Relationships with in-laws come in 3 ways: Like. Dislike. Neutral.
My dad came from old money but my grandparents didn’t finish college nor barely finished high school. He has 7 other siblings – all were very successful: 5 medical doctors, 1 dentist and 1 nurse/nutritionist. My dad was the lone accountant amongst 8 children.
My mom came from a set of parents who worked hard to earn money and became successful. She grew up in a comfortable environment. My grandfather was a business owner, highly educated with a degree in law but didn’t practice it. My grandmother was college educated. Unfortunately, when my mom graduated from college, her parents’ business collapsed. They didn’t plan much for their future.
When my parents’ worlds colided..
It was the typical work relationship that most of you have heard. My parents met at work and he was my mom’s boss. Their relationship blossomed, got married, and then had two children. But, their marriage started very rocky. Not because of them but for the reasons that my dad’s parents did not easily accept my mom as she wasn’t one of those who came from old money.
Even though there were challenges with my grandparent’s resistance, my parents never allowed them to distract their devotion for each other. My mom continued to show respect when opportunity arose. She never once asked my dad to choose between her or his parents. Nor, did she ever place pressure on my dad to not see my grandparents because she knows how much he loves them. I remember asking, “Why aren’t you upset with them?” And, she said, “I love your dad. I love those who he loves. I know how much this hurts him…so why make it difficult? One day they’ll come around.”
And, that “day” came 20+ years after when both of my grandparents got ill. My dad never believed in nursing homes and wanted to care for them. But, how can he take them in their home when they didn’t fully accept my mom? He was torn.
When my mom saw that my dad seemed distraught after visiting with his parents, she asked why. He told her how it hurt him so much to see them get old and sick. She knew my dad’s wishes of caring for them. Then my mom said, “Why don’t we take them in our home? I can arrange one of the rooms to be theirs and we’ll hire two nurses to care for their medical needs. I’ll manage the rest.” My dad’s tears couldn’t roll fast enough down his cheeks and hugged my mom ever so tightly. And she continued to say, “No need to cry…I do this because I love you – it’s as simple as that.”
My grandparents passed away in our home after 5 years under my parents’ care. Before they died, my grandmother said to my mom, “Why did I make it difficult for you?” And, my mom said, “That’s the past, I’m glad you’re here and I’ll do everything to care for you.”