Ok so it is reasonably well documented here that I have a nuclear winter-like frozen somewhat rocky relationship with DH’s family. His parents specifically. Part of that is due to the fact that I am one stubborn beyotch who pretty much always wants things my way. Part of it is due to the fact that they are pretty old school European and don’t really get me and this crazy concept of not assimilating 100% into my husband’s family and culture. And the final part is due, as I have recently discovered, to the fact that DH is a craptastic communicator (well, this part isn’t all that new) who wants to please everyone (also not new – except it’s mostly me who ends up displeased) and thus filters everything through his must-gain-unanimous-approval filter.
A few weekends ago we had the blow out to end all blow outs. The whys and the whats and the hows are irrelevant at this point in time and we’ve since kissed and made up. But you can no doubt imagine that terrible names were called, voices were raised and tears were shed. Also I packed a bag, packed the cat and left the house which added a new (and frightening-to-the-DH) dimension to the usual “frank and open discussions” we’ve had in the past.
But before I left the house I called DH’s parents. During our “frank and open discussion” Dh accused me of doing something I didn’t feel was really all that terrible. But for once, instead of digging my heels in, I took the high road and called to apologize for my imaginary-to-everyone-but-the-DH infraction. I ended up speaking to the MIL. We didn’t talk for long but it turned out to be a very illuminating five minutes. Turns out that for the past three and bit years we’ve been telling the DH the EXACT SAME THINGS. And it also turns out that while we each love the DH, it’s a completely different kind of love (obviously….we don’t live in Alabama and our respective family trees thankfully have many many branches) and neither one of us is really all that interested in competing with each other for the different kind of affections the DH has.
It was five minutes that changed my life. In quite literally an instant, I saw things in a totally different way. We both want the same things for the DH but since we were talking to each other THROUGH him, the message got confused. He filtered what he told each of us. Not because he’s evil (that would be my job) but because he has a strong need for approval and probably thought he would be able to make us all happy if he controlled the message.
He could not have been more wrong.
I’m not saying that it’s all hugs and kisses and rainbows and kittens between the MIL and me now. I suspect, given our different ages, cultures, upbringing and life experiences there will always be some friction between us. And she still drives me mental sometimes. After all, she thinks she knows what is best for DH and so do I and sometimes it really isn’t the same thing we want for him so the poor guy really is between a rock and a hard place given his approval issues. Plus I imagine it’s hard for a mother to see her son being looked after by another woman who can do just as good of a job (if not better in my humble opinion) as she can. Especially if that mother has poured all her energies into looking after her children. And let’s face it, sometimes I just like to get my evil on and poke poke poke at the soft underbelly parts of her psyche. Well, ok so now I feel guilty doing that to the MIL but the FIL….totally different ball of wax. He is fair game still.
Anyhoo, I think we’ve become allies of a sort. Over the last few weeks she’s shown me a more human side of herself and I’ve opened up and let her into my life, which is probably all she ever really wanted in the first place…to belong. MIL will never in a hundred million bazillion quadrillion years replace my mom. Never. And I will never replace her daughter. Ever. But, it is a lot nicer now, knowing that we’re on the same side. Visits to their house, aside from the “interesting” cooking, aren’t nearly as painful as they were, although, there’s still some pain there and always will be. And it does give me a deliciously smug feeling knowing that DH now faces the united front of me and his mom especially as it turns out that we often want the same things. But I’m still calling them outlaws. That is just too much fun to stop saying. Besides, every honeymoon has an eventual end and I’m sure there will be another post outlining the new horrors his family will inflict upon me.