Dick & Deb are my in-laws and they are the best in-laws in the world. Really. In a culture where mother-in-laws are synonymous with overbearing, controlling matrons and father-in-laws synonymous with disapproving tyrants, I cannot relate. I've had a great relationship with them since I met them in 1998, when my wife and I were just dating. They came to town for her graduation and I met them that weekend. I was pretty nervous. I already had an inkling that April was “the one,” so this was a big meeting. Her parents and I hit it off pretty well. Over the next couple of years, I'd grow quite fond of them, and they of me. When I called them to ask permission to marry their daughter, their response was, “What took you so long?”
Things weren't always rosy with us, though they were never awful. April and I lived with them for two stints: right after we moved to Virginia and for a period of time after we bought a house in Virginia and were in the process of doing some renovations before we moved into it. Both of those experiences were trying. The first time, I was experiencing some melancholy, bordering on depression. I remember spending long amounts of time sequestered in my room. The second time around, April was pregnant with our first child, I was working and in school, we were both used to being on our own, and living with parents was tough on all of us, but it was finite and, despite frustrations, we worked it out just fine.
Dick & Deb are great. They are kind, honest, and incredibly hospitable. Since leaving Georgia in 2002, we've lived closer to them than any of my family. I've lost track of the number of last minute road trips we've taken to their house, just to get away. I find their house incredibly relaxing and refreshing. Having a hot tub doesn't hurt!
I think that it is their easy-going, family-loving nature that really sets me at ease. I'm just comfortable around them. I've never felt like I had to perform or to be someone I'm not. That doesn't mean I haven't tried to impress them. For a while, I mowed their lawn every time I visited. They were never impressed by that kind of stuff. They liked me for who I was, not what I could do for them. Though not their blood, I truly feel I am their son.
I'm also fortunate that they get along with my folks as well. When April and I introduced my dad and step-mom to her parents, we all went out to dinner. My step-mother and Deb ordered the same thing off the menu. Later, after we were married, they all went on a vacation together. Without us. Whose parents and in-laws do that?
When I was let go from my job, Dick & Deb were unhesitating in their support. Even when I told them that I would be taking their daughter and grandbabies across the country, they didn't bat an eyelash. Though sad to see us go, they have stood behind me (us) the whole time. Now, on the eve of getting my doctorate, they exude pride and gush over me like I was their own. And in a lot of ways, I am.
I am indebted to them for the daughter they raised. I love her like crazy and can't imagine who I'd be without her. More than that, though, I've been blessed with a wonderful relationship with a bonus set of parents. I respect them, honor them, and seek their advice just like I do my own parents. They are my parents.
If you are married and don't have this kind of relationship with your in-laws, I pray that you will. If you are not married, but plan to be one day, pray for your relationship with your future in-laws, that it wouldn't be a necessary evil, but an additional blessing. If you are married and have a good relationship with your spouse's parents, be thankful. I know I am.