by Kristen

Growing up, the term “in-law” intrigued me. It sounded so rigid, so strange.

In a family where bloodlines swirled with steps and adoptions and halves, where names on birth certificates were changed, where relational labels were liberally applied and where no one could be bothered to figure out the number of times removed—in a family like that, what was a hyphenated appendage like “in-law” worth?

Then in my twenties my brothers got married. First the middle, then the eldest. I had my very own sisters-in-law.

And I didn’t like it. I liked my brothers’ wives. I loved them (and still do)! But I didn’t like the terminology. It sounded as if I was trying to put distance between us: “this is my . . . sister-in-law.” I’d waited my whole life for sisters and now I had to introduce them at arms’ length? It felt wrong.

Maybe that’s why I smile when I hear my grandma refer to my dad as her “son-in-love.”

Law isn’t strong enough to hold family together, but love is.


This post is part of the 31 Days: Family series. Read the beginning, and see a full index of posts, here.

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