Thursday, June 08, 2006

Family-in-law

Recently some of you very kind people have commented that I must be nearly saintly because I've been able to have a good relationship with my husband's ex, etc. For those of you who have made such comments, thank you, but trust me when I tell you, not everyone feels that way. Nor do I have a good relationship with all family-in-law members.

Hubby's son is the one I'm closest to, and so is hubby, for that matter. I'm grateful for this fact on both of our accounts, because I truly love and enjoy the company of his son and his son's fiancee -- I feel like we're genuinely friends at the very least. There had been some difficult times for hubby and son in the past, but with time, those things have ironed themselves out, and now my hubby considers his son his best friend. That is a treat for me to see because hubby just simply is not that close to many men.

Hubby's ex has always been very nice to me, but even though I don't have a problem being around her or even kind of participating in her life and her in mine, it's still kind of weird to me. However, weirdness is OK, especially if it doesn't hurt anyone and actually provides a sense of peace in my home, which this particular situation does, for the most part.

Today, though, there was a fly in the ointment. Hubby's daughter emailed him, again trying to guilt him into forgetting about being thrown out of her house by her husband when they were in the middle of domestic difficulties. The short story is that we were called by daughter and ex to come to daughter's aid 2 years ago when she had her hubby arrested for domestic abuse. When daughter's hubby returned home after the 3 day mandatory restraining order, he came home early, and daughter didn't want him let in, so hubby blocked the door. After the time was up, daughter's hubby ordered my hubby and me out of their house saying we were not welcome in his home, and he goaded and baited my hubby to try to have an altercation, which my hubby very skillfully avoided. Since that time, my hubby has called daughter every week or two. That is, until the fateful birthday "gifts" delivered this year. Hubby turned 60, and daughter's family sent him some pictures, which were much appreciated, a few things the kids made, and then a mug with a form of a squashed frog on it and the wording "old croaker", as well as a hat with the wording "made of achy, breaky parts". Hubby was a little hurt by the last two items, but made no comment about that, thanking her family for the pictures and the other items they sent. Daughter made a huge deal out of his omission, stressing how her hubby did so much work picking out the pictures they sent, arranging them, etc. etc. etc. She had been told previously that her hubby needed to apologize for what he said to us while we were there, because until that happened, we could not feel comfortable around him. She finally emailed my hubby to beg him to give up on that, that she couldn't talk to her hubby about that, that she didn't want to rock the boat because things were going so well for them and she didn't want to stir up old stuff, etc. etc. etc. Hubby explained again why, without some kind of acknowledgement from her hubby of having made a mistake at least, we could not feel comfortable in their home or around him, period. Nevermind, too, that I have had nightmares about this clown -- as that incident happened only the second time I'd ever met daughter or him.

Longer story than I'd intended -- sorry!

This past Memorial Day we went to visit son and ex, as well as other family members. About a month before the visit, hubby called daughter to find out if there would be a time when we could see her and the kids without her hubby around. She complained that she couldn't talk when hubby called, but that he kept on talking anyway. She also complained that he was holding a grudge and being childish, that he should just move on, like they had, that they'd forgiven and forgotten, and we should too. Hubby decided to just let it go and not try to pursue any further contact with daughter for the time being. She pushed it, though, and wrote him yet another hateful email, and this time I responded that she needed to grow up, if she couldn't talk for whatever reason, just don't answer the phone, and that she was being selfish and disrespectful to her father, as well as to me. I explained that she could blame me for our not having contact with her hubby if she liked, but no matter what, she shouldn't treat her dad like that. I learned that that was like pouring gasoline on a fire.

Fast-forward to today. Hubby receives an email from his daughter out of the blue. This is the email, pasted next:

Life is too short...to harbor grudges. What if something were to happen to any of us? We could be dead tomorrow. If you want to risk loosing a relationship with your daughter and her family because of something that happened 2 years ago, then that is your choice.
My family has since healed and we have made numerous gestures of kindness to all who helped us in our time of trouble, including you. If you choose not to accept our way of making amends, then that is your choice, and I'm truly sorry for it, because it means you've chosen to cut-off your grandchildren who certainly don't deserve it. It also breaks my heart that you've forgotten all the efforts we have made to help you in the past in your trying times, especially with (late wife) . . . when we got the call that (late wife) didn't have much longer, Hubby immediately drove me and Brother and all our kids to TN in the middle of the night in a blizzard so that (late wife) could see the grandkids one last time, then a month later, Hubby drove me and Brother and all our kids to IN to pay our respects to (late wife)'s parents since we missed them in TN--if it were up to me and Brother, we would not have made all those efforts, it was Hubby's insistence that called us to action, and I'm glad for it.
I have yet to hear from you since your phone call over a month ago. You've talked bad to everyone else about me and my family, but you haven't faced us directly. I don't want to hear from anyone else. You're my father and I at least deserve that. I know you don't deal well with confrontation, I understand that, but there have been nothing but loving and open arms on our end, so it's frustrating to me that you won't accept them. I've been talking with you on the phone almost every week for the past 2 years, telling you every detail of our healing process and how much we have to be thankful for, and yet you continue to ask "is everything okay?"--of course I dismiss that remark, understanding you're being skeptical, and continue to tell you the joys of our hearts and successes in our lives, hoping that you'll actually hear me one day.
Hear me now . . . let go, forgive, move on, be a Father, be a Grandpa. Love, Daughter

I don't know, maybe it's just me, but that doesn't sound either very loving, or very persuasive of her desire to have a good relationship with her dad. It sounds more like a brat not getting her way. Hubby is susceptible to guilt, and daughter is certainly playing on that. I suspect that his ex had something to do with this, since daughter said that he's talked badly about her family to "everyone else". Oh, and I'm the 'anyone else' she doesn't want to hear from, which is good, as I had no intention of contacting her.

Honestly, I just don't know what to make of all this. I am so very grateful for the relationship we have with his son -- we get along better with son's ex, in fact, than we do with his daughter. I am aware that there have been problems with son-in-law historically, and that daughter is pretty self-absorbed, but geez... I wouldn't DREAM of speaking to my parents the way she has to her father!

So, what comes next? Good question. I don't know how he's going to handle this. He was really bummed today, but tried not to let it overtake his whole life. I pointed out the fallacies of almost every statement she made, and reminded him that he didn't do anything to deserve such treatment, and especially not at the hands of someone he did everything in his power to help. The fault lies squarely on daughter & son-in-law's shoulders, and with every communication, she digs a deeper hole. He knows all of that, but that doesn't make it hurt any less.

So, there we go. You can bet your bottom dollar I'm not thinking saintly thoughts about this girl. Shame, too, because there was a time when I sincerely hoped we could be friends, but that's pretty obviously not going to be possible. Oh well. Son and fiancee' are delightful, precious people and that makes up for a lot. We'll have to see what happens with the rest of the family.

WIP


5 comments:

Purr said...

*hugs* to both of you.

Genevieve said...

Family conflicts are always complex and heartbreaking. My husband's family has fought a lot over the years, and it is hard to know how to help. Sometimes there is no help.

This too shall pass. Hang in there. :)

Guinness_Girl said...

Yikes. Okay, I'm fairly new to your blog (and therefore to things you share about your life - I should check out the archives), and therefore likely not a good person to ask. But - as an outside observer, and as a person who doesn't quite understand anyone who would stay with someone who is an abuser or has been, even once - it looks to me more like this woman is trying desperately to accept the life she has chosen. It hurts her that her father cannot and will not accept her having been phsyically abused, even once - and she's ultra-sensitive to that fact because she's trying to convince herself that her choice to stay with her husband is the right one. Therefore, she reacts to his and your sensitivity to the matter defensively. Does this make sense? Unfortunately, I have no words of wisdom to impart...except that if you and/or your husband have a bad feeling about this guy, it will be hard for you to be anything but frustrated with her for defending him and her choice to stay with him. I suppose it can only help to keep that in mind, and realize that her words come from a place other than malice.

I hope a resolution comes about...I can't even imagine how I would feel in this situation.

Dream Mom said...

Hugs to you WIP. Son in law owes your hubby an apology. Let us know how it turns out.

RunAwayImagination said...

I'm sorry you have to be dragged into my family mess.

It pains me to see my daughter caught in her own web of self-deception. She just runs harder and faster, trying to be the perfect wife and mother, rejecting anyone who doesn't buy into her fantasy.

Someone's got to be the adult here, and it looks like it's got to be me.

I responded that I love her too much to continue this angry dialogue, because to do so would make our eventual reconcilliation that much more difficult.

Sometimes you gotta just disengage from someone you love and let them figure it out on their own. It's painful but necessary in this case.