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My Married Life: My In-Laws Are So...Different

Everyone in Jack's family is a devout Christian. We're talking bowing heads and praying out loud before meals in restaurants. Meanwhile, my atheist father thinks that Evangelicals are actively trying to bring about the end of the world by intentionally destroying the environment (in case you're curious, no, I do not agree with my dad's harebrained theory).

Suffices to say, Jack and I come from very different ideological backgrounds. So his family's habits took (okay, sometimes still take) time for me to get used to. The good news is that my in-laws have always been completely loving and kind to me, even when my behavior hasn't warranted it. I'm sure that there have been times I have visibly reacted to, or turned up my nose at, things they were doing. But if they've noticed, they've never let on. So even though I don't share their specific beliefs, I definitely respect them. These are people who really, really practice what they preach.

But it took us a while to get to this comfort level. When I first met my mother-in-law, she tried to make lots of Jesus-y small talk with me (i.e. “Which celebrity do you think would do the best job of playing Jesus if they were to make a film today?”), which made me very squirmy and resulted in many an awkward silence.

These days, she's figured out how to seek out areas of common ground. For example, we both tend to volunteer a lot and are pretty active in our communities -- great fodder for small talk. Oh, and we both love her son. So there's that. My guess is that religion will come up again big time when there are grandchildren on the horizon. I'm sure my mother-in-law will want to know if we intend to raise them with a particular religion -- a question I don't yet know the answer to myself. But for the time being, it feels like giving each other a lot of space is the way to go.

What do you think about your in-laws? What was/is the biggest difference between you guys? What was/is the hardest thing to get used to?

-- Holly

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