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Just mending the fence and not building new one.
After ten months of “mending fences” in our marriage, our counselor helped us come to realize that we were living our marriage without boundaries. This is not an advisable way to live. Human beings took advantage of our failure to be firm and they ran amuck. Without my boundary for loyalty, my husband did not protect me from his family. This added to my list of “irreconcilable differences.”
During our reconciliation process, I started to do a little research on the type of behavior I was witnessing from my in-laws so that my husband understood my point-of-view. I discovered that on a school playground this type of behavior is called bullying, but when you are a grown-up it is called harassment. In an extreme case, a woman actually sued her ex-mother-in-law for harassment and won. She won £35,000 in an English courtroom.
I was through. I demanded my name back. I wanted my autonomy. I wanted my right to be my own person. I wanted say in who was allowed to stay in my life. I changed my name to get away from my in-laws and wrote to them about the three large issues in the last twelve months and informed them that I was, in brief, divorcing them.
In the first decade of our marriage, my husband’s parents started with snide comments about my clothes. Apparently, they do not approve of buying clothes with logos or labels. Well, first let us bring up the fact that they do not buy my clothes. Second, why did it bother them? Here is a little tip…mind your own business. But, my husband chose not to confront them on the basis that we simply did not see them often enough to make an issue over it. I bit my tongue for years, but in my heart my resentment grew for him.
Throughout the years these controlling episodes escalated. Two winters past, my husband’s parents asked us for $10,000 (not a loan mind you) to purchase an upgraded time-share condo, but my husband considered this an unwise investment and sent them a set of financial questions. If they could justify this type of purchase, we would review the request. Well, my husband never received a reply. However, my husband’s mother replied to me. She yelled at me in my own kitchen last summer. She demanded, “I want to know how the two of you decide who you give money to and who you don’t.” Not to mention, she waited until her son left for his office for this confrontation. When I told my husband when he returned home, he said, “What do you want me to do about it?” I bit my tongue, but duly noted his indifference to me and my resentment grew stronger.
What now? This escapade (and two or three others) rattled me to the core. Her behavior was unacceptable. His response was unacceptable. But it took me months to realize what needed to be done. It just added to my clear vision that this marriage was in trouble and people were running amuck. I built big boundaries when he asked to stay. I no longer just drew a line in the sand; I built a fence. If he wanted to be part of my life, he would need to agree to my security. He agreed. Seven months after the harassment I took from her in my own kitchen, my husband confronted her. She denied it. Was she calling me a liar? I confronted her three months later, but she could not deny it. I advised her that my daughter was in the house and witnessed her every comment. The next conversation she had with her son, she did not deny it.
What now? As I said before, I sent my husband’s parents a written statement outlining my most recent issues with them and demanded that they keep their distance from me. I am no longer their daughter. Apparently, they thought I was simply having a bad day. So, on their recent visit my husband sat them down and demanded that they leave me alone. They are not to contact me in any way. I have changed my name. I no longer wish to be labeled part of a family that only tries to control you.
In the end, I might be angry but I am not an evil person. My husband’s parents are limited to a three-day visit with our children to see their sports, but they are not allowed in our home. My husband will take our children to see them for a three-day visit in the fall. That is the best we can do for now. They took advantage that their son did not protect me or stand up for me over the years, but that has now changed. In order for me to trust him, there needs to be loyalty, boundaries and a fence.
Marriage on Tap Now Serving: Fences a book written by Grace Francis.