Post # 1
I need some advice from a disinterested third party. This might get a little long.
My parents are very religious and I am very stubborn. There has already been a lot of fall-out from my initial decision to move in with my fiance (at the time boyfriend) before getting married. Therefore, he’s already not the most popular guy with my parents even though they’ve mostly gotten over it. Let me give you a sampling of the comments I have heard (through sibs): "They’re already commonlaw married, why bother with a ceremony." They also refer to my apartment as a "den of sin" (I hope half-jokingly) and the parents won’t visit, although they allow my siblings to.
My fiance supported me for a year while I was attending school. For the past two years, however, he has worked only sporadically, while I have been supporting him, because of illness. His illness has a lot to do with pain and as such it is invisible. The doctors he has been to see have been unable to diagnose him, so we’re still in the process of figuring out what’s wrong.
Lately, I’ve been made aware of many derogatory comments about how I could "do so much better" and so on. The truth is that as I am not a saint I get frustrated sometimes too, but I have a firm policy of keeping these thoughts to myself or only sharing them with my fiance. I guess my question for all of you is how would you stave off these kinds of comments (keeping in mind that they haven’t been made to my face)? I’m aware it might be impossible, but I welcome any advice, because as you can imagine it’s frustrating having people talking behind my back about the most important person in my life.
Post # 3
if the comments are from your parents i would recommend either talking to them about it, or perhaps even a letter. let them know that the decision has been made and you would appreciate their support, or at the very lease their silence concerning your relationship. i’m so sorry they are not more understanding. it is always hard to deal with your parents’ disapproval.
Post # 4
Well, i’ve had one coworker in particular feel the need to comment (twice now) upon seeing a picture of my FI and I that I can do so much better. Thanks, I know he’s not brad pitt, but who is?!
The problem is that they are talking to your siblings and they’re relaying it to you. Why are they telling you this if they’re letting them say this?! I’d be mad if my parents constantly made derogatory comments about my brother and his girlfriend. I mean, really, get over it at some point. You are an adult. But, that’s neither here nor there. Your siblings need to keep information to themselves, but better yet, they need to start letting your parents know it’s not cool to speak up. So that’d be a start.
Second of all, I think now that you’re engaged you need to talk to your parents. You have two choices: ignore it all or confront it. I say just tell them that their comments are unnecessary and hurtful. If they have nothing nice to say about you and the man you love (and are marrying, hellooooo), they don’t need to be spouting their mouths off about how disappointed they are in you for being so sinful in your den. I mean, really! My mom insisted on telling everyone I was living with "a friend" when it was my then-bf-now-husband. I told her that she shouldn’t act so embarassed for me b/c it makes her look bad. Explain to your parents that they need to just respect your decision (not bad-mouth it) because you don’t go running around talking bad about them and THEIR beliefs, right? It’s a two-way street. They need to be reminded politely. And since this is all fueled by religion, I bet you could tell them it’s un-Christian like (if they’re Christian, if not, sorry for the assumption on my part) to gossip about someone behind their back. It’s in very poor manners to talk behind someones back in general, especially TO family ABOUT family. In my opinion. If they know how hurtful it is, maybe they will stop. Congrats on the engagement though and kudos for supporting your FI in his sickness. You do’nt need your parents adding stress.
Post # 5
- Wedding: July 2010 - The Tower Club
I don’t think there’s any religion whose doctrines actively advise you to judge people who disagree with your beliefs, but it’s certainly a trait of many religious people, isn’t it? It’s infuriating!
I don’t have any firsthand advice for you; my mom & stepdad are very religious, and I’m moving in with FH, and they haven’t said a word — and if they did, I don’t care. I respect & love them, and we are close… but we each know our beliefs are different and that’s that. If they did start talking about it, I would listen and then walk away and go back to my life.
This issue will get better as you start to build your new life with your FH and you will care less & less about what they think. It’s advisable to speak to them — they should understand that their comments hurt you and are unnecessary. And they absolutely should not talk like this to you.
The challenge is that often, people think they’re doing you a favor by "shaming" you or making you feel bad about your "sin." The fact that it makes you angry is considered evidence for their point of view. Also, you can’t stop them from talking about you when you’re not there. They believe what they believe.
The best thing to do is to show them, by example, that their comments don’t affect you (because you are confident with your decisions), and that you can have a happy life despite having values that are different than theirs.
Post # 6
Thank you for your commiseration and your advice, ladies.
I’d like to speak up for the sibs, ejs4y8. I didn’t say so, but they do stick up for my fiance and for myself when these comments come up. They’re good people.
I think you’re all right about the fact that I should probably be mature and speak up for myself, but after the blowout that happened while I was still living with my parents, in which I wasn’t very mature or polite, I think I already said too much. I think they do know what they are saying, Mitla. It is intended to ‘shame’ me into being good. Unfortunately, that shaming is what distanced me from my religion in the first place. Mitla, your advice about trying not to care echoes what my sib said today over lunch, "It’s just the way they are and you have to understand where the comments are coming from."
I felt like I had it all under control after three years, but something new like this seems to bring it all up again for a little while.
Your words have all helped. Good Christians really aren’t supposed to judge or make nasty comments. Hypocrisy is a common human trait though, and I bet I display it sometimes too. On a positive note, I do have the support of my sibs and of the fiance’s family, despite their own religious beliefs.
Post # 7
That is a frustrating situation. My Fi and I were in a similar situation with his parents. We moved in together a couple years ago (before we got engaged). His parent’s gave him this long lecture.. I wont bore you with the details, but it made him not want to have anything to do with them for a while. They have now come around and support whatever we do… but this did take a long time. He did have many many talks with them about how they should keep their religious views to themselves since neither of us share them…
Anyway, I feel your pain. I think that if you simply have a talk with them. Tell them how comments made about the two of you have surfaced and were really hurtful, especially since they came from someone who is supposed to show you unconditional love and support no matter what you do. If things don’t calm down I would simply limit your interactions with them and ask your family members not to share negative comments they hear about you. If you don’t hear about it maybe you wont be stressed about it.
Post # 8
a while ago i change jobs and i handed in my resignation before i found a new one. at some point i just voiced outloud that i was cutting it close as i didnt have a new job locked in yet and my mother starting spouting rubbish about how my FI is the man of the house and how its his job to support his wife and if he cant do that hes not much of a man. well… considering my mum had ALWAYS worked while i was growing up and my dad and her were migrants to this country plus that fact that my mum would belittle my dad verbally every chance she had i found her comments totally insulting towards my FI and i said to her face that she was no one to judge my FI.
anyways…… if i was you, i would tell your siblings that you dont want to hear any of these comments as they are 2nd hand and hurtful. also, if you are sharing news about your FI’s condition/work ect to your parents i would not pass on any negatives news. religous or not, you are their daughter and im guessing they dont want to see you struggle with life/finances ect. im not excusing them but i can see where its coming from
Post # 9
- Wedding: November 2009 - Cathedral of the Sacred Heart & The Jefferson Hotel
I wanted to send some hugs your way from a fellow bride whose dad has been known to refer to our apartment as the "house of sin"! I know he’s mostly joking but its still a little annoying..
In regards to the comments, I think you already know how you really feel. This man is your family now too (or will officially be soon!), and if someone says something to you about him, you should be honest and tell them how their words hurt. I have had people make comments to me about Mr. Cloud (luckily not my family) but I had a coworker who made a comment once about how he didnt make enough money. I’m a pretty blunt person so I looked right at her and said how would you feel if I talked trash about your husband to you? She never said another word. I think if people aren’t respecting you and your choices, make it clear that it bothers you. If you say nothing, they will think their behavior is acceptable.
Good luck with everything, and I hope they figure out whats going on with your fiance soon too!!
Post # 10
That’s why they’re second-hand comments, cloud. I am a bit of a spitfire and I have a reputation for a sharp tongue. They really wouldn’t dare say such things to my face, although Mom does sidle in some passive aggressive comments here and there.
Eloping, I like your advice about staying positive about things. I should work on that. I think that will help. I understand what you mean, that they’re trying to protect me, but going about it the wrong way.
Sibs and I usually don’t gossip this much, but they’re a good place to let off steam, because we all know what the family is like sometimes. If I’m going to fish for such info. I will have to learn to suck it up, or else stop asking.
I think demanding more support (however politely) will only exacerbate the problem. That could just be my avoidance speaking, but we’ve really had this all out before (not maturely grant you, which I take full responsibility for). My parents will not fully accept us as a couple until we are married and maybe they never will given it won’t be in their church, on their terms. One parent is a bit more accepting than the other, but I understand the need to stand behind your spouse, so I won’t say anything about their united front. I guess most every other person I speak to, religious or not, finds the whole thing absurd and that comforts me.
I think I need to work most on staying positive myself. I need to support MY S.O., even when it’s tough. I think I’ve shown weakness and they’ve pounced on it.
Post # 11
I was just kind of wondering if they have considered that your FI may have fibromyalgia? (sp?) One of my very close friends-her husband has it-difficult to diagnose bc there isn’t a test for it, no bloodwork, it’s mostly symptomatic-and it took over a year for them to determine that is what he has. Just a thought.
Hugs and best wishes!
Post # 12
Thank you so much for your suggestion. It helps to hear these kinds of ideas. Not sure it’s a fit at all, but another thing to think about is nothing but helpful.
Post # 13
Personally, I’d probably be snarky to them and say “well, I’m sorry you’ve never loved someone enough to want to care for them when they are ill. I hope nothing ever happens to your spouse or children that puts you in my position”.
That ought to shut them up real fast.
Post # 14
Ha, I’d like to say those sorts of things, but it’s my family and I am stuck with them. So I mostly vent in private and keep it lighthearted in public. Then again, the latest passive-aggressive comment that happened to my fiance’s face I didn’t hear. It’s probably for the best too!
Post # 15
I know how hurtful it is to experience this kind of rejection from those who are supposed to love you unconditionally– regardless of how you’ve been to them in the past. They are supposed to be the grown ups in their relationship with you, and for some reason they are not acting like it.
One thing that I’ve realized over time is that parents see you in a certain way, and it’s very hard to get that image to change over time. My parents can describe how they’ve perceived me as a rebel *since the day I was born*! Now can you imagine a helpless newborn as a rebel? There is little that we (as their children) can do to change that except
1) look elsewhere for acceptance and allow the criticism to roll off your back
2) live your best life
3) treat them with as much softness and kindness as you can muster while still (and this is key) standing your ground and setting your boundaries (ie “I would appreciate it if you didn’t talk to bros and sisters about my relationship”).
4) speak to someone with experience in family counseling to disentangle yourself from their issues, so that their comments don’t bother you so much.
Now maybe this set of suggestions is overkill, but it comes from some personal experience in this realm. I hope I’m not projecting too much into your case.
Post # 16
No, all of these are excellent advice. I am just not sure I am ready for number 3 and 4.
When I’m rational, their comments don’t seem so bad. I guess I had the illusion for awhile that it had blown over and the concept that the comments are still going on was a little bit of a shock. I mean, I probably should have added – I see them regularly on visits at their place and we play games and actually have fun and manage to get along all right, fiance included.
I think even a few days out from the information I felt okay about it – not thrilled, you know, but not so horrified. My fiance knows about their complaints and we’re able to present a united front against their nonsense, so that makes things much easier.
I think I am scared to even try and approach them about boundaries. First of all, I sort of feel like, from a better objective distance, trying to tell them not to talk about me behind my back is a bit out of line. I do it to them sometimes and I think it’s healthier if they do their complaining to others in this case, because I am not prepared to change my lifestyle in the ways they’d like, so I’d really rather they blow off steam in a way I can distance myself from if I care to.
But also, maybe I am just being a great big chicken. I bet I should have a talk with them at some point. I am just too scared to do it! What if it blows the lid off of things again?