Fed Up With Husband's Family
Dear Annie: My husband and I have been married for three years. Life together has been good since our relationship blossomed almost five years ago. But my in-laws have never supported our relationship because I'm not a member of the Latter-day Saints church, and because our relationship started while we were both separated but not divorced from our previous spouses.
When we get together for family events or vacations, my in-laws ignore me entirely (won't look or speak to me for days). If I am spoken to, anything I say is manipulated and turned into something it isn't. Nobody in my husband's family attended our wedding, and nobody reached out when I gave birth to our son over a year ago.
My husband is aware of their treatment, but he ignores them and pretends that everything is fine even though this has hurt me quite deeply. After my mother-in-law didn't show up for our son's birth, spread lies, said I wasn't welcome in her home and stopped communicating with us for almost a year, she wants to begin visiting to see her grandson. She visited a couple of weeks ago but didn't interact with our son, and when we explained how much she hurt us and how much we wished she was a part of our lives, she just blew us off without taking any ownership of her actions.
I don't want to be around these people. They are toxic, and I am much happier, and my marriage is much healthier, without them. My husband wants to spend time with his family. What should I do? -- Impossible In-Laws
Dear Impossible In-Laws: Family is a gift, and I usually suggest that we do everything in our power to hold our families close and make amends in times of conflict.
Your case is different; you must set boundaries to protect your marriage, your happiness and your son, who deserves an abundance of love and not the ostracism of his father's family. Exposing him to such negativity will do only harm.
Do not allow such toxicity in your home. If your husband wishes to see his family, he can visit them solo.
Dear Annie: After reading the letter from "Desperate for my Son," from the parents whose son was ignoring them, I noticed something that you didn't mention. Toward the end of the letter, the father mentioned that he and his wife were Christians and "love the Lord." He also said he didn't think his son was "following his earlier beliefs anymore," and that he was anxious to "get this fixed."
It's interesting that after all this time and separation, he is thinking about proselytizing to his son, rather than just meeting him wherever he is in life. Perhaps the son wanted to escape from this aspect of his father. The fact that he wants to "fix" his son's beliefs is a red flag for me, and possibly a clue to the estrangement. The father might be better off doing some self-reflection. -- Skeptical in NY State
Dear Annie: Meeting our loved ones where they are, as you say, is often a crucial part of maintaining difficult relationships. Thank you for your wise perspective.
"How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?" is out now! Annie Lane's second anthology -- featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.