“You’re not only marrying your fiance, you’re also marrying your fiance’s parents.” My premarital counselor told us this when Mr. G and I went to premarital counseling a few months ago. He explained that the way your fiance’s parents raised your fiance will affect your relationship. Were they the type of parents who insisted on eating dinner together? Are they the type of parents who constantly hover? All of their parenting decisions affect your partner and sometimes your marriage. This has rung true for me and Mr. G. One of the main fights that Mr. G and I have is about his ease for asking his parents for money. I was raised with the notion that I had to work for whatever I wanted once I turned 18 and hate asking my parents for money, while Mr. G and his parents feel that he should ask his parents for money rather than get a loan from a bank or go into credit card debt. They are both very valid ways of thinking, and I have grown to accept that Mr. G’s family and my family are just different when it comes to things like handling money.
Mr. G and I live about a five-minute drive away from his parents’ house so we see them quite a bit. Mr. G’s family is very kind, but sometimes I feel awkward around them. I’m naturally nervous around people I don’t know well, but I also feel that there is so much pressure to put on a good impression since I’m the new daughter-in-law and the future mother of their grandchildren. I hate to say it, but even after a year of being engaged I still feel nervous after seeing them and hope I made a good impression.
One of the reasons I get so nervous is because our families are so different. Of course, there are the cultural differences since my family is American and his is Japanese, but Mr G’s family lived in America for about 25 years and I’m fluent in Japanese and have lived in Japan for about 10 years, so we are pretty understanding and accepting of cultural differences. Our families differ more personality-wise. My family is big and loud—I’m the middle child of five and my siblings and I are all about a year apart. Whenever we get together there is constant talking, interrupting, and lots of noise. Compare this to Mr. G’s family who are very quiet for the most part. Mr. G and I once went on a road trip with his parents where no one in the car talked for hours at a time. I couldn’t believe it. I thought about making conversation, but didn’t want to come off as noisy or too chatty.
My awesome, loud, talkative siblings
My family also loves to plan. If we go on a trip we email each other itineraries months in advance and make lists of things to see and do, while Mr. G’s family is more laid-back and just let what happens happen. Mr. G’s parents will be coming to the States with us for our American wedding, and I have been restraining myself from cc’ing them on emails and sending them constant updates.
How do you fit in with your new family that is so different from your own? I have yet to find out. So far I have been treading lightly and trying to respect the way his family works and not impose my beliefs on them, but perhaps I’m losing myself when doing this. Maybe the better way is to talk on road trips because that makes me comfortable or send trip itineraries months in advance so they can get used to how I work in these situations. Or perhaps the best answer lies somewhere in the middle.
How have you fit in with your in-laws or soon to be in-laws? Are your respective families vastly different from each other?