Intersection of Life and Faith

10 Things Your Father-in-Law is Secretly Thinking about You

  • Lindsey Brady
10 Things Your Father-in-Law is Secretly Thinking about You

There are very few sentences as polarizing as your spouse stating, “my parents are coming for a visit.”

Some of you, dear readers, are elated at seeing your in-laws. You think about all the exciting adventures, stimulating conversations, or—hey!—maybe even some free daycare à la grandma and grandpa.

But for the other people reading this article, you might have been filled with despair by the idea of your in-laws coming to stay with you. Thoughts of their constant judging, incessant nagging and highly intrusive questions start running through your head.

While mothers-in-law are shouldering most of society’s blame for the dread caused by the term “in-laws,” their male counterparts can be equally as difficult to handle. In fact, FILs can be even trickier because they’re less likely to tell you what they’re thinking.

So to help you out, I’ve compiled ten things your father-in-law is secretly (or not so secretly) thinking about you.

Photo credit: ©Thinkstock

  • 1. "I'm thankful for you."

    1. "I'm thankful for you."

    Slide 1 of 10

    Your father-in-law has been praying for you since the day his son was born. He asked for a wife who was pursuing the Lord, faithful, and kind-hearted. And now, years later, you’re the answer to his prayers. 

    And even if your FIL isn’t Christian, I’m confident he’s pleased to see his son so well loved. He’s noticed changes in his son since you two met. He’s been more successful at work, keeps his apartment cleaner, and is just radiating joy. He hasn’t been this happy in years. You’ve inspired him to be the best version of himself, and your FIL is excited to watch his son grow into the man he was destined to be. 

    So even if he doesn’t tell you often, know that he’s thankful to have a daughter-in-law who encourages his son to live out God’s plan for his life! 


    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/SARINYAPINNGAM

  • 1. "I'm thankful for you."

    2. "She's yours now."

    Slide 2 of 10

    Your FIL cared for your wife for the first part of her life. He kissed scraped knees after she fell off her bike. He was her comfort when she made the winning play … for the other team. And he was her shoulder to cry on after her high school boyfriend dumped her the week before prom. He loved her first. 

    It can be a tough pill for your father-in-law to swallow as he passes her off to you. He’s trusting in you to carry on the role of protector, provider, and best friend, and he’ll check that you’re keeping the promises you vowed on your wedding day.  

    So while he might joke that his daughter is “your problem now,” know that deep down in his heart, he’s giving you his baby girl. That’s a gift that no one should take lightly. 


    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock

  • 1. "I'm thankful for you."

    3. "When are you going to give me some grandkids?"

    Slide 3 of 10

    Okay, okay. So you’ve been married for more than 9 months, and your FIL doesn’t have a grandbaby on his lap yet. What gives? (Or maybe, like me, you’re facing the pressure of giving him his first grandson in a family with five granddaughters.)

    Although he might be tentative to flat-out ask about your baby plans, he can’t help but be excited to don the title of “grandpa.”  That’s why after being married for years without kids, he begins to wonder if you’re struggling with fertility issues or maybe if you even want to have kids. 

    If your FIL continuously asks you about your plans to become pregnant, try to extend grace. Know that he’s just excited to cherish his grandkids, if you choose to have them. If it’s more difficult for you to laugh off because it’s a sensitive topic for you, ask your husband to talk privately with his dad. 


    Photo credit: Unsplash 

  • 1. "I'm thankful for you."

    4. "You're going to make mistakes ... and that's okay."

    Slide 4 of 10

    While he’s very protective of his daughter, your father-in-law knows firsthand that marriage is a constant learning process. He understands that you’re far from perfect and that you’re lucky any time a week goes by without messing up in a big way. 

    So while there’s no need to attempt to cover up your mistakes, your FIL does expect you to man up when you err. Be quick to apologize and rest assured that there’s grace in every relationship. 

    When you’re really at a loss for what to do, seek out his advice! He knows his little angel’s tendency to have a stubborn heart, and he’s picked up a few helpful tricks along the way. 


    Photo credit: Unsplash 

  • 1. "I'm thankful for you."

    5. "I'm your dad, too."

    Slide 5 of 10

    You became a part of the family the day you married his son. Your father-in-law now views you as one of his children. He worries when he hears there was an accident on the road by your house. He’s so excited to hear that you got the promotion at work. He loves celebrating you on your birthday.

    These feelings become especially escalated when your parents live on the other side of the country, while your in-laws live just down the street. There’s a desire in his heart to be there for you, when he knows it’s harder for your dad to be there in person (Trust me, I’m lucky enough to know this first hand!). It’s his fatherly duty to be there for you. 

    And while it may take a while for you to feel like the “in-law” part of your title has dropped, just know that your FIL cares for you like his daughter. 


    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/WavebreakmediaLtd

  • 1. "I'm thankful for you."

    6. "I hope you like me."

    Slide 6 of 10

    Your in-laws are well aware that their son’s priority is now your marriage. That’s why your FIL hopes that you like him. He knows that the more you enjoy spending time with your him, the more likely you’ll come and visit … or at least call. 

    But more importantly, your father-in-law still wants to feel included in the family. If you don’t like him, there’s going to be a new roadblock between he and his son. 

    Plus, who doesn’t want to be liked? It’s not like your FIL wants to go down in history as the disgruntled old man who ruins all family gatherings. He wants this lineage to be known as a family who loves!

    If you currently don’t like your father-in-law (be honest…), then I encourage you to ask your spouse for advice or to mediate the situation. It’s much better to repair family dynamics before they get completely broken.


    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/monkeybusinessimages

  • 1. "I'm thankful for you."

    7. "I'm here for you."

    Slide 7 of 10

    Your father-in-law wants to see your marriage succeed. One huge aspect of a successful marriage is a support system. It's valuable, but rare, to find a group of people who love and care for each spouse, equally. One great place to find this well-rounded support is from your in-laws. 

    Now—you might be thinking that your FIL is exclusively your son’s number one fan. But when you marry someone, you become a unit. The love and support for your husband now becomes yours, too! (Seventh-grade algebra taught me all about the transitive property).

    All that to say, your father-in-law is there for you, too. If you have a problem, find yourself in a pinch, or just need someone to talk to, try reaching out to him!


    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/MikeWatsonImages

  • 1. "I'm thankful for you."

    8. "Thank you for making my daughter so happy."

    Slide 8 of 10

    There are very few things in life that parents want more for their children than happiness. Your father-in-law has watched from the sidelines as his daughter has had her heart broken, been in wrong relationships, or perhaps struggled with her season of singleness. He’s fervently prayed for the Lord to send her a God-fearing husband who loves his daughter. 

    And here you are!

    Your marriage encourages her to pursue the Lord, leaves her feeling incredibly loved, and helps bring out the best version of herself. All in all, your FIL hasn’t seen his daughter this happy in ages, and that’s all he’s ever wanted! He’s just thankful to have someone to be her support system and help lead her into a rooted relationship with the Lord. 


    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock

  • 1. "I'm thankful for you."

    9. "I won't always take his side."

    Slide 9 of 10

    Your FIL loves his son. He’s his buddy, his confidant, and his right-hand man. He’s been there since day one, and they put in countless hours playing ball, learning to drive, and teaching life lessons. 

    But your father-in-law knows better than anyone else that his son isn’t perfect. He was there through his early life tantrums, the junior high angst, and the messy college years. He has watched him make one mistake after another and has walked his son faithfully through those “what was he thinking?!” moments.

    All this to say, your FIL won’t automatically take his son’s side on any given disagreement; in fact, your new dad could be one of your greatest advocates. Instead of commiserating with him after a spousal dispute, your FIL will listen patiently, tell his son to shape up and apologize for his wrongdoings. 


    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock

  • 1. "I'm thankful for you."

    10. "One day you're going to be me."

    Slide 10 of 10

    Whether you’re newly married, expecting a child, or are just about to marry off the first kid, your father-in-law looks at you and thinks, “one day you’re going to be me.” 

    One day, you’re going to have to release your grip on your son or daughter and hand them over to their new spouse. One day, you’re going to welcome another person in your family as your own child. And one day, you’re going have to wade your way through the sometimes messy act of balancing new family dynamics.

    Your FIL wants to set the example for you on how to be an in-law. When the time comes for you to don that new title, he hopes to appear more on the “how-to” than the “don’t-do” list. Take time now to notice what your father-in-law does that you appreciate, and give him some positive feedback!


    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/omgimages

    Lindsey Brady is a brand-new wife and stepmother who loves to spend time in nature or going for long runs. When she's feeling a bit more sedentary, she'll watch an entire season of any Food Network show in a single sitting. You can follow her on Instagram at real.slim.brady