Why is that that we always struggle so much with our in-laws? It is because they show us why we have to work so hard; why we have to put up with attributes in our partner that we don't care for. Surely, you must have noticed that your spouse has to do the homework that his/her parents left for them, just as we have to work on the homework that our parents left for us. And we certainly mind that we have to chip in to help; who likes to work hard, right? So, put in a situation like this, why then should we have any charitable thoughts for our parents-in-law?
Why then, you will probably ask yourself, did I title this note "In Defense of my Father-in-Law"? Well, after I spent a day with my folks, the alternative would have been to beat up on myself and my parents instead. My father, now in his 80s, is afraid of so many things, while my mother is easily discouraged by any minor complications or obstacles she faces. And as it turns out, I have that struggle in me too, and find myself striving endlessly to leave it all behind. But when I was reflecting on this theme, I suddenly realized that my father-in-law, strained as my relationship with him sometimes is, has been a fighter all his life. I finally understood that he never gives up; always looking for an opportunity to turn a situation he is in to his advantage. Maybe he is not exactly the man I would seek out to spend a lot of time with, but given that he part of my family and my life, I might as well appreciate all the things I admire about him.
Every family always has some blessings to give, just in the same way as every family leaves behind a homework. Both my wife and I were growing up in a loving environment. And while my parents were not exactly lions, the upside in my situation was that I never had to live up to any elevated expectations; and for some reasons all the drive was in me anyway, without much external encouragement. So it turns out that compared to my wife, I am the more easy going in our relationship, while she had to fulfill pretty elevated expectations all her life and consequently worries a lot. Together we actually make a pretty good team, and just have the right balance of drive and peace to offer to our children. Actually, probably most partnerships are subconsciously chosen that way, to make sure that the union is whole. There is much upside in many relationships, but there is also a lot of work involved to grow together.
On my trip to Europe, I saw Russell Crowe's "Robin Hood" movie in which he carries a sword with the inscription, "Rise and rise again, until lambs become lions." When I saw that motto, I thought to myself that this is kind of my journey. All through my professional career I am forced to stand up for myself and leave behind that "meekness and shyness" that my parents handed down to me. Actually, given that I am born in August, I am literally a Leo raised by lambs. Well, thanks to a little kick in the behind from my father-in-law and my goal-getting colleagues, I am constantly reminded of the Leo in me.
Isn't that how it always goes? You have the choice to look at the glass half empty, and you can look at the glass half full. It is always your choice! So when you feel tired; when you are demoralized and angry, please turn the perspective of the situation you are in upside down. There is a silver lining in every cloud. Today, I sent my father-in-law a blessing that hopefully overwrites many of the curses that I mumbled into my beard when he stayed with us over the summer. He is in his late 80s now but is still a fighter and, quite frankly, an inspiration to be around with. Namaste Nanaji - blessed be your determination, will-power and love for us!