The first time I met my future in-laws, Luke and I hadn’t even begun dating. They came to bring him furniture in his new Atlanta apartment and Laurel asked him to invite some friends over for dinner. I was one of those friends. At this point, I had not spent much time with Luke, but I had a huge crush on him. I remember thinking that meeting his parents was a bit of a big deal. I desperately wanted them to like me; to think I was sweet and helpful and funny. I probably offered to help Laurel with food and cleaning more that night than I ever have again. Once Luke and I actually ended up dating, engaged, and married, this desire to be loved and accepted didn’t go away. I found myself loving the idea of joining a new family, but not knowing how to rest comfortably in it. I expected to immediately feel right at home and that didn’t necessarily happen because I felt I needed to tiptoe around and be on my best behavior.

IMG_4824Joining a new family can be complicated. Our expectations of who our in-laws will be and what they will be like are not always the case, for better or worse. Many times we may not even realize we have these expectations until they are unmet and we feel surprised or disappointed. Having hopes and expectations for what your significant other’s family is like is not necessarily a bad thing. It is when we cannot let go of these expectations that we can begin to resent or distance ourselves from our new family. Forcing our hopes on another person is unfair to them and to us. When we allow ourselves to experience others with openness, gentleness, and grace, we get the unparalleled privilege of creating space for them in our world.

I don’t know exactly when I began to feel more at home with the Griffiths, but it was probably somewhere around riding to the farm with Jim and talking relationships with Laurel. It wasn’t by figuring out how to best make them like me, but when I began appreciating and experiencing them for who they are.

So, no, your in-laws will not be just like your parents and they will not be exactly what you are anticipating, because no one ever is. Navigating with in-laws isn’t always easy, but it affords you an amazing opportunity to learn about yourself, about your spouse, and about your new family.

Today’s “in-law” post was written by Camilla, the younger half of our blogging team. If you missed our introductory post, you can catch-up here. Please feel free to comment. We would love to hear from you! 

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