This is a tough one. Not for me, but for many. I am so blessed to have Cal's parents. They are kind, generous, forgiving, and have never tried to impose their opinions on us as a couple. I understand talking openly and honestly with one's in-laws can be difficult. It is an extremely sensitive relationship. My hope is that this will be something you can take with you into the New Year.
Your son (or daughter) is taking the plunge! Can you believe it?! This human, that you raised from a tiny baby, is going to spend the rest of their life....with someone else. Yup.
As the wedding approaches (or perhaps they are already married), are you preparing yourself to be a kind, loving, giving, mature adult? Does the soon-to-be spouse do things you can't stand? Maybe. Does she (or he) get more attention from your child? Yes. This person is going to be his wife (or her husband). Don't you want your child to be crazy in love? You don't want him/her marrying someone they only kind of like. Right?
Humor me for just one second: think back to when you first met your spouse. They could do no wrong. You loved them so much, you were blind to their imperfections. I see it every day, even in my own marriage. To me, Cal is right. His opinions are right, his actions are right. I will defend him to my grave. (I am not saying he is perfect. We do disagree on occasion. He does make mistakes because he is human. Sorry, dear.) It's because he and I are one unit. We are connected. Forever. When your child pledges their all to another human being in a marriage ceremony, don't you want their bond to be so strong that they will protect one another?
So be prepared for a change in family tradition. Christmases might not be exactly like the past 24 years. Embrace the addition to your family. He or she can be a blessing, not a curse.
Practical things you can do to encourage a friendly, positive relationship with your new in-law:
- Don't talk about her/him behind her/his back. This will only promote negativity in your relationship.
- Let your child and their new spouse make decisions. Pressuring them to come to this family gathering or that holiday celebration will cause them to do things out of guilt. Do you really want that?
- Try. If she/he really grates your nerves, just try to get along. In my life, I've noticed that taking someone under my wing helps me like them more. Those eccentricities start to fade...a little. ;)
- Show them that they are a part of your family. Invite them to events. Send them gifts or cards. DO SOMETHING.
The reason I chose this topic was because I have friends and family that live this reality. It breaks my heart knowing others don't have what I have. Be the one who makes the effort. Even if it takes 20 years, it will be worth it. Early in my parents' marriage, my mom and grandmother didn't always see eye to eye. After many years of tending and compassion, they became close. My mom helped her when she was sick with cancer. Right up until the end, she was by her side.
Do it in love.
ps- Brides, Grooms, maybe you're the one who needs to take the first step to make things better.