Uncharted Territory: In-Laws

Here I am, about to type about my in-laws on their very own computer. It feels wrong. They are kind enough to host us in their home, to feed us festive holiday meals, and how do I repay them? By surreptitiously journaling about them on their computer. Well, in all fairness, I did do a lot of dishes this week, set the table often, and assisted with salad preparations.

Anyway, let’s cut to the chase.

What is my experience this visit? It being the third long holiday visit here, the second one since we were married.

Well, it is a complicated one at that. The first couple of days is always the hardest, as the walls begin to close in, and my in-laws’ strict religious lifestyle sneaks up upon me to smother me. I deal with this by going on walks, and jogs, and more walks.

Then the holiday starts and we spend time with several friends of the family whom my in-laws graciously host for meals. And along with that, we run into friends of my husband, as well as their adorable and kind parents, and many enriching conversations are had.

The community is warm and my in-laws are active, gracious participants in it, so I can’t help but feel grateful to be here.

That sounds so lovely, Gila. So why are you writing about it? You know, the world isn’t interested in happy, peaceful things!

Yup, I got that memo, and don’t worry, I ain’t done.

I sat down to write to get things off my chest, so here we go:

I went through a more religious phase in my early-mid twenties, so having to re-live it and feel the pressure and judgment of all of that is a pain in the butt. And yes, many who live this way may not be full of judgment, but I tend toward judgment and this gets highly activated inside of me when having to abide by their more stringent rules.

Then of course, deeper and sharper than it all, is the pain I feel every time I think that my father won’t be around for, G-d willing, the grandchildren, but my father-in-law will be. Oh man, this really gets me into a tizzy. It’s painful enough not having him around as a father, and a potential awesome grandfather, and then add to that, someone else being there in that role. It quite frankly makes me want to puke.

And it doesn’t help that I feel misunderstood and underappreciated by my father-in-law, in contrast to the unconditional love and support of my father – who was my greatest cheerleader.

As for my mother-in-law, she is a lovely woman, a real saint. She is 5 years older than my father would be if he were still alive (he passed away 10 years ago). And I suppose, that it is a comfort to have someone in a similar generation as my father. However, that too is frustrating, since my father was a runner and a health and fitness enthusiast, and I always imagined he would still be super young and vibrant in his seventies, and watching the normal aging process of another makes me really miss him and all that he stood for.

Getting back to my father-in-law, I have to say, that he too is a very good person, and I likely would not get along with him even if he was all butterflies and bubble gum, because, like I said, I miss my father and I am angry that he is gone.

Relationships with parents can be difficult. In-laws are famous for causing grievances. Grieving over the loss of a parent is a life-long, mind-boggling process.

I am sure that each person has challenges in these realms.

I thank you for reading about mine. And in so doing, I hope it gave you some comfort and awareness that you are not alone. Hugs to us all!

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