I’m writing this blog from the comfort of the balcony while downing a bottle of South African Savanna Cider and a glass of chilled Amarula. Where is this headed? Nowhere!
Ok, fine. I’m sorry for wasting five minutes of your time but I was just trying to set the mood here. I’m about to write about a sensitive subject. The in-laws. I was trying to set the mood here you guys. I hope by now you have your glass your wine or whatever poison fries your liver. Come make I teach you how to deal with your inlaws. Especially if you come from a different culture!
Learn their language
Learning to speak their language is important as well because your in-laws will appreciate your effort and you will also have a better understanding of their worries and perspectives.
And when I talk about learning about their language I mean getting really deep. Don’t be those people who skinned and barbequed the cat because they could not differentiate between a cat and chicken. And if you ever find yourself in this situation please just ask.
If you’re at the beginning stages of learning the language, it’d be a good idea to make having conversations with your significant other’s family a goal, like asking how to cook a meal. It shows that you have a genuine interest in their culture and their familial ways.
It also shows you can do it all in their language, that you are making an effort. Most people appreciate that.
Watched how your partner and his family interact together. Find out when the family meets and for what reasons: to have Sunday meals together, for hospital visits when someone was ill, to carpool together for an errand or an event? You will begin to understand how they operate as a unit, which is different in every culture and family.
If you don’t try to rush things and give your partner the time he or she needs to show you how it works, it will happen more naturally and with less frustration.
Find a common ground
Do they love politics? Dancing? Cooking? See where I’m headed with this?
I did not say it’s ok to dance on top of the table after half a glass of wine at the christmas table. Ai hata wewe!
If your language skills aren’t quite translating your complete personality yet, don’t worry. Staying authentic to who you are, even with in-laws, is always the first priority. Be honest with what you don’t understand when you’re speaking with them. Asking questions helps here, too.
If your significant other is truly significant, you’re in it for the long haul. The family has to know you, and not some version of that you’re trying to make of yourself. So be authentic, be the real you. I’m sure they’ll love you as much as your partner does.