However, she's really different from my family, and I find myself really struggling with trying to "impress" her, or meet the expectations that I assume she has.
My family is not especially close. I email with my parents 1-2 times a month, talk on the phone every couple. I see them 1x a year, at the holidays, typically. We don't exactly dislike each other, we just ... aren't close. There are a lot of differences of opinion, and lifestyles, and a lot of old pain that still aches when we spend too much time together, like an aggravated old wound when you work out on it too much.
FSIL (future sister in law) is very family oriented. She writes me cards and mails them. She sends friendly emails.
It's a little disconcerting, to be honest. I feel like I'm on pins and needles trying to be hyper polite and friendly and responsive. I'm sure my brother is surprised as hell that I'm engaging with her; I've talked more to her in 2013 than I have to him. I guess it helps that she asked me to be in her bridal party; about 1/2 the communication is wedding oriented.
To clarify, I think it's great that she's family oriented, and maybe fresh perspective will actually help my FOO work through some of our ish, it's just ... feels WEIRD!
Is this normal? Anyone been through it? It is important to me that I build a healthy relationship with her, because I'm choosing to assume she'll be in my brother's (and therefore my) life long term.
Any BTDT stories of encouragement (or words of caution) to share?
My XH was an only child with elderly parents who I'd known for years, so there was virtually no transition then.
I suspect he will gravitate to her family and pull away from your family even more since family is important to her and yours will not step up to the plate.
So, in that instance, I would not want you to try to impress me, I would just hope to have some type of relationship with you. I am also big on repairing old family wounds and bringing families closer together. My MIL's always loved me....
I'm sorry your family isn't close. It doesn't sound like they are toxic. It just sounds like people holding onto old hurts. Why? Life is short. Family can be lost so easily. If something happened tomorrow, would you have regrets over anything unspoken or not worked out? (Sorry, this is my propensity to try to bring families together, please ignore if it wouldn't work in your case, there may be some pretty serious stuff here so I don't mean to make light of it ....)
The only words of caution, and I have never had to deal with this personally, is to just watch that she is not befriending you just to get info on your brother. I am so much more cynical than I used to be. But in most cases....I think it is wonderful when our family grows and adds a new person and especially when that new person makes an effort to engage with us.
[This message edited by NaiveAgain at 6:32 PM, March 31st (Sunday)]
I go completely out of my way to make the new ones feel comfortable and welcomed and safe. Because frankly if I didn't they'd run away screaming.
I am still close to XH's family. I retained SIL in the divorce (she Is my BFF) and recently his parents have renewed our friendship.
XSO and his family hadn't celebrated a holiday together in 30+ years. Till I put the idea in a few heads... his sisters and his mother and his. That was in 2010. Everyone loved that holiday. And that family has numerous FOO issues...
Someone new can change the dynamics of the family.. hopefully the changes are good ones.
Ama, if you like her... then go with it. My feeling is she is trying to impress you... most people coming into a family will want to do the impressing things. Relax, if you enjoy talking to her.. then open the door to a friendship. It may surprise you what happens within your family. I know I was surprised when SIL told me she doesn't divorce her friends.
Is this normal?
Change is normal, feeling weird during change, also normal.
Honestly, you should probably be upfront with her. She may find this totally norma, and when you dont respond, or take to long, she may be getting frustrated as well.
I would either call her up or meet up with her and flat out tell her "our family is not very close, we love each other, but we do not write letters or send cards much at all. I am really enjoying that you are bringing this in, but it may take some time for this to be a more normal activity for me and the family. Please do not feel like we are ignoring your or do not care, we just may not know how to respond right off the bat"
FWIW, I am a very group oriented person...I love hanging out, BBQ's, family dinners, ect....Dh's family, no so much. I have learned how to stop asking people over for dinner and we generally just have 4 or 5 BBQ's over the summer and everyone is invited.
i used the feel the same way about my xILs as you do your almost SIL. i "stepped it up" for them a little...it was easier with them than family.
i think explaining it to her is a good idea. sometimes the "real family dynamic" is only discovered thanks to small insights from the FOO. do her a solid and ease her mind. she is probably really concerned about her new family accepting and liking her, and probably feels like her efforts sometimes fall flat.
[This message edited by stretch13 at 10:13 AM, April 1st (Monday)]
life must be rich and full of loving--it's no good otherwise, no good at all, for anyone - j. kerouac