On Inlaws

We are rapidly approaching our trip to Tennessee to see my Mom, Sister, Aunts, and other relatives. It’s times like these that I am reminded just how different my and my wife’s family are from one another. I grew up in a household where any objections to a particular action was a gauntlet thrown down for a verbal duel. No only means no when you’ve reiterated it at least five times and after being told at least four different ways your objections could be overcome. This was certainly how wife’s family operates. I think this often means my family is seen as pushy and argumentative. My wife is frequently telling me “do you have to argue everything to death?!”

The fact that I see that as a good and actually enjoyable thing further iterates this the environment I was raised in. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong but it is family. My wife’s family and likely her culture (she’s Norwegian) couldn’t be further from my own. I won’t be as presumptuous as to describe how I think her family is because I wasn’t raised in that environment. It would only be dime store psychiatry for me to do so. I will say only say that based on what I’ve experienced everyone spends an enormous amount of energy trying to anticipate what everybody else really wants but is too modest or shy to say. Reading between the lines isn’t a hobby it is a full time job. I apologize in advance to my wife if I’m completely off base but it is my perception.

This trip is making me nervous. My Mother’s suggestion of buying denim shorts was countered with my explaining how his Michelin Man Vanilla Tootsie Roll legs need more stretchable material. That was promptly foiled by an explanation from my Mom of how we could get them just big enough that his thighs would be OK. That was enough to get the exasperated hand throwing in the air from my wife. After the call I was lectured by my wife about how my Mother never knows when to take no for an answer and how she feels she’ll really have to set some boundaries with my family.

I don’t disparage my wife for feeling this way. I really don’t. I don’t think she’s being unreasonable. I just think she’s different and realize she was raised In a different family environment. Not better, not worse, just different. I don’t think my Mom was being unreasonable or different either. She was just being Mom.

When my wife asked me if I would support her “boundary setting” I responded with a definite yes, That’s my job as her husband. She’s the Mother of my child and my role is to support her whether I understand these “offenses” or not. I trust my wife and her instincts. Could it cause friction with my own family? Yes. But I have confidence in my ability to handle it if it arises. I have confidence in my family also to accept my wife’s parenting style. Above all else I have confidence in my wife that she will always do what she believes in her heart is the absolute right thing to do with our child even if I don’t understand how denim shorts could be such big deal.

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