Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Insantity of Blending Two Families

The last couple of weeks have been a little crazy for me.  Between work being overwhelmed at work, grad school starting back up and sucking away my life, and wedding planning going into full force (less than five months away), I have been completely swamped.  

In addition to that, my Catholic soon-to-be mother in law (or MIL as I will refer to her from now on) has been causing issues non-stop.  First, let me give you a rundown of our relationship so far.  I spend 50% of my holidays with Fiancé and his family including his parents.  We often go over their house on weekends (at least once a month or more) just to go over, this is separate from holidays, birthdays, and those types of things.

Back when Fiancé was just Boyfriend, I went on a get-away weekend to the small town where his parents grew up to visit his extended family.  We caravaned with his parents the whole way there, roughly 8 hours away.  While we were there, MIL took me aside and explained to me that I should call her Mom and her husband Dad.  The talked to me about how she had had a mother-daughter relationship with her own mother in law, and that she expected the same for us.  Now, let me reiterate that this was before Fiancé had proposed to me.  I was a little taken back, and explained that I really didn’t think it wasn’t comfortable calling them mom and dad, as I already have a Mom and Dad.  I let the whole part about what she wanted out of our relationship go without comment, but kept in mind a promise she made that I could talk to her about anything.

Fast forward to after me and Fiancé became engaged.  Suddenly, she started having issues with me.  First it was that me and Fiancé were spending too many holidays with my family.  She dropped this issue only after a calendar was pulled out and the holidays were counted out and shown to be exactly equal. 

Then, thanks to a Facebook privacy setting issue, MIL was able to see that I had liked Pagan Podcasts (everything else was private and locked down).  She flipped and asked Fiancé if I was a witch, if I was in a cult, if I was trying to get him to go to pagan festivals and be in a cult, would I pass this on to their grandchildren, etc.  So the next weekend, me and Fiancé cancelled all of our plans so I could go down and explain myself to them and let them know that I wasn’t in a cult.  I defaulted to giving her an explanation of Wicca because even though not entirely correct, I figured it was the easiest thing to explain.  It was unpleasant, and it ended with MIL saying “Well, as long as you’re not doing Witchcraft, I guess it’s okay.  I knew a girl once at target that did that stuff and she was very odd.”  I never got a chance to ask her why the girl was odd or why she decided to judge a large group of people based on a teenager she barely knew.  I didn’t even bother explaining that I was and it was part of my faith, as I was simply happy to have dodged a bullet and to have gotten assurances that she would not bring it up to my family. (My family dynamics surrounding my faith are complicated; however, we get along best by just not taking about it and me and everyone else pretending to I’m a Catholic even though the immediate family knows I’m not).

Anyway, apparently the fact that I am not of a preferred faith is still a concern to them.  But I am unwilling to discuss it any further with any in-laws, especially after a previous incident when one of Fiancé’s evangelical cousins told me that if I did not believe the bible was the word of god, we could not discuss religion. 

So introduce Fiancé’s sister (SIL) into the equation.  SIL recently got into a bad spot regarding her personal life and needed to be bailed out of a situation.  Historically MIL and FIL (future Father in law) step in anytime this happens and quickly open their wallets and home to handle it.  Unfortunately, the seriousness and monetary requirements to fix the situation had Fiancé getting involved and eyeing our savings as a solution to SIL’s current problem. 

Now at the time I had no relationship with SIL.  I had met her once for about two hours at a family function years ago, but that was the extent of it.  Other than that, my only knowledge of her was that she was pissed off that she wasn’t chosen to be one of my bridesmaids, and that she constantly brought it up.  For a time, MIL also kept bringing up how callous we were for upsetting SIL, though she later dropped it.  So when our savings was being considered as a solution for her problem, I was understandably upset.  As a solution, I had Fiancé tell his mother to take the funds she was going to give us for the wedding and use it to bail out SIL.  In my mind, it was a much better solution than us giving her our money.

MIL later wrote me a glowing thank you letter over my generosity.  And here is where I remembered her promise that I could talk to her about anything.  So I opened up and told her that I was hurt by SIL’s constant comments about the wedding and wished someone would express to her how painful it is to have my wedding constantly talked poorly about.  I was careful to mention that I didn’t think SIL knew or meant to cause this reaction, and that I only wished her the best and was happy that her mother was watching over her so well.  Then I hit send.

MIL later called Fiancé to bitch me out for saying terrible things about SIL.  She claimed that I had called SIL a whore between the lines (which I have no idea where she got).  She said she and his father felt like I was trying to separate their son from them, and that I had no wish to be a part of their family.  She ended by saying that she didn’t think our relationship would last. 

Fiancé tried to talk to her.  We tried to organize another meeting where I could explain myself again, but MIL responded that unless I apologized for what I said about SIL, admitted that I should have never sent the email, and admitted that this is something I should have never shared with her regardless of how I felt, she had nothing to say to me and she would not listen to anything I had to say to her.

Fiancé later worked his magic and got his mother to calm down, but she still insists that I do not have enough interest in being a part of his family.  Things are back to an uneasy truce, but the damage was pretty much done by her reaction to my plea for help.  Between undermining my marriage, trying to punish me for taking her up on her word, her still expressing unease at the fact that I am not of the proper faith, and her continued lack of recognition of the fact that I have been the only one trying to combine our families as I have been the only one extending invitations to my family’s functions to them (the invitations are never reciprocated), our relationship is rocky.  And if this doesn’t sum up my frustrations with the relationship, she doesn’t understand why anything she has said or done recently or over the last two years would have upset me.

But in more optimistic news, SIL and I are actually talking and developing a relationship.  And I have been trying to be nothing but supportive of her and getting herself out of her current situation with minimal help from others.  She looks to be on the road to getting herself back on her feet.  And I will be cheering for her when she crosses the finish line.

So that’s what I’ve been dealing with as of late.  Hope life is treating everyone else a little better.