Thursday, August 4, 2011

Meeting the Family

Meeting your significant-other's family is known to be one of those big steps in the relationship and can also be nerve wracking.  Most of the time, you are meeting just the parents, in a somewhat casual setting.  For me, meeting the family of my beau John was a big to-do that lasted a week. 

A week ago his parents and oldest brother, who is 15 years older (wife, two children, and daughter's boyfriend) drove in from Ohio.  His sister (husband, two sons, and two french children staying with them) drove up from Virginia. We all convened at his other brother's (wife and daughter) house in Trumansburg.

I was happy to have met the T-burg family a few months earlier when we all went out to dinner celebrating John's birthday.  Having familiar faces during the meeting of everyone else was helpful. 

My Top 5 Suggestions:

1. Be on time.  This is something I adhere for any and everything, but especially when making a good first impression.  It's rude to keep people waiting.  It's also rude to show up too early when people are still getting ready for your arrival so don't show up too early either!

2. Be informed.  It's always good to do research before going on a job interview about the company or organization.  It shows that you actually care about the work.  Same goes for meeting the family.  Ask you partner about their interests, careers, or recent vacations.  It's a good way to start conversations and then to be a good listener. 

3. Dress for the Occasion.  There are different aspects to this. Whenever I have big events coming up, like a wedding or birthday party or interview, I try to correspond a haircut & wax with them; and that I did.  It's good to know where you are going and what will be involved; you don't want to show up under or over dressed.  The first night we had a casual dinner at the house.  It was cooler that evening, so I wore a pair of jeans, sandals, a white tank top covered by a print cardigan.  No over the top jewelry/makeup either. Under-dressed would have involved showing up wearing something I'd go to the gym or do yard work in.  Over-dressed would have been wearing an evening dress appropriate for a fancy dinner or special occasion, (which I saved for the following night, when we went out to a nice restaurant on Seneca Lake, Stonecat Cafe, celebrating John's dad's 80th Birthday and his oldest brother's 55th birthday). 
 After dinner, we drove back to T-burg took pictures, had cake, and watched them open their cards and presents.
80/55 Birthdays!!
4. Keep it to Conversation, Not Debate.  Politics and religion are known to be risky topics for any group of people to discuss; it usually gets heated pretty quickly and it's not the most pleasant conversation either.  Sometimes it's unavoidable, especially in light of everything going on, it's hard to stay off of the subject of politics.  However, if/when this does arise, using restraint is always a good idea.  I know I did, even when agreeing with anyone I didn't want the conversation to turn ugly; I was even more cautious of this because I was meeting the family for the first time.  Besides, when people are on vacation they want to relax and just enjoy their family's company, not create controversy.  It goes along with being informed, find common interests to talk about; let's keep the yelling matches to family of origin only!

5. Be Polite.  It should be obvious, but having restraint when controversial topics do arise, not stating how you think the chicken is over done on the grill, or helping clean up afterwards should be no-brainers, but time and time again I'm reminded common sense isn't very common.  So have restraint, you don't have to throw in your two cents when you're first meeting the family!  It's never nice to criticize someone else's cooking, and if you didn't have to prepare any food it's courteous to clean up!  Oh, and flattery goes a long way, but be sincere.  Don't let any anxiety make you blurt things out at awkward times.  Breathe and be yourself (on your best behavior)!

So, with meals shared, conversation, walks around the neighborhood, and a trip to a local ice cream shop, all in all, the week-long visit was really great.  After the nerves prior to meeting the family settled, I was quite comfortable and had a very nice time with everyone. John and I are already talking about planning trips down to Virginia and out to Ohio this Fall!

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