Sometimes I look at my children and wonder who they’ll grow up to be, who they’ll chose to spend their lives. I know that one day my children will grow up, leave home, and find spouses of their own. It’s in those moments that I wonder what kind of an in-law I’ll be or at the very least, how to be a good one. When I look to my in-law as examples, I realize that as long as I do the exact opposite of everything they have done thus far, I’ll be alright.
Now before I start, I feel like I need to clarify something because I have two sets of in-laws. I have the ones from my sibling, and then I have the ones I married into. My in-laws from my brother’s side of the family are wonderful, and they are not the subject of this post, the ones I married into are.
I hate them, and I know I shouldn’t say that because I honestly give it the good ole college try not to hate anyone but there are just some people that are more deserving of ire than others. Trust me when I say they are deserving.
From the very beginning, the very first time I met them, they have done everything in their power to undermine and thwart our relationship. Even after we were married, which they did not come to nor were they invited, they still tried. But what boggles my mind now and always has, is why?
I’ve had friends who are older tell me all the time they wish they had me as a daughter in law because they can’t stand theirs. I’ve shared our situation with countless friends and family members who say it boils down to one thing, hate. Their brains are still firmly planted in the 1950’s, and it’s 2018. But I refuse to believe that even though it’s most likely true, me being ever the overachiever, tried my grandmother’s road-tested advice, “kill them with kindness.”
I tried to become the perfect daughter in law in the first three years of our marriage. We went to their church every Sunday even though I was raised Catholic and they’re all Baptist (I forgot to mention that my in-laws are a Baptist Preacher and First Lady). I went to Bible study, and I put in an effort even to the point of getting rebaptized. Sure, in my soul I was still a Catholic, 12 years of Catholic School and 20 years of indoctrination would never pull that out of me. Catholicism is etched in my soul like a tattoo, but I did it for my husband in the hopes of bringing peace into the family and creating the kind of life he wanted.
The things we do for love.
I dressed how they wanted me to dress, never wearing pants and always wearing dresses because apparently, the Lord cares whether or not females wear pants. It wasn’t the God I was raised with, but to each, their own and I went along with it despite how awkward I felt, out of respect. All I asked for was inclusion. All he wanted was a family.
It’s been almost ten years since then, and I’d like to tell you that things have changed, but they haven’t. In fact, they’ve gotten worse because in that ten years they have tried at every turn to undermine our family and relationship. They’ve tried to turn his children against the both of us. Anytime we’ve hit a rough patch (usually created by them) their advice to their son was to divorce me. Which I never understood because at some point you would think that they would say, “Okay son, this is the choice you made, we love you, we’re going to support you in any way we can.” I would think this especially so seeing that his father is a pastor and, yet they are the biggest advocates of him divorcing me. I could understand if our relationship was abusive or if something were happening with the children, but that’s not the case at all. We have normal issues like every other married couple in America, and when my husband went to his pastor for support, his response was, “Get a divorce.”
What have I learned from almost ten years of being connected to the worst In-Laws in America? I’ve learned that no marriage can survive on an island. Marriage requires besides two people that have fallen in love and promised to spend their lives together, supportive community. That community can be family or friends, but it needs a group of people who believe in the union, it’s the reason why there are guests at a wedding. They aren’t there just to eat fancy appetizers and drink too much nasty champagne; they’re there because they love and believe in the couple and want to support them. That support doesn’t end when the couple leaves for their honeymoon, it continues for the rest of their lives and sometimes even after. It continues in the form of texts, emails, and late night phone calls when your spouse has driven you up the wall, across the ceiling, and down the other side and just don’t know what to do. It’s then that that community reminds you why you married that person in the first place. They tell you why you should stay, why you’ve put up with it all for so long, and most importantly, how much your spouse loves you even though they’re acting like a jackass at that moment.
I know that when my time comes, and I am finally, and In Law, I’ll be supportive. I’ll be the sounding board, the shoulder to cry on, the errand runner, and the surrogate mother. I’ll be whatever my daughter in law or son in law needs me to be because I know what it’s like to live with the opposite. I know what it’s like to try everything in your power to be accepted by the people your spouse holds dear only to be pushed away. I know how alienating it feels. I know the anger that festers from it and spills over onto your spouse. You don’t mean it to because you know deep down, it’s not their fault. I would never want to put my children in that situation; I love them too much for that. I want them to know that whomever they decide to take as their partner for life, that I will support them the way I always have and the way I always will.