In-Laws, Out-Laws, And Everyone In-Between! Love 'em or Leave 'em?

Ever been around family members who can’t stand each other, but still attend family gatherings where the folks they dislike are in attendance? Ever felt obligated to invite family members you dislike to parties you host? I say, “That’s a bunch of nonsense!”

Look, everyone, I know God tells us to love one another, but He means their immortal souls. He doesn’t mean we must be “gluttons for punishment”, seek-out their company and end-up being miserable the entire time we’re around them.

Ask yourself this question: “Would I choose this person to be my friend?” If you answered, “No!”, then why do you feel obligated (to be a “hypocrite”, in other words) to pretend you enjoy being in their company?

I can’t stand hypocrites, can you? So, why be one yourself? Would you want someone who doesn’t like you to pretend they did? To them, I say, “Spare me! Don’t cramp your style!”

 I’m not talking about someone who’s new in your family. I’m talking about someone who’s been a member for years; you’ve done your best to get along with them, and it still hasn’t worked. A new person in the family deserves a chance; you deserve a chance to get to know them, too.  But, when, after years of “putting your best foot forward”, the person still makes no effort, isn’t it time to avoid them?

 Who cares how this makes them feel!! They should be aware that you’re subtly avoiding them. And, yes, I speak from personal experience. In fact, I’ve lain in bed, unable to sleep, because of people like this. As I laid there, I kept examining my conscience, asking myself what I did wrong, and the answer was always the same: “Nothing!” 

Bottom line: As the song goes, “There ain’t no good guys; there ain’t no bad guys. It’s just you and me, and we just disagree!”  That’s right! Accept the fact that you’ll never get along with some people and, unfortunately, those people might just be family! They might even be married to one of your children, and you’ll labor over your decision, ad nauseam, but cut the ties, anyway! If you don’t, you’ll go to an early grave from the stress!

With me, the heart-breaker is one of my daughters-in-law. What’s ironic is that I really liked her when I met her. Fast-forward 15 years, and it’s all different now. The situation has escalated so badly that I rarely hear from my son, her husband, anymore. Perhaps, to keep peace with her, he just decided to make himself scarce with me, and that’s okay. Though difficult for me, I know his obligation is to his wife and children. A marriage-wrecker I’m not.

I began getting the picture when I attended several birthday parties for their children (my grandchildren). Her family, all women, would be there, as well, and I’d notice that they were ignoring each other. They’d plop themselves down on a chair, look totally miserable, and not speak to anyone. If they did utter a word or two, among themselves, it would be something catty or insulting. They’d talk with their husbands and children, but not to each other or my side of the family. Sometimes there were other non-relatives present; they wouldn’t speak with them, either. Later, my son would tell me that the reason they were so anti-social is because one, or all of them, had just had a big blow-up before the party.

Great! So, why didn’t they just stay home? Apparently, because they didn’t care how uncomfortable they made others feel. Or, perhaps, they didn’t want their children to miss the party. Boo-hoo!

And, would you believe that sometimes the feud was actually between my daughter-in-law and one, or more, of these women in her family? Yes! But, did she un-invite them, or cancel the party? Nope! And who are these women? Her mother and sisters! She and they didn’t even have the decency to “bury the hatchet” until after the party! It got to the point where my fed-up family and I finally quit going to these grandchildren’s parties and other events at their home.

When I told my son the reason, he replied, “I know, mom. I don’t like it, either. I’m sorry, but I can’t do anything about it.”

There were a couple of times when my family and I tried going back to the parties, but big mistake! Instead of getting better, things just got worse. Soon, my daughter-in-law became the only one who was angry with someone. She wore a frown from the minute we arrived, until we left. No greeting us at the door; no “Glad you could make it!” Nothing! She’d slam cupboard doors, refuse to speak with anyone, etc., etc.. On one occasion, she even stormed-off to her bedroom, yelled something at everyone, and remained there until all the guests left!  My son was left to carry-on without her.  

I’d ask myself, and him, “What did we do? We just got here!”  Turns out that, on the day the above incident occurred, she and he had been feuding prior to our arrival.

Well, there’s more, but you get the picture. Maybe you’ve even been through something similar. Don’t try to fix it. Stop beating yourself up; stop spending time being depressed about it. Just stay away. These people are miserable for a number of reasons, and you’re not one of them. Perhaps it’s a dysfunctional childhood home………. who knows! At any rate, whatever the reason, only they can fix their problem. Best that you just pray for them (and their poor family) and get on with your life without them. As for me, I figure that 15 years is a long time. If things haven’t gotten any better, by now, they probably never will.