Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Mothers and Daughters (in-laws)

The Berry Family 2014
with all the inlaws and outlaws included.

When you are standing at the alter and say "I do," not only are you gaining a spouse, but you are gaining an entirely new family as well. This can be a daunting prospect depending on how your own family dynamics were growing up. 

Let me preface this entire thing by saying that I have been truly blessed by my in-laws. They accepted me without question and we have had a pretty smooth relationship over the last 21 years. I know exactly how blessed I am for this. I've heard all the mother-in-law jokes and listened as my friends shared their horror stories of in-laws who made their lives as seemingly miserable as they possibly could.

Until two years ago I lived directly across the driveway from my in-laws for eight years. Included on our little compound was my husband's grandparents. I used to jokingly call it the "Berry Commune." We lived on 100 acres and respected boundaries - literally and figuratively. My children spent many of their formative years there. My youngest was only eight months old when we moved on to the property. He was eight years old when we left. It was our own little piece of heaven. One of the hardest decisions we made was to move an hour away from our extended family for my husband's work. The mitigating factor that had us really thinking hard if it would be a good move or not was the fact that we would be moving so far away from family.

The relationship between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law has been fraught with strife from the beginning of time I'm sure. I won't go in to all the reasons for it as that would simply take far too much time for me to write or you to read. However, I will share some ideas on how to make it work from the perspective of one day being a mother-in-law.

I'm going to keep it very simple...if you had a mother-in-law who treated you poorly, do the exact opposite of whatever she did. If she was constantly giving an opinion when one wasn't asked for, resolve to not do that. If she dropped in to check up on things seemingly all the time and without notice, schedule your visits. If she offered unsolicited advice on how to raise her grandchildren, make every effort to only offer advice when asked. 

I'm praying that when the day arrives, I can eagerly welcome a daughter in to my life. I hope that you are praying for the future spouse of your child. Remember that as much as you love your child, God loves them more and has a wonderful plan in store for them. Our job as parents is to help guide them on that path but we can't force them to take the road we think they should. We need to step back and allow God to work in their lives. His plans are far better than anything we could have ever imagined.

Thankfully I have had two great examples to follow, my own mother as well as my mother-in-law. I know for a fact that there were times my mother did not approve of someone one of her children was dating (including myself). However, she held her tongue and prayed - a lot I'm sure! She allowed us to come to that realization ourselves (thankfully I did before I ever said I do!) and I'm sure she thanked God profusely. I'm also sure that there have been times when my mother-in-law wanted to give an opinion about something that was happening in our young lives when her son and I were first married but she didn't. We have a great relationship and I'm so very thankful.

If you have not been blessed enough to have someone to look to as an example, either your own mother or your own mother-in-law, look for another example. Resolve to be different. Resolve to follow God's instruction on how we should act with one another.

If we follow God's lead on our relationship with our married children, it's more apt to be easier. I'm not saying it will be easier, but I'm saying it can be easier. Remember, we are called to love everyone - even difficult in-laws. 

Lisa is a wife to Bob. They just began their 21st year of marriage. She is also a mom to three boys (ironic, no?). Her oldest will soon be 18 but still has one more year at home. Her middle son is 13 and her youngest is 10. She also stays busy by homeschooling her children and watching a two-year old (a boy of course) full-time as well as other assorted children as the need arises for family and friends. She is very active in her local and state homeschooling community. She is also a very avid reader, enjoys writing, loves dancing at Zumba class, and checking Facebook a little too often. Lisa strives daily to become more Christ-like. She is reminded often of the Lord's mercy and grace and is thankful that He is so gracious to extend to her on a much needed basis. She lives in Maine on her own piece of "no-where land" with her family.

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