Ask: “I’m with my fiancé almost five years now. We got engaged almost a year ago. While to date, I have always considered his family very hospitable! He comes from a large Catholic family and is the second of five children. I have one brother or sister (I am the oldest) and our family is not very religious. Throughout our relationship (much of which was long distance; four hours apart) we never really spent the holidays together. It is very important in his family to spend time alone with the immediate family. After our engagement, I moved away from home for four hours to be where he is. We are not living together yet because it is against his religion to live together before marriage, but I am about three miles from his family. We spend almost every day together and I even go out to dinner with his family several times a week. I am involved in most things. But when the holidays hit, I’m not.
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When I moved last year, it was my first holiday season away from my family and because I had just moved and started a new job, I couldn’t get the time off to travel home during the holidays. However, his family still wanted the vacation to be “family only” and to them that meant I wasn’t there. I’m technically “not related yet because we’re not married.” This is when I REALLY started noticing that I wasn’t really absorbed in most things. So I spent the holidays alone in a new city, not knowing anyone.
I’ve tried my best to build relationships with his siblings, but the older sister-in-law and his two younger sisters are constantly doing things without ever inviting me. They have a family group chat that I’m not allowed to be with. Next month his family will have professional family photos taken and I just found out I’m not in there either.
We are now less than 100 days away from our wedding. I feel so heartbroken and like the family doesn’t want me around. It really hurts my feelings. My family has always involved my fiancé in everything we do since we started dating seriously, and especially after we got engaged. I brought this to my fiancé and he doesn’t really understand either. He sees that his sisters don’t include me and has asked his mother to include me in things like the group chat and family photos. But they just tell him no. It’s honestly made me hate them and not want to belong anywhere. Should I just wait and see if if I finally share his last name if they will finally accept me? Am I saying something to them? What should I do?”
Answers: I’m so sorry you’re being banned from your future in-laws. The family dynamic they have sounds like it would be extremely difficult to manage, and unsurprisingly, you feel the way you do. Despite being such firm Catholics, they seem unfamiliar with their writings and may want to reread them as there are a plethora of passages that speak of being hospitable, hospitable and inclusive. As it sounds, I’m not sure your situation will improve drastically no matter what hoops you jump for them. The fact that you are only 100 days away from your wedding and still not eligible for the family photo shows that. Did your future sister-in-law have the same experience and exclusion until she said “yes” to your future brother-in-law? Will this photo also be used for a family card after the wedding? If so, their logic makes no sense to exclude you as you will be “family” by the time it circulates. But hey, maybe they’re not familiar with Photoshop and just put you out of the group for easy editing if things go wrong. That said, it’s up to your fiancé to set the tone for how his family treats you going forward. So far, he’s said it’s okay to be exclusive and cruel.
Some may not agree with me when I say that, but despite communicating your feelings to your fiancé and confronting them, nothing has changed. Yes, we can only control others so much, but he hasn’t taken any action to set boundaries, enforce consequences, and be by your side when you’re being mistreated. If my wedding was in 100 days and my family wanted to exclude my partner from family photos, I wouldn’t show up for photo day. The same goes for your experience during the holiday season, which was pretty horrendous. The fact that your fiancé chose to leave you alone in a new city with no one to spend time with while he had a nice vacation with his family worries me. Once you’re married, when it comes down to it, will he stand next to you or keep running towards theirs? It’s hard to stand up to our families, but I can almost guarantee you that nothing will get better if he doesn’t get a foothold as soon as possible.
As for how you deal with these feelings, I would try to settle into your new home as much as possible. Do your best to make new friends, find fun hobbies, and really make some roots that don’t include his family. I would also highly recommend couples therapy or pre-marital counseling not done by a religious leader to ensure you are on the same page, communicating well, and ready for success after your upcoming marriage. Congratulations and I hope this helps you move in a happier, healthier direction.
Morgan Absher is an occupational therapist in Los Angeles who hosts the podcast “Two Hot Takes,” in which she and her co-hosts share advice. She writes a weekly column and shares her advice with the readers of USA TODAY. Find her on TikTok @twohottakes and YouTube here. You can reach her by email at [email protected] or at . click here to share your story with her.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: My wedding is 100 days out and my in-laws are still excluding me. Help out!