Having Harmony with your In-Laws

When I first told my parents that I was moving to Mexico to get married to Jose, my mom was excited, but my dad wasn’t as much. Mexico was far away, a dangerous place, and there was not much money or opportunity. These are the things that we all have been told about Mexico. These things are not necessarily true, though. There are safe places and prosperous areas. The best part of Mexico is the people. My in-laws taught me that. When my parents went to Aguascalientes for my wedding, they had the opportunity to meet Jose’s parents. Even though there was a language barrier, there was immediate kinship between the two sets of parents. My parents, especially my dad, were able to see the love that Jose’s family had. They were so kind and giving. Jose’s grandfather told my parents at the dinner table that even though they don’t have a lot of money, they have a lot of love and that is what they will give me. There were tears all around and my dad felt great about leaving his daughter with this sweet family. He knew that I would be taken care of. And he was right. My in-laws are one of the reasons why my transition to Mexico living was smoother than I expected. My mother in-law taught me to cook Mexican food and she taught me Spanish. My father in-law taught me that you can live off the land with hardly any money. The land always provides.

These blessings don’t always come when you combine two families. There are certain “family rules” and traditions that are so different that it could cause clashing moments in a family. It is important for a newly married husband and wife to build their relationship together rather than having the parents of the married couple involved. Advice should be taken with prayer. In Genesis 2:24 it says “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” Decisions about family matters should be between the two spouses.

Jose and I are no longer in the “honeymoon phase” so I feel like our personalities and traditions are shining through more now than they were the first while of our marriage. I would never bring up how my family did something when we first got married because “I was in Mexico now and needed to do things the Mexican way”. But the problem is, I’m not Mexican. I had to figure out a way to honor my in-laws and their traditions while still being true to myself and how I was raised. It is very important to me to find that balance. This is something that is ongoing, but it gets easier every day.

James M. Harper and Susanne Frost Olsen said in their article “Creating Healthy Ties with In-laws and Extended Families, “Marrying into a family that is different from yours or has different values can be a challenge. Demonstrating humor, exercising patience, overlooking small irritations, and looking for the positive can help in dealing with differences. One woman said: “When I met [his] parents … I didn’t agree with them on religion, politics, or even on how to cook a pot roast. I really wasn’t even sure if I liked them. But then l had to remember they had raised [my husband] and I loved him, so there must be something good about them. At that point, I began to enjoy their differences, and to love them, too.””

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One way that I have found that I am able to build relationships with my in-laws is by cooking for them. My mother in-law still walks into the kitchen and tells me how to cook, but I politely tell her that I’m making something that I learned from my mom. She knows then to let me be and she’ll try the food after. We have different religions, but I like to show interest in their religion. I feel it is respectful to honor what they believe. This doesn’t mean that I believe it, but I respect and love them so I have interest in what they do.

By doing these things with our in-laws we not only build our relationship with them, we strengthen our own marriage. We are showing love to the ones who raised our sweethearts. We are showing respect to the grandparents of our children. Contention is lessened. This also can strengthen the relationship that our children have with their grandparents. There is beauty all around, when there’s love at home, even in our in-law’s home.

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