DEAR HARRIETTE: My wife's parents have never really liked me. They think I'm too loud, too competitive and too commanding in terms of deciding plans. Honestly, these traits aren't things I dislike about myself in the slightest. I like being the leader of excursions and deciding how events will go.
Anyway, as my mother-in-law's birthday is coming up, I was thinking of a way to win over my in-laws. They live in a senior community in Florida, and golf carts are an acceptable mode of transportation. So I thought of surprising my in-laws with a new golf cart so I'll be more favorable to them. My wife told me not to even try because I won't be able to buy their love, but this gift is so grand, I'm expecting a fairly positive reaction.
Is this the best route to go down with my in-laws? I doubt anyone can turn down a new golf cart! -- New Wheels From New Son, Dallas
DEAR NEW WHEELS FROM NEW SON: Your wife is right. You cannot buy anybody's love. You can impress them, and they may accept the gift, but it is doubtful that you will end up with the gift you really want -- acceptance. Indeed, the golf cart could come off as a loud and competitive way to win them over.
Rather than a physical gift, why not try listening a little better and figuring out what interests them? Try to talk less and listen more so that you get a sense of what makes them happy. Give them space to exert their own personalities, and over time you may be able to strike a comfortable relationship with them where no one dominates. As far as the golf cart goes, feel them out when you are together to see if they might like the idea. If so, then you can give it to them -- from you and your wife!