Can the “in-laws” still be considered part of the family once they become the “out-laws”? Yes they can, depending on the willingness, the circumstances and the attitudes of the people involved. Sometimes as adults we have to lay our hurts, anger, disappointments and relationship issues aside for the sake of our small children. Divorce is never their fault and children already suffer the consequences enough. Some of us are fortunate to have great in-laws and we don’t necessarily want those relationships to end just because a marriage does not work out. I loved my in-laws and still do even after being divorced from their son for many years. As with the children, our divorce was not their fault. For the most part my ex-husband and I have maintained an amicable relationship throughout the years and I’m really fond of his wife. They too deserved to find happiness after their previous marriages ended. Sometimes the tendency is for families to take sides during a separation or divorce. It’s better if parents don’t get involved however unless there are serious issues such as abuse, infidelity, addictions, etc. Then it sometimes becomes necessary for parents to step in and offer their guidance or support.
Last year our “family” celebrated Thanksgiving at a rented beach house. It was one of the best Thanksgivings ever! My biological family was there, my son’s “future in-laws” and their family were there, my “out-laws” were there as well as my daughter’s “out-laws”; we even included a couple of friends in the mix. Maybe the secret to this type of success is to celebrate the event on neutral or common ground. Maybe the secret is agreeing to lay our differences aside for just one day. Maybe the secret is acknowledging that family is important and that we all want to be a part of one; especially during the holidays and on special occasions. What a great example we give our children when we can demonstrate how grown ups can be hurt, yet still forgive; get angry but still get along; conduct ourselves appropriately in social settings by demonstrating love or at least respect for one another. By now I’ve experienced enough family gatherings to realize that a Norman Rockwell Christmas probably doesn’t really exist. The only Cleavers that I know of live in TV land and not Mayfield, USA. There are no perfect people and no perfect families. You can pick your friends but you can’t pick your family. The circle of love has a gate that swings both ways. It allows new people to come in and allows others to go out. Hopefully there will be more coming in than leaving.
Since we have officially kicked off the sometimes stressful holiday season, please share your stories of how you and your family (biological, in-laws and out-laws) come together and make it work.
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone! May God Bless You All.