Score points, but never overdo it. The ideal recipe for the first meeting with the in-laws, often dinner with your beloved’s parents, can quickly become a clever balancing act. But follow the guide instead.
What you should do
Dress neatly and soberly: gentlemen, go for jeans and a nice shirt, a proven classic. Casual dress is frowned upon, and a stilted suit will make you look like you’re trying too hard. Don't arrive empty-handed, a little gift such as a bouquet of flowers or a good bottle of wine will be appreciated.
Smile at all times remain polite and respectful of good manners... And don't be too self-effacing: these people are here to get to know you. But don't appear too overconfident, at the risk of exasperating them. Also make yourself useful, for example in the kitchen or when clearing the table.
Your gestures towards your partner should be discreet, never inappropriate. No more wandering hands and long hugs, but a hand on the back or a caress could be appreciated by the family, who would then see how attentive you are.
What you should say…and under no circumstances say
Know what you are getting yourself into. Beforehand with your partner, find out about their family: this will give you useful information about how to start a discussion or to determine what subjects might interest them. Above all, you will avoid blunders by avoiding sensitive points.
Take an interest in everything that is said and bounce back, but without taking too many sides, and avoid divisive topics. If someone in the family - absent that day - is criticised, don't jump in with the criticisms. A conversation about the latest government reform or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not a wonderful idea either.
Finally, talk about your own family, and the important role they play in your life. Your loved one's family will probably think that you share the same values, and perhaps you will finally be validated by them. Who knows, you may soon be going on holiday together.