How to Be a Good Son-In-Law: Building a Great Son-In-Law Relationship With Your In-Laws

Good Son-In-Law This is a guest post from Jeff Nickles at My Super-Charged Life, where he shares tips, motivation and resources for living life to the fullest.

Guys, did you know that there is more to being married than just getting along with your wife? Generally, a woman’s family is important to her. She doesn’t just want you to have a good relationship with your mother-in-law and father-in-law. She needs it. Ladies, am I wrong here?

Men, your wife needs you to be a good son-law and to blend into her family. Yes, she is, in a sense, leaving them behind when she gets married to start her own family with you. But, she is going to need their support and encouragement along the way. Trust me, your relationship with your wife will grow deeper and be easier if you develop a great son-in-law relationship with your in-laws.

The Case for Becoming a Good Son-In-Law

Furthermore, I suggest that it is in your best interest as well. I know that having a terrific relationship with my in-laws has been a true blessing for me. Their love and support of me and my family has been invaluable over the years. For example, they were there for us when an F-5 tornado destroyed our home. In another instance, my mother-in-law took care of our newborn daughter when my wife had to go back to the hospital for a week. I don’t know what we would have done if my in-laws weren’t so willing to help in these situations.

Having children creates a whole other reason to build a great relationship with your in-laws. Grandparents are very important to a child’s sense of well-being. They add depth and security to the loving relationships surrounding a child. The better your relationship is with your in-laws, the easier it is going to be for them to grow close and be a positive role model for your children. This is a valuable gift that you can give your kids that will serve them the rest of their lives.

I hope I have convinced you of the advantages of having a great relationship with your mother- and father-in-law. They are special people to your wife and kids. Your family needs them and therefore so do you. Fortunately, son-in-laws don’t usually have the difficulties forming good relationships with their in-laws like many daughter-in-laws do. However, there are still some points worth mentioning that I believe will help you in this endeavor.

How to Build a Great Son-In-Law Relationship With Your In-Laws

  • Respect their daughter and take good care of her. Daughters are very special to their parents. I should know because I have two of them. My wife and I have invested our whole hearts in loving and nurturing our daughters to become excellent young women. I have even created a list of things I want to teach my daughters to be successful in life. After giving so much, I want to know that the men that marry my daughters will be gentle with them, respect their opinions, provide them a sense of security and above all love them faithfully. It will be a lot easier for me to love my son-in-law when I know he loves her as deeply as I do.
  • Be there when their daughter needs you. I shouldn’t even have to mention this one, but we’ve all heard stories about men missing the birth of their child due to some foolish thing. Her parents will love you if they know their daughter comes first in your life. I know that my relationship with my in-laws has grown as they’ve witnessed me caring for their daughter when she was in the hospital.
  • Act and look like a respectable man. Don’t embarrass your in-laws by acting and dressing like an idiot. There comes a time in a man’s life where he needs to grow up. There is a time and a place for everything. Act appropriately around your in-laws. Get a sense of what they think is acceptable and then conduct yourself accordingly if you want to build a meaningful relationship with them.
  • Reach out to your father-in-law. The relationship between a father and a daughter is special. It will mean a lot to your wife and your mother-in-law if you can build a relationship with your father-in-law. Find things that you have in common with him and go from there. Invite him to a ball game, go with him to a local event or simply take him to lunch. If you aren’t yet married, then be sure to ask for his daughter’s hand in marriage before you pop the question. This is a show of respect that he will appreciate.
  • Attend family gatherings and engage. When your wife’s family has a get together, make certain that you attend. Unless it is unavoidable, never let your wife and children go to a holiday gathering at her parent’s house alone. It causes your in-laws to worry that something might be wrong in your marriage. In addition, you are missing a fantastic opportunity to build upon your relationship with your in-laws and the extended family through conversation and a shared experience.
  • Build good relationships with their other children. I believe that part of my success in building a great relationship with my in-laws has a lot to do with how I’ve connected with the rest of the family. Your wife’s siblings have a great deal of influence with your in-laws. The better the relationship you have with her brothers and sisters, the better your relationship will be with her parents.
  • Consult with your wife on how to handle sticky situations. Your wife knows her parents better than you do. When you sense that a situation might be a little sensitive, consult with your wife for advice on how to respond. My father-in-law used to be big in multi-level marketing programs. I knew he was going to try to recruit me and I didn’t want anything to do with it. I asked my wife how to handle it. She was able to help me diffuse the situation before it became an issue.

Becoming a great son-in-law that your in-laws love has a lot to do with respect. If you want a great relationship with them, then respect their daughter, respect them and respect their family. Be polite. After all, being nice is good for you.

As a son-in-law, you have a responsibility to build a great relationship with your in-laws. Your wife and family are counting on you to do so. You have to learn to become a part of her family and to maintain a balance between the demands of your family and hers. This is a worthwhile cause that you definitely want to invest yourself in whole-heartedly. It has certainly been worth it to me!

Read more of Jeff’s articles about living life to the fullest at My Super-Charged Life!

(Photo by ladyb)

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19 Responses to “How to Be a Good Son-In-Law: Building a Great Son-In-Law Relationship With Your In-Laws”

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  1. Peter says:

    Great post, I think you hit the nail on the head with pretty much every point. The only thing that I might add is that while it’s important to builld that good relationship, a good part of that is also setting out healthy boundaries, so that in-laws don’t intrude upon your married life too much. I know we had some issues with this early in our marriage because my mother-in-law always wanted to be at our house, and she still wanted to do everything for my wife. Only after we set some healthy boundaries (no showing up out of the blue, 1 phone call per day, etc) was our relationship able to flower.

    Great post!
    .-= Peter´s last blog ..The Corrupting Power Of Wealth: Warning Signs Of Materialism =-.

    • Lin says:

      Peter, setting boundaries for the mother-in-law or any other In-Law is very important for a marriage to thrive. Being too involved in a couple’s marriage is a no-no, and like you said, limiting the over-involvement of a mother-in-law or others is crucial.

    • Peter, I’d certainly agree that appropriate boundaries are important. Fortunately, this has never been an issue for me with my in-laws, but I can see how it could be. One thing that helped my wife and I to avoid this is that we moved about 45 minutes away from my in-laws when we got married. I think the distance helped. It was just enough to provide us with the level of privacy needed.

      • Lin says:

        Jeff, there’s an old saying “good fences make good neighbors”, and that applies to family members, friends, co-workers etc. Moving 45 minutes away (or further) is a good option for people having difficulty with boundaries involving their in-laws. I’m glad the boundaries you and your wife set has worked well for you.

  2. Hey Jeff, this was extremely well done. There are plenty of guys out there who pay very little attention to this important aspect of marriage. Not only was your advice great, but I’m sure you made a boat load of points here also. Good job!
    .-= Jonathan – Advanced Life Skills´s last blog ..The Power of Intention – A Personal Quest =-.

    • Jonathan – I think a lot of men are unaware of the impact this plays in their marriage. Also, I think they believe that either they have a good relationship or they don’t. The reality is that it takes an intentional effort to build a good relationship with your in-laws. A little effort can go a long ways!

  3. Lin says:

    Peter, Jeff and Jonathan, based on the traffic my “in-law” posts receive, having one that deals with being a good son-in-law is definitely needed.

    I receive many emails from mother-in-laws complaining about their son-in-law for one reason or another. Wives complain that their husband “won’t defend me” with the mother-in-law or other family members intrusion and criticism.

    Most of the time, the wives describe their husband as being very “passive” in their personalities, while others say their husband is usually outspoken in everyday life, but not when it comes to his family. There are a lot of families struggling with in-law boundaries and son-in-laws have a lot to do with resolving these issues.

    • Lin – Thanks again for the opportunity to write this post for your site. I hope it helps families become closer.

      Anytime two families are joined by marriage it leads to the potential for conflict. However, I believe that by intentionally practicing a few simple tips like the ones offered here and in your articles, we can avoid most of the bigger issues.

      Have a great evening!

  4. Jeff,

    All great points. Even though my wife only has a father at this point she still doesn’t get along with him. I think she blames him for her parents divorce and ultimately her mother’s death. Her mom died of a heart attack at 53…so young. Even though we don’t necessarily get a long with her father anymore, we are REAL close with everyone else in family.

    Attend gatherings
    Respect boundaries

    These are the most important to us!


    .-= Jake | Revive Your Life´s last blog ..How Can You Be Happy in these Hard Times? Be GREAT! =-.

    • Jake – It sounds like you are doing the best you can. When your wife isn’t getting along with one of her parents, then you have to show your support by remaining by her side.

      Sorry to hear about your wife’s mother. 53 is very young. However, I’m glad to hear that you have such a close bond with the rest of the family. They probably all need each other with what you guys have been through.

    • Lin says:

      Jake, just like Jeff said, it sounds like you’re doing what you can to try and get along with family members.

      Balancing the boundaries is sometimes hard to do, but if you and your wife are content with your relationship with the majority of the family, then be proud of that accomplishment.

  5. I’ve often had conversations like this with my son in law and you are right on to the importance of building those strong relationships.

    What a great blog.

    Dorothy from grammology
    .-= Dorothy Stahlnecker´s last blog ..Mothers can cause pain =-.

  6. wilson says:

    Lin, I’m going to be son-in-law in this upcoming October. Hence, I discovered your post is very useful. I will try to obey every tips that you’ve stated out here and hope it works well with my parents-in-laws! 🙂
    .-= wilson´s last blog ..The Threat of Food Shortages Are Still Going On… =-.

    • Lin says:

      Hi Wilson,

      Jeff Nickles did a great job explaining the very important role of being a good son-in-law, didn’t he? I hope the relationship with your soon to be son-in-law will be a great one, and that you don’t go through many of the in-law difficulties I’ve written about in previous posts. Congratulations to your daughter and good luck to her and her fiance’.

  7. James says:

    Lin, although i have a wonderful relationship with my future mother-in-law i wish i could say the same about my future father-in-law. I have tried to do all of the things that you mentioned, however i’m having difficulty setting up boundaries with him. My fiance is an only child and has a very close relationship with her parents. Not only do i respect that but it comes with much difficulty. He is not the “approachable” type either. There are days that he will call her up to 5 to 8 times a day for no legitimate reason (just to say hello and wanting no know what we’re doing). This is very bothersome to me because it constantly interferes with my fiance and I’s day and creates arguments. I constantly mention my feelings to her and get no where. Her response is usually “my dad loves me.” Do you have any words of advice on what to do with this situation? i would like to get this problem settled before it gets way out of hand.

    • Lin says:

      Hi James,

      I’m sorry you’re having some trouble with your future father-in-law, but I’m thrilled you’re getting along well with your future mother-in-law. The fact that the family is close is wonderful! However, sometimes relationships can get a bit too close and even overbearing, to the point of intrusion.

      There’s an old saying (although I don’t recall who came up with this quote) that goes: “The best indicator of future behavior is past behavior”, and I believe it’s very true. Which is why I’m glad you recognize and are talking about what you feel is a problem in the relationship/boundaries with the inlaws.

      She’s an only child and the family is very close. But, your fiance’s father calls umpteen times a day to talk to his daughter, but it often interrupts the plans you and your fiance’ have with each other. That’s not good and it’s not fair that your time together is interrupted like that.

      I can’t help but wonder if the father has concerns about the relationship and/or upcoming marriage, and perhaps wants to make sure his daughter is being taken care of properly and that she’s really happy etc. I get the feeling that you and your fiance’ are both pretty young, am I right?

      Of course her father loves her, and she may fall into the category of being a “daddy’s girl”, and he would do just about anything for his little girl to ensure her happiness. But there are limits and boundaries when kids grow up and decide to get married and move on with their lives, separate and apart from their parents.

      I would suggest that you have a nice long conversation with your fiance’ again. This time though, you need to approach the subject with your fiance’ in a way that does not create an argument, and do everything within your power to not allow the conversation to become heated. Both of you should be able to discuss your feelings with each other in a way where you both feel heard, both feel respected, valued etc. You’re trying to find an amicable solution to the problem that both of you will be happy about and can fully support each other once decisions have been made. Compromises are verrrry important, on both sides.

      If your fiance’ doesn’t mind her father’s calling during the day while you’re at work or not around, I see no harm in that. There should be an agreement that during the time you two are spending your private time together, that there is a limit of how many times you two will allow interruptions of any kind. Turn the phones off; turn off the ringer on the home phone; don’t take your phones when you go out together, turn them off or just agree NOT to answer the phone. If it comes down to having to say something about this directly to the father-in-law in order to create boundaries, it would be best to leave it to your fiance’ to do that since it’s her father/her family.

      The biggest issue I see personally is the father’s wanting to know or asking what you’re doing. That may possibly be innocent and no big deal, but your private life with your fiance/wife is just that….private. No one should be privy to any information about going’s on unless you both are in agreement with such people knowing your personal business. I really really hope you can help your fiance’ understand how you feel about this and can come to some resolution you both can agree on. This can become a huge problem after the wedding if it’s not dealt with now, and newly married couples need as little conflict as possible starting out. Let me know how your conversation with your fiance’ goes. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it goes well.

  8. Gregg says:

    When your mother-in-law is a narcissist and manipulates the truth to try and destroy your relationship was never addressed in this article. It does however paint a picture that the man and only the son-in-law has to bend over backwards to get along with the in laws. My current situation leaves me nauseated from thinking of it. I love my wife, but my mother-in-law has breached the norm as being intrusive to the point of where she had disrespected me in my own house. My father-in-law was present and added fuel to her fire. I was adopted and have no idea who my real parents are. My adoptive parents were less than nurturing and thank goodness they are dead. So when it comes to issues like this, I have no where to turn–which in truth suits me fine. My wife has heard and seen my mother-in-law in action and says nothing as my wife does not handle conflict well and my mother-in-law can be quite domineering. Not only that but she is a talker. She loves to spread vicious lies to the rest of my wife’s family, so at family events, I get the cold shoulder. How about you write an article that is not gender bias, and addresses the issues I have brought up. And yes, in the beginning things were good, but as my mother-in-law got bolder the relationship began to degrade. It doesn’t help either when the mother-in-law denies any of the things that have come out of her mouth even though my wife has been present when her foul mouth has been put in gear.

    • Ken says:

      Gregg, I truly understand your pain. I am feeling the same here. My wife cleave unto her family and has now been using her financial security (employment) as a tool to destroy our family. Her brothers constantly plays violent video games and corrupting musics in the presence of my son. When, I would ask them to desist, she takes it personal. Her parents constantly intrudes into my family to ask for financial support directly from my wife without respecting because she’s got a job.

      Funny, this is the same family that demanded $30,000 dowry for their daughter, and two weddings (traditional marriage and church wedding). She makes no attempt to bond with my family and tells me she doesn’t even have time for her friends. People say evil things about black couples not staying together, but I am trying hard for this to work simply because of my son. I am not happy at all about this situation.

      If, I leave her I will never get back with her, which is how I am. I wouldn’t want to ever deal with her in anyway.


  1. […] Lin at Telling It Like It Is has recently written some terrific articles on the relationship between mother-in-laws and daughter-in-laws.  But, today she has graciously posted an article that I wrote called How to Be a Good Son-In-Law- Building a Great Son-In-Law Relationship With Your In-Laws. […]