Ashley
Savvy November 2022

Family Drama - How can i avoid this?

Ashley, on October 13, 2021 at 3:46 PM Posted in Family and Relationships 0 10
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I'm going to apologize in advance for the length of this post. It will be long

My FH parents are divorced and have been since he was 14. I don't know the extent of it as he doesn't ever really talk about it but his mom has constantly bad mouthed his dad and his dad's family for as long as I can remember.

His dad has since remarried and his mom is in a relationship with another person and has been for almost 10 years. His dad has also seen the havoc that his own family caused on his first relationship and has said things could have definitely been different if he had seen that in that relationship. Since his dad is remarried and moved on, we have had a touch and go relationship with him. I've been pushing my fiancé to get his dad more involved in our lives as I truly believe he should be. His mom on the other hand, doesn't seem to have moved on. She has always been very controlling and always wants my FH to be around her. She gets mad when my FH doesn't come around or things don't always go exactly how she wants them. I'm already dreading holidays as I have a big family and am very close with them. My parents have already said that they will just work around whatever we need to do. Especially when we decide to bring kids into the picture. Another topic for another day.

Both his mom's side and his dad's side regularly trash talk the others. It's very frustrating to me as I have a very big and close knit family. I understand that not everyone has this experience and it's not always possible with every family. I want to involve both my FMIL and her partner as well as my FFIL and his wife as much as possible. This is a celebration for both of our families and I'm at a loss at how to even begin to navigate our wedding day if there is a possibility of conflict between my FH parents. I won't even touch on the majority of his dad's family disapproving of us because we already live together (we've been together almost 10 years). I know I need to talk to my FH about my worries but I don't know how to bring it up so he doesn't think that I'm attacking one parent or the other.

10 Comments

Latest activity by Ashley, on October 14, 2021 at 2:56 PM
  • Sarah
    Master September 2019
    Sarah ·
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    I think the amount of their involvement should really be up to your FH so if there’s anything you might want to involve them in simply ask him “do you want your parents to be a part of this?” My ex-husband’s parents are divorced and they are awful about each other so I let him navigate when and how we included them in events/planning for our wedding.
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  • Jessi
    Super October 2022
    Jessi ·
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    Yup, I completely agree with this. Only he has the right answer to how much involvement is necessary from them. Your only responsibility should be backing up what his wishes are and helping make sure they are honored. Simply asking him if he wants them involved is perfect and should open up to more conversation.

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  • Michelle
    Rockstar October 2022
    Michelle Online ·
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    Like you mentioned, not everyone has a close knit happy family. Stop pressuring people to behave in a way that is unnatural to them. If the parents in law want a relationship, healthy or otherwise, they will initiate that on their own. It is not your place to pressure fiancé to get father in law more active kn your lives if he isn’t already.


    A toxic relationship that exists with his mom and her overbearing nature should not be rewarded. By not setting boundaries, (which is fiancé’s responsibility as well) you are giving her permission and blessing to act manipulative and controlling, which you mention you don’t want but you can’t have both at the same time. People don’t decide one day “I’m not going to be mean anymore” and flip a switch that changes beliefs and actions. It’s a process that happens with a lot of practice and therapy or doesn’t happen at all.
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  • Ashley
    Savvy November 2022
    Ashley ·
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    I just double posted so please ignore this one!

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  • Ashley
    Savvy November 2022
    Ashley ·
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    I should add that I have not pressured him per say to have this relationship. His dad has expressed the want for the relationship and my FH has also expressed this want for a relationship. They have had a relationship since the divorce but my FMIL has made him choose which parent he wants to be around since the beginning


    I already know boundaries need to be set with my FMIL but I don't feel that I'm the one who has to be the one to set them. I've seen her belittle FH because we aren't able to do something that she was planning on doing. I just don't know where my place is when setting boundaries.
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  • M
    VIP January 2019
    Maggie ·
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    "I want to involve both my FMIL and her partner as well as my FFIL and his wife as much as possible. This is a celebration for both of our families and I'm at a loss at how to even begin to navigate our wedding day if there is a possibility of conflict between my FH parents."

    Honestly, for everything you wrote, the amount to involve them and how isn't up to you, no matter how good your intentions. I agree with everyone else to let your future spouse handle this. So unless he comes to you asking for your help with something specific, just leave it alone. Don't mention it, don't suggest things. Just be a good listening ear for FS and be ready to help when asked.

    As far as boundaries, again, it's not your job to set them on your own. You and FS can certainly discuss appropriate boundaries, and then work together to enforce them. But you should take a supporting, not leading, role here. If your FS won't set boundaries and the lack is hurting your relationship, then of course you should bring that up privately. But also remember that boundaries don't exist to change other people's behavior. Changing other people is impossible. You set them and then apply appropriate consequences when/if they are breached. Boundaries without consequences are worse than no boundaries at all.

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  • Frankie
    Dedicated April 2022
    Frankie ·
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    I agree with Maggie... you shouldn't push your fiancé to get his dad more involved in your lives. He alone gets to decide how often he wants to see him, his side of the family and how his dad should be involved in your lives.

    because you won't want him to push you to be not as close with yours, for example. Each family has it own dynamics and you need to respect your futre FIL's family ones, just as much as you want him to respect the fact you come from a close knit family.

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  • Ashley
    Savvy November 2022
    Ashley ·
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    "Forcing" was probably bad wording on my part. I have never forced him to have a relationship with anyone. His dad has always expressed the want for a relationship but I have a feeling that with the divorce my FMIL may have kept them from having a stronger relationship.

    I know none of this is my say but he doesn't ever talk about any of it either. I've been with him since right after the divorce (we were both 15). So I've seen all sides of the family dynamics. He is much closer with my family than he is his own and in turn, I'm not very close with his family. I like both of his parents and their spouses. Both want relationships with my FH.

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  • E
    Super July 2023
    Eniale ·
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    Okay, so since everyone keeps saying "this is all on your FH to deal with"...

    I'm going to call this out: "My parents have already said that they will just work around whatever we need to do." Cautioning you now, do not allow this. Set strict boundaries on the holidays. My advice here will be the same as it was on another thread about holidays - decide how many holidays per year you plan to celebrate with family (as opposed to only yourselves) and divide them evenly. If only one side celebrates a certain holiday (for example, only one side celebrates Easter,) then it either counts toward the "family" number, or you don't go anywhere on that holiday. I will say it again: no "just working around whatever." Your family will get walked over, and they are part of this discussion, too. This one is absolutely not only on your FH. As for how to start that conversation: "the holidays are coming up, and as we will soon be celebrating them as a married couple, I think we should talk about how we're going to navigate them with our families."

    As for the wedding planning and involvement, approach the subject in much the same way. "I really would like to include your parents and their partners as equally as we are including my parents. What are your thoughts about that?" There is a reason I've phrased it this way. First, it expresses that you are not favoring or trashing one parent. Second, it establishes a fair reason for why you feel the way you do (you want all parents involved equally). And finally, you are putting the ball in his court and letting him tell you how he feels about it. Now, it's highly possible he'll say "I don't want my dad doing much else than showing up," or "I don't want either of them involved beyond attending." Your job here is to accept the answers he gives you. If he doesn't want them involved, then that's that.

    As for boundaries with FMIL: I get it, been there, and it sucks. Unfortunately, until her behavior directly impacts you, there's nothing you can do. FH is a grown man, and if he lets the fact that his parents got divorced continue to keep him from a relationship with his father, then... that's on him. If he wanted to talk about it to you, he would. He doesn't. Sorry.

    And as far as conflicts on the day - my best advice is to breathe and let go of this one. Seriously. Let me tell you where I am coming from: my husband's parents divorced because his mom ran off with someone very close to his dad. The family was completely fractured. Irreparably. His dad and his mom's SO literally got in a fist fight over a loved one's death bed in hospice once. Like actually punching each other with a dying relative's body underneath their swings. That is how serious the hatred and conflict between the families is. To say I was stressed about how this would play out at the wedding is an understatement.

    The day of, everything worked out fine. Everyone behaved. They largely avoided each other, but they did play nice when they had to (such as during family portraits) and there was no scowling behind each other's backs or anything like that. I think if you trust adults to act like adults, they usually will.

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  • Ashley
    Savvy November 2022
    Ashley ·
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    Thank you for this. Seriously. Thank you.

    My relationship with my own mom isn't great but we're working on it and all of the wedding planning (with the exception of dress shopping) has helped build our relationship up a little more. Both of my parents keep reassuring me that my FH parents will act civil at the wedding because it's not about them on that day. It's about us and if they're both adult enough to realize it, they will.

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