Thursday, September 8, 2011

I don't want my in-laws at the wedding

Dear ESB,

We're a month away from our wedding and just now having some parent-issues.

My fiance has been on the outs with his parents/family for the better part of a few years. They've never really been happy with the fact that he's been with me, simply for the fact as I am not Jewish and he is (non-practicing, he really could care less about it). The one time we've met, they were really cold and pretended that I wasn't there. Nice, right? They were indifferent when he told them we were engaged as well and he hasn't really wanted to talk to them since.

Now that we're so close to the wedding, they want in. They want to go to the wedding to support him because they love him, even though they would've preferred a Jewish girl and that it's "bad enough" he's marrying outside of the faith, but they're "willing to put it aside." That's really the only reason.

I've really refrained from going batshit and telling him that I hate the whole lot of them for being such assholes because I don't want to put him in a position where he can't feel like he can talk openly about them and I always want him to be able to talk to me if he's feeling like shit. He now basically has asked me if I want them there. I don't want to be the one making this decision, but I also don't really want these people at our wedding.


P.S. I am not planning on converting, as the both of us are pretty agnostic in our beliefs


You won. He's marrying you. Now you get to be the bigger person.

They're his PARENTS for fuck's sake. YES, YOU WANT THEM THERE.

Hyoni Kang by Lincoln Pilcher for Vogue China via Fashion Gone Rogue


  1. "They want to go to the wedding to support him because they love him."

    Forget about the "even though" that comes after this. Assuming they're not too old and in fairly good health, chances are you've got decades ahead of you where these people will be your family. Not just part of your life, but your family. I think it's probably a good sign that they want to come, even if they're still using some pretty ridiculous language about how "bad enough" it is that your husband is marrying outside of the faith. They're not doing it well, but my guess is that they're trying to mend bridges.

  2. You should be grateful that they want to go to the wedding at all.

    Since a falling out between my fiance and his youngest brother, my fiance's father and step mother (his birth mom is dead) haven't spoken to him at all. Not to ask about the situation, to wish him a happy birthday, happy thanksgiving, merry christmas, congratulations on your engagement...nothing (and yes, we've reached out).

    I think these people are assholes...but I still struggle with whether or not we should invite them to the wedding, because they are HIS FAMILY...soon to be MINE.

    Your wedding isn't all about you. Be gracious. Be grateful. Be considerate of your partner. Thank them for wanting to come and move on.

  3. "Be gracious" is key here. I have a grandmother who is psycho and disowns me every couple of years, but when it came time to do wedding invites, my dad and I decided to invite her, because, well... might as well give her a chance. It didn't feel like the moment to "make a statement" or exacerbate a big feud. She ended up calling my dad and going off on him and, needless to say, did not attend the wedding, but that was her choice and I think we did the right thing.

    I have parents like your future husband's. When we announced our engagement, they gave us the silent treatment for two weeks, because he is not Jewish. It is a very painful memory and it is hard to get past it, and the many other hurtful things they did during our engagement, because it did really negatively impact our relationship.

    That said, at the wedding, they let their love for me come first and they cried and danced and were honest-to-goodness joyful and celebratory. Even the pettiest people can usually put their shit aside for five minutes.

    But more important than that, is the reality that whether or not you like these people, you are marrying into their family, and you are inheriting them. Even if your dude is not close with them, they will be in your life forever, and you need to make decisions now with an eye to how that relationship is going to progress. Making a big dramatic statement by not inviting them to your wedding is a TERRIBLE foot on which to start your lifelong relationship with these people, whether or not they've been awful to you and your dude, and whether or not there is no chance in hell that they'll ever really "like" you. Maybe you'll never make them like you, but it is worth your while to aim for peaceful coexistance.

    Which is why "gracious" is the right behaviour to aim for. Be the bigger person. It will benefit you in the long haul. And when making these sorts of decisions, you are better off considering what will make for a better MARRIAGE (and make no mistake of it, in-laws are a huge part of marriage) than WEDDING.

  4. Also (I feel really strongly about this issue, can you tell? Haha), the final decision on this issue should ABSOLUTELY be your husband's, not yours. I would never put these sorts of decisions on my husband. It is his family, at the end of the day.

  5. @ Anna, Agreed. This hit a nerve with me too. Don't make your future husband choose between you and his parents. If you stomp your feet and don't let them come to the wedding, he may end up harboring feelings of resentment toward you. Not good.

  6. invite them. leave the ball in their court on how they end up behaving around the rest of their own family, your family and friends. most likely, they will suck it up and have some fun, because they love him. but also tell your husband it is HIS call (as commenters said above), not yours.

  7. Hard to imagine any good reason not to invite them. Just be clear that their presence might be a new beginning, or it might be torture, but in any case it will be better than not inviting them and dealing with the consequences for the rest of your life.

  8. I say invite them. Although they clearly haven't been supportive of your relationship in the past, if they want to be there for him, they probably should be given the opportunity.

  9. I'm going through a similar thing with my sister. My fiance (who she wants nothing to do with because he's an atheist) has handled it so beautifully. He has been unfailingly polite to her, despite her rudeness. And he has made it my decision whether I want to invite her or not, something that I really appreciate. My point is: I agree you should be the bigger person. Do it for your future husband, because no matter how hard this drama is on you, it's MUCH harder on him. Imagine how much it must sting to be rejected by your own parents.

    And remember, even if your fiance wants to invite his family, you still get to decide how much you want to include them in the festivities. You don't necessarily have to invite them to the rehearsal dinner or allow them to give a speech. You can definitely skip the mother/son dance. You don't have to allow them a big role in the planning process.

  10. You guys are going to have to do a ton of juggling, compromising, full on giving in, and pride swallowing if you want to avoid (any more) major falling outs. You might as well start now. You're already the shiksa, you don't want to be the evil shiksa who banned his parents from the wedding.

    ...and you're kind of tied to them for life now.

  11. What everyone else said.

    Also, I've seen first hand how these tensions can escalate with the turn of a single event. Not inviting them to the wedding will actually become much, MUCH bigger than not inviting them to the wedding.

    Eventually it would just be added to the laundry list of reasons why they don't have to like you. "There's this reason, and then this reason, and then had the audacity to exclude us from our own son's wedding."

    Don't give them anything to fuel that fire with. You're so much better than that.


  12. Which of course is not to imply that any of their reasons are valid.

    But merely that people will always find reasons to hate. And if you can mitigate that, do yourself the favor and (as ESB said) be the bigger person.

  13. Right now he wants nothing to do with them. In seven years, he will probably be irritated at you for some reason & then he will fall back on them. If you allow them to get to you, he'll one day (eventually) be bothered by it. Even when you are 100% right & he agrees NOW... at some point the blood factor will help him forgive & want a relationship with them. Just be cautious how you act around them.

    My husband hates his family more than I do, and yet when he's mad at me... "I" am the "wedge that gets between them." Classy. That's how it is. Even if you never instigate a single thing. So you have to be careful to not even go there.

  14. You don't give yourself a leg to stand on when complaining about relatives if, when they start to come around and make baby steps toward reconciliation, you shut them out and don't give them a window to do right.

  15. Yes, being gracious is key. Taking the high road is the better place to be. These are your future children's grandparents.

    And @SpaceElephant is exactly right .... they are taking baby steps (for whatever reason), and you are a bigger person than to ignore that.

    It will pay off in the end and down the road and years and decades from now.

  16. what esb said.

    they were only being jerks before because they were trying to manipulate him into caving. now that they know he won't, they may end up embracing the relationship.

  17. You need to invite them, but you can always seat them near a fan or a speaker. I may be passive aggressive, though.

  18. invite them. be confident in being gracious because, at the end of the day, it's your wedding, your turf, your husband, your family. you'll never regret being dignified.

  19. Yeah, agree with the ESB. You have to look to 5, 10, 15 years down the road. You will want them to be part of the wedding and they'll want to be part of it too... that's probably what they're realizing. Who knows, this could help build bridges.

  20. In agreement with ESB and everyone else. Be gracious. Be a shining example of the perfect daughter-in-law. Be their non-Jewish dream come true. It won't be long before they realize that you're a great human-being and a great addition to the family.

    My super-duper Italian grandfather was SO against my cousin marrying a Lutheran woman, but he ended up coming to the wedding at the last minute and sitting crabbily through it. Four years later, she gave him his first (and probably only, before he passes away) great-grandchild. He LOVES this baby. He LOVES his grandson's Lutheran wife.

    Give them a chance to see who you are.

  21. I'm sorry you're going through this. I would be hurt too if I was marrying into a family that had pretty much rejected me because of a difference of faith. But this is their shit to work out with their son. Only after they are more accepting of his decision are they gonna start letting you in a bit. Good luck. Oh, and what everyone else said: invite them, and be gracious.

  22. Agreed.
    Plus, go and see a therapist where you do all your screaming without your fiancee having to hear. Getting a chance to really have a good, private and confidential rant will really help when it comes to being gracious and kind. If you can stop your insides boiling just a bit. (I know how you feel.)

    One more thing to think of is that people with stuck, aggressive views of the world take time to change their minds. They may not change at all of course, but if they do, it will be slowly and you need to be patient. (like Tonia's beautiful example).

    The other thing to consider is to be compassionate with yourself about the loss of the dream of your perfect wedding where everyone there is someone you love. Give yourself a moment to realise that that is just another fantasy and life is always more complicated.

    You realise I'm writing this because it's the advice I want to give to myself :)

  23. Thanks for all the comments. It's been really (read: reeeally) hard to get over some of the things that have been said about me by said parents (being called a crazy bitch before having met me kind of stung for a long while), but you're right. I'm leaving this up to him. Venting to the internet helped at least a little bit.

  24. Invite them.

    I agree that it's not the most ideal situation, but it's at the very least a step in the right direction. It shows progress.

    Please don't be the girl who exiles her in-laws (even though you have pretty good reason). Imagine future holidays, gatherings, events, or even if you end up having kids.

    In a nutshell, I agree with ESB. Be the bigger person. If you're super concerned about stress the day of, make sure your ladies know how to keep the drama away.

  25. they are his parents... invite them!

    you know how he got upset with them for not being friendly with you to start with? think of how he will feel towards you if you don't allow his parents to attend.

    they'll just be the jerks on the edge of the reception not participating and they will be missing out, don't let it bother you more than it already has!

  26. I'm going through something similar. Although, we have decided not to invite his parents. It wasn't so much them not accepting me... it was this his mom went bat shit crazy. My fiance has lived with (to help take care of) his Grandparents (his mother's parents) for 13 years. His Grandfather died last year. I moved in a few months later because I got a new job which required me to move and it just worked out. His mother got worried about her inheritance and has relentlessly tried to get Grandma to sign her over power of attorney. She said Grandma was a horrible person and mother to her and it was the only way to "make it up" to her. She said it's her birth right to inherit the home (we live in and have put a lot of money into to fix everything that breaks) when Grandma dies and that she hasn't saved for retirement and has plans for that money. She also tried to take Grandma to court to get some of the money that Grandpa left to Grandma when he died. She felt entitled to that as well. She has also called the entire family and said that we lock Grandma in the basement and don't let her leave the house. We have a split foyer home, she has the basement apartment (we live in the upstairs apartment) because her husband had a couple of heart attacks and the doctor said no more stairs. You can't get to the upstairs part of a split foyer home without taking stairs! The last straw came when she said something about how my fiance is 7 years older than I am, and he will die before me, and she doesn't want all of her family heirlooms to go to me and my family. And then referred to me as a piece of tail.

    I left the decision up to my fiance, but we openly discussed it. We are worried she will use our wedding as soapbox to speak her feelings to all of the family, since they will all be there. According to her, we have all back stabbed her and are plotting against her. The last thing she said to us was to go to hell and to forget she ever existed. But I know it hurts him that his parents won't be there; it hurts me too. I considered them family.

  27. That being said, it doesn't sound like your in-laws are going to make a scene. It sounds like they just want to be there for their son. I know it puts you in a weird spot, but I doubt you'll hardly even see them that day. Weddings are crazy busy!

    Its your wedding day. Don't let people spoil it for you. I know your fiance will appreciate having his parents there. And like others have said, it could be a new beginning. And if you have kids one day, you might want involved grandparents.

    Enjoy your wedding day!

  28. Invite them and think about including The Horah in the reception activities. Once they join the circle (which is impossible to do and still be grumpy) their blessing is given.

    Doing the Horah to Hava Nagila is way more fun than the stupid Chicken Dance and it really brings people together. I'm a non-Jew who married a Jewish guy and it was one of the highlights of the night for me.

    Also, I think if they do show up for the wedding they are starting down the road to acceptance. They were resisting the marriage for cultural reasons which feel personal but really aren't. If you give them a chance to get to know you, most likely they will come around. You just have to make it easy for them so they can say to their friends and family "Well she isn't Jewish but she is a really nice girl". They really just need a good catch phrase to explain it to people.

  29. Dude, also: his parents means that he gets to be the go-between. He's gotten your go-ahead to include them, but he also needs to step up. No more letting them call you a crazy bitch. Ever. He is going to instruct them to bring a gift, to not spread malicious or condescending talk at your wedding, and generally be as genial and lovely as they can bear. if they misbehave or make you feel sad or upset, their guest rights will be revoked on the spot and your husband will be the one to deal with it.

    Breath, breath, ahhhh.

  30. On the first place. Still it's your husbands parents and you couldn't do anything to stop them to attend the wedding. All you have to do is respect their decisions and let them do what they think their appropriate attitude to show on your wedding.

  31. Yeah, I say invite them too. My reasoning is that you are more likely in the future to regret not inviting them, than you are to regret inviting them, even if things don't go well in your relationship with them. Save yourself and your husband the heartache of the "what if"s

  32. am i the only one who doesnt like their in-laws?!? i could care less if i ever saw them again. i mean if you hubby wants them there then of course suck it up. but i feel for you mine are dreadful and i want to move 1000 miles away and never tell them. ugh.

  33. I wouldn't invite them at all, why allow them to ruin your big day by being there? If I wouldn't have them around my future children then I won't have them at my wedding!