How to be Married to In-laws

My arms felt like weights dragging on the floor as I held my crying son all day. My eyes wanted to close because I hadn’t had a good night sleep in days. I was hungry but didn’t know what to have, and even if I could, I didn’t have time to just sit and eat.

I would hear the garage door open and heels clicking on the hard wood floor. I knew exactly what it meant.

I was saved.

What seemed to me, a beautiful angel, came and swept up my crying child instantly, and let my arms rest. She fed me and let my tired eyes close. She bathed him, fed him, and put him to sleep so effortlessly.

She talked to me. How nice it was to be speaking to an adult about adult things, rather than a child. To use a grownup voice rather a baby speaking voice. To feel loved and be told, “you look amazing.”

My in-laws saved me.

I’ve heard horror stories from close girlfriends and siblings on the topic of in-laws. I don’t always know how to respond, because frankly, I hit the jackpot with in-laws.

It’s like they’ve come from a picture-perfect movie. They love unconditionally. And serve willingly. They love and accept me as their own and love my children what seems to be more than myself at times.

My sister-in-law is my closet friend. She’s the second mother to my children, and she seems to always know what I need when I need it. We laugh together and laugh at my husband (her brother) together. Her husband, my brother-in-law, reminds me of my own older brothers. He teases me, converses in sports with me, makes me laugh, and his door is always opened to my family and me.

I understand that not all situations can be like this. Personalities clash and don’t mesh well. There are differences of opinions. There are differences in cultures and backgrounds.

 Uncomfortable situations can change.

Get to Know Them

Relationships aren’t going to form perfectly overnight. It’s going to take time. You have to get to know them and truly want to get to know them. Don’t just ask questions to shoot the breeze. Genuinely want to get to know them. How was their childhood and upbringing? I’ve noticed that when you see how they were raised you can sympathize with them, connect with them, and understand more about what makes them, them — which helps you connect on a deeper level.

Spend Time with Them

It could be once a month; it could be once a week – but help your in-laws see that you are trying. You are trying to be with them and get to know them. Invite them to Sunday night dinners; invite them to your child’s sporting event, or a recital. Invite them to go see a movie; invite them to go get your nails done together. Show interest in them.

Weekly Phone Calls

Of course, not everyone lives in the same area or even the same state as their in-laws. If this is the case, show your interest with weekly or bi-weekly phone calls. Check in on them. How is work going? How are their friends doing? Any new recipes they’ve tried? Tell them how your kids are doing. Send pictures via email or text. Let them know that you wish you lived closer. Plan a time that works for both of you to visit during a holiday or during spring break.

Snail Mail

My own mother lives in Washington State. We call and Facetime as often as possible, to let my children see and talk to her. She has told me that her office is covered in letters my daughter has sent her through the mail. We send school pictures; we send pictures she has drawn, and we send stickers and suckers. In return, my mom sends letters back. My daughter lights up when she has received something in the mail that is addressed specifically to her. We have made this a monthly goal, and it has helped on both ends. Not only does my mom feel loved, but my daughter as well, feels very special.

Remember Important Dates

How do you feel when a close friend remembers it’s your anniversary? Try this with your in-laws. Ask them the date of their anniversary. Ask them the date of their birthday. And try and write them in your planner. Include them with Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Get them little gifts. Show them how important they are in your life. Try to think of them. What do they like? Tickets to a hockey game? A pedicure or facial? A date night?

I understand it can be awkward at times. Conversations don’t always flow. But try and allow them into your life. Don’t be closed off. Be real and raw. Tell them about your best friends, about your siblings; tell them what you’re dealing with at work or home. Let them do the same in return. When you see them next, check in on them: “How was your time with your friend, DeAnne?” “Did you and dad enjoy your trip to California together?”

Get to know them. Love them. Let them in.

Let them save you.

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