L13: Transitions in Marriage: In-Law Relations

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.


Week 12: Transitions in Marriage: Power Relations and Children

A blog post about power in marriage… let’s see how this goes.  I’ll start out, because now that I know my husband is reading (wink wink) that my husband and I go back and forth with power in our marriage.  Power in our home is topic dependent.  Children we pretty much do together, especially on anything major.  He earns the money, I spend the money – both in paying bills and shopping.  It doesn’t really matter what relationship you are in, there is power – it may be pretty close to being equally distributed, but there is power none-the-less.

Dr. Richard B. Miller, Director of the School of Family Life at Brigham Young University wrote “The issues of power, control, and hierarchy are important in families.  Issues regarding power are at the root of many family problems.”  I whole-heartedly agree with his statement.  Not does he hold a PhD, but it just makes sense, doesn’t it?

Let’s talk about sex for a minute.  From previous readings, and blog posts, we learned and read that many marriages end in divorce over a sexual issue.  There is power in sex – power of giving, power of withholding, power of sharing.

Let’s talk about money for a minute.  We also know from many studies done that divorces happen over financial matters.  There is power in money.  Power to earn, power to save, power to spend, power to agree with your spouse on how to do these three.

Let’s talk about raising children for a minute.  We know that having babies and raising a family is HARD work (if you don’t know this, you’re probably living in a cave).  We also know that husbands and wives do not see eye to eye about everything.  If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know that I have five children, and am married for the second (and last) time.  My husband, however, only has one child.  She is our youngest.  My husband and I do not always see eye to eye on how to raise her.  She’s my fifth child… eh, it’s okay if she climbs on the back of the couch.  She is his first and only child: she CANNOT climb on the back of the couch, she could fall and split open her head.  We see differently on all sorts of parenting issues.  So what do we do about it?  We mostly laugh at one another, or maybe I laugh as my husband stares at me with his mouth gaping open.  She is my fifth child.  Kids bounce, they stitch up easy enough, they smile, they laugh, they love, they get mad, they don’t eat their supper, and the list could go on.  But here’s the deal:  sometimes you just have to agree to disagree, and then other times, someone has to give.  Parents have got to work together as a team (there is no I in team) to raise healthy happy children that bounce, break, laugh, love, and smile.  I no longer let our daughter climb on the back of the couch, I still don’t care if she does (if she falls off, she’ll learn not to climb up there) but I have conceded to my husband’s view because it makes him nervous and her safety is imperative to him.  Where’s the power in this?  In this scenario it is with my husband.  His power to have his child safe wins out over my “eh” feeling about climbing monkeys.  We didn’t fight about any of this either.  We just realized that we parent differently and when my husband noticed that I didn’t care about climbing and I noticed that he did, we talked about it, came to an agreement and there it is.

She’s four years old now, and she isn’t really into climbing anymore, but she is into running in the yard.  Big deal, right?  Well, I thought so, I still kind of think so.  I am grateful that we have fenced in the front of the property with a power gate so no one can come in while she’s playing outside. My husband on the other hand, is worried about ant hills and snakes in the spring grass.  I wasn’t raised here, I didn’t grow up around these creepy crawly things that can hurt you so I don’t tend to think about them.  She always wears her shoes outside (she doesn’t want to get a time out).  So, where’s the power?  Husband wins again, safety first.  And besides, I don’t want to deal with a snake bite.  I can’t even tell the difference from one snake to the next.  So, I don’t normally let her frolic into the backside of the property without a big person to watch for such things.

And to be clear… when I say who wins?  It’s not a competition, it’s not a game.  There is no keeping score.  It is one of us conceding to the other’s point of view for the greater good.  While the examples I used in this little post show me conceding, I promise it’s not always that way.  It’s a volley, we go back and forth, and sometimes we even land together right at the net.  Meet in the middle… it’s sometimes the best way to go.

Parenting and marriage is hard work, but when one (hopefully both) party in a relationship masters the art of compromise, parenting and marriage are so much sweeter!

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

The Eternal Family

Sharing Everything

How important is it to share everything?  Okay, not everything.  I don’t need to know when my husband made a left hand turn at the intersection of Main and Bolivar, but everything.  The important things.  Well, important is relative.  Relative to what though?

I was struggling with a personal monster this weekend, and still am.  That being said, my husband kept something from me over the course of the weekend in order to better help me with my struggle.  Is that right or wrong?  Who is to say?  My husband did not tell me something that I view as really important and even urgent in order to better assist me in my own way.  In his mind, he was completely justified in not telling me.  In mine, not so much.

Let’s just start this off by talking about Benjamin Franklin and his discovery of how electricity works.  Okay, we’ve talked enough about that now… because I don’t really know how electricity works, I just trust that it does and when it doesn’t, I call the power company or my resident electrician, my husband.  My sweet husband deals with his own monsters, in the form of migraine and he fought with one on Friday this weekend and was down in bed for the majority of the day.  He was scheduled for overtime on Saturday and he still wasn’t feeling great, but he grumbled out of bed and out the door so that he could work to provide for our little family (mostly because he missed work on Friday.)  He came home on time Saturday evening and he was a little cranky, but nothing out of the ordinary for having to work ten hours on your day off… you know what I mean?  We went to bed at a normal time and when Sunday morning rolled around, I could tell another headache had set in… or so I thought.

I went about my day and took the kiddos to church and came home and he still wasn’t feeling up to par.  I tried to make sure that he was taking his migraine medication, but he was being resistant and I couldn’t figure out why.  I was just getting frustrated with him.  I just wanted to help him be on a recovery path from his migraine… is that too much to ask?

I climbed into bed Sunday evening just after nine and as I’m drifting off I mumbled something about him not taking his meds like he is supposed to.  He then said “because I got shocked yesterday.”  I sat up in bed, threw the covers off, stomped across the room and flicked the lights on.  “You what?”  We talked for a few minutes, the situation diffused and we fell asleep holding hands.

As I got up with the alarm clock this morning and made my husband’s lunch I meandered the kitchen thinking of what had happened.  My electrician, my husband, had been electrocuted at work. When he came out from getting ready for the day, I made him promise me to never hide something this big from me, even if it was for my own well-being while I was fighting with my own monsters.  Husbands and wives should be openly communicating, most especially if we faced death over the course of the day.  Sheesh.  I do love him.  And he loves me.  He didn’t keep it from me because I didn’t need to know.  He kept it from me so that I could be successful in my own endeavor.  He kept it from me because he loves me, as much as I love him.  So, while we should share everything, we should share everything at the right time.

I do believe that my husband was guided to keep this from me when he did, and I put my trust in him and in our Savior, that it was all just perfect… even though I didn’t think so at Mosiah 3 8the time.

I love you mister.