Pain from the past…


Question: I’m having a hard time coping with my in laws. My husband had a difficult
childhood with his mother who is a religious zealot and kicked him out of the
house at 16 for the simple fact that he had a girlfriend. His father was never
present. His mother was so non supportive of him that she told him he was
stupid for wanting to go to college. Needless to say no one in his family even
came to his college graduation. They have not been involved in his life for a
very long time. Ever since they found out that he was getting married, and
met me they suddenly won’t leave us alone. They want us to come over every
weekend and when we do actually come over they want us to spend the night
and put us through a guilt trip when we do not. My father-in-law comes over
to our home while my husband is at work unannounced on a weekly basis to
visit with me and do odd chores. I’ve even come home from running errands
before and found that he had let himself into our backyard and garage and
was mowing the lawn. I am appreciative of them wanting to help and such
but I am starting to feel edgy in my own home, never knowing who will stop
by. We have tried to tell them to call first, but that usually results in a call
when they’re about 3 minutes away from our house. I’m frustrated and don’t
want to appear rude, but I find this sudden interest in our lives to be
hypocritical. My husband is equally as annoyed with them and has tried
repeatedly to set up boundaries, but they seem to be either ignoring our
requests or completely devoid in comprehending them. I want a good
relationship with them but this in law onslaught needs to end. (I can’t even
begin to imagine what it will be like when we have children.) Any advice in handling this situation without being outright rude would be most
appreciated.
 
Answer: Kelly,
They seem to be making every attempt to honor you in whatever way they see as appropriate. They MUST realize the foolishness of the past and while not willing to talk about it, they are willing to serve you and your husband to make up for it. I agree having boundaries, but it is also important to recognize that it isn’t hypocritical it is (in my opinion) about their regret and wanting to make things right. This is their way of doing it. Now for boundaries your husband should be the one who does it. If you do it, bad feelings will undoubtedly arise. Your husband needs to be consistent with them and send clear messages to them as well. The more he can send clear messages, the more likely it will be that they will change their behavior.

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