Sunday, November 09, 2008


Growing up, I'm pretty sure I didn't learn much in terms of expectations I should have for my future in-laws. My dad's parents had already passed away before I was born, so I only ever witnessed my father having in-laws. My dad was not really a complainer when it came to in-laws, which might be why it always struck me as funny when I'd hear jokes about mother and father in-laws. It may have to do with my father having a stepmom (who is still alive!) and welcoming having my mom's parents around. Who knows!

My in-laws are not entirely what I'd imagined they would be. Culturally, we are worlds apart and I've made my fair share of bloopers in attempting to get to know them. I didn't realize how important privacy was to them or I would have never asked where they were from or how they'd met. In my family, we had a culture of sharing this type of information freely, romantically, humorously.... so when T didn't know any of these details about his parents, nor had he even ever wondered, that should have been my clue! Instead, I naively pursued this avenue of questioning and was quickly chastened for attempting to obtain such personal information. Hmmmm....

We've now been married for 14 years and were together two years prior to that. My relationship with my in-laws has progressed very little in that time, sadly. I think it's probably due in part to hesitation on both our parts. It probably is also due in part to T's leading, since as an only child to Chinese parents, he occasionally feels smothered by them. I chuckle to myself when I hear him remind his parents how old he is, or that they don't need to tell him that it's going to snow tonight, he can read the news himself. It's amusing as well as perplexing to me because I have such a different relationship with my mom.

I have seen the gamut of in-law relationships, from hostile to overly friendly. I do sometimes wish I had in-laws that I felt closer to, but I know that this was what God had planned for me. I wonder what the future holds for us in this regard, as our parents get older and need more attention, have we fostered enough trust and respect to be available to them? I'm not even sure T's parents would want to be taken care of by us! It's a lot to think about, and if it comes to that it will be a huge lesson in culture for us and the girls.

For now, we just meander through the in-law stuff - phone calls (sometime 4-5 times a day), doctor's visits (on our 4th bout with cancer), changing furnace filters, caulking bathrooms, going out to lunch/dinner to the newest favorite restaurant, receiving unsolicited advice on everything from haircuts to church to travel (or not to travel, that is the persuasion!) - and try not to get ahead of ourselves in the planning. Happen as it may, we realize the time is coming when we'll have to make some decisions about in-laws. Just not sure which ones!


Kathryn said...

I think the fact of just having in-laws results in weird family dynamics!

Good luck with that!

Linda said...

I think it's very sad that you are not able to get to know your in-laws how you'd like. I can not even fathom not answering such a romantic, interesting question. How's you meet? My family is pretty open when it comes to stuff like that. My in-laws are passed on so I no longer am able to get to know them, but I can try to get to know who they were. Well...Have a great day.