By Alyice Edrich
My in-laws came for a surprise visit this week and we've had a wonderful time hanging out. It got me thinking about marriages where either the husband or the wife just can't seem to get along with their in-laws and it reminded me of how truly blessed my husband and I are.
When we first began dating, my mother swore my husband wouldn't amount to much and that while he would make a great friend, he wasn't husband material. I disagreed. I saw so many wonderful things in my husband-to-be that I just ignored her warning-justifying it as ignorance. Today, my mom likes my husband more than me! She says that he is the son she never had and that he has been a true blessing to our family and in her life.
When my husband told his mother that we were getting married, she told him that he didn't have to marry me. That took me off guard, until I realized that my husband was her baby boy. Today, she loves me just like I were one of her daughters. In fact, she often writes or calls by introducing herself as, "Alyice, this is mom."
I think part of the reason we get along with each other so well is that we are honest and upfront with each other. We don't hold grudges, and if something is bothering us, we talk it out. As my mother-in-law says, "If I don't know what the problem is, I can't fix it."
From the moment I met my in-laws (15 years ago), I took the time to get to know them, which included finding out their likes and dislikes. Knowing certain things about them has allowed me to feel close and connected to them.
For instance, I know that my father-in-law loves unsweetened ice tea in which he puts a pack of pink sweetener in, so I make sure to have that very item on hand for every visit. It's a minor thing, really. But it means the world to him because he knows that I care enough to show him I love him with such a small gesture. I remember one time when my in-laws showed up for a "surprise" visit and I didn't have any ice tea made. He teased me all day, "Alyice where's my ice tea?" And I'd just laugh and say, "I didn't know you were coming. I am making some now."
My mother-in-law, on the other hand, loves to show her love through her cooking-and man can she cook! At first I felt awkward letting her buy groceries for the house and take over the kitchen, after all, she was supposed to be my guest and I was supposed to be the one doing all the cooking. And besides, I never buy groceries when we visit her.
But I soon realized that it was not her taking over as some daughter- in-laws may have presumed. It was her way of reaching out and letting us know that she is proud of us, that she loves us, and okay, let's face it.she cooks better than me and having been married to my father-in-law for nearly 50 years, she also knows what he can and cannot eat.
So while I try to buy the foods they can eat, such as fish for Fridays, eggs for breakfast, and fresh fruit for snacks, I have no problem going to the grocery store and letting her stock up the refrigerator with whatever will make her visit more comfortable and more like home.
My husband and I have also learned to allow my mother to clean our house when she comes for a visit. It took some time and several little talks, but we soon learned that cleaning our home, doing the laundry, and even cooking wasn't about avoiding us, taking charge, or saying our way of doing things was wrong. These were gestures of her love. These were her way of reaching out to us and letting us know that she felt blessed that we were part of her life and family.
And to be truthful, I love the breaks! I love not having to cook and clean when they come for a visit. I feel like I am at a bed and breakfast, in my own home.
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