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No bride-to-be envisions life with her in-laws as a roller coaster ride of uncomfortable moments mixed with bickering and belittling. But blending families — people with different backgrounds, beliefs and problem-solving skills — can be anything but easy. "Let's face it," admits relationship expert Andrea Syrtash. "Some in-laws are difficult and nothing you do or don't do will change that." Luckily, however, there are a few things practically guaranteed to get you in good with your new family (and the things you should avoid at all costs) before your wedding day.
Do: "Invite your in-laws to lunch or coffee without your partner and let them know you want to spend a little time getting to know each other," recommends Syrtash. "Most family members would be flattered by this gesture, and it allows you to connect away from the stresses of planning a wedding."
Don't: "Don't discourage your partner from spending time with his family," says Syrtash, "as they'll resent you before they even know you."
Do: "Express interest in your new family's traditions and history," she says. "Ask about relatives you don't know much about. Poke through old albums and ask your in-laws for good stories. The more they realize you're excited to join the family, the more they will be excited to welcome you into it."
Don't: "Don't put down their family customs and traditions. Remember, you're joining a family unit that's been together for a number of years and it takes everyone time to adjust" says Syrtash. "The family doesn't want to feel that once you've stepped in, you're stepping on their values or not valuing their contribution their precious son's or brother's life."
Do: "Invite your in-laws to share opinions on various aspects of the wedding," suggests Syrtash. "You can handpick areas you don't care too much about — fonts or flower arrangements, for instance — and ask them to weigh in. The message you're sending is that you value their insight and they are an important part of the event."
What are some other tips you can offer brides-to-be that will help them get in good with their future in-laws? Share them with us on Twitter at @BRIDES!