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Sunday, October 15, 2006

 

How to be a Good Inlaw

Being a good inlaw is like walking a tightrope, if you say too much or two little you fall off balance. Obviously, both can have serious consequences. Lately I've been seeing and hearing a lot of the results of poor inlaw behavior. Thankfully I can be proud to say-I have been above reproach.
One friend shared with me her hurt at being totally forgotten on her birthday, again. In 18 years of marriage 90% of her inlaws had never even so much as called her on her special day. They had also not remembered to call their niece and nephew on the days of their births. She pointed this out to her spouse. In all these years she had made sure his family had always received, at the very least, a phone call on these occasions, plus on their individual anniversaries.
A family member called and regaled that her mother-in-law had done the unthinkable-she bought a car from a dealership that had treated her son worse than dirt! In case you're wondering, this woman was at the agency and witnessed firsthand the treatment the young couple had endured. Both felt as if this woman deliberately stabbed them with a butcher knife.
The mother-in-law in kind, thought they owed her an apology, leaving them a five minute tirade on their answering machine telling them just that!
Now I'm sure in the two years that I have been an inlaw that I have probably said or done something I shouldn't have, I am a force to be reckoned with when something "gets my goat".
But I try very hard to be a "good" relative. My mother probably had the world's worst in the way of marital relatives to contend with, so from an early age I took mental notes about what you should not do if you want to be loved for a lifetime by your adult children. My parents are very good inlaws, not perfect (who really wants to be?) but darn close. My husband's family could have learned a few things, but I've come to love my sister-in-law and wished that she and her family lived closer. Same with one of his cousins.
The way I see my position is this: everyone has a right to make their own mistakes. I am not the keeper of the clan. What was a good choice for my husband and myself doesn't mean that it is the only way! So I keep my mouth zipped, unless I am directly asked what would I do in the given situation. If something really bugs me, I say so-to my daughter. I say it honestly, once. Then I shut up. Okay, sometimes twice. I'm working on correcting that.
I always remember birthdays and anniversaries of the immediate family, call when I hear someone is sick or hurt to see how they are doing. When time or need comes up, I offer my services in any way I am able.
Being a good inlaw is not the same as being a good employee-there is no yearly review! No one calls you in and tells you what your strengths are or where you could improve. It's all trial and error. Kind of like being a parent for the first time. Wouldn't it be wonderful if there was a class to take? "In-law: 101-the ins and outs of getting along with your married children"
I for one, would sign-up.

Comments:
Carine,

No, it is not easy being an in-law! It seems as though you're concious enough to care to do the right thing and "keep the peace" whether it's with your husband's family, or your daughter's new family.

I adored my new in-laws, and became very close with my sister-in-law. Unfortunately, her husband caused some trouble between us, and we only see each other when we have to now. I plan on being married to my husband forever, so for all of our sakes, I hope that we can work things out eventually. But until then, I'll have to keep doing the eggshell dance.

Take good care,
Lisa
 
good for you Lisa, it's unfortunate when there's a trouble-causer in the family, but we all seem to at least get one!
 
Well...I might have a little different take on this Carine. I always try to do and say the appropriate things, given the circumstances. However...if someone does not take the time to remember my birthday on a regular basis, then I assume it's just not that important to them, or that they don't care for me. Either way, it's best forgotton as I wouldn't want a gift, card or call that implied empty (or forced) sentiment. But hey...that's just me. As I said, I try to remember these special dates of others. Outlaws can be difficult, as we are forced in some cases to at least try and establish friendships that we might never have initiated if we weren't outlaws.

Ciao bella...have a great week, and sorry Blogger was eating your comments over at my place.
 
how true Teri! I would just assume that after 19 years, it wasn't going to change. I remember everyone's birthday with a card and a call, regardless, that way I know my behavior is above reproach. Okay, maybe not my son-in-law's mother, but she tends to be rather an odd duck and seems to want nothing to do with anyone so we in turn, give her what she seems to crave.
 
hi carine,
i wish they did have classes for in laws because i would sign my MIL up.

yes,ive got a MIL from hell.
 
oh I'm so sorry. mine's no joy, but she's just self-involved and annoying, but harmless. my mom too had one for the books, I make sure I dn't resemble her in anyway!
thank you for visiting, hope you enjoyed what you read enough to be a regular!
 
Carine, nice post..i love my in laws and i know for sure that they love me because i feel it although i tend to forget birthdays!!
 
oh dear! forgetting seems to be in the air!
thanks for reading summer, i've been a bit lazy in things lately, but I'm pretty sure I made it over to your site this week.
 
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