In-laws. Can't live with em. Can't kill em because we're all too pretty for jail.
I met my now-husband when we worked together nearly 10 years ago. He told me one day that his folks would be close by for a wedding that weekend and were planning to stop by and see him on the job. (They live about an hour away, and it was a very casual workplace, so this visit wasn't invasive.) About an hour prior to their arrival, he was very visibly unnerved and he suddenly asked me not to mention to his parents that we were dating. His reasoning was that an interrogation (of him) would follow and he wasn't ready or willing to answer questions like that about us. (We had only been dating a few weeks at this point.) Ever the over-thinker, I rebutted: Are you ashamed of me? Why don't you want them to know about me? What's so bad about me that you don't want them to know that we're dating? He had already been around my folks and hit it off with them immediately. I'm great with parents! What was really going on??
I reluctantly agreed to be just his coworker, and not his girlfriend, for the day. They arrived, made a quick tour around the office, we shook hands and exchanged pleasantries. They were there about 30 minutes, and by my DH's thinking, it was a successful visit. I was still hurt by not being acknowledged as his lady love, but I moved on from it.
Fast forward about 6 months. My then-BF-now-DH and I were travelling together for work, and our day trip took us very near his grandmother's house (MIL's mom). (Granny was very old and a widow, and MIL and FIL spent every weekend at her house.) After our work event, we decided to swing by and say hello.
As with every weekend, MIL and FIL were there, and we had a nice, albeit short, visit where DH introduced me as his girlfriend. We leave and are barely out of the neighborhood when he gets an irate call from his mother. Mind you, we are riding in a company vehicle. Together. I'm 2 feet away and heard every word. Why hadn't he told them about me? Why did he have to embarrass them like that, dropping a new girlfriend on them so suddenly? Why, they didn't know he was even dating anyone! How dare he not keep then more informed! (Please note the pattern. Everything is about THEM.)
That day, I understood why he wanted to keep me a secret for so long. I was no longer hurt or offended, all I felt was pity for this man I loved who was being bullied like a child.
Fast-forward another 2 months. He popped the question! I said yes, absolutely I'll marry you! We told my parents. They weren't terribly excited at the thought of their daughter, who was dawdling through college at the time, getting married (or pregnant) before graduating, but they were supportive nonetheless. We agreed to stay engaged as long as needed for me to graduate - only another 2 years or so. His mother's reaction to our news? And I quote, 'Oh. We didn't think you were THAT serious about her.'
Fast-forward another 6 months. Due to an 'economic downturn' (read: our boss decided he didn't like his employees dating), we were both 'laid off' (read: fired), but had another 4 weeks before we had to leave. DH found a job about 30 minutes away and I decided to follow him. I moved out of my folks house and we got our first apartment together. It was exciting at first, until it wasn't. He wasn't sharing his financial troubles with me, and I was only working part-time. About 8 months in, he finally confessed that there is no money, he's broke and even had to get a payday loan to make the rent. I was mortified and crushed that we would have to separate. I moved back in with my folks, and he went to live with his, and we spent a dreadful year in a long-distance relationship.
Having control back over her son, MIL was in hog heaven. He would try to do his own laundry, she would refuse him, saying that was woman's work. He would try to cook a meal for himself and his son (from his previous marriage - one she helped destroy). She again refused him, saying it wasn't right for a man to do such things. Clean clothes and a full stomach? Gasp! How dare he try to be an adult! *gag* It was also during this time that she began trying to turn DS against DH and me. He was 5 at the time, get an grip, lady. She would manipulate him. Buy him things to hold over his head. She made DH an authorized user on one of her credit cards as a means to control him, and berated him when he refused to use it. She undermined his parenting, and he was made to feel so small under this shrew's roof.
She had my man. She had my kid. She even had my cat. I would get phone calls from him all the time, apologizing that he let his money situation get so bad, sorry he wasn't with me, sorry we never got to see each other. He was in an inescapable hell. His mother berated him at every turn. Why wasn't he doing more with his life? Why didn't he want to spend more time with them? Why did he have time spend every other weekend (when he didn't have DS) to drive up and see HER?
The man had his fill of her BS. Without their knowledge, he began applying to jobs closer to me. He got one very quickly! A sales job similar to the one he had. He put in his notice at work, but didn't tell his folks, knowing the barrage of garbage that would be hurled at him. That weekend, we found him a modest apartment (that would accept pets!) and he put down a deposit! Here we go! It was all coming together, our year apart was finally over and I was so relieved.
The day before he was set to start at his new job, he decided to test the waters with his parents over dinner. He told them only that he was looking for jobs near me, not that he had gotten one and had even found a place to live. You would think he had killed their dog and spit on the queen! Suddenly, he owed them thousands of dollars (for helping him pay for his first divorce 4 years earlier), payable immediately. His dad threatened him with physical violence if he even thought about leaving. He called me after their conversation, once again beaten down by their garbage. I advised him to pack up his truck and GTFO of there. They would be out of the house for several hours that evening, and he could be gone in under an hour. All our big stuff was in storage with me, so he loaded up the clothes he had, DS's toys, and the cat and headed up to me! My folks agreed to put him up for a few nights since his apartment wouldn't be ready for another 3 days. He arrived fairly late, I advised he turn off his phone and go to bed and be ready for his first day of work the next day.
Sure enough, when he turned his phone on the next morning, he had dozens of text messages and loads of voicemails. His mother was irate. Why had he just picked up and left? Where were all of DS's toys? Where had he gone? When he got off work that evening, he was finally able to have a conversation with his dad. His complaint? 'You didn't even let me say goodbye to the cat.' He vowed that DH was dead to them and that they would no longer be in contact. That, of course, was way too good to be true!
My man settled right in, doing great at his job, our relationship was rocking, I was less than a year away from graduating, life was perfect. His move even brought him closer to DS, which meant a shorter commute on his custody weekends. He started going to my church, which my family loved, and even decided to be baptised, which thrilled my folks even more.
Fast forward a few months to January. Knowing I would be graduating in May, and looking at a wedding date in October, we decided to start pre-marital counseling. (It was required by our minister who we wanted to do the ceremony, and it was a state-sponsored program, so we saved a boat load of money on our marriage license!) We were reluctant at first... I've been with this guy going on 4 years, what could I possibly learn about him? It actually turned out to be quite a lot of fun, and very valuable, and I highly recommend it, even if it isn't faith-based! I digress. At our first session, our minister collected some basic information about us, including our wedding date. When we told him October, with my reason of wanting a fall wedding, he said, "Why put off starting your life together?" My one piddly reason didn't sound so important anymore, so we started considering dates in June. We arrived on a June date approximately one month after my graduation.
We told my folks, who were more than supportive, and his folks, who were probably just shocked he was even still with me. *eyeroll* Anyway, we get everything planned and bought and organized. Invitations went out, including one to my IL's, as a formality. When she saw the date on the invitation was June and not October, she went absolutely nuts, accusing us of intentionally leaving her out of the decisions, even though everyone was left out of the decision except the bride and groom, so.... whatever. Also, she had been told a couple months prior. Anyway, my last semester was more than a little hectic as I was working 2 jobs, taking 18 hours, applying and interviewing for jobs, and volunteering with the children at my church. Somehow we all survived! I graduated on a Saturday in May and started my new job the following Monday. I was commuting to a job, ironically enough, about 5 miles from my IL's house.
After all the accusations flying, and the nasty calls DH was getting from them about how I was leaving them out of everything and not letting them make any of the decisions, I decided to plan a solo visit to their house one evening after work. (This was the Tuesday before our wedding on Saturday.) We cleared the air. Sort of. I mean, it was a one-sided conversation in which I (politely) defended myself for a couple of hours, but I felt good about being the bigger person and falling on my sword, accepting more than my fair share of the blame for our not-great relationship. Bury the hatchet for good, or so I thought...
We parted ways that evening and I felt good. We all agreed to keep the lines of communication open and make steps in the right direction. I did not see them again until the day of the wedding. They refused to come up the night before (not necessary since they only lived an hour away), but as a result arrived way later than expected, stressing out DH since it cramped his plans for the afternoon. I had asked MIL on Tuesday to bring a jar of soil or dirt from their yard to the wedding for our unity ceremony. (I planned a unity ceremony wherein we would use soil from my childhood home and soil from his childhood home and plant an ivy together. DS got to come up and water it when we were done! It was pretty perfect actually, and now we have a living momento from our wedding instead of some cheesy sand art or a set of candles we can't light.) My MIL brought no soil, claiming she was never told to do so. (That's one of her favorite tricks - conveniently forgetting things she's been told whenever it suits her. Remember the part about not knowing he was dating me? And moving up the wedding date? Same thing.) So my poor mother had to scramble to find some dirt - I think she just got some from the church lawn! Oh well, not about big deal, but just one more thing to have to deal with on an already busy and stressful day.
Then I saw her at the church... First let me say that I advised her earlier that week to wear some shade of purple, since that was my chosen color. She was delighted since that was her favorite color. My mother bought a dress in a shade of lilac, my attendants wore deep plum, DH's tie was purple, DS wore a lavender button-down, I even dyed my shoes purple! We weren't all matchy-matchy, but it all went well together. Organized chaos, right? So here she comes. Listen, it's the middle of June. It's Texas. It's flippin hot. This b-word show's up to my wedding wearing a floor-length BLACK dress, complete with BLACK shawl. She was clearly in mourning for her poor son having to marry this witch, right? Anyway, she feigned ignorance at my request that she wear purple, her favorite color, claiming I had told her no such thing! (Selective forgetfulness, remember?) At that point, I was already over her. Done. It was my wedding day, and she doesn't get to take my cool!
(I think this is enough for one post, right? I'll continue later, so much more to tell!)