In laws – Your Laws or Mine!

in lawsOne of the many relationships in human life is that of the In-laws. If you choose to get married, that is, or maybe get out of a marriage. An “in-law” has been defined as a relative by marriage as per it’s dictionary meaning. 

Life is all about forming relationships and one that comes with marriage, apart from your spouse, is a unique relationship of your in-laws. There are other definitions also:

Online Etymology Dictionary. 1894, “anyone of a relationship not natural,” abstracted from father-in-law, etc. The earliest recorded use of the formation is in brother-in-law (13c.); the law is Canon Law, which defines degrees of relationship within which marriage is prohibited. (

Clearly the above definition, says that the relationship is not natural, i.e not biological, it is formed due to other relationships which come into play in the life of an individual during the course of one’s life. Although In-Laws are relations by choice, they form a major part of an individual’s life, provided the individual chooses to marry or be in a relationship which might involve the parent(s), of the partner. 

Hence, all the more reason for an individual to work on building this relationship and keeping it active. Since it is not natural the effort required from both parties is a wee bit more than with those relationships which come naturally to us i.e. that of our own parents/brothers/ sisters etc.

How then does this work? Is there a formulae? Does it have to work all the time? Can we have a meaningful relationship with our spouse/partner even though we do not share the same comfort level with his/her parents/brothers/sisters etc.? Questions such as these and many more plaque most of us at some time or the other. 

There is no one solid correct answer to the above questions or any kind of similar questions. The reason being, these are pretty subjective and people dependent. Some might just work hard at maintaining a decent rapport with their in-laws and vice versa, whereas others would put in just the required effort, on the other extreme, there would be others who would hardly care, till the time they get the desired attention/affection/respect from their spouses. 

These relationships are 2 way street like any other, only difference being, it is a love triangle of sorts like Husband, wife and either’s parents or sisters or brothers etc. This relationship is delicate as an individual who has been a part of the family for almost 25 to 30 years of their life, will now, share the rest of his/her life with someone whom they have met maybe in last 10 years or maybe not met at all. How does this equation balance? It doesn’t. The earlier on we understand this, the better off we are in terms of managing these relations with the minimum amount of heartache involved. 

To fuel this ever fragile and delicate relationship, most women are subject to a huge dosage of daily soaps on television, which play high on the emotional aspect of relationships, the “In-Laws” relationship being the top rated one. Men, on the other hand are subjected to their women behaving like the soap queens, every now and then with emotional drama running high and television business soaring even higher. 

If there are 2 different people, there are bound to be miscommunications and misunderstanding and difference in opinion. My rules or yours! would surely come into the picture. How much to give in and how much to hold back. How much to accept and how much not to. How much patience and how much persistence. All of this depends on, how much we care and respect the relationship and each other. How much are we influenced by the societal norms and how much further we want to take this relationship? A lot also depends on how evolved we are at a personal level. 

Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist Zen Master Thich Naht Hahn says “you must love in such a way, that the person you love, feels free”. This applies to all our relationships and this can happen only if we love ourselves first. Once we regard ourselves in high esteem we would automatically regard everyone at the same level. Eventually this would lead no rules, nor yours nor mine. We will all be on equal plain. Free and peaceful and blissfully happy.

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