Being Family: The get along guide for in-lawsby Lori Phillips
In-law relationships can be the most difficult, and they can destroy otherwise happy marriages, too. By seeing things from each other's perspective, you'll gain the understanding you need to let down your guard and open your hearts to new family members.
This simple little book is filled with truths that can transform your family relationships.
A must-read for soon-to-be-weds, newlyweds and even long-time marrieds. Makes a terrific gift.
Read an excerpt from Chapter 1:
In the beginning...
I always hated in-law jokes. And when I got married, I knew why. Getting along with your in-laws is no laughing matter. I always felt that family was your first and last line of defense against the cold, cruel world. You stick together. But, I learned that a wedding ring and a marriage license don’t create family ties. People do. Real love takes time to cultivate. What is perplexing to me is how many families never give in-laws a chance from the start.
For some people, in-law problems start at the beginning. “She’s always hated me!” “I never liked him.” For others, trouble creeps up and takes them by surprise. “Everything was fine until we/they got married/had the baby!” What triggers this combat? Human beings are like pack animals. It is natural instinct to protect their own pack, and it is a long process before a new creature is allowed in. We are suspicious of strangers. They’re fine at a distance, which is why no one seems to put up defenses during the dating phase. But marriage is a commitment that makes everyone wary. Is this person going to fit into our family? Is he or she good enough? How will this change us? Is this a family threat?
A human parent’s instinct is to love and protect its young for the rest of its life. And, if he or she relishes the role, it will not be easy to hand over this responsibility to someone else, especially a young, inexperienced person. A parent will not adjust easily to being second in its child’s life. A parent must come to terms with this, but it is not easy or pleasant. It hurts. For new, young wives and husbands, the change is equally hard. Just starting out, they’ve broken away from their own families to live independent lives. They busy themselves creating their new families, making decisions, choosing their lifestyles. This freedom is exciting! They now have their own little family or pack to protect and nurture. They do not appreciate outsiders telling them how to run their lives. This is all new to the young family. They don’t realize that someday their own little offspring will set off to start his own family and they’ll want to be a part of their grown child’s life, too. They’re too busy to think that far ahead. But they should.
…it’s all about territory
What people fail to understand is that when children marry, their pack increases. Yes, you gain a family member. You don’t lose one. Unless someone makes the choice to leave. The new couple may move off to sleep in their own hut, but emotionally, they still belong to your extended clan. We want our opinions, methods, traditions or advice to matter to our loved ones. We want our share of attention. Everyone wants to be loved.
But what sets humans above the rest of the animal kingdom is our ability to reason. Isn’t it reasonable to accept and adapt to the natural changes in family life? There comes a time when the grown child needs a spouse more than a mother or father. A parent simply can’t fulfill those needs. But a wise spouse will make room for parents in heart and home as well.
The honeymoon period
Well, you might not cart along your in-laws on your honeymoon like my brother-in-law did (yes, he is definitely “family”) but you’ll still go through a honeymoon period with them. During this time, everyone still treats you like the new special guest. Everything you do will be charming…or interesting, at least. And just like a honeymoon, everything will be wonderful. Sooner or later, the novelty of your newness will wear off. As time goes on, any differences in your lifestyle that were interesting in the past grow tiresome or odd. The new person is expected to fit in and adapt, not the other way around. If he doesn’t, it is perceived as a threat to the status quo. New ways challenge the traditions that people hold dear. Melding two new families together means adapting and changing, and people aren’t always comfortable with that.
It pays to make it workJust as a marital relationship requires effort, good relationships with your in-laws take some effort, too. Why bother when you can simply ignore their phone calls? Because there are great rewards in a strong, loving family bond. And the penalties of a bad relationship with those who are genetically and/or legally tied to you can be hell on your heart and seriously diminish the quality of your life. The choice is yours.
So roll up your sleeves and check your ego at the door. This may not be easy, but it will be worth the effort.
Also available on CreateSpace
Lori Phillips writes about relationships, health and spirituality. She lives in Southern California with her husband, children and three irresistible Chihuahua mixes they adopted from the local animal shelter.