If you know my family, you know that we like to talk and chitchat and visit when we get to be together. It's rare that we're all together anymore, so when we have the chance, we squeeze in all the conversations we missed out on. I might be doing dishes with my mom, or making salsa with my sister, or carrying groceries in with Dad, and talking about mundane things like "there was this one time I was making dinner for Ian and I forgot I ran out of onions, so I used onion powder!" or deep things like "and so when I started doing devotions again, it felt as good as coming home after a long absence."
Being with Ian's family for Christmas 2006 was interesting. They don't (necessarily) bond by talking--they bond by being in the same room together. Seriously: they have spent entire afternoons sitting in the same room and reading books, occasionally chuckling aloud. One of them might get up and get a glass of water and show love for the siblings by offering to get them a glass of water, too.
And then--those ice storms hit, and we lost power for the last 4 days of our visit. (Thankfully, we had water, because we were on the town's water system instead of having an electrically-powered water pump!) It was cooooooold! By the time we left, it was colder inside the house than outside, because at least the sun was shining outside! Whew! No electricity also meant no TV, no movies, and even though I brought my sewing machine along--no sewing. What's left? Nothing, but reading, reading, reading. Ack!
Imagine--gregarious me in that situation! Hah. It was a learning experience, to be sure. And learn we did! I learned to relax and learn how to 'just be together' and my new family learned how to chitchat and visit and talk with me.
We're still learning, though. Ian and I each retreat to 'default mode' when we're tired or stressed out, and my being quiet or his talking with me becomes an act of service. Sometimes it's sacrificial service! When I spend time with my in-laws, I'm learning to re-think what 'bonding' is: it doesn't always have to be chitchat. There are other perfectly reasonable and fulfilling ways to do things like bond and share family affection.
Question: How do you bond? If you are married, how do your bonding styles differ? Have you figured out some of the 'ropes' between you and your in-laws?