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Wife, Husband, Parents (A little heavy and serious)(30 posts)

Wife, Husband, Parents (A little heavy and serious)Fez
Aug 22, 2003 8:57 AM
I have a very close friend, Al, who is married to Melissa.

Al's parents have never liked Melissa. They have seen her only ONCE total. They never made an effort to know her and rebuffed any invitations from Al and Melissa. The parents were not a part of their wedding. It couldn't possibly be personal, since they never got a chance to know Melissa. Their lack of interest in Melissa was most likely an extension of their parent/son issues with Al.

Al and Melissa have a great marriage, despite the unfortunate situation with Al's parents. After 5 years, Al finally decided NOT to push the issue anymore. Al got together with his parents occasionally, but Al always attended solo, figuring some family contact was better than none. It made for some awkward holidays, where Al would have to spend part of the day without Melissa when seeing his family.

Well, Al's brother Billy got married recently and now whenever there are family get-togethers, they now invite Melissa. Not the most sincere invitation, and not the most enthusiastic invitation. The verbal invite usually sounds like "Al, we are meeting for dinner. You CAN bring Melissa." The invite is so condescending - like they are giving him permission to bring his wife Melissa. Not "we'd love it if both of you can come" or something more sincere and loving.

Anyway, there are a few issues that bug Al:

1) Too much time has gone by (5 years) and it will make for an extremely awkward situation.

2) Shouldn't they initially make an effort to get together just as a foursome? The Mom, Dad, Al and Melissa? First of all, its going to be awkward, so having more people around is not going to help in this situation. Second of all, that would show that they are making an effort to get to know her, rather than merely including her at an event with 5, 10 or 20 other people.

3) Waiting for the parents to make a proper invitation may take forever. Should Al and Melissa go out on a limb and extend yet another invitation to his parents?

Thanks to all. I was hoping this board could give some broader insight to Al than I could.
Something is missing or not being saidLive Steam
Aug 22, 2003 9:18 AM
That is how I see it. Al either didn't tell you something about his relationship with his parents or what may have influenced their attitude toward Melissa. It's just too odd for it to have occurred that way unless they have sever personal issues themselves.

That aside, I think Al and Melissa should attend the dinner and leave the chip on the shoulder at home. I am not saying that the parents are right, but why provide them with some self-serving justification for their prior actions should Al or Melissa act poorly. They should be the bigger people in this if Al's relationship with his parents is important to him. Maybe Al's parents will see something in Melissa that will warm her to them. Maybe they will see the error in their ways and appreciate her for loving their son and for the good person she is.

I don't see the necessity of meeting prior. I think the others being there can be a buffer and not as an awkward hindrance. Her interaction with the others at the dinner may give Al's parents a window into Melissa's persona. Maybe what ever they initially saw will be come a follish thought even to them. They are wrong, but this isn't about them. It's about what Al and Melissa want to achieve. They can't be faulted for trying.
Could you explain...Fez
Aug 22, 2003 9:43 AM
You wrote:

"I am not saying that the parents are right, but why provide them with some self-serving justification for their prior actions should Al or Melissa act poorly."

Not exactly sure what you meant.


Actually, there is a little more to the story. In this case, having more people around will not help. Trust me on this.

Also, Al has always been taken for granted by his folks. They probably will never stop being insensitive towards him and his wife. An invitation where the 4 of them are the focus will probably never come from the parents. That's why Al was thinking of organizing a dinner of his own for the 4 of them.
Ah ha!!! I knew it!Live Steam
Aug 22, 2003 9:52 AM
There is always more to the story :O) I am not being flippant if this is truly a serious issue for you. Just being my silly self. Just ask CZAR :O)

What I meant is, should Al or Melissa or both do something or say something at the dinner that is defensive is in some way an attack of the parents, the parents will more than likely take an "I told you so" attitude about Melissa and Al's marriage to her. Al and Melissa should not be drawn into anything and they should stay above the fray.

Again, the missing info probably holds the key or at least would shed more light on the subject. Your statement about more people being around not helping is very disturbing. Usually people act somewhat better in the company of others (witnesses :O) Not always, but usually.

I hope it works our for Al, however he would like it to.
Fez I have a friend that went through something similarLive Steam
Aug 22, 2003 10:04 AM
well almost :O) His parents didn't write her off at first glance, but there was an incident or I should say and accident where my friend was driving he and his future wife home from a skiing trip in his grandparents car. He fell asleep at the wheel and they had an accident. She was injured and sued the grandparents. Needless to say his parents, grandparents and the rest of his family did not attend their wedding and never really accepted her. He was understanding of his family, but also seemed to take his wife's position that it was their insurance that would pay out and not them, so they shouldn't take it personally.

Today they are divorced and both have remarried. It looks as though Al and Melissa have withstood the test of time and shouldn't give this situation too much weight in their relationship at this point.
Sounds like its not quite similar...Fez
Aug 22, 2003 10:11 AM
It sounds like your friend's situation involved an ugly situation, but they are no longer married, so all that remains are ugly memories from the past.

Al and Melissa are still married and still have to deal with this.

Not sure if these situations are parallel. Unless you are just saying time heals wounds...
Only similar in that it was ...Live Steam
Aug 22, 2003 10:30 AM
an added pressure to a new relationship. Al and Melissa have dealt with it better than my friend did. It was also similar in that "family" is very important to my friend. He comes from a large family that does alot together.
If it were me. . .czardonic
Aug 22, 2003 9:19 AM
. . .I would simply get on with my life without these poor excuses for parents and anyone else who brought that kind of pain into my life. Who needs it? Billy would also be on thin ice, because while he is in an akward situation of his own trying to deal with such unreasonable parents and his bond with his brother, I think he should be making Melissa feel welcome and letting his parents know that if they don't like it, they can stay home.

But that's me. If contact with his parents is important to Al, then he should make his feelings known to his parents -- that he wants them to be part of his life and get to know his wife -- and continue trying to reach some kind of accord.
this is pretty basicmohair_chair
Aug 22, 2003 9:20 AM
This is family, and family is forever. If the parents are reaching out, even in the smallest way, and they want a better relationship, they have to go with it. Yeah, maybe it's condescending to Melissa, but she should be the bigger person here and use any invitations as an opportunity to build a friendship with them. How else is she supposed to do it if they never see each other?

On that note, yes, Al and Melissa should go out on a limb and extend their own invitations. If they really want everyone to become friends, they need to make more opportunities happen.
no wayColnagoFE
Aug 22, 2003 10:24 AM
he got married. sure family is family, but your spouse should be the most important people in your life. are you suggesting that she just deal with being treated as a third wheel when it comes to his parents? if i was al, i'd get some balls and find out what the deal is. doesn't sound like there is a lot of communication going on. also the reason they don't like his wife is unclear and may have a big impact on how i'd deal with it. what did she do to piss off her inlaws so much? maybe they have a legitimate reason to hate her.
you missed the key phrasemohair_chair
Aug 22, 2003 12:04 PM
I said "if she/they wants a relationship with them." If she doesn't, then there really isn't much to do here, and she need not bother pretending.

Like it or not, everyone is family now. If there are ever kids, don't you think they are going to wonder why they never see grandma and grandpa? The bottom line is that everyone can act childish, or someone can say "I'll be the grown up here. I'll make the first move." Baby steps.
i'd have written-off the parents four years ago nmJS Haiku Shop
Aug 22, 2003 9:56 AM
Joking or serious?Fez
Aug 22, 2003 10:05 AM
Given Al's parents are in their upper 60s, time is not in seemingly infinitely supply anymore.

I think Al doesn't want to go that route.
I don't think he should eitherLive Steam
Aug 22, 2003 10:10 AM
I am sure he has been hurt by this and other incidence in his relationship with his parents. Many of us have in one way or another, but he may do more damage to himself if he cuts ties and something happens to one of his parents. Maybe the status quo is what is best for all concerned if this dinner doesn't break the ice.

Hey 60s isn't that old ya' know :O)
what are his priorities?ColnagoFE
Aug 22, 2003 10:21 AM
if it's his marriage i'd have called the parents on it right away. this is just not acceptable behavior no matter what they feel about his wife. al needs to get some balls and stand up to his parents controlling behavior. it's not like he 16 and living at home anymore.
I'm w/Colnago--he's got to get his priorities straight.cory
Aug 22, 2003 3:16 PM
It's a really hard situation--I'm close to my parents (who love my wife, thankfully), and it would be tough to be on the outs with them. In this case, though, it really sounds like they're the source of the trouble.
When you take the wedding vows, you transfer your allegiance from your old life to your new one. You don't have to say "I never want to see you again," but I think it's long past time to say, "This is the path I've chosen, and I'd like you to accept it. If you can't, it's STILL the path I've chosen...".
they are married. not taking her is NOT an optionColnagoFE
Aug 22, 2003 10:17 AM
Al should not tolerate this behavior from his parents and family. If they can't accept his wife it's thier problem. For what it's worth it took my dad probably 3-4 years before he even wanted to speak with my wife, but eventually he softened up. When you get married that becomes your family. Your marriage should be a very high priority in your life or something is wrong.
Let's just say...Fez
Aug 22, 2003 10:23 AM
I know Al very well, probably better than anyone besides he and his wife.

Let's just say that when things are extremely dysfunctional, the traditional rules do not apply. That's why he attends family functions alone. He's already been there and done that where he wanted to include his wife; all prior attempts were unsuccessful and brought upon more turmoil.
any kids?ColnagoFE
Aug 22, 2003 10:30 AM
if there are any kids involved in this i'd be worried. this is not a good lesson to be teaching them...that their family can behave any which way they want and you are powerless to do anything about it because they are family. sounds like his parents are trouble. who needs people like that in your life? family is family, but sometimes you are better off without them. extreme example...let's say your dad beat you every day of your life growing up and was constantly drunk. let's also say he never changed and is now in his 60s. why would you not just cut your losses at this point if he isn't willing to attempt to become a different person?
Aug 22, 2003 10:43 AM
No kids. Also, in the orig post, I wrote that the parents don't know enough about her to dislike her. I think they had issues with Al and they never gave her a chance. They truly do not know her.

The parent-son relationship with Al always was dysfunctional, but it really went south 5 years ago when Al and Melissa started dating.

Al did kind of write them off a few years ago, since he wasn't making any progress after years of him trying. Still, he figures it shouldn't be this way forever and is willing to try anything if there is a chance at success.
he can certainly keep tryingColnagoFE
Aug 22, 2003 10:54 AM
but in my opinion it sounds pretty badly broken. nothing is gonna happen without open communication in any event. if the parents never make an effort then i don't see this working out well. you know the saying about leading a horse to water but you can't make him drink.
Still no explanation...Matno
Aug 23, 2003 3:35 AM
You keep saying that they don't know enough about her to dislike her, but obviously, there is SOMETHING about her they don't like (whether real or imagined). Without knowing this, it's kind of hard to give any real advice.

If the real issue is that they don't like Al, that's a different story, but it appears that they at least tolerate him.
I think its becauseFez
Aug 23, 2003 7:32 AM
the parents are hyper critical of Al, most of his actions, decisions, friends, and his wife.

Nothing he does is good enough for them, and naturally, his choice of a wife is one of those things they are hyper critical of. It seems that the less they know of her, the easier it is to criticize/dislike/not accept her.
That's just a sad situation...Matno
Aug 23, 2003 8:50 AM
I couldn't tell you how many people I've known who have had major psycho-social type problems because their parents weren't supportive enough. It is devastating to any child growing up - especially coming from parents. What a shame.

Along the same lines, I have a friend who grew up in the worst home you can imagine. Father in prison for killing someone (now he's been missing for 10+ years and presumed dead), mother a raging alcoholic (the kind you see in the ICU on a regular basis), sisters who were both dealing and using heroin as well as their bodies, etc. However, the one positive thing in his life was that his mother always told him how great he was. Every single day, even when she was drunk, she told him she loved him (go figure) and that he could become anything he wanted. He began supporting the entire family (including 3 much older sisters and 3 or 4 of their children) by working a full-time job at the age of 14. Now, at the age of 26, he's married, has 2 beautiful children, has a great job, and is very happy. Miracles do happen, but it sure helps when parents are supportive, regardless of the situation. As a parent, I can't imagine not loving a child, regardless of how much I disapprove of his or her decisions.
Hey Fez you didn't ...Live Steam
Aug 22, 2003 10:36 AM
give us your perspective! If you know all parties, you should have a pretty good handle on which end is up. Who dissed who? Your response to Colnago intimates that stuff has happened. Who said or did what and where they justified?
Aug 22, 2003 10:57 AM
I didnt really give a lot of my perspective because I wanted Al to see what some other views were.

Basically, my perspective is that it doesn't get more dysfunctional than this. A lot of it has to do with a complete inability to communicate between Al and the folks.

My view is if you could assign fault percentages, its probably 80% parents, 20% Al. But it really doesn't matter, because this is not a courtroom and no jury to render a verdict. I think its rather ironic that Al sees the sense of urgency in this situation, even though the parents are the ones who are aging.
I think fault is pretty irrelevant.czardonic
Aug 22, 2003 11:03 AM
It sounds like he is trying to make and effort his parents are not. If it is 100% their fault, he is a saint or a fool. If it is 100% his fault, they are ungracious and unreasonable.
What have they got to lose?Spoke Wrench
Aug 23, 2003 5:45 AM
I'm a recovering alcololic. If you are ever in need of a discussion topic at an AA meeting, mention resentments and EVERYBODY will participate. Everybody has incidents in their past in which they feel that other people haven't treated them fairly. Healthy people find ways to get over their resentments. That's what 12 step programs, like AA, really do.

Al isn't comfortable with the situation the way it is now. If he was, the subject wouldn't have come up. Staying away just perpetuates the current situation that he isn't happy with. Waiting for his parents to change enough to extend the perfect invitation isn't likely to happen. I think that improving human relationships is kind of like getting into shape. You have to start wherever you are at this very minute. If you work at it, you might get better. If you don't you will surely deteriorate.

I think that the adult thing to do would be to take Milissa to the dinner and be as charming as you can stand.
Charming starts at home53T
Aug 23, 2003 4:59 PM
Ol' AL may have a difficult time being charming to the point of invincibiilty. You see, we learn the most basic social skills at home with out parents. I'm hearing that Al did not do well with those lessons, bad student, bad teachers, or both.

It takes years to learn these skills as an adult, but only after admitting that you suck at being charming. I don't know Al, but a true salesman could certainly kiss and make up with his parents.

If he wants a relationship badly, seek counceling first. If he wants to have a full and less-stressed life, move and don't leave a forwarding address. I vote for the latter, life is too short.
Yeah, but.Spoke Wrench
Aug 24, 2003 4:53 AM
No matter where you go, there you are. Physical relocations rarely work because you cart all of your old baggage with you.

There is no way that you can force another person to do something that they have decided they don't want to do. But once you come to the realization that you are half of the equation and start working to keep your half of the street clean, lots of time other people start responding to you quite differently.