I was reading recently about a couple who was held captive overseas long enough to deliver four children, and it really got me thinking. First, I wondered why on earth would a person want to give birth while being held captive by terrorists? That sounds like the worst idea ever. I mean, since she was pregnant at the time they were taken, the first baby was not really optional, but the rest? Whew. Don’t sign me up for that.
When I tried to put my husband and myself in their shoes, it was incredibly difficult. Mostly because they went willingly on a backpacking trip in Afghanistan while she was seven months pregnant (I’d need to truly hear the voice of God for that). However, when I got past that bit, I still knew that this scenario would play out completely differently if it were us, because I am convinced that my in-laws definitely would have swooped in to rescue us well before we had time to have four children. A team would be assembled and we would have been home, safe and sound, in time to meet that first baby.
Now, you might think I have a little too much faith in my husband’s family, but it’s not just their military background that causes me to believe this. I just know that they would do everything in their power to save us because of how deeply they love us. That love is evident in every interaction between us.
My in-laws take my baby and allow (ahem, force) me to have some time to myself. They come over and insist on doing my dishes. They dote on our little guy at any given chance. I truly cannot think of a circumstance where I have ever felt unloved by them. Not even when we told them that we were in premarital counseling after dating for only three months.
I may have hit the jackpot marrying into this family, but developing and maintaining a relationship is a two-way street. They are very aware of this fact. My in-laws bend over backward to be there for us. For our wedding, they were in town from the rehearsal, which was two days before the actual event, until shortly after everything was torn down and put away. When we had our first baby, they were in the hospital with us that first night and stayed to make sure we got home safely (and had leftover pizza to tide us over).
They are always giving, always helping, always working to keep us connected. I am incredibly blessed to have them as another set of parents, and as grandparents to my baby boy.
Because I value this relationship and I am also attentive to the fact that relationships require work, we too make it a priority to see them on a regular basis, even though they don’t live very close by. We alternate who travels and strive to see each other at least once a month. When holidays come around, I sacrifice the holiday traditions that I grew up with to share our precious time with both sides of the family.
This relationship is important to both of us. We don’t have all the same beliefs or lifestyles, but we make it work. We find ways to compromise. There is always a little give and take. And this relationship is worth every hour spent on the road and every night away from home.
We have many years ahead of us, which will inevitably bring some conflict and grief. There are bound to be disagreements and hurt feelings. We are all human, after all. But here’s the thing: I know that things will work out because we are both attempting to make this relationship work. I can be confident because not only do I love my in-laws, but I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that they love me, too.