What Staying With Your In-Laws Teaches You About Your Marriage

For the record, I consider myself pretty lucky when it comes to the family I married into. Still, my spouse and I have been together for more than 10 years and my in-laws house, while homey and cozy and totally warm and welcoming, just doesn’t feel like my home (it’s way nicer and much more tidy). I’ve learned a lot from the times we’ve visited though, and I’d go so far as to say there are things you can only learn about your marriage after visiting your in-laws. Their traditions are different, their norms are different, and it’s not as if my mother-in-law follows the exact same recipes that my mom does when she does the holiday cooking (although it would be awesomely nostalgic for me if she did).

For years, my husband and I lived in a different state than my in-laws, so holiday visits meant we were staying in their home for a somewhat extended period of time. While staying in anyone’s home for days on end can be taxing, at your in-laws’ you’re making an exerted effort to remain on your best behavior so as not to give them any reason to assume their child might not be super happy, now that they’re legally bound to you and all.

As you might imagine, these long (albeit lovely) days come filled with lessons to be learned and milestones to be reached. In fact, I’d even speculate that there are things you can only learn about your marriage after you’ve stayed at your in-laws’, up to and definitely including the following:

How Refined Your Nonverbal Communication Skills Are

And by “nonverbal,” I mean both those intense eyes that say “we must talk about this right now," and the noncommittal shrug when everyone else is discussing a brisk walk in the cold while you’d rather sit by the fire. I think the gentle knee pats that say, “I’m super into you right now but your parents are in the room so this is all you get," also qualify.

Whether Or Not You Can Be Intimate When Childhood Pictures Of Your Spouse Are All Around You

Or, another form this question may take is, “Can you be intimate in the same place where your partner made out with their high school crushes?” I, for one, can sympathize with anyone whose parents still live in the house where they grew up. Thankfully, my husband and I are exempt, so thanks for moving, parents!

How Patient Your Partner Can Be When They’re Continually Called Upon For Tech Support And General Household Maintenance

I mean, I don’t blame anyone for tapping him for help; I do it, other family members do it, and even our friends do it. I’m just endlessly impressed that it never seems to faze him, it’s as if he doesn’t even notice.

How Patient You Can Be When Your Partner Is Continually Called Upon For Tech Support And General Household Maintenance

On the other hand, I do start to notice when my husband is absent from the room for a lengthy amount of time. It’s cool though, his mom and I have lots in common.

How Your Partner Feels About Nostalgic Childhood Keepsakes

In our case, my husband is not super emotional about various relics from his childhood. I, on the other hand, am slowly but surely implanting various pieces from mine throughout our current home. At this rate, the takeover will be complete in about 17 years.

Who Your Partner Gets Their Quirks From

Although, let the record show that I’m definitely not saying my in-laws have quirks and what on earth made you think that? Don’t be silly. *cough*

How You Both Behave When You’re Disconnected (OK, Less Connected) From Technology

Both my partner's parents and my parents have wifi, so we’re not totally off the grid when we visit. However, the expectation when we’re with our families is that we are not giving in to all our normal tech-related impulses. This is usually much harder for me since I love me a good endless scroll through social media. That said, I fully believe in the value of taking breaks, and luckily my partner’s always there to help me through my withdrawals.

How Developed Our Own Identity, As A Family, Is

In the moment, this one can be tougher to pinpoint. However, over the years I’ve noticed that I’ve gotten much more secure in my relationship with my husband. Family visits and the holidays are always a good reminder of just how far we’ve come.

How You Manage Potential Conflicts When You Have An Audience

On a related note, I’ve also learned to never interfere when anyone else is petting one of the family dogs. It's just not worth it.