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My husband's parents do not approve of our marriage and the stress is pulling us apart

heart to heart The questioner's philosophy
I am a re-married Catholic with three teenagers.
The questioner's hopes and aspirations
I aspire to have a loving marriage.
My husband and I knew each other and dated for about six years prior to getting married three years ago. He is the oldest son (of 2) and I am the oldest daughter (of 4). I am ten years older than he and have three wonderful teenagers from a previous marriage. My children love my husband as do I. But we have a problem. My husband's parents do not approve of our relationship/marriage. Never have. I have never met his mother and have only met his father one time in all the years we have been together. My husband does not discuss his family with me or me with them because he knows that they do not approve.

The problem, besides this, is that they live on a 675 acre family farm five hours from us. My husband is not allowed to bring our family to the farm even though his parents want/need his help at times and demand his presence at major holidays. I have never spent a Christmas day with my husband and the past 3 years, have spent most of the Christmas holiday alone with the kids despite his telling me that "he will be home with us for Christmas holiday." Needless to say, this has caused HUGE amounts of stress/anxiety on him and me.

He desperately wants to please his parents and me but "chooses" to ditch me in favor of his parents whenever he gets pulled. When he is there, he is not allowed to use the house phone to call me and his cell phone gets poor reception so I am usually unable to have any contact with him. He knows that he is hurting me but seems unable to see his way through what he needs to do to remedy the problem. I love my husband but have a heart condition that is aggravated by stress/emotional anxiety. He is suffering from severe anxiety/stress and stomach issues. This situation is not helping either of us or the kids, who want to be a "real family" at holidays. Help! Please!

Maurice's reply
Maurice Turmel

You knew what you were getting when you married this man. You mistakenly believed that he would change once your family started coming along. He remains what you signed up for, a person who is totally indoctrinated by his parents. Given their unwillingness to even meet his children shows them to be selfish, childish and insanely stubborn. Who on earth would give up a chance to be with their children's offspring?

He is likely guilt-ridden at every holiday season. The answer for you is simple. Pick another day for your family Christmas tradition and do whatever pleases you on that day. If you want to continue pulling at him at this time of year then be prepared to lose over and over again, and then take it to mean that you and the kids are unimportant. That is now you being a victim.

Someone has to be the grownup here, and since it will never be his parents, then it must be you. Otherwise you are just as stubborn as they are and you will feel terrible every December 25th until your husband's parents finally pass on.

Those are your current options. Do you want to be happy? Or do you want to be right? Decide! Your feelings of happiness are in your hands, not his, and not his parents, unless you give them that power.

Read more questions on this topic


Margaret Both comments, Jan 2010:
There appears to be a misunderstanding about the teenage children. They are not the biological children of the husband, rather he is their step-father.

It is a sad situation that the man’s parents are so unforgiving and inflexible. However, he owes his allegiance to his wife and then to his step-children if he is to be a good and proper husband and parent.

He needs to stand up to his parents, without dishonouring them, and state that he is now married and the step-father of teenagers; he loves his wife and step-children, and his parents are causing unnecessary grief all round by not accepting that fact; that he has his own life to live the way he see most fit. Because he has seemingly not taken a mature approach and has allowed himself to be dictated to by his parents, then they will never respect him and will invariably dominate the situation. Parents have no right to treat their adult children as children, unless that adult child gives permission, which it appears what this man has done.

I think that the 675 acre family farm is probably at the crux of the matter. It could be that the son, as the eldest, may lose his share of the inheritance if he doesn’t ‘kowtow’ to his parents. As this man does not appear to have biological children of his own and his wife is 10 years his senior, then perhaps his parents have real issues about their Will. Money or property is often the cause of family disputes.

Anita comments, Jan 2010:
Wow, this woman's situation sounds very similar to what my family went through. After a year of not seeing my husband because of 'always being at his parents farm' at the drop of a hat (yes, parental approval wanted here), coming home always grumpy and tired - and yelling at the kids..... I finally told him I would leave him. Not because I didn't love him, but because I could not carry on living this way... my head space was not good... I was yelling at the kids in my frustrations... basically not a good life.

He was never appreciated from his parents since a kid... always left alone to watch his younger siblings... parents too busy to spend time with them etc... So there was a lot of those 'childhood' repercusions etc. And yet he was still never appreciated to this day. Anyway, basically I asked him to CHOOSE between me or his parents... His life was here and now with us... not his parents..... (in my way of selfish thinking anyway).

To cut a long story short.... it didn't help that we lived only 10 minutes away from the farm... but one week later he got offered two jobs... took one of them and now works four days on and four days off... he is very happy with four days at home with us.... getting things done that HE wants to do round the house... and is no longer stressed all the time....

Basically, he focused on what he REALLY wanted out of his life... and did he love the lifestyle he was living. His answer was no. so he focused on what he wanted - and HE GOT IT!

Our family life is amazing, he gets more 'loving' from me... and I no longer put pressure on him IN ANY FORM whatsoever.... everything happens for a reason and at the right time... I guess it had to take a year for us to make these huge changes... but well worth the wait.

Maybe something of the above may help.... maybe not.... at the end of the day... maybe ask yourself.. am I happy.? If no, then what actions can be taken to be happy.... you only have one life... it is long... it needs to be enjoyed by all.

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