Excerpted from Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller’s Question and Answer series on Naaleh.com
How can I learn to sincerely welcome in-laws and other relatives of my husband’s into our lives when I don’t really feel a natural connection or affinity towards them?
The more you give to another person the more you’ll come to like her. The next time your mother-in-law comes for a visit, instead of asking yourself, “How soon will she leave?” Ask yourself, “What is she missing that I can give,” or “How can I give her a feeling of joy or inclusion? What can I learn from her?” The more these questions become central in your relationship with your in-laws, the more you’ll come to like them. It will take time and effort and not everyone succeeds, but keep at it.
Some people only reach a level where the relationship is externally polite and cordial, but there is no deep interaction or feeling of connection. If that’s all you can do, that’s ok. As you begin to work on trying to like them, you won’t be completely sincere. Fake it until you make it. Being sincerely welcoming only comes later on.
Your reward at the end will be two-fold: As you grow to like your in-laws, you’ll grow to like yourself better and you’ll become a bigger more inclusive person. The fact that Hashem made your husband’s parents his parents is part of His hashgachic plan, just as He made your husband your husband. Never speak negatively about your in-laws to your husband. It puts him in an impossible situation. He may side with you externally but not internally. The better your marriage is, the more you should show respect for your in-laws who made your husband into what he is.