In-laws are frequently the object of stereotypes and jokes that portray them in a negative light. The image of in-laws, especially mother-in-laws, as nosey, disapproving, and overbearing is so pervasive that it’s nearly impossible to find accounts of positive in-law relationships.
I’m blessed to have very good relationships with my in-laws. Our relationships contrast pretty dramatically with the jokes and stereotypes. Subsequently, I’ve discovered a number of awesome things about in-laws.
I realize that those of you whose relationships exemplify these jokes and stereotypes may want to discount my thoughts because I know nothing of your experiences. I encourage you to consider these awesome things anyway. You may find that some of them ring true even for your relationships. Regardless of the nature of your relationships with your in-laws, I hope these awesome things encourage you to invest in your in-law relationships.
Awesome things about in-laws
- You can see where your husband got certain traits. Your husband likely resembles his parents and siblings. This is often true in a physical sense, of course, but even if he’s not biologically related to his family (such as in the case of adoption), he probably still resembles them. How so? We all tend to pick up idiosyncrasies, habits, traditions, and preferences from our families. In getting to know his family, you may find out where your husband picked up the belief that green beans are the only reasonable vegetable to be served with spaghetti, why he prefers his shirts be folded a certain way, or how he came to love stand-up comedy. Even if your in-laws have negative traits that your husband resembles, it’s beneficial to understand where these traits originated.
- They’ve known your husband for longer than you have. No matter how long you’ve known your husband, his parents and siblings have known him longer. This means they can share with you about his personality when he was a child and about the experiences he had while growing up. Whether these accounts are serious or silly, they provide profound insight about your husband.
- You can learn new tips and tricks from them. You likely brought into your marriage a lot of hints for accomplishing everyday tasks. You learned many of these from your family. For example, your mom may have taught you tricks for getting various stains out of clothing or tips for removing pesky odors around the house. Your in-laws have a host of their own techniques that you may find to be beneficial. For example, when my mother-in-law visited us recently she showed me a neat way to store the plastic grocery sacks that I keep on hand to use as trashcan liners. Her suggestion freed up a surprisingly significant amount of space in our pantry!
- You all love the same man. Regardless of how you may differ from your in-laws, you share a very significant thing in common: Love for your husband. All of you want what is best for him. Even if you don’t share anything else in common, you can use this as a foundation for building a meaningful relationship.
These awesome things are widely applicable because they are so general. There are a number of specific things that are awesome about my in-laws in particular. They are great storytellers. They’re extraordinarily supportive of one another and are emotionally close despite living in different locations. They love to laugh and are very humorous.
I pray that observers will be able to praise each of us with words as significant as those spoken of Ruth, daughter-in-law of Naomi, in Ruth 4:15. Consider your relationships with your in-laws. Whether these relationships are positive or negative, what is one thing that is awesome about them? What can you do this week to invest in your in-law relationships?