Well, the wedding day came and the FIL was dressed in a button-down collar shirt and khaki pants while the MIL, her sister, and her niece show up in jeans and black Queen t-shirts. My MIL was a completely different person and acted like she barely even knew me. We had gotten really close during the six-year period before the wedding, so it was a surprise to me that she was acting this way towards me and her son on our wedding day. I have been told that my MIL and her sister were singing Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody during our wedding and talking bad about me in front of my family. My husband and I did not talk to them after the wedding. My BIL went to their house to talk and they didn’t even open the door to him. He ended up texting them, while still sitting in his car in their driveway, basically telling them how disappointed he was in their behavior at the wedding especially since, a week before the wedding, they were singing my praises.
My husband has recently reached out to his parents, and he’s only gotten vague responses back from both parents. We have not seen them since the wedding. My dilemma is I really want to be honest with them and tell them they are in the wrong and should apologize before we can truly become a family again. I could go into a lot more detail from the past six years to the present, but it would take too long. I just wonder if there is anything I should or shouldn’t do? — Queen For a Day
Look, you don’t have to be “honest” and your in-laws don’t have to “apologize” in order for you all to be family again. They are your husband’s parents, so, like it or not, you are family already. Done, period. Now, if you want to have a good relationship, then of course a conversation is in order. But I promise you that being “honest” with them about how “wrong” they were, how right you were, and how they need to apologize is going to go over like a lead balloon. You say that you and your MIL were very close and that her behavior at your wedding was very out-of-character and came as a total surprise to you. So, regardless of the details of the past six years that you didn’t share here, it’s safe to say that something happened just before the wedding to make your in-laws behave the way they did.
What do you think that something might be? Hmm… Do you think maybe they might have felt offended and had their feelings hurt that they offered to host an intimate, family-only wedding at their small home, you accepted their offer, and then, within a day, you were suddenly having a much larger wedding at your parents’ marina? Do you think they might have felt like their humble home wasn’t good enough for you? Can you see how that might have shamed them, embarrassed them, disappointed them? You weren’t even going to have a wedding at all until they encouraged you to do so, and then their contribution was suddenly brushed aside for something bigger and better. They probably felt pretty disregarded.
And yet! And yet, your letter here indicates that all that matters is YOUR feelings. You didn’t even talk to them at your wedding and THEY are the ones who were out of line. How do you not go talk to your husband’s parents at your wedding — at the wedding they offered to host only days before? This blatant lack of regard for them says so much more about you and your husband than what your in-laws’ t-shirts said about them. At the very least, it seems you are equally responsible for how things went down on your wedding day. Yes, they were acting petty and juvenile and should have taken the high road and shown respect for you and their son at your wedding, but you should have been more loving with them, been more appreciative of their gesture to host your wedding (that you weren’t even going to have until they encouraged it), and done something to involve them in the wedding celebrations in a way they obviously wanted to be included in.
It would go a long way to acknowledge where you could have been more gracious and to apologize for hurting your in-laws’ feelings. It might not get you an immediate apology from them or a full and immediate reconciliation, but it would be the start in smoothing the ruffled feathers and repairing the damaged relationship. These are your husband’s parents. You had a good relationship with them for six years. It would be ridiculous to cut them out of your lives because they wore t-shirts to your wedding.
Taking the high road isn’t always easy, or quickly gratifying, but often — and this is certainly one of those times — the discomfort of taking it is far out-shadowed by the risks of not taking it. In this case, I fear that if you and your husband remain stubborn and let this rift continue to grow, the relationship between all of you may become irreparably damaged. It would be such a shame to let that happen. You would miss out on so much. If you can’t do it for your own sake, or for the sake of any future children, do it for your husband: apologize to your in-laws and re-open the space you have for them in your heart. I mean really, what do you have to lose if you do that? Much, much less than if you don’t…
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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.