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Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The in-laws

(my father-in-law posing with me at the wedding...yeah...posing, that's right...we were posing.)

In-Laws. Its the underbelly of marriage that no one speaks of. Except Ben Stiller.

Actually, I have great in-laws. I love them, very much. They are like my own family...Therefore, I do not have any in-law problems (except I can't determine what to call my husband's mother so I just wait until she looks at me to speak to her). No, my problems are the types of problems you have with your parents. They are like a second set of parents, and quite frankly, I'm lucky to have them. I really hit the jackpot.

I have great parents. Seriously, they are award winning. But they live far away. My in-laws on the other hand, live only 15 minutes away. And since I started dating my husband seven years ago, they have taken me in as if I were one of theirs. For instance, every year I get yelled at by my CPA father-in-law for incorrectly claiming deductions on my w-2. He yells at me the same way he yells at my husband and his two other daughters. It is strangely comforting.

As a result, I act accordingly...I act like they are my parents. I do not afford them the courtesy I would extend to my boyfriend's parents...they get the same service that my own parents get. God help them.

And that's how it happened. A mere two months after my wedding.

I called my husband's sister and brother-in-law down in Baltimore to see if they needed help moving. My brother-in-law answered the phone and sounded a little off. When I asked him what was wrong, he said "we had some problems with the father-in-law today." I replied "really, what kind of problems?" and he said "you know how it is...father-in-law problems." to which I replied "If he is down there trying to help you, and you don't want him there, just tell him he doesn't know what he is doing and you don't want him around".

And only then did my father-in-law reveal to me that he had been pretending to be my brother-in-law. Yeah, you read it right. I insulted my father-in-law by making fun of him to ... him.

Turns out he was really hurt by the whole thing, which in turn hurt me. He said he felt unappreciated for all the help he gives us (he helps us work on the house all the time). So I wrote him this long letter about how much I love him and yadda yadda yadda...AND NOTHING. It was like the panda watch from Anchorman the Movie..."Day 3 and no word from my father in law"...

And that's the thing. No matter how much you love your spouse's parents, they still aren't your parents. It's a whole other family with a whole other way of doing things. And as the new wife, you need to figure it out and go with the flow. So the letter was a mistake. My family is big on cards, letters, expressing how proud we are of each other and how much we love each other (I got a card every other day from my parents through 4 years of college). But I'm not dealing with my family.

I'm dealing with his family. Not alot of card exchanging going on. A lot of getting up at 8 am on a saturday to help paint, or coming to pick you up at 1 in the morning when your car breaks down. In other words, while not verbal about it, they are pretty good at letting you know they love you. Right. Should have known better than the card.

Lesson number 492 about being a good wife:

Do not insult your father in law by making fun of him to his face.


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