I married my wonderful husband three years ago. He is 32, eight years older than me. I admit his age was an issue for me when we first met, but it is not an issue anymore.
My husband is the youngest of three children. His eldest sister is 44 and married. His other sister is 39. My husband and I rarely fight, and when we do it is most often about some hurtful remark his mother made.
It is no secret she prefers her oldest daughter to her other children. This favoritism hurt my husband, but it is nothing compared to the damage it did to his second sister. She pours herself into her job, often working 16 hour days. She is anorexic, abuses alcohol and has no personal life outside her job.
She desperately strives for her mother’s attention and approval, but her mother ignores her.
Some years ago the eldest sister’s husband decided he did not want children and had a vasectomy. Since then my sister-in-law has become bitter and jaded knowing she will never experience motherhood. She has become codependent on her mother. She often bursts into tears and breaks down at the thought of her mother passing away.
She has been in counseling but it is not helping.
My husband and I want children. We even made the daring move of announcing our desire to start a family.
I was surprised at the reaction of my mother-in-law and eldest sister-in-law. On separate occasions they both discouraged us. If my husband so much as looks at a baby, my mother-in-law will dive into a long lecture saying children today are bad, you can’t handle them and you shouldn’t be parents.
If my father-in-law says something like “so when are you going to make me a grandfather,” my mother-in-law gives him the cold shoulder or rolls her eyes at him, as if to say “don’t encourage them.”
My husband and I let it slide time and again. Finally my husband took it upon himself to have a private talk with his mother. She denied her remarks, never apologized and dropped the topic.
My husband and I decided to try for a family this fall. I know I can’t spend my life afraid or trying to keep the peace. I must admit I am excited and eager to become a mother, but I am also scared of the reaction and outcome to a pregnancy announcement.
If we successfully conceive, I want all my in-laws to be part of my baby’s life. But I fear any pregnancy would send my eldest sister-in-law over the edge, my mother-in-law would gladly jump over the edge with her, and the other sister might go overboard also, to be closer to her neglectful mother.
Marti, people want to think the bell curve doesn’t exist for families but it does. The farther you get from the plump middle, the lower family life descends.
You have to live in the real world. Living in the real world means you must give up the belief that your husband’s family will have a positive impact on your child.
You hope, when you are pregnant, you will be the center of attention and your husband’s family will coddle you. That is not likely to happen. Your mother-in-law wants to protect her favorite child by not allowing any children in the family.
She is right in one way. She should not have contact with children again. Look what she has done to her own. Even if by some miracle she acted like grandma with your first child, if you had two, she will favor one over the other.
You have no right to predict better behavior from her than you have seen. You have to be the baby’s advocate. That means you can’t run after these women trying to make them into the perfect grandmother or perfect aunt.
~Wayne & Tamara
Column for the week of October 24, 2016
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