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Learn to love your in-laws

Hate your in-laws? Why not “heart” them? Dina K. Poch loves hers. She tells readers how they can love their spouse's parents in “I Heart My In-Laws.” Here's an excerpt: IntroductionYours is the story of true love. You met at You both like pugs. Your second date was a private tour of the planetarium. Now you share a cell phone plan, shop for organic bread at Whole Foods, and f
/ Source: TODAY

Hate your in-laws? Why not “heart” them? Dina K. Poch loves hers. She tells readers how they can love their spouse's parents in “I Heart My In-Laws.” Here's an excerpt:


Yours is the story of true love. You met at You both like pugs. Your second date was a private tour of the planetarium. Now you share a cell phone plan, shop for organic bread at Whole Foods, and faithfully watch America’s Next Top Model together. Happily, you’ve tossed away your highlighted copy of He’s Just Not That Into You, because now you’ve met someone who is totally into you.

Congratulations on finding your soul mate — an impressive task in a world of six billion men and women. He understands your ritual of trying on at least three shirts before you leave the house. And you overlook his ponytail, even though you hint that 1995 called and wants its hairstyle back. The rose-tinted glasses are firmly affixed, because you’re head-over-heels in love.

And then, the unbelievable happens. He arranges for a romantic dinner. He fills your home with roses, and on bended knee, he pops the question:

“Do you want to meet my family?”

You sweat. You panic. You rub your clammy palms along your pants and nearly vomit into the foie gras terrine. Then you smile: “Of course, I’d love to meet your family. When?” ... because I need enough time to lose ten pounds, retouch my highlights, get a pedicure, and study up on twelfth-century maritime trade practices, not to mention the early Picasso charcoals.

A brief look at history will tell us that Adam and Eve were the luckiest couple in the world. Yes, they were tempted by a serpent, banished from paradise, and parented sons who murdered each other. But they did not have in-laws. You will.

Sure, you seek guidance from:

     Esteban, a.k.a. magic hands, your hairstylist, whose boyfriend’s parents don’t know he exists.

     Maya, your co-worker, who hasn’t even had a boyfriend in five years and has no idea what you’re yammering on about.

     Rick, the self-help radio host, who advises to look inside yourself for answers.

But do these people really know what to wear, what gifts to buy, and what to do when vacationing with your entire in-law family next week? Because when you’re suspended a hundred feet in the air on a chairlift with your mother-in-law and she asks you about your ten-year plan, you’re on your own. And yet, you don’t have to be.

In your hands, you are holding the bedrock of practical advice on how to deal with your in-laws. A guidebook. A road map. A beacon of hope and light when, for the fiftieth time, you’ve told your in-laws what you do at your computer high-tech company and that your name is Christy, not Crispy.

Finally, desperate daughters-in-law, girlfriends, and fiancées can draw upon a full array of sanity-retention techniques for your first meeting straight through to the day your sweetie’s family sells all their worldly possessions as part of spiritual cleansing, and then calls to borrow your coffeemaker.

You can now sidestep pitfalls, blunders, and awkward situations that hundreds of daughters-in-law have stumbled into unaware. Statistics show that — along with money — in-law problems are one of the top causes of divorce. A beaten path lies before you. So, enjoy standing on the shoulders of others who have stood before you. Relish being told stories of in-laws worse than your own! And, savor the next time your sister-in-law challenges you to the game of “who is smarter,” because you are.

Sizing Up Your In-Law Quiz

From clothes to decorating taste, to hobbies and majors in college, identify what kind of in-law you have and how much work is ahead of you. Recognize whether your father-in-law would rather be complimented or argued with, and whether your mother-in-law speaks her mind immediately or will wait a year to tell you how she feels, in an e-mail.

1. Your mother-in-law thinks that terrorists ...

a) Are everywhere

b) Are plotting to attack her rural town in Idaho

c) Probably went to art school

d) Have a good point

2. True or false?

Your sister-in-law just sampled all 28 flavors from Baskin-Robbins and didn’t buy a scoop.

3. What is your stepfather-in-law most proud of?

a) Running the V-strike play during the Louisiana State football championship in 1956

b) Serving his country in Vietnam, boy

c) Not needing Viagra

d) His home-grown tomatoes

4. Your brother-in-law arrives unannounced on your doorstep. He is ...

a) Looking for a place to hide from his wife

b) Dropping off a 200-gallon fish tank that he bought you for your engagement

c) Trying to sell you something

d) Breaking into your home

5. The rental car your father-in-law reserved isn’t available. What would he do?

a) Punch the #1 Club Gold sign and start shredding the complimentary Hertz maps until security escorts him away

b) Quietly suffer, squeezing his large bags into a Hyundai Accent

c) Convince the staff to upgrade him — who’s driving in style now, baby?

d) Fake an accent and pretend he doesn’t understand the situation

6. Both your parents-in-law think that your 2-year-old child should:

a) Learn Hebrew

b) Get a job

c) Not go to bed if he doesn’t feel like it

d) Prefer them to the “other grandparents”

7. Your mother-in-law would like to talk to you ...

a) Every day with her morning coffee

b) Once in a blue moon, when she sees a woman that vaguely looks like you

c) Via e-mail, so there’s a paper trail of your correspondence

d) Just so long as you don’t talk back

8. Two trains leave the same station. Train A leaves the station traveling at 40 mph. Train B leaves the station 60 minutes later traveling at 60 mph. When does Train B pass Train A? Your mother in-law would say:

a) Why are they taking the train?

b) I’m going to buy tickets for Train C; it leaves an hour later and my daughter-in-law has such trouble with time, so when she shows up late, I’ll be prepared!

c) t - 1 hr + 40t, 3 hrs

d) Can trains pass each other? That doesn’t sound very safe.

9. Your grandmother-in-law annoys you by:

a) Cheating at mahjong

b) Refusing to wear her hearing aid

c) Using her knitting needles as toothpicks

d) Making you sit at the “kids’ table”

10. What will your mother-in-law wear at your wedding?

a) A brown cotton shirt-dress that covers her knees, arms, and neck

b) A dress that’s sexier than your wedding dress, in a size 4

c) A black suit with a black hat for mourning

d) A piece of jewelry that requires a bodyguard

11. True or false?

Your brother-in-law doesn’t eat meat he didn’t shoot.

12. Your parents-in-law think the computer is:

a) Something to put flower vases on top of

b) A godsend — there’s no other way to order Lands’ End underwear

c) A reason to call you at 1 a.m. for tech support

d) The most wonderful place to find a friendly community of fellow Croatian pornography lovers

13. I can annoy my mother-in-law by doing what?

a) Limiting the wedding guest list to 200

b) Feeding her dog from the table

c) Feeding her son from the table

d) Not calling her Mom

e) Calling her Mom

f) All of the above

Excerpted from “I Heart My In-Laws” by Dina K. Poch. Copyright © 2007 Dina K. Poch Excerpted by permission of Holt Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.