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It’s not uncommon for people to have some difficulties when it comes to their in-laws. Having differences of opinion with a partner’s parents may seem like a no-win situation, and often people are so frustrated that they don’t know what to do. No wonder this is a hot topic for many people.
The reality is that not every parent is excited about their daughter being in a lesbian relationship. It can be particularly difficult if the relationship challenges a family’s strongly held beliefs. Creating an amiable relationship requires work on both sides. It doesn’t matter if you are dating or married.
There are times when you will have to interact with the in-laws, and wouldn’t it be nicer to enjoy it rather than to grin and bear it?
This article will provide you with eight tips on how you can improve your relationship with your partner’s parents.
The best way to maintain healthy relationships with your girlfriend or wife’s parents is through honesty and openness. Ask and answer questions early on so there are no surprises later.
Communication can be a hurdle when it comes to navigating life with in-laws, but honesty will work better than anything else. Be open about who you are and how being an out lesbian has affected your relationship and your life. This way ,they’ll have some context when meeting you for the first time.
Discussing how being a lesbian affects one’s relationships often takes time, but it’s worth pushing through any awkwardness. Discussing such personal matters will help maintain peace between all parties involved.
Remember that this is their daughter. And if you can’t accept your partner’s parents, then it’s going to be a lot harder to get along with them and can create friction with your partner. They may not be perfect, but that doesn’t mean you should judge them either.
Your girlfriend wants you to get along with them because it will make visits — and her life — much more pleasant.
Don’t make your in-laws uncomfortable. If they’re not comfortable with something, then don’t force them to do it. When you are a visitor at their house, ask before you act. Perhaps offer an alternative if the idea makes them unhappy.
Talk to them about what makes you uncomfortable. If they do something that worries, annoys, or stresses you out, then tell them about it. Communication is key to a happy family environment, and if there are things in the past that made you uneasy, bring them up so everyone can move on from them together.
As stressful as it can be initially, invite your in-laws over for dinner or a movie night. Not only does this show them that they are part of the family and loved, but it also provides an opportunity for them to see how you interact as a couple in your own home. Your partner will love when you take the initiative and reach out.
If you have any LGBT gatherings or lesbian dinner parties, consider inviting them if you think they would be open to it. Unless the in-laws are extremely homophobic, this is a great way to show them your life is not really that different from theirs. Love is love, right?!
Remember, it’s not just about you and your partner. It is always going to be a learning experience for both sides. Regardless of whether you are a straight or lesbian couple, parents will often provide their opinions on where you live, whether you should marry, who should have the child, and how to discipline that child.
The best advice I can give someone who has an opinionated in-law is don’t take offense. Keep an open mind because chances are this person means well even if he or she isn’t sensitive enough to know what the proper response is.
Remember that your in-laws are just people and are not always right about everything. Even if they don’t understand the nuances of lesbian life, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t listen closely when they offer their opinion.
Give them advanced warning if you plan on taking any big steps in this new relationship of yours such as moving in together, buying a house, or getting hitched. Give yourself time for discussion so nobody feels blindsided by your decision. Parents have a genuine interest in their offspring and usually just want to help.
Now, if your parents or in-laws are super nosy, then you may have to handle the discussion more firmly. Let them know what you have decided as a couple and how you would appreciate their support.
Most mothers would want to share in their daughter’s happiness and help smooth out the challenges of moving or buying a home. If you don’t mind your mother or hers getting involved, let them know how they can help. You don’t want to be surprised and find out they’re not on board with your decision when you tell your friends about how excited you are.
Just because they’re uncomfortable doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with what you’re doing. Even if her parents or yours continue to have a difficult time with your relationship, you can still play nice for a family event or holiday.
It’s like politics and religion. We can agree not to discuss it, but we can still love and include each other. As difficult as it can be, your feelings may occasionally get hurt. Their comments about how wonderful her college boyfriend was and how they had hoped she would marry him one day may sting, but remember she is with you now.
One of the most important things to do is to have an open mind when it comes to your partner’s family members. You may feel anxious every time you see them, but if you don’t try to make a good impression on these people, then there really isn’t much hope for improving relations.
Even though it may not always work out in the end, at least they will know your intentions and that you are trying to make things work. This goes together with accepting who they are because sometimes parents have certain beliefs that can be different from yours.
The more they see how much your partner enjoys spending time with you, the more likely they’ll relax a little bit, too.
You also must put yourself in their shoes because, let’s face it, if someone I didn’t know at all were suddenly coming into my life, would I welcome them? Probably not. So this is about being patient as well — but on an even deeper level than just accepting what others believe.
Give them space and time to adjust to this new situation. Don’t let disagreements escalate into arguments. Remember that they’re not the enemy, even if you disagree with their opinions on same-sex marriage or parenting. You’re not living by their rules anymore, but they may disapprove of not only your lifestyle but also your girlfriend.
You don’t want to be at war with them. If there is some religious intolerance or fear, it’s important to discuss homophobia. Help them feel safe enough to talk about where they stand on this issue, and be willing to really listen. You can still make your choices, but having an open conversation can move the needle for them to at least accept the situation. In time, they may be more willing to embrace you as a couple and as part of the family.
If your in-laws don’t like you, it can make family gatherings uncomfortable. You may wonder why they don’t seem to like you. It could be that they are worried about how you will influence their daughter. They worry about the future and don’t want their daughter to make a mistake or get hurt.
A good way to tackle this is to spend time getting to know them better and learn about their interests so you have something to talk about during the holidays. Help her mother in the kitchen, or take a walk with her dad. Show genuine interest in their life, hobbies, and work. Listen to what her parents say, but be sure to also share details about your life with them so they can learn who you are as a person. This will increase their trust and acceptance of you with time.
Try a few of these ideas and see how it goes. We lesbians often find ourselves in the predicament of trying to make it work with our partner’s family. It can be tough when your significant other’s parents are not receptive about you being gay and even tougher for them when they find out that you’re a couple and may eventually become two mothers.
Patience and effort are the keys to creating a peaceful, enjoyable relationship with almost anyone. The best way to get through this is by finding ways to accept their beliefs (whatever they may be) as well as their opinions. If done right, all will turn around soon enough!
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