Friendship,  In-Laws

Your people are NOT My people


What’s all the hullaballoo about marriage and in-laws? Do some women really ask God for husbands without Moms out of fear? If they live in another country, then in-laws shouldn’t really be an issue, right?  Haven’t we flogged this in-law matter enough!? I have had the privilege of attending a couple of bridal showers recently and the questions above are some of the thoughts and issues that came up. Hearing too many things about marriage and in-laws can be tedious, but I strongly believe that hearing little or nothing on this matter is a recipe for disaster, so stop complaining and read on. ha-ha.

While thinking about this subject matter last week, it occurred to me that I had focused mainly on the in-laws I would marry into, you know, stuff like their initial response, our personalities, whether we would have good banter or whether I would have to go on a 7-day dry fast before every visit or encounter with them. These were the kind of thoughts I had before I even met my husband. Now I’ve met him, we’ve kinda just carried on.  My in-laws are currently living outside the country so we haven’t really gotten to know each other in close proximity.  I don’t know if that will change in the future but for now, we have some sort of ‘normal’.

I have however realized the other side of the coin, where I am the dreaded in-law someone else has been praying about.  The children of my Father’s household all have strong characters and carry a certain ‘presence’ when in the company of others.  Yes, some have called it pride or arrogance; but we simply call it confidence, both in who we are and in what God can do and has done in and through us.  I personally do not apologize to anyone for this confidence, but I understand it can come across the wrong way. That’s a little background anyway.

So, I attended a bridal shower a few days ago.  Before I got there, I was in the ‘planner’ mode.  I stuck my nose into everything to make sure all the plans would come across without a hitch, and I really wasn’t bothered about what anyone else was thinking because, in the end, we all wanted the same thing – to make the ‘bride-to-be’ feel loved and appreciated and excited about this next phase in her life. At one stage, the ladies who had been assigned the job of planning just left me to do whatever I wanted.  Now I would like to assume that this happened because they saw I was getting the job done and were thankful for my help, but looking back, I may have over-stepped my boundaries.

We got to the venue and friends of the bride started coming.  I got there early with my daughter and joined the two ladies who were decorating.  If they had a plan, I didn’t ask.  I just started doing what I thought was best.  I decided how the chairs should be arranged, how the table should be set, where to place the cake stand and where some of the decorations should go.  As other people came in, I asked (or maybe I should say ordered) them to help out, and a couple of them actually gave me an odd look that sort of said ‘who do you think you are?’  Again, I wasn’t bothered as long as the job was done.  The room looked lovely and we were ready to properly begin the shower. More than half of the group was running late, and I mean really late.  I fed my daughter and got her to sleep, and we waited……

Eventually, people came and the lovely Bride-to-be also arrived, looking stunning with smiles everywhere.  We started the programme and I took a back seat, trying to learn some things about my incoming sister-in-law which I had not known before.  I can’t remember exactly what I said at one point, but one of the ladies looked at me in shock and said “is this what she is marrying into?”  she said it with a bit of a laugh and I honestly was not offended. But as I thought about it, it dawned on me that in that particular moment, I wasn’t just me i.e., big sister to the groom, but I was representing the groom’s entire family tree! Anything I said or did was a total representation of who the family was and what this lovely lady would experience after her wedding day.  I started wondering if people would change their minds about my brother or start to feel sorry for his bride because of my actions.  I didn’t really say much after that as I was too tired anyway but I didn’t want to put my foot in it even more.  I still took some initiative during the programme but I made a very conscious effort to include the original planning committee in every decision I was intending to make.

You need to understand that I love my new sister-in-law very very much and I really wanted her to enjoy her day to the fullest; but by the time I was leaving, I looked around the room and realized that I wasn’t the most important person seated. All these women that had taken the time to attend the event were all apart of the Bride’s life and every one of us had our place.  Being the in-law didn’t give me more rights in her life than any other friend in the room.  The planners were so grateful for my input and the bride herself kept thanking me but I learned a lesson I won’t forget to soon. Marriage might be bringing me closer to her family, but her people are not my people, so they won’t do things my way, and we won’t always do things their way – we don’t even come from the same country!  I had to get along with her family and friends, (and not make a scene) for her sake and for the sake of my brother.  I’ve heard of couples having heated and bitter arguments prior to the wedding and even on the wedding day, just because some family member or the other forgot that the party was not about them!

So, if you are that Uncle who took her to school every day when she was five, or his Grandma flying across the oceans to attend the wedding or the generous cousin who is paying for half the wedding, you don’t have the right to make it about you!!! It’s THEIR wedding and THEIR marriage. When Jesus said, “Each day has enough trouble of its own.” He wasn’t joking! The couple has enough to deal with between themselves without us adding petrol to the fire!  We can still live peaceably with each other and behave ourselves in public amidst our differences, and who knows – given half a chance, we might actually like each other!

Keeping it real

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