DEAR HARRIETTE: I just got married a few months ago. I spent the weekend with my in-laws for the first time. They are nice people, but I realize that they have endless expectations of me. For example, my husband and I had driven many hours to get to them and we had stayed up late talking, so I slept in the next morning. At about 8 a.m., I heard a knock on my door. It was my mother-in-law calling me to breakfast. When she saw that I was sleeping, she gave me this look of disdain and turned on her heels. When I got to breakfast, I saw that everybody else was up, showered and ready for the day. I somehow didn't get the memo that I needed to be ready by 8. Over the course of the weekend, there were lots of little things that showed me how differently my husband and I grew up. I was completely out of sorts at the end. My family is very casual. His is the opposite. How can I figure out how to be with his family so that I don't stumble so hard next time? -- Newbie Bride, Detroit
DEAR NEWBIE BRIDE: Talk to your husband. You two need to share with each other about your family traditions, practices and idiosyncrasies. Tell your husband how uncomfortable you were at his family's home; you were not sufficiently informed of the expectations that his family would have for you. Be gentle with him. There's a good chance that he didn't think of it, since their way is what he has known for his whole life. Talk about how you spend time with your family and how he spends time with his. Learn about what each family values in terms of how you pay attention to each other, what kinds of gifts are appreciated, how thank-you acknowledgments are best received, etc. Work together to learn each other's family ways as you establish your own. Ultimately, if you two can be on the same page about how you spend time with each other's families, you will find a comfortable space that may afford you some flexibility even within typically rigid patterns.