The Unique Relationship with In-Laws
if you are married or in a long-term relationship, then part of that deal comes your partner’s family: your in-laws. the relationship with in-laws is unique because this is the family that has watched your spouse grow, seen them through those awkward teenage years and also dealt with all the
ugly poor dating choices before you came along. it’s an interesting thing to become a part of once you get married.
when my husband and i first started dating (after he basically said he wanted a wife on our first date) he already had a trip planned to backpack through italy for a month. this was before the days of using your cellphone to connect via wifi while abroad (i sound like an old lady on a rocking chair. go me some darn lemonade, young whipper-snapper!) so he only had so much money on a pre-paid international calling card.
right before he left, he said that every few days he would either call me or his mother to let us know he wasn’t dead in the canals of venice. he proceeded to give me her number and said that i needed to call her after we spoke to let her know i was okay and she would do the same. at the time, his parents were living in texas and i was in colorado so i had never met them or even spoken to them before.
cue the panic and nervous anticipation as i anxiously awaited my first call from his mom to find out the status of my boyfriend, which needed to include him being alive and not falling in love with gorgeously tan italians. thankfully, she is such a kind and warm woman so the conversations flowed easily but i still was a bundle of nerves anytime i talked with her because i was madly in love with her son and wanted her to like me.
i flew down to texas to ring in the new year (2008) and meet his parents in person for the first time. i recall needing to do a swift reapply of deodorant because i was so nervous i was sweating profusely (and there was no texas heat in december). when i walked in the door, both of his parents embraced me in a huge hug and said they were so happy to finally meet me (let’s recall the email he sent them like 3 days after we started ‘hanging out’).
this was taken on the night i met them!
his mom heard that i like ham so she made a massively huge and delicious honey baked ham. my husband hates ham. ha! she didn’t know what kind of cake was my favorite so she made a fruit pie and a marble cake. his dad welcomed me into their home and started asking me about my own family, interests and what it was like growing up in colorado. they welcomed me and made me feel at ease.
i am one of those lucky people that married into a great family. one of the things that was important to me in a partner was the relationship i would have with his family because i have heard that you don’t just marry your spouse, you essentially marry the whole family.
while i don’t necessarily agree with that whole statement, it is true that they do become part of your world whether you like it or not.
i spent last week visiting my in-laws, who now live on the beach in florida (heeeyo) and i have spent time reflecting on how grateful i am for the relationship we continue to build. like all relationships, it takes intention and room for growth as time goes on and i’m grateful for that.
families and relationships can be difficult but i believe they should be our top priority in life so do what you can while you can to make them better and happier. this is something i’m still working on because it’s important to me to have a solid relationship with them. my relationship with my in-laws is by no means perfect (because no relationship is) and we have all had to apologize at some point because it can be an intricate and unique type of relationship. it is a learning process because it’s not like any of us have done this before!
through my 8 years of knowing them i can say without hesitation that they are some of the most generous, kind-hearted and fun-loving people you will ever have the pleasure of knowing. you should also know that anything goes at the cards table so if you have a weak heart or thin skin, you might want to sit out. oh, and they play for real money so cough it up!
check out ways to improve or enhance the relationship you have with your in-laws because it is so important to your well-being as a couple. every family is different so it takes time and intention as you navigate this role with your spouse’s parents!