In-Laws and "Family"

I went to a friends wedding this weekend, and a lot of old friends from back in the day were there, and a good amount of them were married as well. Only one couple had a child (which many of us think may have been the reason behind the marriage, but anyway…). All this young love got me thinking about something:
Say your child gets married, and about a year later or so, your child dies leaving their spouse alone. They never had kids. In the following years, how much a part of your family would this person be? Would they be invited to family reunions and the like, or once they remarried (or just after the grieving period), are they pretty much “out”?

I don’t have any children, but I’ve often thought about what would happen if something were to happen to my SO. Would I still be a part of his family? Would they want me around as a reminder to their son? I would hope they would. They are like family to me.

I imagine this would vary from one family to another, and from one person to another. I think the world of my inlaws - they’re very nice people - but if I didn’t have my daughter and I lost my husband, I don’t think I’d remain close to my inlaws. I might write once in a while, but I can’t see myself visiting them or inviting them to visit me. Same goes for my husband and my parents.

The fact is, if I’d only met my inlaws as, perhaps, neighbors with no family ties, they’d never be more than passing acquaintences. We don’t have a lot in common. In fact, I can say the same for my own parents - I’d never choose people like them as friends.

This varies from family to family and different situations. My grandfather was married for nearly 20 years to my grandmother, and had three kids. She died of cancer, more than 30 years ago, and my grandfather (and his “new” wife, my for all effects granny) have remained part of my blood granny’s family. They still are invited to family reunions, talk to each other, keep in contact, attend funerals and memorial services, etc. My grandfather was well loved by his inlaws, and they continued their friendship after his wife’s death.

My aunt was married for around 20 years, then separated and while waiting for final divorce, widowed. She didn’t get along with her in laws since the beginning, and nothing changed after my uncle’s death. They still know about each other, mainly because they live in a small town, but they don’t want to have much to do with each other.

It depends on the people involved Elvis (or should I call you Rojo?). I’ve had a step-family for 26 years and my relationship with them is vastly different from that which they have with my bio-siblings. My stepbrothers’ (3) kids grew up with me around as Uncle Ringo, but they hardly know my brother and sisters.

And my sisters…, well, one of 'em’s not, really. She’s my cousin, whom my parents took in when she was three, and became legal guardians of when she was five (my aunt had a chaotic journey through life that precluded parenting). She grew up with me and I regard her as my younger sister, but my older sister does not.

Familial relationships are defined by the parties thereto, and people’s take on such run from those, such as myself, who tend to embrace any connection to those who are far more aloof.

My stepmom died four years ago and that has resulted in a looosening of ties with some of my steps. But I guess part of what you’re looking for might be revealed in the fact that my dad died many years before that and stepmom kept me in the loop.

Methinks this a murky post. Hope it helps, pal.

Yeah, it depends. My aunt has been extremely close to her former in-laws for the 20+ years since my uncle died. She has remarried, has a child, but that family is still her closest family. The rest of us kept in contact too–some of them came to my wedding, and we went to the MIL’s funeral.

OTOH, if you never liked each other much in the first place, you might be just as happy to let things die.

My family is like the mob: Once you’re in the family, you’re in for life. And, like the mob, you can be a complete jerk and get “removed” from the family. It’s just a lot less bloodier.

If you act and feel like family, we’ll gladly reciprocate.

(E.g., I had 4 sets of grandparents. Visited “relatives” in Chico who were: my great uncle’s widow’s grandchildren via her second marriage. Nice people.)