I Recently tied the knot with my partner of 8 years. It’s forever been a struggle to build a relationship with the in-laws. We’ve never been welcomed into their home to share a meal or celebrate a holiday.
My MIL and FIL live with my 40 year old BIL. My FIL and BIL definitely have undiagnosed Asperger’s. They’ve literally never said a word to me outside of the 3 times they’ve found the courage to return my “Hi.”
My BIL is the highest earner in the family, yet still lives in his childhood bedroom. My MIL does cooks his meals and does all the shopping for him. We’re not allowed over for holidays because my MIL says my BIL isn’t ‘comfortable’ with it.
My MIL is very sweet. We’ve gotten closer over the years. We exchange gifts, books, cards and phone calls regularly. When she had major surgery, I came over every day for 2 weeks to give her blood thinner shots because she’s scared of needles.
I was the only family member to visit her while hospitalized on this occasion and others. MY husband takes after her— he’s socially skilled, emotionally intelligent and loving. He’s worked to build bridges, but they still don’t make space for us. We’ve celebrated every holiday with my folks for the last 7 years.
Ok, on to the hurt: MY husband and I opted for a private elopement and both families supported this. We held a casual reception last week. 60 guests made the hour drive to our outdoor venue. Dinner was via a mutual friend of my husband and my FIL. He came out of retirement just for us and made the in-laws a special, very time-consuming dish.
My parents spent an incredible amount of time and money on this event. They broke their backs putting up tents, heaters, furniture, decorations… I knew my in-laws would just come for dinner and leave right away and that was fine.
So, I emerge an hour before dinner to greet everyone. I see the in-laws separated from the crowd in the parking lot and think they’ve just gotten here. I wave and I’m working my way over to them, stopping to do quick hellos as I’m periodically grabbed on my way over. Maybe 10 minutes.
I look up and they’re gone. Just dipped without a word. I’m still holding the gift and card I was coming to give my MIL. Someone said they got too overwhelmed with the crowd and took off and that my MIL wanted to stay but she was torn. I never even got a text. We rearrange the family seating so husband has his closest friends by him and put it out of our minds.
Well, on Monday, my husband laid into his folks. I wasn’t there, but he said my MIL was very apologetic. He gave her my gift/card. She sent a letter:
“Congrats on a very special time in your lives. We are very happy to welcome you into our family. We all have different qualities but we are a loving family that will always be there for each other. I’m sorry we missed seeing you on your 2nd most special day. Hopefully you both will have photos to share with us. All of the work you put into decorating came off beautifully. We love you both.”
I want to return this letter and be done with them. I’m not the only one getting hurt anymore so what am I protecting? Hubs is ambivalent. WIBTAH?
I never ever thought I’d post anything like this... It’s kind of terrifying. I think some more info may be helpful. The character limit on my initial post was really not adequate for explaining these family dynamics 😅
A lot of you (rightfully) are getting hung up on the disability aspect. That’s fair, but I’d like to give more perspective. My BIL— he is a few years older than my husband. He drives. He lived 6 hours away from home in dorms while earning his college degree. He has a front-facing office job. He goes to movies with friends.
My FIL— also drives and works with the public. He’s done work for many of our friends, and they all say how great his sense of humor is. This caused a lot of tension early in our relationship because I straight up thought he just didn’t like me.
My husband— he was 28 when we started dating and also still living in his childhood room. His family about lost their minds when he moved in with me 2 years later. They are just absolutely inflexible with any sort of change.
The expectations I have for this family have been set via my husband—the man who’s really hurt here. He REALLY knows these people. Had we not met, he would very likely still be living with them, being enabled by his mother into his 40s.
My husband is shocked and hurt by what took place at our reception. He stated “I think I just have to accept that I’m never going to get the emotional love and support I need from them. I’m treating it as a business relationship going forward. I’m even more thankful to be apart of your family now.” Dude is HURT. He expected better because he KNOWS they’re capable of better.
Just to be clear— we would never hold it against them for needing to leave. But these men weren’t about to have a party-ruining “meltdown” as many of you think, and they could have sat in the car for 5 min while my MIL gave me a hug. I’m obviously not going to send the letter, guys. But I don’t know what comes next.
NTA. MIL has chosen to accommodate one of her children to the exclusion of the other. I think it’s time for DH to have a real conversation with his parents, especially his mom, about what you both need for a relationship moving forward. If you want one.
Does that involve his mom coming to this separately so that she can stay and be present for her son when her husband and other son want to leave? Does that involve them traveling to you for some holidays? Are the two of you even interested in more than a surface level relationship?
It sounds like an impossible situation for the MIL. If you return the letter you are burning this bridge forever.
Why couldn’t MIL stay? If FIL and BIL wanted to leave - fine. You already know they’re not social and not super warm people. But it sounds as if your MIL has more/better social skills. I would keep the letter, but ask her why she made the choice to leave. Willing to bet someone could have driven her home or B/FIL could have picked her up later.
YWBTA if you returned the letter. But you also need to ask her why she, an adult woman with agency, couldn’t stay to celebrate her son’s nuptials.
Be gracious. Mil probably means it but has no choice not to be able to interact. Why don't you try taking her out for coffee occasionally?
Sorry, it has to be tough. I think you need to give MIL some slack. In fact, maybe even try to see her when tFIL and BIL aren't around. I think she could really use a good friend.
I think she genuinely wanted to be with you - that poor woman is dealing with 2 very unintentionally difficult people, and she must be so torn. Arrange to have a special day with her - your hubby can sit with dad and bil while you have some one one one time, with (what seems to me) someone struggling to have a life for herself. Good luck to you both, I hope you find a way to strengthen your bond with each other.