It’s time again for “Dear Wendy Updates,” a feature where people I’ve given advice to in the past let us know whether they followed the advice and how they’re doing now. Today we hear from “Pissed At His Family” whose boyfriend’s family accused him of theft after he retrieved some items from his recently deceased father’s home. She was also angry that the new wife took the washer, dryer, and couch instead of letting the son (and his girlfriend, the LW) take them. She wondered how they might “air their grievances” and move forward. Keep reading to see whether things have been resolved.
This whole situation with Jake’s family has been frustrating, primarily because of how hurtful they have been. We definitely are trying to rise above, but it ain’t easy! We invited them all to our wedding, but not a single one is coming. His grandmother even sent two RSVPs – one saying she was coming and another declining. (We followed up and confirmed she’s not coming). Jake was also really hurt that no one invited him for Christmas – no one even asked if he had plans. He wants so much to have relationships with his father’s family, but they continue to hurt him over and over again. It’s hard to watch this, but they are his family and I’ll support him however he wants to proceed; I just won’t be the one reaching out to them/asking him to reach out to them.
Wendy, you really had a point about not flaming the fire and I took it to heart. I shifted my focus to listening and being supportive rather than asking some variation of, “What did they do now?!” That in and of itself made a big difference for both of us and helped us to be better able to take things in stride. It served as a big reminder that we cannot control others’ actions, only how we respond. It also allowed Jake to vent when he needed to and not feel pressured to get into it every night.
I won’t lie, it’s been frustrating that his father’s family has been fighting everything. Jake is the only heir named in the will–I misspoke in my initial letter/had a misunderstanding of the situation as his grandmother was named executor only if Jake was under 18 when his father passed–and is the sole benefactor of his father’s life insurance. A lot of money was spent in legal fees because they were attempting to contest the life insurance payout. They claimed it was because they wanted Jake to cover the funeral expenses (which he did, but he needed the insurance money to afford it). It would’ve saved everyone a lot of money and time, and the funeral homes — the family insisted on two, one local and one where extended family is located — would’ve been paid more quickly, if they would have asked Jake directly instead of taking legal action.
Ironically, they accused him of being a thief, but technically they were the ones who had been stealing since he is the sole heir named in the will. His father was in debt and the house was about to go into foreclosure, so it’s not like there was really even that much to fight over. Initially, Jake was disappointed that things were taken from his childhood home, especially by his stepmother, a woman he’s only met three times. After that initial hurt subsided, he realized that the “stuff” wasn’t important or worth fighting over and he has said that his father’s widow is welcome to whatever else she wants. He just wants to move on. Additionally, it’s almost a year later and probate is still open because the relative who took it over has been dragging her feet and refusing to do anything in a timely manner. I try to remember that she is mourning, but it’s hard to be sympathetic when I see how much pain she has personally caused Jake.
Things really have improved since I first wrote in. This no longer dominates our daily lives, and we are focusing on moving forward. Like I said, we’re getting married soon, and we’re also in the process of buying our first home. We will continue to take the high road, but we won’t be surprised if it’s not reciprocated. Hopefully, there will be a resolution to all the legal/probate stuff soon and Jake and his family can work on healing their relationships.
Thanks for the advice!
Thank you for the update! Congrats on your upcoming wedding and all your plans moving forward, including buying a home. It’s unfortunate Jake doesn’t have the relationship with his father’s family that he would like. Maybe ties with them will improve in the future, but, if not, at least he has you and the family you bring him. Best wishes to you both!
If you’re someone I’ve given advice to in the past, I’d love to hear from you, too. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with a link to the original post, and let me know whether you followed the advice and how you’re doing now.