True story: "A couple I worked with recently was hesitant to talk about their in-laws, because they felt they were not a big priority," retells People, Ph.D., licensed clinical psychologist and author of The Available Parent. "After all, they were marrying each other, not their in-laws." But that couple was missing the mark, the psychologist explains.
"In-laws are important to your lives together," Duffy says. "Your spouse would not be who he is were it not for that family that raised him. And if you really think about it, you are likely to spend as much time with your in-laws, for the rest of your life, as you will with your own parents. They are family." With that in mind, here are surefire ways to win over your newest, very important family members.
Show your in-laws they really are family.
You've got a marriage certificate that shows they're now part of your family tree, but don't let that document speak for itself. "Be explicit with them that you consider them family, and that you are excited for the part of your life you will be sharing with them," advises Duffy. "This will help address and ease the biggest anxiety many in-laws have: that they will be losing their son or daughter."
See More: How to Travel With Your In-Laws
Offer to lend a hand.
The quickest way to win over any hostess, including your mother-in-law, is by showing her you value her efforts and her home and are always willing to lend a hand. "Ask to help out in the kitchen when at their house," suggests Duffy. "Let them know that you won't always treat their home like a vacation."
Thank them for the wonderful job they did raising your spouse.
This seemingly cheesy gesture is sure to hit home. Why? By taking your in-laws aside and sincerely thanking them for the gift of your spouse, Duffy says, you are honoring the greatest contribution they've made to your life. "Many in-laws feel as if that connection isn't made," Duffy says, "and that causes them to feel dismissed."
Not only will this move surely win over your in-laws, but it will mean something to your spouse, too. "I find that married people truly appreciate when their spouses connect with and prioritize their parents' importance in their lives," explains Duffy. "It's a highly attractive quality, and it makes for a far less complicated, fragmented married life."
Visit your in-laws alone.
Hiding behind your spouse every time you see your in-laws won't win you any points. "If possible, visit them sometimes without your spouse," suggests Duffy. "This will show them you really want to develop a relationship with them." Take this move a step farther, he suggests, by "asking for their help in finding gifts for your new spouse. They will feel useful and trusted, and part of the joy of your marriage."