Get to Know Him
Men are generally less apt to make an effort to socialize with a brand new person on the family scene. Many males figure that if a new guy has any redeeming qualities, they'll come out eventually, over the course of family dinners, the wedding season, and various other occasions where the opportunity to chat will present itself naturally. This may be true enough — except in a situation where there is no opportunity for family dinners, or the wedding is being planned several states away. How are you going to get to know this guy before he starts calling you Dad?
If either of you has a penchant for the outdoors, work with it. Men tend to bond quickly and easily over activities they share a common interest in. If you both enjoy fishing, take him out in the boat while he's visiting. If you're both avid hikers, hit the trails for an afternoon of climbing together.
Be sensitive to his likes and dislikes, as well as his abilities. If you're a tennis pro, for example, you wouldn't want to invite your nonathletic future son-in-law to join you on the courts. He'll take that as an invitation for you to humiliate him, and the end result will be anything but pleasant.
In fact, such an unfortunate incident might become a reference point for years to come. (Imagine him saying to your daughter, “You want me to spend a weekend with your parents? Don't you remember the Tennis Match? My ego is still bruised!”)
It's important for men to establish a feeling of trust (the reason why men who play well together can often bypass small talk and get right to the meat of things), but it's as important for each man to maintain a feeling of competency, no matter what the situation.
Side by Side
Don't be afraid to ask your daughter's fiancé for a little help with some of your larger chores. Unlike a sporting contest, this is an area where you can teach him a thing or two without threatening his manliness (after all, if he's never owned his own house, there's no good reason why he should know all about copper versus PVC piping — but this is the perfect time for him to learn). This will give you an opportunity to reap the benefits of tackling a big project together and promote a sense of respect — as long as the two of you can work together without cursing at one another.
If you're going to assume the role of teacher in order to get to know your future son-in-law, remember that the most effective teachers actually teach. They don't get frustrated by inquiries, they don't grab the wrench out the student's hand and say, “Oh, let me do it! You'll never get it right!” and, most importantly, they have realistic expectations.
Your goal here is to get to know this man your daughter intends to marry — not to browbeat him into becoming a master roofer in one weekend. That may be a nice byproduct of the encounter, but it's not the real point. Understand that before you break out the power tools.
Getting to Know You
Chances are, this young man will be a little nervous at the prospect of spending time alone with you — at first, anyway, until he comes to understand all the nuances of your personality. (A frown doesn't always mean you're angry, and a smile might mean that you're thinking up some dastardly deed.)
Most young men who are put in the position of having a little one-on-one time with their future fathers-in-law are going to feel some pressure about making a good impression. It doesn't matter how long you've known this guy; the game has completely changed now that he has announced his intentions to marry your daughter. He's under an entirely different kind of scrutiny now, and he knows it — or he should.
Men are generally less concerned about what other men may be thinking (as compared to women, who tend to analyze the thoughts and actions of others). However, because this man wants to make a good impression on you, he might be trying to read your mind while the two of you are getting to know each other. This is a scary thought in itself, something that's bound to end badly…so you should be aware of the possibility.
Don't Come On Too Strong
You want to avoid scaring this man to death, so if you know you have a very strong personality and your daughter is begging you to scale it back for a day or two, consider granting this request, at least during your initial outings with her fiancé. He's going to be an official member of the family soon, and while you are the head of that family, that doesn't give you the right to intimidate new members.
Remember, he doesn't really have to prove that he can stand up to a bullying from you — he's going to marry your daughter no matter how well the two of you get along. If you want to maintain a close relationship with your daughter, it's in your best interest to find a way to get along with her future husband.
Some fathers feel as though their new sons-in-law should be able to take a little ribbing (or even some out-and-out intimidation), but truthfully, that depends on the personalities in question as well as on how you'd like your relationship with this man to proceed. If your daughter's fiancé has a strong personality of his own, he might just come out of his corner swinging back at your barbs, for example, which could be a setup for long-term disaster.