Jenna, just married: In-law interactions

Jenna Stephens—Staff Writer

jenna column

Contributed Photo

After slow-cooking for six hours, the aroma of roast mixed with that of the white pumpkin candle burning in the living room. I finished meal preparations when there was a knock at the door.

“Come in!” I called from the kitchen. My husband, Conner, rushed to the door to open it like a true host. My mom stood on the welcome mat with my dad, sister and nephew right behind her. I’d been looking forward to this night for weeks after hearing that my parents purchased a ticket to fly my sister and nephew out from California.

Since going to college, and now moving into an apartment as a wife, I have discovered two new favorite things: having my family members over for supper and watching Conner interact with them. Books, sitcoms and sometimes our own families joke about the struggles of dealing with in-laws and spending time with them. I mean, nights like this could be really awkward if my husband and family didn’t get along. But it’s just the opposite – in fact, they expressed how great of a guy he was before I’d completely fallen for him.

Sometimes Conner is a man of few words and sometimes he carries the conversation. He especially excels at engaging in conversations about bridges and structures. So when my dad comes over, it’s Conner’s chance to talk about these topics with someone who doesn’t just nod with a blank stare (I study art, not civil engineering).

But when I’m laughing with my family about childhood memories or inside jokes, which only the original Wilgenburgs would understand, he’s still a good sport. Conner sits back and continues eating until he randomly throws out this punchy, witty, often hilarious comment that no one saw coming. My family laughs more now that Conner has joined us – my parents might even love him more than their own daughter.

And when he holds our baby nephew’s hand and strokes his cheek, my heart faints. Not at all to the point of inducing baby fever, but more like, “Wow, I love him.”

That night, between “Please pass the salad” and “So how are classes?” I realized how thankful I am for these relationships. It’s not always easy becoming part of a new family, but I am so happy Conner gets along with the people who loved me first. Or at least he fakes it REALLY well. Sometimes it’s nice to just sit back and observe their interaction. Slightly creeper-ish? Maybe. But that won’t stop me.

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