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Whatever we think of our mother in laws there is no doubt that they are here to stay. When we take the plunge and say “I do,” should we pause for a moment to reflect?  The implications of those simple words are enormous,  blinded by love we carry on, without a care in the world. “I do,” should be re-worded to I take you and your family, and promise to accept them wholeheartedly, black sheep and all.

In every family there is always a black sheep. Often they are referred to in hushed whispers, a hidden family secret, or else they are tolerated in a jovial kind of way.  In our family we tend to have the hushed whispers type of black sheep.  In my husband’s case he fits the jovial type of black sheep, the youngest of five headstrong children. His father would call him “Davy Black the Coalman’s son,” denouncing his son was the fruit of his loins. Who could blame his father? His son was and still is,  a bit of a rascal. He would climb out of his bedroom window to go out for a night on the town, or water his dad’s whisky when he fancied a drink. Whether or not he deserved the term, Davy Black the Coalman’s son,  it stuck.  He liked to push the boundaries and still does.

Now I digress. Back to the subject of mother in laws. Well mine is without doubt a character. Well into her eighties, it doesn’t seem any time ago that she was in the play park, “beaming,” her term, for standing up on the swings.  She chats to every single person she meets so a quick trip anywhere takes a very long time! Even if she was just going  to pick up a few groceries, she would often disappear, leaving her husband staring out the window for hours wondering whatever had become of her.  I remember recently we were shopping for shoes, she was upset when she realised that my mind had wondered and  I wasn’t listening!  Like my father, she is a story-teller, a chatter box, an adventurer. Her  sense of adventure meant that she travelled abroad to work as a young woman. She is still young at heart, takes great store in her appearance, and likes it when handsome men offer her a helping hand with her luggage!

I do admire her sense of “joie de vivre”, and just hope that when I am in my eighties I am half as sprightly as she is.

Unfortunately, sometimes “joie de vivre” can be lacking and the joining of two families can be disastrous. This  can be evident right from the very beginning. Even before the cake is cut, the die has been cast. The symbolic cutting of the cake becomes like a dividing line, two separate teams warring for a slice. The marriage crumbles. The cake never stood a chance.

So whatever you do, check out your future husband or wife’s family, because marriage isn’t just about two individuals,  it is about a joining of two families. There will be disagreements, angry words spoken, this is part and parcel of life.  Even if two families have differing cultural and religious beliefs, respect, and tolerance go a long way to paving a long and happy union.

Photos courtesy of Google Images.

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