I had a set of in-laws when I married. Some made me feel loved. Others made me feel tolerated. I don't plan to focus on them. The idea of this post is more about the family of the men I'm into.
Learning How to Cook New Foods
When I was younger, my boyfriend's moms always invited me into their kitchens. This is how I learned to make tamales. There's something about a girl willing to cook for a son that makes a mom want to give you affection. The first instinctive act as a mom is to feed her child, and here is someone else willing to do so. It was a time for me to learn, but a time for them to learn about me. Do I mind getting my hands dirty? Will I clean up after myself? Will I jump at his every whim and how else will I undo all that she taught him. Will I treat him poorly?
Someone That Understands and Still Loves Him
My favorite in-law bonus was the built in fan club. I have a gift for finding men that are more selfish than selfless. They tend to be stubborn and not easily coached into a shifted perspective. They tend to be dominant and aggressive. Of all the men I dated, not one escaped a moment of me thinking, "seriously? Is this what I want in my life?" At these times, I always knew that their family would get it. No one else would see selfishness or poor hygiene and still love the man I'm into like I would. Except maybe his mom.
Deeper Understanding of His Past
No one can bring out both the best and the worst in a boyfriend like his family. Typically, he's going to behave in a way that usually makes me feel like he wants to keep me. When his family is around, he's likely to be at his friendliest and happiest and in the very next phrase uttered from a sibling, turn into an angry person you've never seen.
There's a gift to being the new person in the history of a family dynamic. I can step in without the past clouding my judgement of the present. I can see the most benign comments as innocent where my boyfriend would see something said by a sibling or parent as instigating and malicious. I don't have history to mar the future like a sibling that has seen you with pimples would.
You Get to Glimpse into the Future
There's also a bit of fortune telling involved. You see their kid pictures, but you get a real life experience of nieces and nephews. You see how their siblings raise their kids and you can see echoes of what your boyfriend was raised like. Parents learn from their parents, or work really hard to unlearn what their parents taught and it's so clear when you watch your significant other with their siblings, nieces and nephews.
Will he have a receding hairline? Will he repeat the same jokes? How does he act around his family? Does he treat his mom well? Is he respectful to his Dad? How does he describe his family to you? Is it an accurate description or does he see things entirely differently from the rest of the world and is this a good thing?
Where Do Loyalties Lie?
How honest are they? Will they tell you when you're too good for the sibling they know, or cover every sin and fault he is capable of.
Looking in the mirror, I can't deny the ways in which I favor my Dad and my sisters. I never felt my emotional needs were met, and I'm almost paralyzed as a parent, trying to meet that need for my children. So much of who we are is reflected in the relationships we have, and the family we're given is so much more telling than the families we choose.