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How Listening to Your Mother-In-Law Can Improve Your Relationship

Jumping in Hobbs

Paying attention to your partner’s family and friends will improve your relationship, and we’re not talking about sucking up to the in-laws. 

As we’ve traveled around the world we’ve discovered that our attention to details has heightened dramatically. We pay far more attention to conversations, to the people walking by, and to the scenery around us. We’ve learned to be better observers, taking time to understand what each experience can teach us and learning to be patient in the process.

For example, last week Betsy wrote about “how paying attention helped us lose weight, gain energy, and achieve healthier blood counts” By taking time to be aware of what we eat and how we move we’ve been able to become healthier as we follow our dream.

Becoming more aware of the experiences around us all, we can learn to be more present in our daily lives. By stopping to watch the interactions more closely in Betsy’s family I was able to make some surprising discoveries.

Watch and Learn

We recently spent two weeks with Betsy’s family in Hobbs, New Mexico. After 2+ years away it was great to be able to catch up over family dinners, explore the area around her hometown, and share some great food we’d both missed.

During our stay I was able to learn more about my wife by watching and listening to her interaction with her family. Given that we are together constantlyI was shocked to find that I was learning more about the woman she is by observing the people who shaped her personality growing up.

Throughout our time I’d listen to the conversation and watch as the family interacted together. Slowly I started to see the similarities in the small things I’ve noticed in Betsy over the years. The first time I realized this was when Betsy’s mother, Connie, was waiting for  the water to boil to make soup. It was taking awhile and I looked over and realized that she had the heat on medium. It was an “Ah ha!” moment for me. For years I’ve wondered why Betsy never cooked above medium heat and curious if there was some deep seeded high heat cooking incident buried deep in her past. But in watching her mom I realized this is a habit many years in the making.

This moment was a pulling back the covers and revealing that I had a lot to learn from this great group. I could glean insights to better relate and understand my wife. For the entire time I quietly, and often not so quietly, watched to see what else I could learn. I discovered:

  • Betsy’s desire to always sit facing the door in a restaurant or bar is shared by her brother Bo. For years I assumed it was an early life as a mobster, and now I realize the whole family may have been “connected”.
  • From her Aunt Pat Betsy learned the joy of eating one thing at a time on her plate. Focusing on absorbing as much joy rom each individual item before moving on.
  • Betsy has always wanted to be alone when she is not feeling well. It turns out this is a trait that is shared by the entire family. Instead of constantly trying to force help upon her now I can finally accept that she is not secretly hoping I’ll take care of her.

Discovering all this about Betsy has brought me closer to her and to her family. By knowing her better I feel we have a stronger relationship and appreciation for her approach to life. I would have thought that after 2+ years of living together 24/7 this would not have been possible, but I’m delighted to discover I was wrong.

You are Who You Surround Yourself With

We have all been shaped by our families and childhood friends. These influences can affect all aspects of your life:

  • Patterns of speech
  • Preference in foods
  • Housekeeping habits
  • Religious convictions
  • Political leanings
  • Desire to travel
  • Sense of adventure
  • Attention to health

It should not be a surprise to realize that your partner has been influenced by their families as well. You can better appreciate them by seeing their habits in context with those who shaped their lives.

Pay Attention and Be a Better Partner

By observing your partner’s family and friends, you can glean a great deal of insight about who they are…and why. It can be an enlightening experience and give you a much better perspective into your life partner.

To dive in to observing during your next family visit you don’t need to don a white lab coat and pull our your clipboard. Instead, actively engage in the conversation. Ask questions of all the family to understand more about them. Listen attentively to their responses, making note of how the insights apply to your mate.

These are skills that will not only teach you more about your mate, but will in the process make you more in tune with your partner. Learn to observe and listen more and you will be able to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for you mate.

By slowing down and paying attention to your heart you can define what your dream life looks like. Learn how to define, save, and go after your dream today with Dream Save Do. Click here to get your copy.

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About Warren

Warren is passionate about trying new things and willing to say yes to a new adventure. He enjoys sharing his adventures through his love of photography. Warren finds that the most rewarding part of traveling the world is the people he meets and discoveries made through conversations. Travel fills his desire to learn more each day about the world around us and what drives other people to be happy. Drop him an email at wtalbot (at) marriedwithluggage (dot) com and feel free to check out his Google+ page.

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  1. [...] emotional homecoming and a 2 week opportunity to eat, catch up with family, and a chance for me to learn more about my wife. We also enjoyed exploring a bit of the area around Betsy’s home, including a day trip to [...]

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