How To Handle HIS Parents

Do your guy's parents (his mom especially) dislike you? Learn how to deal with your possible future monsters-in-law.

So you've met Mr. Right, and everything is damn near perfect. There's just one problem: Mama and Papa Right. Put simply, they don't like you—and they're not exactly shy about it. "Not only is it unpleasant for you to have to spend time with these people, but you also may worry that their disapproval could influence your guy's feelings for you," says therapist Lee Schnebly, author of Being Happy Being Married. So how do you get along so it's not so freakin' awkward? We've come up with a plan to handle those, we mean, his parents.

Step 1: Get Where They're Coming From

Come on, how could anyone not love you? Well, experts say the most likely explanation is fear. "There's an innate protective instinct to shut out the 'intruder' who's invading their family," says Schnebly.

Also, jealousy could be the issue. "His mom may feel that she's being replaced," says Bree Allinson, PhD, author of How to Deal With Your Mother-in-Law. So reassure her that she's still number one by asking her for advice on your guy (like how to cook his favorite meal).

Another explanation: In many cases, parents feel threatened if you come from a different background. "Your values and religion may conflict with their own," says Allinson. "They might worry that you'll influence their son." Without sacrificing your beliefs, show that you're open to learning about theirs, so it's clear that the two can coexist.

Step 2: Don't Try to Be Best Friends

You don't have to be buddy-buddy with his folks; you just have to get along. In fact, if you're too eager to please, it could come across as fake and sip-sip. On the other hand, don't act in awe of them. Avoid the urge to force a familial relationship; these people are still essentially strangers. "Think of them as equals, not superiors," advises Schnebly. "You'll feel more at ease and really be yourself."

Step 3: Make It Clear You Care About Him

Parents' main concern is their child's well-being, so they need reassurance that you won't break their poor boy's heart. "They won't want to connect with you if they think you're not there to stay," says Leonard Felder, PhD, author of Wake Up or Break Up. Some suggestions: Hold his hand, kiss his cheek, or share a story about how he made you laugh. Once they know your feelings are authentic, they'll begin to trust you.

Last Resort

If after all that, his parents are still being evil, stand up for yourself. "If you refuse to be pushed around, they'll show you the respect that you deserve," says therapist Susan Forward, PhD, author of Toxic In-Laws. The next time they're rude, Forward suggests saying, "Look, I don't ask that you love me, but I'd like it if we could at least be civil." Lay down the law now, because if you decide to marry this guy, the problems are only going to escalate.

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