i'm almost afraid to ask

On my way to the lovely state of Michigan to speak to some women I just know are going to be AWESOME. Woohoo!! My dear friend Courtney is accompanying me on the 5-hour trip.

Well, I should say that’s the PLAN. It’s 10pm on Thursday night as I write this, and a Winter Storm Warning has been issued starting at 4am. (I’m supposed to leave at 8am.) If Courtney and I decide we’re too scared, Gabe the Babe will swoop in with his Cape of Fearlessness and drive me/us/the whole fam to Ohio’s Nemesis/Neighbor State.

I’m all about being flexible at this stage of the game.

Okay, here’s the deal. I loved, loved, LOVED your answers to “What Do You Call Your In-Laws?” Would you mind answering a couple more? No? Sweet! I’ve got a fun idea brewing in my brain…

You can pick one or answer both.

1. What is one thing your spouse’s family does that makes absolutely no sense to you?

2. What is one thing your family does that makes absolutely no sense to your spouse?

Feel free to sign in under a code name for this one!

Have an awesome weekend!

37 thoughts on “i'm almost afraid to ask

  1. Gretchen

    My inlaws are kind people. They’re just not my kind of people. Seriously. I will always love them, but wanting to hang out and just relax? No. Not in almost 25 years. Can’t get past the elephant-in-the-room issues that we aren’t supposed to talk about. I suppose it doesn’t make sense to them that we don’t see them as often as they’d like.


  2. Kelsie

    I can relate to Bethany. I am very blessed with both families. I’m so sorry for those who have real struggles with their families and in-laws. I encourage you all to trust that the Lord is perfecting you through it.

  3. Cheryl

    My husband’s mother died when we were first married, and his dad and step-mom live across the country from us. Until he remarried, his dad had very little contact with any of his kids. Even today, it is his step-mom who I know is really responsible for the birthday cards coming, keeping in touch by phone, the endless invitations to come visit them, etc. She is a real mom to them. Sometimes I wonder if something would happen to her, would his dad go back to the way it was before.

    My family? Let’s see. I know he thinks my mom is a drama queen and is very selfish at times, and he is exactly right. She is also very skilled at guilt-trips. He doesn’t understand why I often let this sway my decisions and why I choose to have peace over fairness.

  4. Carrie Doolan

    1. One thing that my in-laws do that doesn’t make sense to me is that they don’t plan ahead. It sometimes causes arguments between my husband and I. He has a crazy work schedule (which they know), we also only have one car (which they also know), and we live an hour away from them and my husband works an hour away from them and from our home so it becomes difficult trying to coordinate our schedules but in planning ahead I feel that it would make things a little easier.

    2. My husband doesn’t understand why my family and I talk so loudly when standing right next to each other. He doesn’t get that when we get excited about a topic we easily get louder and louder without realizing it and to him it sounds like we are yelling at one another.

  5. amber

    Let me preface by saying that I love my inlaws. I do. But what I can’t stand is that my father-in-law rattles his tea glass at my mother-in-law, and she goes s.w.i.f.t.l.y. to fill it up. The husband even begins to think about shaking his glass at me, and he gets the look.

    AND. My mother-in-law brings an ice chest of COOKED food to my house when they come visit. I’m sure she thinks she’s helping…but all I see is a huge flashing neon sign that says “YOU CAN’T FEED MY BABY.”

    Oh…you only asked for two. Sorry.

    Let’s see…my family is pretty much perfect so I’m sure that there is NOTHING that annoys the husband about our clan. Ahem. But I have heard him say that we are all a bunch of cheaters when it comes to games. We really don’t cheat…we just happen to have family rules and inside tricks that he and my BIL haven’t learned yet.
    Not our fault that they can’t hang.


  6. Omom

    As I read through these comments, I feel so sad. I have struggled with my inlaws having favorites and thought it was just something I dealt with, but obviously not. I am strangely comforted by the fact that i am not alone, yet totally saddened by it. Why do people play favorites? Is it the relationships are better with some? Is it because they live closer? I simply don’t get it.

  7. meghan @ spicy magnolia

    Reading some of these entries gives me knots in my tummy! Bless your heart as you mull through and write about them in more detail!! πŸ™‚

    1) How close my hubby’s extended family is to each other. Of course, I could expound if you want me to.

    2) That food (where we eat, what we’re having) is the center of our family holidays and get togethers as opposed to other activities. As Kay wrote above, it’s a Southern thing: the meal is the deal! πŸ™‚

  8. Mrs Lemon

    Oh – I thought of #2 – my parents tend to “adopt” lonely people and call them their kids, and thusly their kids are their grandkids. It’s not a huge deal, but it doesn’t make sense to my husband.

  9. Mrs Lemon

    1) have birthday parties for EVERYONE. Come on – let me plan my husband’s birthday party, please. (this aggravates him too, actually, so it’s kinda funny!)
    2) I’m not sure. We should have that conversation though.

  10. ConnY

    His family gets up at the crack of dawn when they have to travel or have plans … the like to be THE FIRST ONES there & get the best seats or parking space. If my father-in-law says we’re leaving at 6 a.m., it means be ready by 5:45 a.m. πŸ™

    My family says we’re leaving at 10 a.m. — and it means, we MIGHT be ready by 10:30 or 11 a.m. We don’t mind to sit in the back of a theater/church/arena … and it’s ok if you’re a few minutes late to something aside from appointments that are REALLY important.

    It’s the crazy morning people (his family) vs. the normal night owl people (my family).

    PS Safe travels! We’re getting several inches of snow right now – but I’m safely at home, planning to just be snowed in all weekend! πŸ™‚

  11. Bethany

    Wow, let me just say that I am blessed beyond belief. I’m having a tough time coming up with something that would categorize my in-laws as a whole. They’re a lot like my family, but each sibling’s family has their own ways that are different than ours. Does that make sense? I think we are one of the very few people who love both sides of our family! Both sets of parents are godly Christian people who are walking with the Lord, as are all the siblings. Incredible and totally an act of God. Whoa.

  12. wanda

    I think loving family is one of the toughest and yet easiest things to do. Knowing were all flawed in some way or another still doesn’t make it easy. I’ve been a daughter in law for over 20 years and there have been times when I wondered….what was I thinking?

    1) Since the beginning of our marriage…..I noticed the “favorite” game! My husband has a brother 3 years younger. He REALLY can do no wrong. At first it was annoying. 20+ years later…..it’s way more than just annoying! It’s HURTFUL!
    It even spilled over into our kids. They played favorites with a particular one and left the other 2 out of a lot.
    We moved away……far away and that has been one of the best coping methods ever. Sad, huh?
    We love them….but don’t have to put up with blatant in our face hurtful stuff.
    They rarely visit (they’re retired…we have busy teenagers) and we can’t afford to fly our family of 5 to them.
    It’s still a pretty good relationship…..but stepping back and not living close has been the key!

    2) Conditional love! My hubby thinks my mom’s way of loving when things are going great is a deal breaker. And it is.
    We don’t parent our own kids that way. But that is how I grew up. I feel sad for my mom….she didn’t know how to be a mom. She just did her best…and she wasn’t a christian then.

  13. whimzie

    Mary, are we related?

    My husband’s family hands out gifts all willy-nilly and it’s complete and utter chaos. My mother-in-law has three children and three children-in-law (or child-in-laws), eight grandchildren and four grandchildren-in-law, and fifteen great-grandchildren-in-law. That’s a lot of crazy in one room. Gifts have accidentally been thrown away, I never know who gave what to my kids, and gifts have been given to the wrong recipients (we have an Anne, an Anna, a Hannah, two Bens, two Amys, and a grandchild who has some of the family’s last name as his first name.) It’s enough to make me want to jerk up my skirt and scream.

    I’m certain that nothing in my family ever irritates my husband because we are perfect in every way. Oh, I kid. My husband’s just too smart to let me know what irritates him about my family.

  14. Sarah McGalliard

    1. What is one thing your spouse’s family does that makes
    absolutely no sense to you?

    HMMMMMM…. soooo many things… Where do I begin? ~First… they never went on vacations when the kids were young. Traveled to Texas every Christmas and summer to see family but no real vacations…
    ~Second… they plan NOTHING!!! And maybe I’m a little uptight in this area but I really don’t think so. They don’t even plan Birthday parties for the kids. For example, our nephew just turned 3. We hear nothing about a party so we hadn’t bought a gift yet (which I would normally do strategically and search for deals) we get a text message one Sunday morning during church (at around 11) that the Bday party is going to happen at 12:30 at McD’s. Well, that’s just great! I wasn’t really keen on going on a last minute gift run and spending $20. He didn’t get a gift. Sorry! Maybe if you’d planned I would have gotten him something really stinkin cool!
    ~Third…They do not proclaim to be Christians but at every holiday meal they ask my husband to pray. I’m glad it’s evident to them that we are Christians but this is just weird to me.
    ~And finally…They let their kids watch/listen to anything they want. UGH!!!! This is the biggest one for me. My hubby’s sister’s husband says some really off color (sexually) things. A LOT. IN FRONT OF HIS 9 YEAR OLD SON, 6 YEAR OLD DAUGHTER AND 3 YEAR OLD SON. I absolutely hate it. I mean, it offends me!!! My husband and I have already talked about how we are going to handle letting them know that these things will not be said in front of our children when we have them. Also, they use profanity in normal, everyday conversation. For no good reason (is there one in any instance?). They let their kids watch movies with nudity in them, offensive language in them. Movies that I would not be comfortable watching much less my husband much less my KIDS!!! Clearly that one gets me going.

    2. What is one thing your family does that makes absolutely no sense to your spouse?

    ~I can’t really think of anything that my family does that my husband has mentioned makes no sense to him. Perhaps he gets frustrated that they are pretty laid back (but not as much as his family!). He really admires that I was raised in a debt-free home and I have been taught those values. He also admires that we had vacations and we got to see all kinds of places and things growing up. He hates my mom’s cats, doesn’t understand why he has them.

    Sorry this is so long!!

  15. Emily Kay

    1. My FIL thinks that helping out with the grandkids is wrong b/c they’re OUR children so we should have to take them everywhere we go. So no free babysitting for date nights. πŸ™

    2. The way my mom tries to control her grown children’s lives and does not know how to be supportive. (This is the woman I love, but cringe deeply anytime I have to tell her I am, again, expecting.)

    (Feel free to ask me to expand on either of these if they peak your interest.)

  16. your new friend in Texas

    “I’m writing a book deal about how hard you are to live with. YOU have contributed so so much to my sanctification! So my goal is to help others learn to love their inlaws instead of kill them!”

    How does one write a book about inlaws without becoming the pariahs among inlaws? Ah, there’s the rub. And that’s why there are so few books about inlaws!!

    And I still struggle way too hard in this area to be giving anyone advice.

  17. Jen your cousin

    It makes no sense to me how everything is planned last minute in their family. A spontaneous get-together will be planned the day of, then I’ll feel guilty if we don’t go because we have something else on the calendar already (still don’t know if I create this feeling of guilt in my own mind or if it is actually coming from my in-laws).

    Thus, it should be no surprise that what my husband finds most nonsensical about my family is how far ahead we plan almost everything!

    These polar opposite situations cause issues when my in-laws what to do something spur of the moment, but we already have plans on that day with my parents – plan which have been on the calendar for weeks. It appears as though we are β€œchoosing” my family over his and has caused some hurt feelings. πŸ™

  18. deanna

    1a. First of all (you’ll find this interesting since earlier this week we talked about dishwashers), my MIL uses her dishwasher as a filing cabinet. I.AM.NOT.JOKING. Drives me nuts.
    1b. My in-laws have their own language. (Luckily my husband didn’t inherit this.) Let me clarify that I’m country and won’t hesitate to admit it. But there is a difference between being country and being redneck. My in-laws are RED-NECK! For instance, instead of “windchimes”, they have “windcharms.” And its not a “treadmill”, its a “threadmill”. Oh, and let’s not forget the “frencher-fries”. I found it being a little funny when hubs and I were dating, but now IT DRIVES ME INSANE to hear them talk!
    1c. Someone else mentioned this, but when we got engaged my MIL seemed so happy and wanted to be a part of everything, etc. Later I found out from another family member some hurtful things she had said behind my back. Unfortunately I’ve never been able to look at her the same way again

    2. My husband doesn’t understand the close-knit family I have. Including extended family. We all still get together for major holidays (July 4th, Thanksgiving, Christmas, my grandmother’s birthday, etc.) and I talk to my cousins/aunts all the time. My husband still has to adjust to the big family gatherings, but I think most of it is because he never had that growing up. He barely knew his grandparents and to this day has some cousins (first cousins) he’s never seen.

    Ok, I could go on-and-on-and-on but I’m going to stop.
    I’ve enjoyed this form of THERAPY. Thanks Marla!

  19. the in-law who doesn't exist

    Wow –
    #1a. His family pretty much doesn’t acknowledge that we exist. Dad & step-mom (his mom passed away very young) came to our wedding, and that was the last time we saw them, (4 years ago) with the exception of our oldest’s graduation last summer. We saw them for 15 mintues. I find it extremely strange and don’t get it. They have family christmas, holidays w/step-mom’s children. Don’t even receive card/phone calls. Obviously I’m missing something. Hubby says they are just distant and always have been.
    #1b. they still visit his ex-wife, went to her wedding (in our town) didn’t call or see us.
    #2a. I have a large extended family and like to spend time with them. it drives him crazy – but I can see why from what he is used to which is no family at all.
    #2b. The Christmas gift opening that was mentioned above – we too go youngest to oldest, one at a time, it takes forever and makes him crazy. Oh well. I’ve just accepted it and if he chooses to stay home, we bring his gifts and watch him alone.
    In-laws do need a book – thank GOD I am no longer in-laws with the former spouse. I would say they were a factor in our divorce. PTL that is in the past!

  20. Kay

    Hope you have a good weekend and a safe trip Marla! Blessings to you and those sweet ladies as you speak to them. How fun!

    1. My in-laws don’t eat the right foods at the right time. For instance, one year my sister-in-law hosted Christmas at her house and we all had to eat tuna sandwiches for Christmas Eve dinner. That just wasn’t right. I’m from the South where meals are deals (I made a rhyme !), and tuna just doesn’t go with Christmas for me. I could give you other examples, but I must go on to number 2 for the sake of fairness.

    2. I really can’t think of anything we do as a family that doesn’t make sense to my husband, but I do know it gets on his nerves when my parents visit and I ask my dad to do a few things around the house. My dad is the most wonderfully mild-mannered, loving man there is and he is a natural Mr. Fix-it. My husband is also a great man, but rarely gets around to fixing anything. So, when my parents visit about once a year I want to give my dad some stuff to do; otherwise he just has to sit in a chair all day and that’s not his style. So I ask him to fix this or plant that or paint this. My husband fumes. Finally, I think we may have gotten a grip on this. I’ve learned to ask my husband if it’s ok for my dad to do these things before I ask my dad to do them. We’re doing a little better with it now!

  21. LesLee

    I don’t understand why my in laws have a dining table with only 4 chairs but they have 5 people living there. It really gets to me since family dinners are so important to me. My MIL makes dinner then it sits on the stove for sometimes hours as the children (all now in their 20s but still living at home – with the exception of my hubby) come through and load their plates to eat whenever it is convenient for them.

    My family is very family oriented, my husband grew up without family dinners (or just quality time) and my family now (Mom & Dad, Sister, BIL,& their child, and my grandma) all still get together for dinners several times a week. We are always together, shopping, hair appointments, really any appointment (doctor, dentist, eye doctor) we just really enjoy being together and my husband doesn’t quite get it.

    I’m in for a book on in laws, I’d be happy to talk!

  22. Rachel

    Praying for travel blessing for you!

    I had lunch with a girlfriend yesterday, and you will laugh but we were just talking about this πŸ™‚ His famiy — there are certain rooms in their house that just are NEVER used, and you are not to step foot in those rooms, except for Christmas / Family Weddings / etc. For example, when you walk through the front door, to the right is the dinning room that leads to the kitchen. If you were going to the kitchen, it is a rule that you don’t walk the direct path to the kitchen through the dinning room, but rather walk around through the living room and down the hall. This one took me a while to get used to (oh, and the living room is now the kids toy room, so that rule has laxed up quite a bit from when I first met the family — I guess grandkids will do that to you!)

    My Family — He doesn’t understand why the food is bland. Another bigger issue is that my family likes to go places (whether to eat, just drive around, etc), and my husband thinks its crazy. For example — resturants — my family will travel 15-20 minutes to get to a resturant (as long at there were no other time contraints for the evening), whereas his family would only travel about 5 minutes to get to a resturant (unless there was advanced planning involved, and lots of people were planning on coming to dinner).

  23. jess

    1. his family-does everything too slow. EV-ER-Y-THING. get ready for the day/to go somewhere? lollygag for 2 hours first and then get going, maybe. or not- because it’s already too late so we might as well just stay home instead.
    2. my family–does everything too fast. efficiency is the goal at all costs. “milk it or move it” is the theme. if something does not NEED attention right now/is not 100% important (closing dresser drawers in my case ;-)), then it’s not getting done right now…b/c something else needs to get done righthisverysecond. and if you’re going throug ha green light, by golly, you’d better stay right on the bumper of the other person…you don’t want to leave a gap AT ALL because that’s distance you could have covered already by not staying still. πŸ™‚

    we’re trying to strike a nice balance in our little world. but, it’s a point of frustration for both of us with each other. (usually in a humorous way, thankfully! πŸ™‚

  24. Mary

    Oh geez.

    I could also probably write a book.

    1) Like someone else said, I am acknowledged as an “in-law” not a family member. That kinda irks me. They wanted family pictures at our wedding (AFTER the ceremony) that did not include me. I found that both hurtful and kinda weird?? They did the same thing when Jake was born. Big family pictures without me. Um hello? I just birthed the child!!!

    They also expect us to travel all the time (um difficult with a newborn) and don’t understand WHY it might be a little harder for us than for them.

    I better stop with this one before I really get out of control.

    2) Seth can’t understand why my family opens Christmas presents one at a time. I understand that it’s excruciating. It takes HOURS and HOURS. We go youngest to oldest and you have to open your present…talk about it…”I’ve always wanted this”…pass the present around (almost like a wedding shower or something) and then it’s about 10 more minutes before the next person goes. His family basically says “1, 2, 3!” and everyone goes to town and we’re done in 5 minutes πŸ™‚

    I’ve got lots more to say about in-laws. I think I might desperately need you to write a book about them!! πŸ™‚

  25. Jen Griffin

    1.) They don’t love on each other…hugs, kisses…NOTHING! They think love is buying gifts. ;(

    2.) We are all hugs, kisses and quality time! I think my husband would like to put on a coat of armor before walking in to protect him to the love attacks.

  26. KT

    1a) They did not do a lot together when my husband was growing up.
    1b) How they talk to eachother. Maybe it’s just a different way of communicating but it comes across as disrespectful. My husband and I have already talked about this at length.
    2) How much time we spend together and how close my extended family is to each other.

  27. Rachel

    Ha! I remember filling out your survey a few years ago. I wonder what I wrote!

    1. They don’t plan anything in advance. Now, I know you have to be flexible once in a while, but you can’t do everything by the seat of your pants. This is hard for me when we are on vacation. Especially with a 2-year old that is potty training and takes a nap after lunch! Things just need to be planned in advance most of the time.

    2. Probably how they can sit in front of the TV so long. He grew up in (very) rural Pennsylvania. He spent a lot of time outdoors and our family is more “indoors” people. We do like our TV…which is why my husband and I don’t even have one. It really sucks me in!

  28. Holly V.

    1. They don’t acknowledge me as part of their family. I’m an in-law, not a family member.

    2. The love of stopping and shopping while on a trip. He wants to get in the car and go!

    I think the saddest thing for me is that I always longed for a great in-law relationship. We’ve never had it and never will due to their choosing and that brings great sadness. πŸ™

  29. Heather Harmon

    I really do love Gregg’s family! His MaMa is a wonderful human being whi never, ever in 15 years has imposed any way in the decisions we make….but their religion is a sticking point with me. I love the Lord and I am so thankful to him for my life that I love. They are Jehovah’s Witnesses and while his Mom has never pushed anything off on to me I know she has him but it’s his Mom not mine right? Some of the things his other family members say and imply are aggravating. I do not believe the same things they do, I’m never going to and I do not ever want my children to be associated with their “church” or beliefs. Gregg and I have debated this subject to the point of arguing…loudly! Everyone is entitled to their opinion. That I do believe! That’s the only thing that bugs me about my in-laws it’s not a lot of things but the one thing that is there is a BIGGIE ;))

  30. Nicole

    Praying for your trip. Here in Tx we shut everything down at the first sign of ice…you are brave!

    1. NO gravy for their Thanksgiving meal?? What’s up with that??
    2. Laughing hysterically at really small/silly things. One gets started then all of us break into what my friend calls the smokers laugh…but we totally dont smoke!

  31. your new friend in Texas

    1a – the way they don’t treat their 3 children fairly. Some kids got cars, some got college paid for, etc. She still does – hubs’ sister is the princess, damsel in distress. She has a baby and MIL goes across the country and spends 6 weeks with her. My other SIL have our 2nd-4th kids and we barely get a meal. And SIL gets away with mur-der.

    1b – Passive-aggressive. I was not raised in a passive-aggressive home so the first few years of my marriage I was SO confused. Couldn’t understand why my MIL would be so nice to my face and then say things behind my back or zap me out of the blue, like, by showing up a hour late or canceling and offer to babysit when she knew I had plans, etc. Or, you know, making sure that everyone else in the family gets your husband’s grandmother’s heirlooms but you are passed over and get nada. Stuff like that. (But I’m not bitter.) I eventually learned that if you tick her off, you may never know why, but you’ll pay for it. Eventually, you’ll pay for it.

    1c- Why they refuse to acknowledge that we are adopting. Pretend they are deaf when the subject comes up, and never, ever ask questions. This is their GRANDCHILD we are talking about. Even if they don’t agree with it for whatever bizarre reason, they need to get over it and get over it quick.

    1d – Why she is only half interested in my kids. She lives across town, but only sees them every 2-3 months. They really don’t know her very well. I don’t get it.

    We have an Arms Length rule in regard to them now. Praises be to our gracious Lord, my husband realizes how his mom is, and ALWAYS chooses me over her. PTL PTL PTL.

    2 – Not sure. He certainly does not spend the time analyzing the crap out of my mom like I do his πŸ˜‰ He thinks my mom can get very critical, which she can. But on the whole he likes her.

    I was just thinking, Marla needs to write a book about inlaws, because I certainly can’t!! I am already the witch with a b in the family.

    You can interview me at length. I have many, many thoughts on the subject πŸ™‚

    Basically, in prayer time THIS AM, it occurred to me that how I treat my MIL is probably my greatest oppty to be Christlike. I prayed that I would see her the way that He sees her, and out-honor her today when she came over. Even though I found out something she did just last night that had my blood pressure go thru the roof.

    I thought about Ruth, and how for all we know, Naomi was a passive aggressive pain in the butt. To be honest, in the bible she seems a little difficult. And that other SIL split as fast as she could. And then as soon as Ruth and Boaz had their baby, Naomi called him “my baby”. You know that got on Ruth’s nerves. But Ruth verb-loved her anyway, and that spoke volumes about Ruth. I want to be Ruth.

  32. Jamie Nygaard

    1. They wear their shoes EVERY TIME they go outside and NEVER go barefoot! I think their poor feet don’t know what a callous is!

    2. Group zit popping time.

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