One of the scariest things in a new relationship is the day you meet your future in-laws. It’s intimidating and downright unnerving. You want to make the best impression possible, but so many thoughts start running through your mind.
You know how important it is for it to go well because you truly love your partner. They’ve changed your world and you want to fit nicely into theirs.
Meeting your in-laws is typically more unnerving for interracial couples as well because you’re trying to learn a new set of cultural expectations on top of everything else.
As you can all see in my experience, one thing that can make the night a bit more difficult is when you don’t know what to expect. Indian culture was completely new to me. I was trying to navigate through it all while preparing for a huge step in my relationship.
Not to mention, teaching someone about Indian culture was new to my husband. Growing up, he had shared experiences and food with his friends, but he usually let his family fill them in on what to do during. When we got together, I had all kinds of questions for him. I wanted to know the whats as well as all the whys behind everything that went on.
It was the only way I knew to throw myself into his culture so I could take part in as many things as I could. I didn’t just want to know about Indian culture, I wanted to experience it.
Whether you’re about to meet your in-laws for the first time over the holidays or you’re still getting to know them, there are a few things you should know.
Respect, Respect, Respect
Indian families tend to be more traditional than some Western families. You should talk to your partner beforehand and ask him how to show his/her family respect. While in your family it may mean telling them to feel at home, it means bringing your in-laws a cup of tea in Indian families.
Cultural expectations look different when it comes to respect so your best bet is to communicate with your partner and go above and beyond what you see as respect. As you get to know them, you’ll start to learn what respect looks like in their family.
Offer To Help
It doesn’t if you’re at your home or someone else, always offer to help. You can offer to help cook the meal, clean up dishes afterward, or offer to get someone a glass of water at any point. It’s a small thing that goes a very long way.
Don’t Use First Names
First names are a no-no with anyone older than you. Ask your partner what you should call them. In most Telugu families you will call everyone aunty and uncle. It’s a general sign of respect and is about the same and Mrs. and Mr.
Don’t be like me and call your mother in law by her first name… Oops!
Hand feeding is very common in Indian families. Most Indian food is eaten with your hands. So during meal time, you won’t see utensils unless they’re trying to be nice to you.
You will probably even see elders hand feed loved ones younger than them. They may do it to offer a taste to someone or do it to simply feed someone. It’s not just with kids either. It’s a gesture of love and very special thing among Indian family members.
Bring A Gift
If you’re going to someone else’s house, always bring a gift. It doesn’t have to be big. It can be a festive candle, box of chocolates, or just about anything. It will score you major points with your in-laws and shows them that you’re grateful to be asked into their home.
Take Off Your Shoes
Always take off your shoes when you step into someone’s home. You will probably notice a stack of shoes by the door. Always look for them to see if it’s expected at someone’s home before you walk in. If you don’t see it, you can simply ask.
Public displays of affection are a big no when it comes to most traditional Indian families. This means you shouldn’t be snuggling up to or kissing your partner while around their family. Holding hands is the line and you may even want to run that by your loved one.