Tuesday, April 2, 2013

When His Parents Say No

Early on in our relationship I met B's mom and dad. I was really nervous! I made sure to dress in what I thought was an appropriate outfit, and of course not to hang on B and to make light, delightful conversation.

It was a disaster.

I'd like to enter a disclaimer here, to say that I'm in no way mad or upset over anything my husband's parents have done (Anymore. I livid at first). I've given this to God. I'm not writing this to bash them--I'm writing this to share my story and to help others who perhaps have been though the same thing.

So, back to the story. I won't go into specifics, but they didn't like me. I hoped it would change (because I was madly in love with their son) so B and I began praying about it. I could tell he was really upset, and I didn't know what to do at this point. I did know that I wasn't going to try and change any part of my personality just because someone thought it was disrespectful. I'd tried that before. It had only made me completely miserable.

I will (sort of?) listen when an adult approaches me in a Godly manner, with scripture in hand, to tell me I am doing something wrong. (at least, I hope I've gotten better about this since my teenage years. Honestly, I'm very stubborn. Just ask my mother.) But their particular problem stemmed from my personality and physical appearance and this was not something I felt needed addressing. Or changing.

Fast-forward three months. B and I decided that 1) we aren't getting any younger and 2)  there will never be anyone else for us and 3) I really want to get to know you more intimately, like, yesterday. So we got engaged. And started planning our wedding.

(You may ask, did my parents have any qualms over this whole thing? Yes. Yes, they did. And my mom spoke to me and B and made sure this was something we both really wanted. Then she was fine and supported us in love and prayer, while also saying that maybe we should slow down. But she never told me or B what to do.)

Because of how fast we decided on marriage together, I do understand my mom and B's parents being surprised over such a hasty engagement. Note, not pregnant. What I don't like is how B's parents handled it.

To make a long story short, B's parents told him that under absolutely no circumstances could he marry me, and if he did they certainly were not coming to the wedding and they also didn't ever want to speak to him again.

Cue freak out time. We'd already sent the invitations. Booked the venue. I had a dress. And a ring. Needless to say I cried a lot--and B seemed at a loss over what to do. For one, he loved me. And he wanted to marry me! But, on the other hand, he definitely wanted his parents to be there!

B was in a tight position--no matter what choice he made someone would hurt over it. If he chose to marry me, his parents would be upset and angry, and possibly never speak to us again. If he chose not marry me at that time, and wait till later, with the hopes that his parents would change their minds, then I would be very sad! Also, no matter what choice he made: he would be sad in some aspect. This is why I hate ultimatums. No one wins.

We talked and prayed and tried to give our hurts to God...and choose, together, finally to get married. His parents didn't come. That was sad. But they do still talk to us (I'm glad) and I really do hope to get to know them better. I pray for them and try not to feel slighted. I know they were only trying to do what they thought was best. I also will continue to treat them with love and respect--because now that we are married, they are my parents too.

Honestly though, this was one of the hardest things I've ever experienced--to have someone dislike you and be mad at you for what seems like irrelevant reasons. However, I've learned a lot and grown a lot from this experience!  Instead of thinking about myself, I'm learning to be there for my husband and support him and honor the choices he makes for me and our family.

If you are dealing with this, here are some key points to keep in mind

  • This is not your fault. Don't take what they are saying personally! His parents don't know you well (or obviously they wouldn't have a problem) Instead, try to approach the the issue logically. They must see you as taking their son away from them. Or encroaching into some area that they think you don't belong! Thus, they are going into red alert mode. It's not you, it really is them.
  • Try to talk rationally with them (note, this did not work with us) by sitting down one on one at dinner or inviting them out. Try to get to know them better and let them get to know you also. If they don't want to get to know you--what is the deeper reason? Trust me, its not you. Maybe they are afraid of change. Maybe they can't accept that their son is growing up--the reason could be anything. Finding and addressing the root problem is key to solving any disagreement, especially this one. 
  • Don't blame your fiance. When B's parents first started having issues, I took it really personally. Then I tried to discuss it with B (and by discuss, I mean cry and ask him why he hadn't fixed it already) Of course he had tried to fix it! My caterwauling was only going to make him more upset, it wasn't helping anything. Remember it's not your fiance's fault and they are probably just as upset as you are. Don't make them choose between you and their parents. B loves both me and his mom and dad, as of course he should. Try to put yourself in their shoes, then work together to come to an agreement without pointing any fingers. 
  • Remember that when it comes down to it, you are an adult. When you get married you start your own family. Other people, even friends, will give you tons of advice when you get married. Some of it may not apply to your situation. Learn to shift though the trash to find the gems--then use the gems to buy some brick, because bricks build better castles.  
I hope this helps! If you guys have any advice, I would love to hear it. 


deanna@delirious-rhapsody said...

it was the opposite with us. i easily won over peppy's folks, but my mom was much harder for peppy to convince he was worthy.

i'm really sorry they didn't come to the wedding. that would have hurt.

completely unrelated....i really love your new design!

noone said...

oh wow that is crazy. I can't believe they didn't even go to your wedding. To me that seems childish as their son is obviouslly happy and I think that with parents the most they want to see their child is to be happy... Anyway, it's their loss because I think you got a wonderful personality, and you are in a solid relationship so there's no reason they shouldn't approve :)

Rachel said...

I'm quite convinced that in-laws are the most difficult thing about being married, and it sounds like you've experienced an unusually tricky case!

Michelle said...

Oh wow! I am so sorry. I had a rough experience with my in-laws too. My mother in-law wasn't a fan of me for my personality either, and his whole family didn't like that I'm not southern like them. I don't have a strong relationship with them, but thankfully they at least accept me now!

Anna @ The Things I'm Learning said...

I'm so sorry you're having to deal with this!