will have to work through in order to maintain a good relationship with your daughter and her new husband, your son-in-law. Your entire life has changed with the addition of a new member of your family who has captivated your daughter’s affections and taken her out of your home.
Those emotional hurdles include releasing the responsibility you’ve had for her life and feeling displaced because of it. Both of you, her parents, might have some fear mixed in there when you realize that someone else will be taking your daughter’s attention away from her family and seeing to her safety and comfort.
The solution is to build a good, stable relationship with your son-in-law and quickly make him a true member of your family. Make plans to spend time with him alone. Find a common interest you both have and find ways for the two of you to share that interest and become friends.
Look for what your daughter sees in him, all the good things that made her fall in love with him. Do not expect him to be the same man you are. You are her father and he is her husband. Don’t make the mistake of treating him like one of your children. He is a married man with opinions, goals and experiences you don’t have.
If you’re the mother-in-law, you might be worrying that your special relationship with your daughter will be dissolved. At the same time, your daughter’s new mother-in-law will be worrying that your daughter won’t take care of her son the way she did for all of his life. Both mothers might be tied up with real memories of their child as they grew up. Loss and insecurity will be on your minds constantly until you both learn to appreciate the new spouse in your lives.
Don’t treat your son-in-law like one of your children. When he married your daughter, he changed her relationship with you. They both are adults and totally involved with starting their life the way they want to live it. Think back to when you got married and remember that you had the same concerns and involvement in starting your married life the way you wanted to live it.
One way to ease the transition in your family picture is to be friendly with your son-in-law’s parents. Invite them to dinner once in a while or to a family picnic or barbecue. Include them in birthday parties and holiday festivities. Accept return invitations from them. All of you are interested in their welfare and all of you are feeling the same fears and uncertainties. Sharing insights and childhood memories of each of your children with each other will bridge any gap that might have existed between your two families.
If you are the new son-in-law, you should be aware that your father-in-law needs to know that you are going to take care of his daughter and will treat her with true love and respect. Get to know your in-laws as real people in your new family. Respect their differences and concerns. Ask for their advice when you need it and follow it. Don’t let disagreements fester until they become a problem to your marriage.
Both of the newlyweds need to spend time with their own parents and siblings. That doesn’t mean that all free time and weekends need to be spent with your family. You need to build a life with each other. For example, don’t just quit doing something you always shared with your father or mother. It might be a good idea to plan one weekend a month for family traditions. One day could be spent alone with each set of parents and the other day might be spent with both sets of parents together, like at dinner at your house.