Partner should step in when in-laws insult

Question: My fiancé’s parents are overbearing and controlling. For three years of our dating, they’ve never accepted me.

I’ve had problems finding work in the past year and admit I may’ve been a tad lazy. However, I’ve recently become a mortgage broker, yet this still isn’t good enough for them.

My fiancé has a child with another woman who’d used him and cheated on him and they think all women are like this (I’m not!). They constantly badmouth me to him and put him in the middle, trying to drive a wedge between us.

They even refuse to acknowledge me in Christmas cards and won’t talk to me. We’re trying to have a baby and they say, “I hope you can’t have kids, you’ll be a bad mother,” even though my fiancé’s son loves me.

What can I do to get them to come around? I love my fiancé more than anything and want to live a peaceful life with him.


Answer: Where’s your fiancé in all this?

You shouldn’t even know about their badmouthing you, because a thoughtful, supportive guy wouldn’t repeat what they tell him.

When they treat you shabbily in his presence, he should be leaping to your defence, even walking out the door with you.

Since you mention nothing of the kind from him, I urge you to hold off on the plans to conceive a child. Until you two are a solid unit there will not be peace between you and his family. It may even mean pushing them away for a while until they appreciate that he’s your champion.

But is that so?

Question: I have a longtime girlfriend whose friendship I value very much. However, I’m married and she’s divorced. We both know each other’s families.

Although my husband also enjoys her company, we want to do some things on our own, but she always wants to be included if she knows about it. It’s difficult to set limits and tell her this without hurting her feelings.

We include her a lot for casual outings and at home, and she reciprocates in various ways.

I don’t get the feeling that she makes single friends or has the desire to do so. I have empathy, as I’m sure it’s difficult after you’ve been married for years, but at the same time I need a resolution, which will allow us to continue to be friends.


Answer: Divorce doesn’t end one’s awareness of couples’ needs. And a good friend shows empathy in return. Of course you and your husband need time on your own. It should be stated as simply as that, with a smile on your face.

Sweeten the news by first inviting her to something else, but then be upfront about couple time. She knows perfectly well how important that can be, she’s just used to relying on you. If you’re busy sometimes, she may be more motivated to get out with others.

Question: A surprising number of women I know are divorcing or thinking of separating. I don’t want to split up my family, but I also find my partner doesn’t “get it” about pulling his weight at home. How can I get him to be more helpful without always ending up fighting?


Answer: Focus on your marriage and the way you two communicate, not just about the domestic scene. Discuss and be willing yourself to compromise, explore solutions, get professional help, and follow through on changes. Don’t be influenced by others’ stories. You don’t know both sides.


When in-laws are nasty, it’s their adult child who has to respond or rebuff.

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