A lifetime of holidays, birthdays, and other assorted gatherings with his brood may send shivers down your spine. Whether his mother is constantly smacking you with backhanded compliments or his dad can't find one decent thing to say throughout dinner, we've got you covered. We've grabbed five real-life scenarios and taken them to the experts to help make the holidays with his family a little brighter.
Ah the mother-in-law. She loves her son and wants what's best for him, which may or may not include you. A study by a British psychologist found that 60% of women felt tension with their mothers-in-law, compared with 15% of men. But not all MIL relationships are strained. This week's New York Times Modern Love essayist tells of her incredible relationship with her lover's mother. Then there are the famous MIL relationships: Barack Obama's mother-in-law may be moving into the White House, and Heidi Montag's mom thinks marrying Spencer Pratt was a bad idea. Read the full article to find out how to ease conflict with a mother-in-law.
Actress Evan Rachel Wood decided to look up her dad after a long absence. You may remember that she recently split with rocker Marilyn Manson, possibly over some other family stuff. So, she and her dad are back on terms and all it took was for her to breakup with a kooky shock rocker who never starred as Paul Pfieffer in The Wonder Years. Sounds good to us. Uh, she also plays an estranged daughter who reconciles with her absentee father in the film The Wrestler, for what it's worth.
Liz Tuccillo, writer for Sex and the City and co-author of He's Just Not That Into You, asks men and women in Mumbai, India about arranged marriage. One man interviewed over 60 women before he found his wife!
I come from a household of introverts and nerds. We're quiet. We don't laugh loudly, and we never, ever bellow. My husband's family put bugs in each other's beers and eats off of each other's plates. They shout and laugh and wrestle indoors. When Hurricane Charley struck central Florida in 2004, I learned how to love his boisterous clan.
In many families, brothers from different mothers (or fathers) never give a second thought to the "half" nature of their relationship. Not so with Cindy McCain and half-sister Kathleen Hensley Portalski. The pair, daughters of Jim Hensley, founder of the beer company that Cindy oversees, sit on opposite sides of the political fence. In an interview with US Weekly, Portalski voiced her support for Barack Obama, saying that she and her half-sister share different political viewpoints. Portalski, whose mother was Hensley's first wife, described Cindy as "standoffish" to the weekly. She also said the potential First Lady had never made efforts to reconcile a relationship, though there was no mention of what the original beef between the two had been.
When it comes to parenting, couples often take two different approaches. He prefers to let them learn from the school of hard knocks, you like to protect and nurture them. Which way is the right way? How do you parent with two different parenting styles? One writer learns that the best thing about having two parents is that you and your children learn that there is no one right way. Sometimes it's OK to stand underneath them as they climb the monkey bars. Other times its OK to let them climb to the very top of the tree. Kids and parents both learn from multiple perspectives.
The Telegraph recently reported on an interesting family: A set of identical twin women met and married a set of identical twin men. Then one of the couples produced a set of twin boys. We'd draw a diagram if we had the Web capability. One of the twin couples (Note: We could easily use each of their names from this point forward, but is there really any point? It'll just be confusing.) met in 1998 at Twin Day, the annual Twin festival. (The other twins sure got lucky: Their siblings totally hooked them up. Or they're just lazy.)
Call it a Mr. Mom backlash. For couples eschewing stereotypical division of household duties, sharing responsibility isn't about role reversal; it's about role sharing and thinking like teammates or co-pilots instead of gender-bending pioneers. The New York Times Magazine's cover story this coming Sunday (already available online) profiles several families where designated "mom" and "dad" duties don't exist, at least not as society generally defines them.
The husband and the in-laws—they can be a combustible combination. Introducing your boyfriend to your parents and family is difficult no matter what, especially if you're Jewish and he's not and your parents don't want you marrying a goy. But interfaith marriage doesn't have to be all bad, as Amy Sohn learned. In this excerpt from her book Altared, Amy shares her personal account of finding the one and then trying to sell him to her parents.
Forget having either a family or a career says publishing powerhouse Bonnie Fuller. Have both. Keep in mind that you may have to cut corners here and there. But it's all possible. Just be honest about expectations and don't let all the details drive you crazy.
More and more people are finding themselves engaged in "nontraditional" relationships; which leaves the traditional definition of family (a heterosexual couple marrying to have children) increasingly ambiguous. Here Susan Piver wonders whether the absence of a child is indicative of the absence of family with couples.