E: Extended Family

E: Extended Family

Fred and Rick were golfing. Fred says to Rick, “My mother-in-law is an angel.”
Rick replies, “You’re lucky. Mine is still alive.”

One of the trickiest parts of becoming united as a new couple is deciding how to handle in-law situations. While there are many jokes about in-laws, they don’t have to be a bad thing. In fact, most of the time they become a wonderful part of your life. It just takes a little bit of adjusting.

When I first got married—so long ago I can hardly remember—I found myself getting grumpy about how my in-laws did this or that. It wasn’t that they were doing anything bad, it was just different from what I was used to. I allowed myself to be disgruntled and even gripe a little about their habits and choices. One day it occurred to me that there was a different perspective available to me. I realized that my in-laws had raised my husband to be the wonderful person that I loved and wanted to be with forever. Therefore, they had done something right. Could it be there were other things they did right? Of course there were. From that day on, I chose to embrace all the good things my in-laws did and ignore the inconsequential things that had bugged me before. My relationship with my in-laws improved dramatically, and I am continually grateful to them for blessing my life.

As a new family unit, it’s important for newlywed couples to make decisions on their own in every aspect of life. These decisions include happenings such as family dinners and Christmas traditions. Parents, remember that while it’s easy and often fun to encourage your newlyweds to join you for various events, it’s critical that you do not put pressure on them to conform to YOUR traditions. It’s time to let them make their own.

Here are some basic guidelines to follow when it comes to your in-laws. Stick to these, and your family reunions could go from slightly uncomfortable to events you look forward to all year long!

For newlyweds:

  1. Be grateful. Your in-laws raised that wonderful spouse of yours. If you fell in love with him or her enough to agree to spend your life together, then you need to give your in-laws some credit. They obviously did many things right. Once you give them credit for the good, it’s easier to ignore the other inconsequential things. It’s ok that they do things differently than you do. Odds are, so do your own parents. So, cut them the same slack and spend your energy getting to know their personalities.
  2. Look for the good. If you want to moan and groan, you will be able to find plenty to moan and groan about. But if you look for the good, you’ll be amazed at how great those in-laws are. And never criticize your in-laws publicly. In fact, pass out compliments every opportunity that comes your way—trust me, they’ll hear about it.

For parents:

  1. Let them go. You raised your children with the idea that they would go out in the world and start their own family. LET THEM. Do not insist they come to Sunday dinner every week. Do not expect them to come for Christmas and participate in YOUR traditions. Allow them to come and go as they choose, and if they choose to join you, welcome them. Remember how fun it was for you to get to make your own way? Or remember how much you hated being forced to do things the way your parents wanted?
  2. Recognize how wonderful your in-laws are. This works both ways. Look at the talents they have. Notice how each in-law is perfect for his or her spouse. Allow them to be themselves, and compliment every great thing you observe. And tell them often how grateful you are that they married your son or daughter.

For both:

  1. Remember, there is more than enough love to go around. Don’t be stingy with your love. Allow the new in-laws a place in your heart and you will increase your joy and happiness more than you ever expected.