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511Re: [KWChoir] Mother -in-law Stories

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  • Susan Stoltze
    Sep 28, 2006
      I don't suppose your mother-in-law is Jewish (and you're not)?
       
      I actually wrote a five-page letter to our pre-marital rabbi and his wife because we were having so much trouble with my beloved's parents last year when we were married (we will celebrate our 1st anniversary the first weekend in November).  Up until two weeks before the wedding, we didn't know if his mother would show up.
       
      At every opportunity both his parents would trot out a "laundry list" of all the reasons why he shouldn't marry me.  Apparently it was "dishonorable" for their eldest son to marry a shiksa.  My mother-in-law sat in the back of the ceremony room and pouted, refused to wear the corsage I bought for her, never said one word of "good luck, happy marriage or even smiled.  She swore up and down that since I wasn't Jewish, we couldn't possibly have a Jewish wedding (big surprise to our rabbi), that anything resembling a Jewish wedding would be a "mockery" and a "fiasco" and that of course they wouldn't attend anything BUT a Jewish wedding.  Shades of Catch-22.  They didn't lift one finger to help out or ask about how things were going, etc.
       
      My father-in-law met me at a local restaurant on the sly to beg me to make a meaningless conversion for the sake of HIS marriage.  That way he and his wife could hold their heads up in their little circle of friends and say, "but of course our boy married a nice Jewish girl ..."  I told him that he was asking me to commit an act of dishonor and that nothing but a rip in the fabric of time would make me appear before his god with a lie on my lips.  He told me as we were leaving that he was shocked and disappointed that I didn't immediately agree to convert!!!
       
      Instead of being overtly obnoxious, my mother-in-law is passive agressive.  For instance, when the family gets together, i.e., the parents, his brother and his Jewish wife, and my husband and me, the other two ladies will bring up subjects like the maids, the summer camps, the mah jong tournaments -- all the things that are a cultural mystery to me.  No one can talk intelligently about music, history, plants and gardening, so naturally I am the silent partner. 
       
      Our rabbi's wife had some excellent advice, as she is a family/marriage counselor.  Some of the things she told us were:
       
      1.  Some people are just "crazy makers."  Their sole purpose in life is to make your's miserable.  You can choose to give in to emotional blackmail or not.
       
      2.  You and your spouse MUST present a united front.  There is nothing wrong with a delay tactic like "John and I must talk about this first - family policy - so we'll get back to you."  I must say that works like a charm for me and my husband.
       
      3.  You cannot choose how your in-laws treat you.  You can always choose how you react to it.
       
      4.  As personal as your mother-in-law tries to make things, do not stoop to her level.  You will probably lose.  Remember, her son is wonderful (or why are you married to him?) and so are your children and (unfortunately) that connection is there with her.
       
      5.  Always leave an escape route.
       
      6.  If you feel like you are going to go nuclear every time you visit, or she visits you, as a last resort consider visiting a family counselor with your husband to learn more coping mechanisms.  If he won't (or can't go), then go yourself.
       
      Believe me, I have and still do, share your pain.  On a final note, smiling and walking away will make her more nuts than anything else you do.
       
      Yours in service (and sympathy)
      Susanna Merrybegot
      Susan Stoltze
       
      p.s.  I have always wanted to start a daughter-in-law or shiksa daughter-in-law support group on line ... keep in touch and let us know how you are doing?


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