Since the beginning of time loving brides and grooms have had the privilege of picking out their life partners. However, it’s a different story for the groom’s mother when she becomes partners fused together with her daughter in law after the “I Do’s.” Mother in-laws have shared that at first they find their new role was a daunting challenge especially if she wasn’t consulted or didn’t give her consent. But it’s a challenge that can be overcome the mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationship is without question is like a complicated dance.
Yet, by the very nature of the relationship, the two are expected to immediately move freely and beautifully in synchronized harmony. Rarely is this connectedness and closeness realized overnight. He does, She does but what about you, the mother of the groom can you take her? The candles are lit, the room grows with a soft yellow hue, the groom, the pastor, and the wedding party are in place at the altar. As all eyes eagerly watch the closed-door at the chapel’s entrance, suddenly the air is changed from the sweet stillness of anticipation to the first notes of the beautiful music chosen for the wedding processional. As the doors swing open, the bride’s heart races at the sound of the melodic cue to make that long-awaited, slow walk down the aisle of matrimony.
But as the song plays, the lovely bride does not realize that she is not the only lady in the room who has been cued by the music. Her mother-in-law to-be is also called to respond to the melody! While the young woman in white moves gracefully with the music toward her chosen one, the song calls the mother of the groom to graciously step to the side. In reality, the wedding processional is not just for the bride, it is also a cue for a lifelong dance to begin for two special women in one man’s life.
How true it is that so much changes for a family when the adult children fall in love and marry. Suddenly that are new members who, by decree of law and circumstance, are expected to be embraced and included into the fold. By all means, the challenge is a daunting one, especially for mother-in-laws and daughter-in-laws. The daughter-in-law who may have chosen to join with her husband in holy matrimony has to face the challenge of being joined in holy matrimony has to face the challenge of being joined in a holy alliance with the rest of his family. By the sheer nature of the relationship she is expected to melt into a household of family members that are often unfamiliar and at times very different from her family of origin.
The reality is that every holiday, every special occasion, even the continuance for the coming generations pivot on the choice to unite families through marriage. Whether the parents-in-law or the adult children realize it or not, the choices that are made are life-altering for the entire family. For most parents, the grace to love and enfold those new family members by law is a mere continuum of the parental love they enjoy with own kids. However, there are those situations that may require an attitude adjustment. What does a parent do when their child’s preference of a mate is contrary to their personality or taste? Or what if the offspring ventures outside of their culture, social class, or religion? Is is possible to accept and even cherish the chosen one when they are an unnatural fit? And what about the daughter-in-law? What is she supposed to do when she’s thrust into a new family that may already established traditions, modes of interactions, and common activities that perhaps she doesn’t readily accept or enjoy? She, along with her mother-in-law, can find comfort in knowing that they are not the first to venture out on that sometimes slippery dance floor.
My friend Jane had always dreamed of the day when she would fully embrace a daughter-in-law with the same energy and vitality with which she loved her own daughter. The two of them always had best of times, they could shop-till-they-dropped with the best of them. Their home was full of the two of them laughter and talking throughout the house when they were together. To Jane’s thinking, adding a daughter-in-law simply ment one more girl with whom to chum around. However Jane’s daughter-in-law was not like Jane’s daughter. She didn’t readily laugh a lot, and she seemed to always isolate herself from the rest of the family. For instance, when the other women were in the kitchen preparing the meal for a family gathering Jane’s daughter in law would sit all alone in the living room quietly leafing through a magazine.
I asked, Jane if she encouraged her to join them and her answer demonstrated the patient wisdom she possessed. Jane replied, “No.” As much as I would love for her to feel comfortable being with me and the rest of my family, I’ve decided to give her space enough to choose whether she stays in the living room or comes into the kitchen. For too long, she’s had someone telling her what to do, and when she didn’t do it fast enough, she was punished. Jane didn’t want to be another person demanding to have their way.
Jane went on to say, I love her and I believe in time she will feel that love. Until then, I will continue to be patient and understanding. “She’s a wonderful wife to my son and that’s all she owes me.” My friend Jane might have selected a different life-partner for her son when Jane found out that her son was marrying a woman who had a bad life and had been previously married to a man who beat her and her child but instead she decided to love, respect and except her daughter in law the results were amazing.
Jane learned valuable lessons over the past few years as she has invested into her daughter-in-law. The two women have since grown amazingly close and continue to do so. Jane’s understanding and kindness has been instrumental in healing hurts of a lovely young women. Jane did it right, and she has reaped the joyous benefits of her choices. As you establish a rhythm of love and grace, you’ll find that you and your daughter-in-law/ mother-in-law can dance a loving and joyful dance too!