To have a solid basis in the creation of this text, which concludes in a very simple way, I chatted with all kind of people, with different genres and backgrounds, researched online, read magazine articles, anonymously introduced into virtual forums, took notes about conversations nearby and saw my surroundings and myself in a mirror, to provide my assessment, ideally based on a sociological reality.
Today the term "family" has several meanings. In a broad sense, it is "the group of people mutually connected by marriage or descent", although it is also provided to a lineage, a race, a dynasty, etc, etc.
Addressing directly to the term that deeply calls my attention, not only for the ordinariness of this topic in interpersonal conversations, for its recurring presence in print media articles, its strong role in therapy - both family and personal - with psychoanalysts, its role as a promoter in a vast majority of marital separations, its inspiring and creative resource in jokes, satires and reviews and extensive participation in the many emotional catharsis between friends and brothers, but also the universality - meaning property of the whole world - that characterizes it as complex and conflicting, I will take you with me, if I may, to sit on the bench this demonized group of which we are all part in one way or another: the in-laws.
In-laws, defined simply as the spouse's family, occupy one of the first places in the list of everyday conflicting relationships.
Before the wedding, and in very different ways after this event, a man and a woman who marry build relationship bridges with the families of his and hers.
The respective parents (in-laws), siblings (brothers/sisters in-law) among others, begin to treat the son/daughter , brother /sister in-law more intensely, finding out - as it becomes obvious in every relationship - that there are changes and adjustments in the way they all relate, even with the own son/daughter, brother /sister.
We often say that the “aggregate member” (son/daughter, brother/sister in-law ) was a better person - or pretended to be - when " wanted to sympathize in order to get our approval," but if we are fair and objective, we should accept that the counterpart would think exactly the same - and react to it with a defensive change because during courtship or in the first months of marriage, it seemed that everyone took his/her respectful place without crossing the boundaries of the personal family role, which usually has alterations as time progresses.
Commonly the in-laws (according to what I got with my research) think, although don’t say it, that their child chose wrongly, that decision was precipitated and the son/daughter, brother/sister in-law does not have the qualities they wish. This becomes a substantial part of the conflict, because what is considered a quality to some, is simply a feature of little importance to others.
The everyday reasons that generate the problems, are often too ridiculous for those of us outside of that In-laws family... But once they are moved to our own one, they take the unimaginable dimensions that become transcendent.
I have noticed, as I'm sure you too, that if the formed family, the one that is "observed under the microscope" takes a new decision that is far from the usual one of the previous home, or an unexpected answer is given to the in-laws, this final one deliberates that the son/daughter, brother/sister was badly influenced by his/her spouse (in-law) never believing that the final decision could have been agreed as a team within the formed family (or sometimes simply by the son / daughter, brother /sister ) because it was considered best, period.
Everything that is satisfactory to the in-laws: attending an event, the graceful look of the grandchildren/nephews, remembering birthdays of the in-laws, the good manners, etc., is automatically scored as the idea, creation and decision of the son/daughter, brother/sister... But instead, if there are uncomfortable things for the in-laws: NO for an answer to an invitation, an unsuccessful job, an unattractive grandson / nephew, etc., they immediately judge without any hesitation, that the son / daughter, brother/sister in-law is the guilty one of it. We cannot conceive that it could be our own son/daughter, brother/sister who may have decided or intervened in a different way to which we have idealized.
Of course there are cases that can be a subject to write a novel, in which sadly, a member of our loving family begins to form a new one, choosing a noxious, toxic or very distant person to us and seeks by all means and without any apparent reason to keep his/her new family, as far as possible from our own. However, we must remember that it was our own inbred who decided to bond with that person. The novel could go on with countless characters that are an everyday conversation subject, here and in China: those members of the in-laws distinguished for being intrusive, gossips, insecure, jealous or possessive, lacking a life with an own story, nosy and conflicting, with attitudes that denote some privation; real human beings that surpass fictional villains.
I haven’t the secret recipe to transform us into perfect in-laws family members (from one side or the other), since it is pure utopia from its mere nature and combined with the ideological, religious, behavioral, social, educational, etc., differences, typical of human beings, that bring as a default and inevitably, the emergence of disputes. However, although it might look like a cliché, I think, as millions of people, that if we fully and consciously apply ourselves the task of "be and let be" , of NOT intruding (without reaching the extreme degree of indifference), of NOT providing advices unless they’re requested, of NOT judging without knowing what's in the background of the formed new home, of waiting to be invited before assuming that we are, of earning the affection naturally, of understanding that the way to express affection and gratitude to everyone is different, of stopping the silly competition between different types of love among roles that have nothing to do with each other: son, mother, father, daughter, spouse, etc., of respecting the famous RIGHT of others, then surely we will become, if not the favorite people of our in-laws, then in human beings that can live and coexist in a harmonious environment, leaving aside the unnecessary oath (subtle or direct), the offensive allusions, the reviews, the direct or indirect quotes, the bad gestures, the scorn, the discomforts and disappointments, comparisons, etc., since we start accepting just as it is and precisely with the charm of the differences, the member who joined our family, for a voluntary decision of one of our own.
Disapproving the “insider” just because, is like doing hara-kiri, since we’re underestimating our son/daughter, brother/sister pointing out that he/she made a bad decision, as well as with our wrong and negative attitude we just push away our son/daughter, brother/sister and the subsequent generations, because it is very likely that this beloved one will choose to support and tend to his/her new family.
Long live love ... And if it does not exist or cannot be naturally created ... Long live peace and respect.
My hug for you all,