Today, during a goodbye hug my mother-in-law said, "love you" into my ear. I was moved and a little shocked, I didn't immediately reply with a "love you too", but I did manage to say it. I felt uncomfortable saying it back though--which left me feeling bad. It is not that I don't feel it but more because I think I have an inability to let people in and therefore have difficulty expressing vulnerability and reciprocating love. The fact is I do love Jeff's parents. They are loving, respectful of our independence, and supportive. They don't preach or offer unsolicited advice and are morally sound people. I enjoy spending time with them, talking with them, and going places with them. They are good parents and awesome Grandparents.
It has more to do with me. I don't want to let too many people into my inner circle. I have trust issues when it comes to parents. Likely the result of my relationship with my mother (which is inconsistent at best) and the lack of relationship with any father. My mother certainly hasn't set many examples of healthy and loving relationships (in any of her 6 or so marriages...not for lack of trying though).
I am trying to work on my ability (often times inability) to express love and affection. Jeff and I talk often about my emotional distance from people and the low level of affection I show. I am going to try and take some step towards opening up, attempting to be more affectionate and letting parental units in.