I married my ex for his family. They were loving and loud and in my business all the time. I loved it.
I grew up in a house that didn't know love. My parents never told me that they loved me and I never even saw them kiss. I assume they loved each other in their own way, but there was no affection. No hugs. No I love you. They were the complete opposite of my ex husband's family.
I met Dale when I was 19 years old. The first time Dale's mother kissed me I was completely shocked. I had been over at their house for dinner, and we were getting ready to leave to meet some friends. I thanked Sheila for dinner and she said, "You're welcome honey". Then she came closer and gave me a hug and kissed my cheek. I froze. I didn't understand why she would do that. I couldn't hug her back, it was just too strange.
When we left I asked Dale why she did that. He laughed and said "That's just her, get used to it". I told him I didn't like it. It was strange. Women didn't kiss girls. I wanted him to tell her not to do it again.
I remembered when I was 12, standing outside school, watching a student being dropped off by her father. She was a year ahead of me. She leaned over and kissed her father goodbye before getting out of the car. I thought that was the strangest thing I had ever seen. I can see it now like it happened yesterday. Such a normal thing, but it stuck with me.
Sheila did not stop kissing and hugging me, and over time I did get used to it. I began to feel like I was part of this close loving family. It became normal for me to kiss his mother goodbye. It was normal to hug or kiss any member of his family. I began to regard Sheila as more of a mother than my own. She behaved like the mothers you saw on television - loving, caring, laughing and always kind. Her house was spotless and she absolutely adored her children. There was no question in any of their minds that they were loved. There was no question in mine either when I was there.
With my own children I am affectionate and loving. I remember my ex mother-in-law saying to her daughter once, "Sherry-Lynn don't you leave this house without kissing your mother goodbye". At the time, before having children of my own, that seemed like such a strange thing to say to a 16 year old girl. Sherry just laughed and ran over to kiss her mom before running out the door.
I shudder to think of what my relationship with my children would have been if it wasn't for that family; if I had married someone who grew up like me without affection or love.
Looking back, I know that I stayed with Dale longer than I should have because of his family. They were love to me. They were my family. They accepted me as their own. I never doubted how they felt about me.
I have seen my ex sisters-in-law a few times over the past 5 years and they are always sweet and kind. But it's not the same. I am no longer part of their clan.A niece that was flower-girl at my wedding was recently married and I was not invited. Sheila developed Alzheimer's and barely knows who I am. I feel a void without them. There have been times where I have thought that my ex does not deserve such a wonderful family. He was so different than all of them. But they accept him and love him with all his faults. That's what families do.