There is a reason that there are so many jokes about mother-in-laws. A friend just recently spent a weekend visiting family. She returned home frustrated with her mother-in-law, who had used their flying weekend visit to complain about how they spend their time when they are visiting. Nothing says, “I’m glad to see you! Let’s make the most of our time together,” like “And I plan to do that by arguing about why I don’t get all of your time!” Right?
She’s had a good relationship with her, but it can get complicated. And I know she is not at all alone. With marriage comes a history. The baggage, the arguments, and the tumultuous relationships are all there in the small print of your marriage vows. (*Mother-in-law has long-standing argument with your husband about his resistance in taking on the family business. **Brother has a drinking problem and will get “handsy” at any future family gatherings. Carry mace. ***Family expect you to encourage sister-in-law enthusiastically in her annual pursuit of the XFactor crown, in spite of being tone deaf.)
I can’t pretend that the expat life has made our family relationships simpler. We often feel desperate that both of our families could spend time with The Duchess in equal measure and there is a sad and constant reminder that no matter where we live, we will be depriving one family or the other. But there is something that makes it easier. The defining part of this complicated dynamic is that we feel supported by each other’s families. In fact, we like being with them. They have never been bitter. They have never fed our guilt. Each have been supportive of wherever we would choose to live. They even get along with each other.
A few weeks ago before my Mom came to visit, I had this conversation with my Mother-in Law:
“We are going to the zoo when my Mom visits. Would you like to come along?”
My Mother-in-Law gave an apologetic look, “I would love to come along. I’m sure you’ll have a great time, but this is your Mother’s time with her. I want her to have her to herself.”
‘Nuff said, really.
Head over to Tara’s blog to see those who have linked up to post about their own family.