Growing up, I was always proud to say that I am one of seven children. Now, I can proudly say that I have one husband, one sister-in-law, three brothers-in-law, two significant others of siblings that are like family to me, three brothers, three sisters, two grandmas, three moms, three dads, nine aunts, six uncles, twenty-two first cousins (that includes one that will be joining the family soon!), at least four second cousins, three nephews, and two nieces.
We have marriage to thank for that.
They say that when you get married, you don’t marry one person; you marry the whole family! I had never anticipated having in-laws. To be honest, I thought that either my husband was going to simply get absorbed into my family, or we were going to live in our own bubble in a different state or country. Little did I know that I wouldn’t only be inheriting another set of parents, but a boat load of family members!
Remember when I told you that I’m one of seven? Well, my mother-in-law is also one of seven. So, mathematically speaking, my family doubled the minute my husband and I exchanged vows. My siblings also married, so I have in-laws within my own “blood” family as well. It is such a blessing that I consider all of my family members family, despite the fact that we’re not all blood related.
This family dynamic might sound like a sit-com to you, but it actually is a miracle. God used our family to show my husband and I that we were meant for each other. When I first told my mom that “I met someone,” she instantly burst into tears. “I have been praying for your husband for years,” she sobbed, “and now he is finally here!” At the time, it seemed a little dramatic, but her acceptance of my then-boyfriend made it easier for me to date him. In addition to that, I met my mother-in-law before I even met my husband! She tells me to this day that the moment she met me, she knew there was something special about me. My dad met my husband before I did too! He helps usher at church, and he remembers walking my husband and his family to their seats. The fact that our parents accepted us individually, positively affected our relationship.
Our extended family also eased the atmosphere. We may do things totally differently, but when we’re together, it’s like we’re, well, family. I first met my husband’s extended family on his twenty-first birthday, before it was even announced that he was interested in me (or maybe everyone knew besides me, I don’t know), his family was already showing me love and acceptance. My husband also passed the test of my side of the family. My siblings liked him right away, and my nieces and nephews joked around with himm which is their way of saying, he’s on the team! My husband and I are thankful that, although we don’t see eye-to-eye on everything with our family members, they are all close to us.
When there are moments we don’t get along, however, my husband and I do what we can to maintain our unity. While family can be a bridge that helps you grow closer to your spouse, some family members can also try to disturb your relationship with your husband. As Romans 12 says, do whatever you can to live at peace with everyone; however, make sure that your marriage is united. You might have to set some boundaries to preserve your marriage, but do whatever you do in love.
Families don’t come in neat packages. They come in all different shapes and sizes, with a plethora of personalities that cannot be contained. Some family members might offend you, while some might become some of your best friends. No matter what your relationship is like with your in-laws, my prayer is that you would see that in-laws are just more people with whom you have the opportunity to give love and receive love.