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In-Laws, Religion and Politics, Oh My!

Our friends have wildly different beliefs than us, and we’re okay with that. But why does it feel different when it’s family?

Jack and I just enjoyed a lovely weekend with his parents.* The 'rents, as I have mentioned before, are VERY religious. Jack and I are not. They are also very conservative. Jack and I are not. Needless to say, as much as Jack and I both love his parents, visiting them usually makes for some tense moments. Luckily, they’ve stopped inviting us to church (or attempting to engage us in convos about Rush Limbaugh's awesomeness). But still, the difference in values can really bug us. It comes up way more than you would think, even though Jack and I tend to keep our views to ourselves (a topic that these users debated recently).

But check it out: During our recent visit, we spent an afternoon with one of Jack's oldest friends and her husband. They’re awesome people, and I always love seeing them. We’ve had some heavy conversations with them (think: politics, religion...even abortion). In most (not all) cases, we had opposing views. But it didn't bother either party. In fact, all four of us agreed that it was one of the best conversations we could remember having. Jack said it was cool to get to go back and forth with people who totally disagree with us, but who made such compelling and articulate arguments. We really got to see where they were coming from -- not that they changed our minds about anything (or even tried to).

So here's my question: Why can't I have this kind of empathy and patience for my in-laws’ views? I wish that I could bring that level of tolerance and respect into the conversations I have with them, but I'm SO not there yet. The best I can do is get up and go for a nice, long walk when one of them says something I find asinine. Do you guys have this problem?

*This goes out to the readers who will inevitably ask, "What's the matter with you? Don't you realize that Jack's parents will see this blog? You are a big meanie!" I've said it many times before, but I guess it bears repeating -- I write this blog under a pen name. None of Jack's family members know about it. Yeah, I guess they could find it if they were hard-core Internet detectives. But they are all (how do I say this gently?) crazy-old. Plus, they kind of have their own lives. So all is good in the hood.

-- Holly

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