Dear Amy: My fiance and I have been together for 10 years.
I have always had a rough relationship with my future in-laws, but this came to a head when my fiance’s mother took him to lunch in order to tell him that she thought he was better off without me.
She said I was controlling, told him how much his sister dislikes me and how she feels I am taking him from his family. When my fiance told me what his mother said, I was heartbroken.
I don’t understand why they think I am controlling, but I don’t know how to change their perception of me. His family should not be involved in our decision-making for our lives, just as my family should not be.
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His sister continues to ostracize me from the family, and since she is close to his mother, I feel as if she is influencing the family’s perceptions about me. She has been very rude to me.
I dread seeing these people because I know I am going to be scrutinized and judged.
Our wedding is in a few months. He wants us both to try, but they have never tried to get to know me. I don’t want to deal with their negativity for the rest of my life, and I don’t have faith that they will try to bridge the gap. I am unsure of how to move on from this.
Dear Trouble: I realize that you have in-law trouble, but you don’t seem to realize that you also have fiance trouble.
His mother thinks he would be better off without you. She mentioned that you are not liked by various members of his family. What, pray tell, was his motivation in repeating this to you?
What is achieved by you knowing this? Other than running home and telling you about this trashing, how did he react toward his mother in the moment? Is he using her low estimation of you as a way to communicate his own feelings or concerns about you?
These are questions you should ask him.
Many people replay a version of birth family dynamics in our own marriages. Understand that unless your fiance establishes his own autonomy, this dynamic won’t change.
You should do some soul-searching and – if there is room for improvement in your own behavior – you should figure out how to behave in a way that is both neutral and respectful. In short, you should demonstrate the sort of behavior you would like to see from his family members.
It will (obviously) be necessary for him to ask for/demand/expect his family members to treat you with respect when they are with you, and not trash you when they are not with you.
You may think that because you have been together for a decade, you don’t need premarital relationship counseling, but you do – desperately.
Also read, “Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married,” by marriage counselor Gary Chapman (2010, Northfield Publishing).
Dear Amy: Years ago my uncle sexually assaulted his three girls. He got away with it by leaving the country while on bail.
Several years ago, he returned, and now thinks we should all “get over it.”
He is insisting on a visit with me to “catch up.” He’s always been a clever bully, and won’t take NO for an answer, despite me putting him off for years.
I’m worried he will just show up here. What should I do?
Dear Worried: I’m taking at face value all of your assertions about your uncle. If he contacts you to threaten a visit, you should tell him, quite plainly, “I don’t want to have any contact with you. You are not welcome in my home or on my property. I want you to know that if you choose to show up, I will call the police. It’s that simple. Do you understand? Good.”
If it would ease your mind to enact a “no-contact order,” visit your local courthouse and ask the clerk to walk you through the steps. This bully should not get the best of you.
Email Amy at firstname.lastname@example.org.