In-Law of the Jungle

Relating to your in-laws seems to have become a cultural joke, the subject of sarcastic and pessimistic books, movies and TV sitcoms. There is often a lot of pressure, probably the majority of which is self-induced, to perform well in front of your partner’s family. After all, these are the people from whom your lover was spawned and who molded him into the man he is today. Or at least molded him until he turn 17, moved out and let a smattering of influential college professors, all-nighters and beer pong mold the other bits.

But the truth is that you just want to make a good impression, even if you meet them before you know whether or not you’ll be marrying their offspring. You suit up in your best duds (with extra deodorant in case of nervous sweating), dust off the big vocabulary (but not too big, you don’t want them to think you are a pompous ass), and mentally review your resumé (exaggerating your charitable contributions). You madly love their son/daughter/brother/sister and you want them to see why their son/daughter/brother/sister loves you madly. You haven’t wanted someone to like you this badly since the first day of Middle School. And we all know how that turned out.

Lucky for me and those within smelling distance, I am now far beyond the nervous-sweaty-armpit stage. My relationship with Dave’s family is worlds better than all those worst-case scenarios that sitcoms portray, and the same goes for Dave with my family. Of course I still try to impress, I want them to see how much I care for their beloved David. I want them to realize that I value the undeniable and unchanging place they occupy in his heart. I want them to marvel at my domestic skills and physical agility. And I want them to think I’m hilarious. Correction: I want them to know I’m hilarious.

After a two-week visit with Kathy, Dave’s mom, and Julie, the younger of Dave’s two sisters, it’s more clear than ever how fortunate I am that he had such a loving life growing up (surrounded by oh so many women) and how helpful it is now to have their support and affection in our lives. Plus, Kathy can make more delicious baked goods than I can name here and Ju does an amazing Tina Turner impression. What more could I ask for?

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