I’m trying to get to the bottom of this: what is it about in-laws? It seems to be a nearly universal phenomenon, that no matter how congenial they are as people in and of themselves, in-laws as in-laws inevitably annoy. Caro wrote about this recently with an eloquent economy, while Tara has also documented some particularly difficult moments.
What has caught my attention about this phenomenon is how differently T. and I feel about the same objective events, but how similarly we feel about what is categorically similar overall. In other words – I quite enjoyed having my parents around for a month (by and large), but he was on the verge of going postal about two weeks in. Conversely, he quite enjoys sharing the baby with his parents, while I basically can’t wait for them to leave.
This despite the fact that, generally speaking, our respective in-laws are good people, and nobody (so far) has done anything particularly objectionable. In fact they’ve all tried very hard to be as helpful as possible and respectful of our space. It’s just having them around that pleases the one partner while annoying the other.
My theory at the moment is that this has to do with the attachments we form with our own parents as infants and small children (I’ve been reading a lot about attachment parenting), and how at a very profound level these persist through adulthood. I find comfort and peace in the presence of my parents just through the complete familiarity of their voices, faces, mannerisms. I imagine that T. feels the same way about his parents, a thought which helps me deal with the irritation.
How well do you get along with your in-laws (if you have them)?
p.s. I’m wickedly amused by the fact that I wrote this post while they were sitting across the room…and feeling appropriately guilty since the fact that they were holding little V. freed me up to type with both hands…