In-Laws: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Down the decades, one sure-fire source of wedding humor has been the relationship between a newlywed and in-laws. Is this humor justified? As with so many common sources of mirth, yes and no.

There are great in-laws and ones you wish you could divorce without losing your spouse. There are ones that seem to embody every warning tale and ones who defy all the old saws.

It’s been my fortune – both good and bad – to have known in-laws from both ends of the spectrum. Not, I hasten to add, all in my own marriage. By the time I got married, there was only one in-law left on Mr. Twistie’s side. And while Mamasan Twistie could be frustrating sometimes, she was, all in all, a tremendously good egg. Mr. Twistie was equally fond of both my parents, and has always gotten along with my brothers. We’ve been fortunate.

My mother was dead by the time Mr. Twistie and I married, but my father helped make the food, and bought handmade lace-edged handkerchiefs for my bridesmaids just because he was in Belgium and thought they would make nice bridesmaid’s gifts. He and my brothers did all they could to welcome Mr. Twistie into the family.

Mamasan Twistie welcomed me into her family as a beloved daughter. We hadn’t asked it of her, but she appeared at our wedding with a large platter of her homemade sushi. She just wanted to make sure we knew how happy she was for us.

But as I said, in-laws run the gamut.

On the other end of the spectrum, my brother the alpaca rancher wound up with some serious drama queens for in-laws. His mother-in-law showed up to the wedding in a long, lacy, white gown and scowled in every single photograph.

His father-in-law made dozens of demands about how the wedding should be conducted and how my brother and his lady needed to behave themselves if they wanted her father to show up. Then he didn’t show.

We didn’t miss him.

But I’m curious. What about you? Any horror stories about your in-laws? Any happy tales about how wonderful your in-laws are? Tell me the best and the worst.

7 Responses to “In-Laws: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”

  1. Amberdawn says:

    I feel really lucky at the way my inlaws have embraced me 🙂 My family has embraced Adam as well.

  2. Blossom says:

    My husbands mother is lovely and so is her partner, but his dad oh my goodness i have nothing nice to say about him. On our wedding day my husband was waiting for me as i was about to arrive. His father arrived late, seconds before i arrived. My husband gave him a wave. Before the ceremony was even finished (and it only was about 3 min at the most) his father stormed away, because get this according to his father my husband did aknowledge him enough. What was he supposed do? I don’t want to sound selfish but my husband was waiting fo me, so he could marry me, was he supposed to go over shake his fathers hand and say “glad you could make it to your own sons wedding”? Isnt that what you do after the ceremony go over and congratulate the newly weds? That and at the reception he dident come say hi and congrats to his own son till he had been there an hour, and he sat there till he went home (early thank goodness) with a sour look on his face and did not even try making conversation with my realatives who tried talking to him.

  3. Melissa B. says:

    My parents-in-law and my sister-in-law are fantastically awesome people — I really feel like I hit the in-law jackpot! My one slightly stressful in-law relationship is with my husband’s aunt. Auntie adores her nephew, but is rather dour and negative, and is not afraid to let you know if you’ve disappointed her. Witness this conversation from Christmas morning, after Auntie opened our gift to her:

    Auntie: “What is this?”
    Me: “It does X!”
    Auntie: “Oh. [clearly unimpressed] What about Y? Does it do Y?”
    Me: “I … no, just X.”
    Auntie: “But what if I want to do Y?”
    Me: ” … this wouldn’t be the right thing for that.” [feeling about two inches tall]
    Auntie: “I see.”

    If she said thank-you, I don’t remember it. I think her family is used to this, but this was my first Christmas after the wedding, and I was kind of crushed because Auntie is hard to shop for and my husband assured me she’d love X. I’m trying to learn not to take it personally.

  4. Any horror stories? I have enough for a book.

    But here’s one. In-laws come to the wedding with their own camera. My mom takes a ton of photos, but in-laws do not ask to be in them and my mom doesn’t ask them because why does she care if she has photos of in-laws? In-laws do not take one single photo with their camera.

    After the ceremony, we go to the lake for more photos, but in-laws return to the house to drink. A month later, I send them copies of my mom’s photos. They complain that there are none of them.

    And then. At wedding supper, in-laws are drunk (as usual). Father in law does not mention my name once in his toast. MIL sobs drunkenly to me that her only happiness was when my husband was a toddler. At least FIL did not insult my non-PhD family to their face, which was gracious of him considering derisive conversation about other people’s lack of education and refinement* is his favorite topic.

    * Yes, I see the irony in that as well.

  5. a meg says:

    I have wonderful in-laws. I would have married my husband anyways, but I might have married him a little sooner than I would have if his family hadn’t been so awesome. I figured, our families get along, I love them, they seem to love me, that is a huge amount of potential stress that we are so lucky not to have. And, as an only child, I freaking love that he came with a sibling with kids. The moment it really hit me that I got to be an aunt, I cried.

  6. La Petite Acadienne says:

    I definitely won the in-law lottery as well. My in-laws live next door, which could be the recipe for disaster. But they never drop in unannounced, they do not interfere with our child-rearing, and they invite us over for dinner often. If there is a snowstorm, my FIL gets up at 6am to plow out our driveway. He also did all of the finish work and all of the kitchen cabinetry in our house. Today, I came home from work to see that my MIL had mowed our lawn, and had left me a slip off of her yellow rosebush in a planter by the steps. If they’re going grocery shopping and there’s a sale on something they know we use, they pick some up for us. They share from their vegetable garden, will watch our baby on a moment’s notice, and they get along famously with my parents.

    And, they raised their son to be hardworking, respectful, and all-around awesome.

  7. Petite, when my in-laws are getting on my last nerve, I remind myself that they did one thing very well and that is give me my husband. I am grateful for that.