DEAR ABBY: I am very lucky to have wonderful in-laws. I have been married to their son for five years and together for 10. We have one child. My in-laws are divorced but friendly, and my husband has one brother.
My question revolves around my brother-in-law's new fiancee, "Tami." They dated only a short time prior to getting engaged. My in-laws were very slow to warm up to me and hard to get to know. It took almost four years for me to become close to them and feel comfortable.
At this point, I am deeply involved with the family. My mother-in-law and I talk almost every day, and my father-in-law shows a lot of affection toward me. I have received all the family heirlooms and am the "daughter my mother-in-law never had."
It is apparent that Tami feels less welcomed, and it makes me sad. The difference in the way family members interact with us is striking, and I can't imagine that it makes her feel good. The family doesn't intend this. Knowing them takes time. It's just the way they are.
I have tried hard to involve Tami, but she isn't local. The family is very spread out, but my in-laws visit us frequently due to the grandchild. My question is, how can I help her feel welcomed and comfortable in a slow-to-warm-up family? Should I offer some of the heirlooms prior to their wedding? Is there anything else I can do, aside from maintain a good relationship on my end? -- SHARING GOOD WILL IN THE MIDWEST
DEAR SHARING: It is entirely possible that Tami has taken the cold shoulder she has received personally. She is lucky to have you as an ally. If you haven't already, it would be a kindness to have a private chat with her and share what you have written to me about your in-laws' family dynamics.
Although you are well-intentioned, at this point, you would be jumping the gun to give her any of the heirlooms. Once she and your brother-in-law are married, and she has been accepted into the family, ask your mother-in-law if she would mind your doing so.