Finding a common interest, spending time, and showing service and care to the family are ways to connect with the in-laws according to BYU-Hawaii married students.
The first suggestion by Sean Wang, a senior from Taiwan studying business management, is to find a common interest with the father-in-law and build on it. “My father-in-law and I were connected very well because we have a common interest. We both like outdoor activities, like boating and skiing.”
Kensuke Tsuchiya, a senior from Japan studying marketing, said, “My father-in-law and I have a similar personality.” Kensuke’s wife, Jenesse Tsuchiya, a senior from Kentucky studying in hospitality and tourism management, explained, “Even though they are shy, they both are athletic and likes playing baseball. They got to connect on that level.”
Second, is to show care towards the family. Kensuke said, “When we went to visit [Jenesse’s] family, I tried to be in their lives. I spent a lot of time with her brothers through playing baseball, video games, and watching movies with them. I also walked their dog with her mom. ”
Wang said, “I call and text my father and mother-in-law at least once a week.”
Kensuke said, “Jenesse always calls her family, and in that way, I got to be in their conversation a lot.”
Third, find opportunities to serve. Kensuke said he cooked food for his wife’s family and Wang had the chance to help his wife’s parents with technical difficulties.
Fourth, show the family their daughter or son will be loved and taken care of. Kensuke said, “Caring about my wife is the main thing [my in-laws] care about."
Jenesse Tsuchiya expressed, “My dad loves Kensuke because he loves me and takes care of me.”
Students who were interviewed said meeting the in-laws could be difficult due to the high expectation the father-in-law might have. Wang said, “My wife told me that his father is traditional. He needs to approve the relationship.”
Wang said he was asked by his father-in-law about his spirituality, education, ability to be self-reliant, and willingness to love the rest of the family.
Wang said he showed his capability with confidence and a good attitude. He said, “I wasn't nervous at all. In fact, I was calm and I told him about my conversion story, let him know how I save money, and that I’m committed to loving the family.”
Kensuke shared his experience, “Before we visited Jenesse’s family, I have never talked to them neither on the phone nor skype. I was really nervous.” Not to mention the language barrier, making the experience even more difficult, Kensuke said.
Regardless of the challenges, Kensuke said he does what he can. “I tried to do more instead of talking. I served them, and I played with [Jenesse’s] brothers. The mom likes to talk, so I listen.”
Meeting the in-laws can be intimidating to guys, Wang suggested, “Find out more information about the parents before you call. Call them with your fiancée. Start with small steps such as texting or small talks. It’s important to think about them as your family. When possible, spend time and gain good experiences with them.”
Kensuke said, “It’s natural to be nervous. You don’t have to feel pressure to be polite. Just respect them and connect with them as much as you can.”
Adding to Kensuke’s comment, Jenesse said, “The parents are the ones who raised and shaped the person you are marrying. I’m grateful to Kensuke’s parents because they have taught him great things.”