If you’re lucky enough to have a close relationship with your in-laws or have known them for years, making conversation around the dinner table might be as easy as pie. But if you and your in-laws aren’t as buddy-buddy as you’d like, it can be hard to fill those awkward silences with anything other than generic comments on the weather and recaps of recent sporting events.
Whether you and your partner haven’t been together that long (so you haven’t had the opportunity to bond with your in-laws) or you don’t feel like you have that much in common, figuring out how to get the conversation flowing to find the things you do all love to talk about can seem like a daunting task. We’ve rounded up eight topics that are anything but boring—but are still fairly benign!—to help get the words flowing.
1. Your Partner as a Child
What parents don’t love to share stories about their children? Ask your in-laws to share some of those funny anecdotes your partner might not even remember. You’ll get a peek into their family history—and maybe come away with some good stories too!
2. Your In-Laws’ Childhood
Generation gaps don’t have to be dividing! Ask your in-laws to share stories from their childhood, whether it’s a favorite family memory, the way things were different, or even their favorite toy.
3. Advice You Need
One of the best ways to build a bond with your in-laws is to ask for their advice. That could be on anything from how your mother-in-law recommends seasoning the chicken for dinner to whether your father-in-law thinks the two of you should fence your yard.
Better yet, ask for marriage advice! If your in-laws have been married for years, ask them for their secrets to a happy marriage, tips for dealing with conflict, and anything they’ve learned since they were newlyweds.
4. Interests You Share (That Your Partner Doesn’t)
Don’t kick your partner out of the conversation, but if you and your father-in-law are diehard baseball fans but your partner never got into sports, that’s a topic your FIL has been waiting to discuss for years! Identifying an interest shared by you and your in-laws will also help bring you all together, whether it’s a TV show your partner never really got into or a hobby they wished he or she had picked up.
5. Your In-Laws’ Love Story
You two have just tied the knot, so your love story is short. But what about your in-laws? Encourage them to reminisce about how they met, how they got engaged, and their favorite memories from their wedding day. You’ll be surprised what you learn as they take a trip down memory lane.
6. Their Favorite Random Facts
Everyone knows a random fact or two, whether it’s that catfish have an odd number of whiskers or that elephants can’t jump. Random facts tend to be pretty funny (did you know Pope John Paul II was an honorary Harlem Globetrotter?), and you just might learn something useful!
7. Family Rituals and Traditions
Even if it isn’t holiday season quite yet, this is a great way to get a peek into your partner’s family’s rituals and traditions. This could be anything from their weekly Friday pizza night to the cake they serve at every family birthday, as well as the ways they celebrate holidays each year.
8. Recent Accomplishments
If your mother-in-law recently won an award or your father-in-law caught the biggest fish at the annual competition, ask about it! Show genuine interest in their passions or hobbies, and use it as a chance to draw a connection to something you also enjoy or ask them to teach you something new.