Monster-in-Law. Meet the Parents. Father of the Bride.
We have all been exposed to the concept of the Difficult In-Laws. These unstable relationships have become as American as Apple Pie, engrained in our film and media as a simple fact of life. The overbearing Mother in Law with a love so deep for her son it would make Oedipus blush. The rifle toting Father in Law on a quest to protect his daughter’s vagina honor. You name it, we’ve seen it over and over and over.
We sit and laugh at the absurdity of the “crazy in-laws” to cope with a reality many of us have been conditioned anticipate. Your mother-in-law doesn’t hate you? You must be special! The rest of us have a club dedicated to being the target of In-Law hate.
We bond through the laughter, but the comedic relief only spreads so far. Of course, the glitz and glam of Hollywood is unrealistic. By the end of a two-hour film or multi episode subplot, the unbearable In-Laws have accepted their behavior is a detriment to their adult child and try to change for the good of their child’s relationship.
In real life getting the parents of your spouse to admit their own toxicity is like pulling teeth out of a rabid radioactive bear that is also on fire and underwater.
I no longer find this trope funny, because toxicity is not funny. Unhealthy behavior from toxic parents can cause untold damage to a relationship. Couples have split over issues with In-Laws. There are entire Reddit subgroups dedicated to airing complaints and seeking advice over unbearable In-Laws. Some of these people sound legitimately dangerous to be around and try to poison their child’s spouse with food allergies???
I can laugh in hindsight at some of the shit my In-Laws have pulled, but the bulk of their behavior has been overwhelmingly destructive. Now, there is a pit in my stomach every time I crack a joke about my In-Laws hating me. Being over dramatic is a comedic tool, but recently it has stopped feeling like a casual joke and feels more akin with reality.
Perhaps they do not hate me with fury, but they definitely have an open disdain for my relationship with their son. My Mother-in-Law continues to forget the word “fiancé,” even though there is a Russian word for it, she speaks fluent English as a physician, AND IS LEARNING FRENCH.
Can you understand why I am slowly losing my mind after every interaction with them.
They are cold and passive aggressive at their best and manipulative and emotionally abusive at their worst. They are withholding and unpleasant company because they feel entitled to comment on everyone else’s life choices. I have seen them sneer over refugees seeking asylum in this country for not doing it “legally” because that is what they had to do. They are completely devoid of empathy, disgustingly narcissistic, and over controlling.
This week they decided AFTER we made adjustments to our wedding for THEIR benefit AND on their own that we would be having a second wedding event where they live in order to have all of their friends attend AND not invite certain family members they do not want to see at our actual wedding.
Fortunately, they conceded to the second event, but this was at the cost of any semblance of a relationship we had left. Not complaining too much about the last part, but since I’m not a sociopath I still feel disappointed it has to be like this.
For the record, they have sabotaged every opportunity to have a stable relationship to be perpetual victims. They complain about being left out of wedding planning when they have made no effort to communicate with anyone involved. They were invited to meet my whole family last year and never came to the event claiming we never told them – A lie. They were invited and informed multiple times leading up to the event but refused to go after an argument over which was more important – my sister’s graduation from college where my small family gathered for the first time in eight years, or his brother-in-law’s 40th birthday party full of people we see multiple times a year.
A normal person would have understood my desire to have my future husband spend time with family even I had not seen in almost a decade. These are not normal people. His parents could not fathom sharing their son with his future family and went ballistic over his choice to spend time with me and not them.
His father screamed at us about the birthday party after telling me how much my fiancé should spend with my family I never see. When I removed myself from the hostile environment, they attacked my upbringing and character because good ethnic girls just sit there and take the abuse. They continue to believe I was in the wrong for walking away, but I know they would feel the same if I had screamed back. There is no winning.
They refuse to concede and admit their behavior was toxic. They have chosen to let this banal and stupid issue over whose family event is more important guide their conduct for the past year. Now they are attempting to manipulate the situation they created with an excuse for not wanting to create more toxicity by not engaging with me or my family. This implies I, or my family, are in part responsible for the gap in our relationship by creating a toxic environment.
I do not have toxic behavior problems, but I do not allow anyone to treat me or my spouse poorly. I go to therapy and take medication to resolve my issues. They seek advice from psychics and insult those who do seek therapy and take medication. I can admit when I am wrong while they have never taken full responsibility for the issues they cause. My family are merely bystanders in this event, but are now condemned for not having the same values as my In-Laws because they did not command my adult spouse attend the birthday party instead. A crime that cannot be forgiven.
They watch too much Fox News, and it shows. They think they are victims for their conservative views when they are immature and exhausting to be around because they are never wrong. They refuse to change because their views are “traditional” and thus demand respect. These traditions tread on the border of emotional abuse and are undoubtedly toxic. Traditions are things like food and music, not alienating your adult child for spending time with their spouse’s family.
At this point, I want nothing more than to be a stranger to them. I cannot make my fiancé disconnect from his parents, but for my own mental health I will no longer be acknowledging them. Their behavior is out of control. I cannot allow myself to be entangled in the mess of gaslighting and manipulation when I have worked so hard to heal from my past.
I understand defending your child from a toxic relationship, but his parents have no ground to stand on. They make accusations that I am in this relationship for money when I am the one currently pursuing a higher degree. My fiancé and I do not fight, so they have no reason to fear for his wellbeing. They are frightened by the influence I have over him because I am swaying his political views to the left, when arguably my influence has been one of the most positive in his life. HELLO, he refused to consider medical school because of their aggressive behavior but changed his mind after WE discussed the opportunity as a COUPLE.
Every issue we could have has manifested as reality for them when there is no evidence in support. They are simply meddling in our relationship, whether they are cognizant of it or not, and I have had enough. They claim they operate under a model of mutual respect, but they have given no respect to my contributions and support to this relationship.
I truly and deeply wish they could see how their behavior has affected their son and feel something for once in their miserable Russian lives, but I am more likely to communicate with my dead grandmother through a psychic than have them experience a human emotion. It is unfortunate that they have chosen this path because it will only feed into their jealousy and bitterness when they see how happy we are without them.