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My in-laws celebrate an anniversary next month (March 20th).  Winter sports always remind me of my in-laws and I couldn’t help but ponder on my relationship with these two crazy cats while obsessing over the Winter Olympic games….

Lately, I’ve heard/read many people discussing their dislike or discontent with their in-laws.  I’ve heard terrible stories of cruel and unrelenting in-laws, determined to make their new addition feel unwelcome and unhappy, straining the new marriage.   With many of these stories afloat, many brides are apprehensive of this new family arrangement and aren’t sure how to act or respond to this new set of “parents”.  As a new bride, I struggled with the same.  Who are these people?  What do I call them?  How “welcome” do they really want me to make myself in their home?  What if they decide they don’t like me after all?????   (Funny fact: The first time I saw Clay’s dad, 10 years ago, he was screaming in the stands at a soccer game in a black vinyl Mickey Mouse jacket; I wasn’t sure WHAT to expect!!)  Believe me, I was REALLY nervous when I first met and spent any time with his family! 

I consider myself incredibly lucky.  Although Clay’s family is different than mine, I love the new addition of sisters, brothers and parents to spend time with, joke with, travel with, ski with and make plans with.   These individuals are added to your life to enhance it, not strain or destroy it!  Although I’m no expert on in-laws, I have learned a lot from my MIL and FIL:

  1. Skiing (water or snow) is an essential skill that must be attempted before becoming a member of the Kennedy family.
  2. The most acceptable way to watch a movie is on a 65″ flat screen, with an excellent surround sound system, at top volume.  Action or sci-fi thrillers trump chick flicks always.
  3. A combination of coffee, water, and orange juice in the morning jumpstart your day best. 
  4. West coast skiing trumps east coast skiing even with its best conditions.
  5. Uggs and the color orange – essential in every Kennedy wardrobe. 
  6. Clay is a handful.  Best advice I ever received: “Good luck!”
  7. Snow skiing!  After my first Kennedy family ski trip to Big Sky, Montana in 2002, and some incredible lessons from Dad K, I’m hooked! 
  8. The best kind of mac and cheese is homemade, not out of a Velveeta box!
  9. No one can ever have too many baskets.  They serve all kinds of purposes from trash cans to Christmas decor!
  10. Iron shirts still slightly damp and it won’t take so much effort!  Wrinkles come out easier!
  11. Inside voices???  =)  At the Kennedy’s, it’s loud, boisterous and lots of fun!  If you want to be heard, follow suit!
  12. Blueberry muffins and meatloaf DO make an excellent dinner combination!
  13. Playing dominoes with Gran is an essential part of any holiday gathering.  Usually gran wins.  Accept it; she has more experience!
  14. You might hate to cook, but somebody has to do it!  MomK makes every meal without a single complaint, although secretly she despises cooking!
  15. No good meal is complete without a delicious dessert.
  16. Coffee – enjoy morning, noon or night and often!

Although these are fun and trivial, I have learned some more important lessons from my in-laws.  As a wonderful example of a “tried and true marriage”, Dr. and Mrs. Kennedy (aka MomK and DadK) , prove that marriages can last; through thick and thin, love conquers all.  My in-laws are faithful, patient, and generous with one another and in their community. They are eager to help and are pillars of strength and stamina.  Although every couple has their hardships and downfalls, marriage takes work and effort and my in-laws prove it can be done. 

My best advice to young brides with in-law anxiety:  Be yourself.  Your in-laws will make the effort if you make the effort.  Don’t be selfish.  Although you and your spouse are forming a new family, you are still joining a family.  Be respectful of this family you are joining; your in-laws will appreciate this effort!  Certainly your in-laws will be kind and accept you, if for no other reason than your love for their son.  Be gracious and appreciative of their kind words and support and I think the relationships you form will surprise you!  Thanks MomK and DadK for your love, support and acceptance of me, quirks and all!

Share with us your in-law stories or lessons!  We would love to hear the impact they have made on your life!