I was reading an article a while back titled, “In Love With My In Laws” in a copy I purchased of Marriage Partnership Magazine. In it the author, Renae Bottom, wrote something I can relate to. It’s one that many couples can’t but others, including myself and my husband can. I love my in laws. I’ll say it again:
I Love My In Laws.
In her article, Renae wrote:
“I have a confession to make. I like my in-laws. Since that disqualifies me from ever starring in a television sitcom based on my marriage, I’ll make another startling revelation. My husband likes his in-laws too. Call us weird, but Mark and I don’t suffer from the Dueling Mother-in-Law Syndrome. It’s one that has fueled decades of prime-time comedies. In fact, the relationship we share with our in-laws actually enriches our marriage.”
There are so many people who have problems with their in-laws. So it’s refreshing to think there are actually those out there (ourselves included) that love them. And Renae is right in saying that as we lean towards getting along together with our in laws, it does enrich our marriage.
Building Relationship Bridges
One of the things I determined years ago was to look for ways to build relationship bridges with my in-laws. I did this so we’d grow closer rather than treating each other like we’re opponents. I figured if they raised such a wonderful man as my husband Steve, and my husband loves them, I would make every effort to grow in my love relationship with them also.
It has meant that at times I’ve had to over-look some minor (and even major) offenses. It also meant I’d give grace and space and look for the best rather than allow myself to be easily offended. My husband has done the same with my parents. This is something I greatly appreciate. I know my parents weren’t perfect.
And when I did find myself offended by my in laws (they have since passed on to Heaven), I worked hard to get past it. This is something the Lord has done for me. He has gracefully forgiven me of my offenses. If I call myself a follower of Christ, why shouldn’t I have extended the same grace to my in-laws that I have received from Him?
It wasn’t always smooth sailing. There were some problems. But it was worth every effort it took to keep building, rather than allowing our relationship to be torn down.
Bridges of Love
Not all in-laws are open to building bridges of love. But if there is any way you can do this, it’s sure worth the rewards. The Bible says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.“ (Romans 12:18) And for my part, I determined to do whatever I could to build a healthy, loving relationship with them.
It is a love gift that I have given to my husband —because he loves them. And I don’t want to put him into the position where he has to choose between me and his family. It’s a love gift that keeps giving in many other ways also.
One of them is what a person can learn about their spouse as they embrace his/her parents and his/her background. Author Renae Bottoms says this about what she learned:
“When Mark and I were married, I didn’t fully appreciate the way our separate pasts would affect our combined future. As we worked through our early adjustments, getting to know Mark’s family helped me see our relationship in more than just two dimensions. I see his side and mine.
“Slowly, over those first few years, our relationships with our in-laws helped us recognize there was a third dimension to our marriage. It’s the family experiences that had shaped each of our contrasting styles.”
Come to Better Understandings
That’s exactly what I found. As I look at my husband’s family, I can better understand his reasonings sometimes. (Other times I have no idea, but it’s important to look, all the same.)
Renae wrote something else I’d like to acknowledge. I agree with it, as it pertains to my marriage with Steve.
“When we marry, God gives us a whole new family to love and to learn from. After all, the vows do not say, ‘To love, honor and endure my in-laws, till death do us part.’
“The marriage vows join us with a person. And that person is already joined to a family. These small glimpses of Mark’s early life, these family stories in which he plays a part, may not seem like much to a lot of people. But because I love Mark, they are precious to me.
“Getting to know, and growing to love, my husband’s family has made me a better person and a better wife. I want to know the people who are important to Mark. I want to search out his character and come to appreciate him with the intimacy that love demands. And I rejoice in knowing that that journey will last a lifetime.”
Thank God for Holding Tongue
It has been that type of ride for us. As I think back over the years I had with my in laws, I thank God that I held my tongue when I needed to. I spoke truth “in love” when I needed to, and invested in showing love to them. This in turn warmed my husband’s heart, as well. It’s nice to look back and not have regrets of bickering back and forth.
I know that many couples can’t say this about their experiences with their in laws. And for them, I am sad. But I wanted to write this blog to acknowledge those out there that are able to do so. There’s no doubt we are blessed. I don’t only want to talk about tough times we have in marriage, but also acknowledge when blessings are ours. For me, my in laws were, and through my memories, they will always be a blessing.
So, thank you Keith and Mary Wright. Thank you for loving me. And thank you for being the type of in laws that I could love with all my heart. I miss you… but treasure your memories.
Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International wrote this blog.
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Filed under: Dealing with In Laws & Parents