This is just a great topic, for me at least. I imagine that there are those people out there that fit the stereo-typical role of in-laws, but the family I married in to (twice) and the family that I gave to my husband are pretty much wonderful.
I will state that we did have a bump in the road a few years ago, however. My husband and I were married in Oregon and then we moved to his hometown in Texas a year and a half after we were married. His dad flew to Oregon for our wedding, but his mom did not. I had also met his dad prior to this when we had vacationed in Texas. My husband’s parents are divorced and he does not have a great relationship with his mom.
When we had our little one (she is now 4 1/2), his mom started making contact with my husband and then with me. On one occasion when we were in Texas, prior to us moving here, there was a fantastic gathering that was held in our honor when we were here to visit. Friends and family gathered and the event was a great time. During this, there was an alleged incident involving my mother-in-law’s husband and our 15 year-old niece. He-said, she-said and it was left at that. Fast forward to the time that we move to Texas. We had three daughters and a son living with us. My mother-in-law called up and volunteered to come and babysit our little one so that we could take the older kids to homecoming… and if you know anything about Texas, homecoming is a BIG deal. We were excited and accepted her offer. Two days before homecoming, she called to confirm that she was still coming and instead of saying for “me” to come babysit, she said “us” to come and babysit. I was stopped in my tracks. I then questioned her and asked if her husband was planning on accompanying her to our home. She said that he was, and I then explained to her that we were more than happy to have her in our home to watch our little one and to spend time with her, but that we could only have her husband present with our daughters if one of us was there as well. We just couldn’t risk it. We don’t know this man, and given the previous event a year and a half earlier, it was not a risk that we could take. From this moment to today (it’s been 3 1/2 years) she chooses not to talk to us. For the safety of our children, that’s acceptable for us. I know at times, my husband wishes that the relationship that he has with his mother were better. But it’s been 25 years since it started going downhill and it’s a struggle for both of them.
Let’s talk about some happy stuff now. I have the most awesome mother, ever! You can’t even try to argue with me on this. My mom has four sons-in-law and she reaches out to each of them and loves them as if they were her own sons. She encourages them to reach their goals, to improve themselves, to lead their families, and to love as fiercely as they can. My father-in-law is my next-door neighbor and he is in our home almost daily. He is welcome any time day or night and we know that when he gets a bit older, that he will be ours to care for. We love him, and he’s flexible, dependable, half-deaf, and tons of fun.
As you can read, incorporating families can be difficult. I had a bit of a hard time when I first moved to Texas – especially around the holidays. When I had lived in my hometown, the rules were well established and it was clear who would be where on what holiday and when. Today, the rules are also well established, but it took us a little while to get there to where everyone was happy with the arrangements and how all would flow. Communication of expectations and feelings are a must when incorporating new families together to make a bigger, happier family.
Families are for joy, they are for support, they are for love. When you reach the point in your life of blending with in-laws, make sure that you – the newly married couple – talk about what you want for yourselves and your new family, and then explain to both sets of your parents where you stand and figure out what will work for all.
I pray that none of my readers go through what I have with my mother-in-law, because I’m certain she is a wonderful woman and one day, I hope to get to know her!
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.