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12 Pieces of 100-Year-Old Advice for Dealing With Your In-Laws

The holidays are looming, and you may be either dreading or looking forward to getting together with extended family member to celebrate. If you don't get along that well with your in-laws, you can grit your teeth and tell yourself that it will be over soon. In days of yore, people lived much closer to their in-laws, often even living with them. Writers from 100 or more years ago offered tips for getting along with your spouse's parents or your child's spouse. Some of those tips will make you cringe in the context of the modern world.   

1. ALWAYS VOTE THE SAME WAY AS YOUR FATHER-IN-LAW (EVEN IF YOU DISAGREE).

It's never too soon to start sowing the seeds for harmony with potential in-laws. An 1896 issue of one Alabama newspaper offered some advice to men who were courting, and alongside tips like “Don’t tell her you’re wealthy. She may wonder why you are not more liberal,” it gave some advice for dealing with prospective in-laws: “Always vote the same ticket her father does,” the paper advised, and “Don’t give your prospective father-in-law any advice unless he asks for it.”

10. DON'T BE PICKY WHEN IT COMES TO CHOOSING A WIFE; CHOOSE A MOTHER-IN-LAW INSTEAD.

By today's standards, the advice from an 1868 article in The Round Table is incredibly sexist and offensive. Claiming that "one wife is, after all, pretty much the same as another," and that "the majority of women are married at an age when their characters are still mobile and plastic, and can be shaped in the mould of their husband's will," the magazine advised, “Don’t waste any time in the selection of the particular victim who is to be shackled to you in your desolate march from the pleasant places of bachelorhood into the hopeless Siberia of matrimony ... In other words ... never mind about choosing a wife; the main thing is to choose a proper mother-in-law,” because "who ever dreamt of moulding a mother-in-law? That terrible, mysterious power behind the throne, the domestic Sphynx, the Gorgon of the household, the awful presence which every husband shudders when he names?"

Not all the listed tips for getting along with the in-laws are this horrible; some of them make good sense even today. Read them all at Mental Floss.


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