With deep-seated delight, my marriage will clock thirteen (13) years in few weeks’ time. Really, it has been an interesting journey filled with series of ups and downs, seasons of agreements and disagreements as well as in-laws related issues.
I grew up in a family where everyone was socially bonded with one another. There existed a close-knit relationship which paved way for a sound and healthy parent-children relationship. With this kind of family background and tradition, having a wife come into the scene may somewhat detach the man from the intimacy he shares with his immediate family, hence, this may lead to some emotional turmoil within the family. By taking this lifetime decision, it was followed by a display of suspicion, fear of losing a son relational wise, especially due to our immense cultural differences etc.
Apparently, my early years of courtship was intertwined with this can of worms where my wife had serious issues with my family. Some of the causative factors that I observed in all this worriment were differences in approach to issues, the style of children upbringing, perspective to quality and quantity which informs the language of waste or prudence among others.
The subject of in-laws is such a delicate one in marriage that it can not be over-emphasised. This piece of information is of paramount importance to the newly weds and those about to be wedded because whatever they allow from the onset in their marriages, IF allowed to go on will be difficult to discontinue afterwards. It is therefore very necessary you get it right from the beginning. Firmly make your standards known from the outstart and let it raise possible dust, so it can gradually settle later on in your journey.
The sheer truism is that the role of in-laws could either strengthen or destroy marriages, depending on how it is handled. It is worthy of note that there is a knowledge gap between what is expected and what is obtainable. The degree of effect this has on marriage varies from culture to culture depending on the belief system of the couple. I am from a cultural background where there is strong attachment with families. Largely, It is believed that your family has a part to play in your new family before, during and after the wedding ceremony. The idea is; that spirit of oneness should continue. There is the other belief system that sees the bride as the wife of the entire family, a situation where she has to give due regards to all the siblings of her husband, even when a member of the family is much younger in age than she is. Hence, the dynamic nature of in-law’s influence therefore calls for maturity and wisdom.
In essence, marriage brings parents from both families together. The same way the newly-weds try to understand each other better, parents of both parties also face the issue of trusting the family root where their child is about to be tied in a nuptial knot. This mindset makes in-laws observe the marriage with keen interest, even after the wedding. The seemingly “suspicious observation,” whether it will succeed or not puts a responsibility on the couple to be sensitive to their in-laws, as it has the potential to make or break the relationship.
In retrospect, this does not imply that couples should streamline their marital lives on their In-laws’ expectations as it might create fracas and friction in the home. They are not to adopt another family’s template which comes with its own peculiarities and challenges. Each marriage has its own uniqueness, and its methodology should not be copied by another family. Rather, the principles are to be drawn instead of the style. The reason for this is because there are two different individuals with varying background experiences; culture, religion, economy, environment etc.
TIPS FOR EFFECTIVE HANDLING OF IN-LAWS
Simply give due respect to In-laws, however certain over-caring influences on spouse and children should be avoided.
Be discreet enough not to take sides with your family in any attack against your spouse. You must speak with one voice. Spouses MUST maintain a common front. The husbands need to deliberately shield their wives from unwarranted animosity, even when they are wrong in some occasions. The impact of exposing your spouse to your parents far outweighs shielding him/her for any wrongs he/she might have made.
It is deemed as foresighted to take high cognizance of the fact that In-laws should be helped as much as resources permit. However, undue preference should not be given to your in-laws at the detriment of your own family. As much as in-laws are to be honored and deliberately cared for, an equilibrium should be maintained. There is a saying that says, “What you make happen for one, God will make happen for you”. There is a need to see beyond ages and decades to come and visualize yourself in that position. This does not imply that you will necessarily need resources from your children, nevertheless; the self-evident reality is that your life will be honored and appreciated for the investment you have made on their lives resulting in the quality of lives they now live. Remember, what goes round, comes around.
Maintain Balance. Make deliberate effort to strengthen relationship with your In-laws. Don’t make your visit a once in a blue moon style. You can leverage on technology means to ease communication, especially if you live far apart in order to keep in touch. In all that you do, be tactful about how you disseminate information concerning your family to your In-laws. It is palpable this might be counter-productive because you might have varying views regarding some sensitive issues.
Leverage on principles and not methods. There might be strong values your parents lived by all these years, extract the values and adapt them to your uniqueness. The values or principles will remain constant, but the style obviously will be different from theirs, considering the different seasons between your parents and your family. Furthermore, this explains why you should be cautious and diplomatic on how you disclose that are supersensitive to only the two of you since interpretations of third party are bound to be different.
The marriage life you live will either be an exciting one or hellish one. Appropriating the above tips in your home will make the running of your home smooth and effective. Living by these principles, you will turn OFF the switch button for horrific experience and ON switch button for exciting experience. Without much ado, It simply turns your home into a reference that other families will love to model theirs after yours.
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