I love my in laws. We have plenty in common, they are fun to be around and I enjoy chatting with them. If marriage hadn’t brought us together and we’d met some other way, I imagine we’d still be friends.
It does not go both ways. My husband and my parents do not get on. He is a very pragmatic, very Aussie guy. They are very European, very creative dreamers. Together, they are oil and water. There was some slight that drove a wedge between them years ago. I can’t even remember what it was, and I don’t think they can either, not they will admit it. The rift won’t be mended, I guess their general differences are far too great. What they do share is a stubbornness and refusal to admit when they are wrong.
My children have a great relationship with my parents. They are completely in love with my Dad in particular. He adopts the silliest of personas around them and lets them get away with anything under the banner of “grandparent’s prerogative”. This upsets my husband even further, but he tries to bite his tongue. Sometimes he doesn’t and it leads to awful conversations where the children ask “why doesn’t Daddy like you, Opa?”. Cue awkward laughter on my Dad’s part and silent tears on mine.
Most of the time, I just get on with it. I don’t like it but I have come to accept it; there are only so many times you can have the same conversation. If a genie were to appear and grant me three wishes, changing this situation would be one of them. But so far, no genie has appeared and the battle lines don’t look like being retracted any time soon. With me in the middle defending either side and being labelled a traitor by both, I try not to think about it too much. It’s a small mar on a very lovely life, but at this time of year, it’s hard not to feel resentful.
Christmas Day has always been spent with my husband’s family and my family’s tradition has always centred around Christmas Eve, so there has never been any tension of where to spend Christmas. But even that one evening has slowly been eroded over the years with my husband not wanting to come along or wanting to plan something with just our immediate family. One bloody night in the whole bloody year.
My Christmas shopping list is full of things for his family. My to do list is currently full of things that I am helping with mother with. He won’t be buying or making anything for my family. Even the thought of sending them a Christmas card, thanking them for all their help with the kids, would be as foreign to him as my parent’s European sensibilities. It’s hard not feel the weight of something so one-sided, yet he refuses to acknowledge the inconsistency.
I know this doesn’t paint him as one, but my husband is a good man. Unfortunately, this dislike of my family is the big flaw, the Achilles heel of our relationship. To be fair to him, the thing that caused the initial rift came from my parents. They didn’t release how powerfully he could hold a grudge or how wide a gap they had initiated. There have been olive branches offered since, but always ignored. He holds to the argument that we like who we like and things should not be forced.
When confronted with the difference between how I treat his family and he treats mine, he argues that I like his family and doing things for them. I do, but it seems unfair to use that as justification for his own attitudes, action and inaction. To assume we all just do what we intrinsically want to do without any regard to familial obligation or respect — or our partner’s deepest wishes — seems to dismiss what being a family is all about.
I know he won’t show any generosity for my parent’s sake, but the fact that he won’t even try for mine, cuts deep.
Do you have any issues with the way your partner treats your parents?