I am not an expert on marriage. I mean, I’ve only been married for sixteen months myself, so I know that I’m not really in a position to offer much advice on the subject. To be perfectly honest, I make mistakes every single day. I’m not as patient as I should be, I have a bad habit of holding things inside until the anger boils over, and I don’t always make enough time for Ryan. I’m aware of my faults, and I’m working on each one of them. Marriage is a serious business, and no matter how much love we have for each other, we still have to work at it every day.
There is one thingI would tell anyone who is in contemplating marriage, and that is: It is crucial to like and get along with the family of the person that you are marrying. In fact, you need to enjoy spending time with them!
Allow me to elaborate. When you marry someone, you will be spending a lot of time with that person’s family. If your significant other has a strained or non-existent relationship with his family, it might serve you well to find out why. (Not that it’s necessarily a bad thing, but I think it’s important to understand the dynamic into which you’re marrying.) A lot of people make the mistake of thinking that they are marrying the person and that the family doesn’t really matter. Wrong. When you marry someone, that person’s family will be yourfamily. You will spend holidays with them. They will be the grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins to your children. You will likely see them at their best and their worst, and they will see you in similar situations. Your life will forever be entwined with theirs becauseyou have married into that family.I have watched many friends wed and prior to the wedding, they’re already unhappy with each other’s families. And once the rings are on the fingers, it only gets worse!
I am very lucky. When I got married—actually, when I began dating Ryan pretty seriously, I immediately gained a second family. The Woodham-Dunbar-Whyte clan welcomed me with open arms, and I felt as if I was “one of the kids” from Day One. I truly think I found the best mother-in-law a woman could ask for—she’s very open and straightforward, and if she has any advice for us, she tells us and then supports whatever decision we make. She is generous, warm, and welcoming. And my father-in-law—talk about someone who wants to make sure that we are taken care of, no matter what. The love he has for his sons is so genuine and sincere, and I know that he is someone we can always depend on if we need anything at all.
(My bro-in-law, FIL, MIL, Ryan, me, Ryan’s grandparents, Ryan’s aunt, uncle, cousins, and other uncle and aunt at our wedding)
But the truth is, if Ryan’s family hadn’t liked me, I don’t think our relationship would have lasted. Why, you ask? Because Ryan is so close to his family! They’re a huge part of the man that he is, which is why I would tell anyone on the verge of getting engaged or married to observe how your significant other interacts with his or her family.
First of all, I watched how Ryan treated his mother. He clearly loves her, and they have a special bond.). I believe that a man who respects and admires his mother will likely respect and admire his wife. I also watched the way that Ryan interacted with his father, because I know that Mr. Jim was Ryan’s role model growing up. He was the primary male figure that taught Ryan had to be a man. I saw the way that Ryan expressed his love for every other member of his family—his brother, his grandparents, his aunts and uncles, and his cousins—and I had no doubt that his strong sense of family was exactly what I was looking for in a spouse.
(Ryan and Me with his grandfather in the Fall of 2016. We brought our families together so everyone could get to know each other a little better before our wedding)
(Ryan’s cousins Laura and Cara when I asked them to be bridesmaids in our wedding)
I hope this wasn’t too rambling, but I really started to think about this over the weekend. We celebrated Ryan’s grandparents’ 60thWedding Anniversary, and I was so pleased to be a part of it. The more time I spend with his family—my family, now—the more that I realize how awkward life would be if I didn’t get along with Ryan’s clan. Every time we were together could feel forced and unpleasant, and I can’t imagine how stressful that would be.
So take it from me: marry into a family that you love and that loves you. I truly believe that you will have a happier, lasting marriage if you do.
And on Thursday, I’ll share why I think it’s so important for your family to like the person you’re marrying!
P.S. After some serious thought, I’ve decided that I’ll only be blogging two times a week–on Tuesdays and Fridays. 3x a week has been tough for me, and I think I’ll be able to deliver better writing if I’m not really pushing myself.