I first met my husband’s parents after we were engaged. It was the longest three-day weekend vacation of my life. I sensed that his mom wasn’t happy about something, but I wasn’t sure what issues or problems she had. On our last night there, my future husband told me that his parents simply didn’t like me. I was devastated.
The weeks that followed were difficult to get through. My boyfriend had to accept the idea that his mom in particular wasn’t supportive of him being with me and I was dealing with issues of rejection and hurt. It appeared that his parents were concerned that my job as a carer would have me living off their son who would have to work extremely hard to earn enough money for the lifestyle his parents believed was his due.
We began to make plans for our wedding despite his mom’s continuing animosity towards me. Things took a turn for the worst as they tried to convince him that I was a problem, that I wasn’t “The One” and that he was making a huge mistake. They never spoke to me directly or to us as a couple about any of the issues they had.
At this point that I couldn’t stop thinking of potential scenarios in which his parents would sabotage our wedding or convince him to call it off. I felt depressed, overwhelmed, and helpless as my fiancé did everything he could to allay his family’s fears for his future.
And then one day, my fiancé broke down, saying he didn’t know how we were going to make it as a couple with his parents being so dismissive of our relationship. At this point I knew that we both had to fix boundaries with his parents. Whilst we knew it might take time, we got professional support to find common ground to cope with their controlling and demanding behaviour. My fiancé was clear to his mom that he would not tolerate any insults about his future wife and said that if it is between wife and parents, he will always choose his wife.
I learned to detach myself and stop comparing the way I was being treated to others. I knew I wasn’t a favorite, so why should I react about their poor treatment of me? I let it go. Then, any positive behavior from them was an unexpected gift.
Shortly after, his parents offered to help out financially and things smoothed over within a month. The rest of the planning was issue-free and on the week of the wedding, I was able to politely detach myself from barbed comments. The kind of politeness that doesn’t react to the slurs, but points out its inappropriateness. “My, that was a painful and cruel thing to say!” is my catchphrase when needed and then I change the subject. Or I politely leave with one of several ready-made excuses. I know this will protect us as a couple and our children too, when they arrive. I remind myself daily when in their company to always be respectful, polite and kind, yet distant.
The wedding went well, no problems, no issues and a great day had by all. I’m glad I let go and learned to be respectful.