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15 Things Every Son-in-Law Should Stop Doing

According to annoyed fathers-in-law.

Establishing a good relationship with your in-laws can be one of the key factors in maintaining a happy marriage  In fact, statistics have shown that, in marriages where the husband has a close relationship with his wife’s parents, the risk of divorce decreased by 20 percent. So, it’s a pretty good idea to make sure that you’ve got a good relationship with your father-in-law.

But for a lot of dads, fathers-in-law can be intimidating or at least a bit confounding. What does he really want from you? What would he wish you do better? No, you don’t need to play the character he wants you to play to keep him happy — in fact, most fathers-in-law will see through this rouse easily and think less of you — but you should at least be mindful of what he’d like to see more from you or what you do that really pisses him off. Because, if you can avoid it, the last thing you want to have is a contentious relationship. To shed some light on the subject, we spoke to a handful of fathers-in-law about what they wish their sons-in-law would do better. They offered advice that all married men, whether they’re married to their particular daughter or not, will find useful.

I Wish He’d Show Up More Often

“I think I’d like my son-in-law to show up more often. He’s not a deadbeat, or anything like that. He’s a good husband, and a wonderful father. But, he’s busy. The whole family is, really. I guess I’m guilty of ‘keeping score’, to a degree. I see my other daughter and her husband almost every weekend. And I understand that my ‘busy’ son-in-law has things going on. It would just make me happy if we had a full house all the time. I know that’s unrealistic, but it’s true.” – Ted, 57, New York

I Wish He’d Lighten Up a Bit

“We love our son-in-law. But I don’t think that he knows that. (laughs) I feel like he’s afraid of us. He married our daughter less than a year ago, but we’ve known him for almost three. I just wish he’d loosen up when he’s around us — me, specifically. He’s a little more light-hearted around my wife. But with me, I feel like he thinks I’m going to chase him out of the house with a shotgun for ‘taking my daughter’, or something. He’s very respectful, which I love and appreciate. But, yeah, lighten up a little. You’re my son, now!” – Jim, 60, Ohio

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I Wish He’d Appreciate the Moment More Often

“My son-in-law isn’t very sentimental. Honestly, it bothers my wife much more than it bothers me. What I mean is, he doesn’t put a lot of value in taking thousands of pictures of our grandkids, saving every school paper or drawing, or stuff like that. My wife is the complete opposite. She has entire closets full of ‘memories’. It’s a different world now. Everything is digital, so he could have millions of pictures, for all I know. But I think it would be nice if he really took the time to appreciate the concept of capturing a moment in time, rather than just, ‘Click. Click. Click. Upload to Instagram.’” – Max, 61, Connecticut

I Wish He’d Realize His Job Is Not Worth It

“My son-in-law needs to get a different job. I say this because he’s absolutely miserable, and it’s taking a toll on his family. And I know this, because I’ve been there. I worked in marketing for more than 10 years, and I hated every minute of it. Just hated it. And it infected my entire life. I would come home just, like, broken every night. I went to therapy. I took anti-depressants. But, it was the job. I’ve talked with my son-in-law about it before, too. I’ve let him know that it’s not worth it, to be hating life for eight hours a day. I don’t want to see him waste so much time, like I did.” – John, 55, Pennsylvania

I Wish He’d “Date” My Daughter Again

“My daughter and son-in-law have stopped dating. They’re married, obviously, but what I mean is that I see them falling into the pit of becoming good roommates, instead of a passionate, loving couple. They have a newborn, which is a huge challenge. But, my wife and I have made it abundantly clear that we would love them to drop her off so that they could go out for a night. Get dinner. Hell, get wasted. Just have fun! New parents are quick to forget that they’re also husbands and wives. So, ask her out, man. Sooner the better.” – James, 57, Kentucky

I Wish He’d Take Better Care of Himself

“I wish my son-in-law would work out more. That sounds incredibly judgmental, I know, but it’s not a vanity thing. I had a good 10 year stretch where I just let my health go. I gained a lot of weight, and I put myself at risk for a lot of bad stuff in the future. I’m still paying for it today. At the time, I was very ‘whatever’ about it. I didn’t realize the effects it had on my family. I got lazy. I got irritable. I missed out on a lot of potentially wonderful moments with my wife and kids. My son-in-law is headed down that road, and I don’t want him to neglect taking care of himself. For his sake, my daughter’s, and my grandkids’.” – Michael, 56, West Virginia

I Wish He’d Stop Thinking Therapy Is Not Manly

“I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder when I was my son-in-law’s age. And I’ve been in therapy ever since. It’s helped tremendously, and I’m terrified to think about where I would be if I didn’t seek help. I see a lot of familiar signs in my son-in-law. He’s become withdrawn, disinterested, and generally indifferent about a lot of things. I’ve talked to him, and told him about my journey, but he refuses to go to therapy. It’s a pride thing. I know it is, because I was the same way for a long time. I didn’t think I needed help. I want him to go for his own health, of course, but also for my daughter. I know the effect my depression had on my family. Some of it is unavoidable — it just takes a lot of compassion and understanding to get through. But, he owes it to the people he loves to try and find ways to help them out.” – Rick, 53, Ohio

I Wish He’d Just Buy the Damn Dog

“Let your kids get a puppy. What’s wrong with you? My son-in-law is a total neat freak, and his kids are just dying for a puppy. My daughter grew up with a dog. I grew up with a dog. It’s a part of the family that just makes everything better. It’s a good way to teach kids about everything from responsibility to care and compassion. So what if you have to steam clean the carpet every week? My son-in-law is a good man, and a wonderful husband. We love him very much. Just get those kids a dog. Or we might do it for you.” – William, 59, California

I Wish He’d Act Like He Doesn’t Want to Leave All The Time

“Mine’s simple – I wish my son-in-law would take off his hat when he comes to visit. I don’t find it disrespectful, or anything like that. It’s not like we play the National Anthem whenever he comes over. But, I dunno, for some reason, I see his hat on and I get the feeling that he can’t wait to leave. Like it’s the first step before putting his coat on so he can get out the door. He always has it on, too. My wife and my daughter tell me that this issue is more mine than his, honestly.” – Gene, 58, South Carolina

I Wish He’d Be Honest About My Daughter’s Cooking

“I wish he’d tell the truth about my wife’s cooking. She’s not a great cook. I know it. My daughter knows it. I even think she knows it. But, every time he and my daughter come over for dinner, he raves about the food. I have to let it go, obviously. What am I going to do? Call him out for being polite? But, c’mon. Don’t encourage the tuna casserole any more. Please.” – Robert, 56, Illinois

I Wish He’d Stop Being Such a Prick

“Our son-in-law is very dismissive toward my wife and I, and it drives me fucking nuts. He’s always staring at his phone, even when we eat dinner, or just sit down to talk. He makes good money, and I think he believes that’s his contribution to the family. Like he doesn’t have to put forth any other effort. Whenever I bring up his behavior to our daughter, she gets defensive. It’s distressing to say, but I honestly wish he wasn’t such a prick sometimes.” – Aaron, 55, Pennsylvania

I Wish He Would Stop Babying My Grandson

“Let the kid cry sometimes. Take it from an experienced pro – I have three grown kids – you’re not going to be able to make the baby happy all the time, and it’s going to start messing with you. Whenever our daughter’s family is at our house with their son, inevitably the kid will start crying about something. He’s nine and has my son-in-law wrapped around his finger. At the first sign of tears, my son-in-law just rushes to him and does whatever he can to make the crying stop. He gives in all the time. It’s a recipe for disaster when that kid becomes a teenager.” – Brian, 60, California

I Wish He’d Make an Effort to be More Organized

“My son-in-law is very disorganized when it comes to making and remembering plans. I feel like a hypocrite, though, because so am I. It’s definitely our wives who run the social calendars. But, I try. I really try to be more organized, remember important dates, and events, and stuff like that. I wish he’d be more active about trying to find ‘a system’ that works for him. Because I know it drives my daughter crazy. She takes after her mom.” – Mark, 60, Florida

I Wish He’d Stop Rooting for Ohio State

“I don’t really have many problems with my son-in-law. He’s a very nice guy, and he makes my daughter happy. But he’s an Ohio State fan. And I’m a Michigan fan. If you know anything about sports, you know that’s probably the biggest rivalry of all time. They’ve beaten us every year for the last seven years, and boy does he love to bring it up. He’ll hide little Ohio State tchotchkes around the house when he comes over. His ring tone is their fight song. I can’t say ‘I wish he’d ease up’, because that would be admitting defeat. So I’ll just say I wish Michigan would stop choking in November.” – Ken, 61, Michigan

I Wish He’d Ease Up on the Drinking

“My son-in-law drinks. As far as I know, it hasn’t escalated past general irresponsibility. But, honestly, it scares the shit out of me. I don’t know how to approach it, really. My daughter swears it’s not a problem. And maybe it’s not. Maybe I’m overreacting. But, whenever I see him have too many at family gatherings, or when we go out to eat, my mind wanders. I worry about his safety, my daughter’s safety, and whether or not I should say something. My wife shares my concern, and I know she and my daughter talk about it more than we do. So, I’m grateful for that. I just have to trust and pray for her — and him — while I wish he would ease up a bit.” – Bob, 59, Ohio