22 February, 2009

Monster in Law: Fact or Fiction?

We've all heard the horror stories about in-laws. We've all listened to the jokes, laughed and, in most cases prayed "it doesn't happen to me someday". I, like many others, have watched my share of "Who's Wedding is it Anyway?" and seen the horrific, fire-breathing in-laws plaguing the lives of the unsuspecting Bride or Groom who doesn't have any idea how inadequate they are. But is this true in real life? Does that have to be the way it is? Is this idea of the "Monster In-Law" fact or fiction?

I was raised by two incredible people. Like most girls today, I was raised to believe in myself, to be self-sufficient and to be honest and direct. I speak my mind, even if my position isn't the popular one, I try to do what is right and I try to fix my problems rather than sweep them under the rug and pretend they aren't there.

I have recently learned that to some, these are not traits to be proud of. I have learned that some families don't want a son/daughter in law to say what they feel. They want a daughter in law who allows bad social behavior and is willing to pass it off as a harmless personality trait that shouldn't be taken personally. I disagree.

I do not believe toxic behavior should be encouraged. I do not accept the idea that our nature as people should be used as an excuse to treat others however we choose with no fear of recourse. We teach our children words cannot be taken back once they are said. We also teach them to accept responsibility for their actions. If these are things are important enough to teach our children, should they not be followed during adulthood?

My relationship with my future in-laws has been severely damaged. Things have been said about my character that will take a long time to forgive. It will take me a long time to find the desire to allow trust to be rebuilt. But, sadly neither party is innocent in this. I have a bothersome tendency to want to bite back when I feel attacked. Regretfully, this week I bit back. I cannot take back the words I said, nor do I want to. I can admit my misstep, apologize and try to move forward. In the recent firestorm my relationship with Andy has been affected. I really had to consider if my love for him was enough to allow the kind of treatment I was receiving to continue for the rest of my life. This week, I wasn't sure it was. I couldn't find an appropriate place in that family and I wasn't sure I wanted to continue to look for one. All of this, 9 days before the wedding.

I am happy to report that Andy and I are fine. We are headed down that aisle in 6 days and I couldn't be happier.

Why all the doom and gloom today? I wanted my tip to be about something real and important. Please, do not apologize for who you are. Never let someone invalidate your feelings, if YOU believe they are justified. Do not expect to always be met with acquiescence, people when hurt are often irrational. If you are about to best your opponent with a verbal spear, remember where its coming from. Try to consider the feelings of the other side even if they don't always consider yours. ALWAYS be honest and direct but be tactful as well. (Tact can often be my own personal Achilles Heel.) Tactfulness is a useful skill. It may not always be appreciated, but it will be respected when the battle is over. But above all this, remember that your relationship with your soon to-be spouse should be first on your mind. Protect that. You are marrying the person, not the family. The fact is, they call it the "high road" for a reason. It's hard to find and even harder to travel, but it is always worth it.

So, fact or fiction? Fact. But how long it lasts is up to you.

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