Spending Your First Holiday After Marriage with Your In-LawsThe first time my wife spent a holiday with me and my family was at my parent's house and we had one of those, "Dd that really just happen??" moments. We were only dating at the time, so it could have been the first and last time she spent a holiday with my family. The "best" part about it was the moment happened on camera.
I wasn't big on having girls spend holidays with me. So, this was not typical for me to bring a girlfriend home, although we weren't brand new to dating each other. Apparently, my mom realized it wasn't typical and seized the moment.
It was Thanksgiving, and the previous Christmas my parents bought video cameras for us kids who didn't have one. Our family had begun a tradition of sharing what we are thankful for in front of the entire family.
Everyone would take a few seconds, or minutes (depending upon who was talking), and share something they were thankful for. But this year, since almost everybody had video cameras, somebody decided to record everyone's responses. Great idea, right?
My girlfriend/future wife was familiar with most of my family, but didn't know them too well, so I'm sure the moment was a little eye-opening and maybe a little uneasy for her. So, as the camera moved around recording everyone's thanks, it finally reached my mom. She mentioned a few things (of which I don't remember because of what she said next), then turned her attention to my girlfriend/future wife.
Here is the part I remember. She said, "I'm thankful for you (referencing my wife), and hope one day you will be my daughter-in-law."
Huh? Did she … Wait!? Yes, my mom just proposed to my girlfriend for me!
How does either one of us respond to that?
"Uhh, yes, I hope I will be your daughter-in-law." or "I'm sorry, but no chance! I just didn't want to be alone for the holidays." Either way, AWKWARD!
I don't remember what everyone else's reaction was at the time, as I kinda went blank for a minute, before finally deciding to just keep it moving. (I believe I had the camera … can't remember for sure as everything else, but those words are fuzzy to me!) Don't get me wrong, I really, really liked her, but you just don't go wishing somebody would be your son's wife, especially on camera! She could have been crazy!
Fortunately, she wasn't crazy, and I guess mama saw something I had yet to see. It actually all worked out pretty well, as I proposed to her 14 months later, and we got married the following June. Which made my mother very happy. Little did we know at the time my mom popped the question, but my girlfriend/wife was pregnant with our first child.
I'm certain you have had some meet the parents, meet the in-laws, or meet the family moments that may not have worked out so well. Here are 7 tips to make your first holiday after marriage enjoyable for you, your spouse, and your families:
1. Expect the unexpected
Could I have been prepared for my mom proposing to my girlfriend? No, but I now know to be ready for anything. Anybody might say or do anything at any given moment, which could change the entire dynamic of the family gathering.
2. Keep calm and carry on…with a smile
You may be amazed at what you see, hear, and sometimes smell. No worries, just keep calm and carry on ... with a smile. Whether you are at your side of the family's house, or your in-law's house, at some point you will get to go home. Until them, just keep smiling!
3. Don't feel you have to eat everything
This applies in many ways. First, don't go in there and pig out. Have some restraint. On the other hand, don't be afraid to taste new things, but you do not have to eat everything offered to you. I am funny about my food, and don't venture out of my food comfort zone too often. You can politely say no, versus eating something you know you don't eat, and having the vomit look on your face while chewing.
4. Learn everyone's names
This is where I struggle in any environment. You can tell me your name now, and the minute I turn around I have forgotten it. Do your best to remember everyone's names. When you address someone by their name, it makes a good impression. Now, if someone has a nickname you are uncomfortable calling them by, then you can always use sir or ma'am.
5. Know the protocol
Some families want you to make yourself at home, which could mean get up and get your own drink if you are thirsty. While others may want you to be treated like a guest, and have your spouse or someone else get you what you need. It may also mean you are allowed in this room, and this room only! Either way, learn how they function and abide by it.
6. Leave it at home
Maybe you have inside jokes, special names, or even other physical actions you and your spouse share at home. My suggestion is leave it at home. Your mother-in-law may not want to hear you call her daughter the "special" name you use at home. "Baby"..."babe," or something along those lines is acceptable, but "fluffy"..."honey lips"... or "sugar buns" is not. And ladies, "big daddy" is not either.
7. Respect your spouse
In addition to what you call your spouse, your spouse's family may have nicknames for him/her. Many times, these nicknames may have originated years ago, and may not be something they are proud of. If you hear a new nickname for the first time at your in-law's house, do not go using it to refer to your spouse. He/she may not want you to, and it could be embarrassing or hurtful.
-By Jackie Bledsoe Jr.