All I came here for was a chance to be part of my fiancé’s family, and no one will give me the time of day except a select few who don’t live as close and aren’t in the “gossip circle.” On top of that, my fiancé’s ex-girlfriend has been coming to family functions lately — with the guy she cheated on my boyfriend with! — and his family seems to like her far more than me.
I’m at my breaking point and don’t know what I should do. My fiancé is very upset about how his family is acting but refuses to move back to my home state because he’s afraid he won’t have the same job opportunities there. I’m starting to wonder if I should just move home alone. Any advice? — Not Welcomed By His Family
I sympathize with you, I do, but, if you’re honestly considering moving home alone (and, I assume, breaking off your engagement) because of some “mean stares and cold shoulders” and some apparent gossip you don’t know the details of, I wonder how ready you are for marriage. There will be bigger hurdles in your marriage than some mean stares and gossip. Are you going to run home — or threaten to run home — every time your relationship is challenged? I hope not.
It sucks that your fiancé’s family hasn’t given you a warm and welcoming reception, but, if you love your fiancé — and I assume you do or you wouldn’t have agreed to marry him and you wouldn’t have moved to another state for him — you can’t throw in the towel so quickly. You say your fiancé is very upset by the way his family is behaving, but does he have any theories about WHY they are acting the way they are? Does HE have any advice for you about getting along better with them? Did he warn you that this may be the reception you’d receive or is he just as surprised as you are? If you were to choose one or two family members to try to endear yourself to and break into the fold, which family members does your fiancé think would be the best ones to “work on,” so to speak? How is HE helping to break you in? Have you hosted any of his large family at your place? Perhaps being in a role of host rather than guest would be the change in dynamics you need to start building better relationships with your fiancé’s family.
As for the breaking point you feel you’re at, I’d suggest focusing on creating a life for yourself outside your relationship. Are you working? Have you made friends in your new town? (Here’s some advice for making new friends as an adult). I would also suggest setting a deadline for when you need to feel more at home and at ease in your fiancé’s town and within his family. You don’t need to share this deadline with him, but it can help your mental state knowing there is an end point (that you can, of course, modify at any time). You can decide that, say, six months from now would be a good time to discuss moving home again/ breaking up if you aren’t feeling any better about the state of things. And then, for the next six months, give it everything you’ve got, and enlist as much of your fiancé’s help as he’s willing to give. Foster the relationships you’ve managed to make with a select few of his family members — invite them to do things with you, text or call or email them — and use those relationships to help bridge gaps you feel with other members of the family.
If, after six months (or however much longer you decide you’re willing to keep trying), things haven’t improved enough for you to feel happy where you are, then talk seriously to your fiancé about moving, even at the cost of your relationship. If neither of you can be happy where the other prefers to live, this may be a case of you simply not being the right match. But don’t give up yet. Fight for your relationship. If you can get through this bumpy transition together, your relationship — and ultimately, your future marriage — will be much stronger for the challenge.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.