Father of the Bride was a mere movie, but it did capture some real-life moments that every man goes through with the father of his bride. In most relationships, pre-wedding blues and feelings of mutual discomfort pass with time, but there are some fathers-in-law who range from being difficult, invasive, rude to downright hostile. Here is a guide to deal with different kinds of challenging fathers-in-law:
Making you feel unwelcome
Underneath this man who is distant and cold to you, is a protective dad, who worries about his little girl and is anxious about handing her over to you. It is also a natural emotion for a father to feel threatened when his daughter receives the attentions of a younger man. He may feel that the love and concern she had for him will be taken away by your presence in her life.
Understanding his perspective and trying to gain his trust will help work around this challenge. Treat him with respect for his age and achievements, and treat his daughter well. Over time, as he sees that you are not a threat to him or the family, he will lower his defenses.
Uncomfortable or intrusive
Some fathers will present you with awkward silences whenever you meet them, while others may think it is their birthright to give you advice on how to run your family, manage finances, handle your career and everything else under the sun. If he is of the former type, try to constantly break the ice by steering conversations around subjects that he enjoys or volunteer to take the family out for a movie, lunch or a holiday. Spending time together amidst a variety of informal settings and situations will help him warm up to you. The latter types are probably control freaks and those that like to tell everyone around them what they should do. It is just their nature, don’t take it personally. While dealing with this type of a father-in-law, try to divert his attention when he starts sermonizing, and if he persists in telling you how to drive, toast your bread or where to invest, politely indicate that you are the best judge of your situation and well equipped to take your own decisions.
Aggressive and rude
If your father-in-law likes to be provocative and intentionally say things to offend, irk or upset you, challenging him will hardly help in diffusing the situation. Instead, try to study his pattern and then refuse to rise to the bait. In the absence of a desired reaction, his aggression should abate. The other way of dealing with this type of FIL is to take your wife or mother-in-law into
confidence. Tell them that despite your love for your wife and her family, you don’t appreciate his treatment of you and if it persists, you would have to seek distance from him. Most likely your wife or mother in law will be able to drill sense into him and once he realizes that his behaviour is going to cause harm to his relationship with his daughter, he should desist from
Excessive criticism or putting you down
Having enjoyed their position as the head of the family and one who calls the shots, some fathers-in-law have a habit of finding fault with everything their sons-in-law do or put them down constantly as not being worthy enough. If your wife’s old man thinks of you as a loser or constantly belittles you, instead of getting affected, try to highlight your strengths and bring forth the fact that you are chasing what makes you happy. Without being boastful, keep dropping subtle hints that there is a reason why his daughter has chosen you. Explain that your ambitions may not be a blueprint of his and you still have time on your side to experiment, fail, grow and succeed.
Bringing together two sides of a family requires a lot more than just your better half. Once you prove to her old man that you both have her love in common, it is only a matter of time and some effort towards having a great relationship with someone who once intimidated you, after all, we're all only men.