Addressing Your In-Laws: Mom, Mrs. So-And-So, or Something Completely Different?

What to Call Your In-LawsIf there’s one thing you’re almost certain to get along with your husband once you get married, it’s in-laws. There are many cases in which you will already know your in-laws, even get along great with them, be invited to family functions and so forth.  All of this long before you get married.  If this is the case, then great!  You’re probably already past the stage of awkward introductions and being unsure of what exactly to call your husband’s mother.

However, there are occasions in which you may have never had the chance to meet them before the wedding.  Perhaps everyone lives too far away for any visits.  Whatever the case, at some point the manner of addressing your in-laws will come up…especially during the holidays with holiday cards, gift tags and party introductions.

In general, as with any person, the correct way to start off is by using the traditional Mr. and Mrs. forms.  Doing so shows respect and doesn’t make anyone feel uncomfortable, as opposed if you just start calling one of your in-laws “Mom” right away.  As time goes by, you may feel more comfortable with them and can either try to transition into a first name basis on your own, or ask if it is all right for you to call them by something different.

Respect is the key to the whole situation. Some families will correct you the moment you finish – but in a good way.  Such as:

“Why, hello, Mrs. Winston.”

“Oh, don’t be silly – you can call me Gail!”

And suddenly you’re already on a first name basis.  A lot of married couples simply stick with first names.  They are familiar enough with their in-laws for this to be normal (after all, Gail is her name).

Of course, there is also the occasional switch to Mom or Dad. Families that are close may transition into this naturally and feel comfortable with it.  In-laws might encourage you to call them by these names.  If you have no problems with this, by all means call them Mom or Dad.  But if you are at any time uncomfortable with doing so, then quietly sit down with them and explain your reasons.  They should understand your feelings and allow you to call them by either their first name or by using Mr. or Mrs.

The general rundown of addressing in-laws tends to go from the most formal to the least formal.  So unless someone insists you use something else straight from the get-go, over time you should be able to move through these with relative ease: Mrs. Winston – Gail – Mom.

What do you call your in-laws?  Were there any truly uncomfortable moments at the beginning of your relationship or unusual name requests?  We’d love to hear your comments!

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