ApologyI got married in 2004. The woman who is now my mother-in-law did not attend my wedding. She did not want her son to get married, least of all to me. She did not think our marriage would last. And, she just did not particularly care for me.

The way the whole thing played out was as revealing, as it was confusing. My hubby and I met in 2001. We got engaged about 9 months later. In the time between our engagement and our wedding, we stayed in my future in-law’s guest house for about 3 months, as we were finalizing the purchase of our own home. In hindsight, agreeing to stay there, despite my apprehension, was my big mistake.

She and I didn’t know each other all that well. We had spent some time together, but almost always at rather large family gatherings.  My husband and I come from pretty different upbringings. His mother was always very, shall we say- “involved” in his life. My parents and I were close. Once I became an adult however, they gave me the space to steer my own course. And I so appreciate that about them,  I wanted that,  I needed that. Naive me, I did not think those differences would ever be an issue. He loved me, I loved him. And that was all that mattered, right?

I foolishly believed that although our differences were numerous, as long as we respected and liked one another, living together would bring us closer together. It never entered my mind that she fully expected to get as “involved” in my life as she did with everyone else in her circle. To clarify, “involved” meant not only knowing; where I am, who I am with, what we were doing, and when I’d be home. She felt absolutely entitled to having a say so in these matters! She believed that she could, would, and should just take the reins from me and I would willingly allow her steer me in whichever direction she saw fit. And I believed she would respect my right to just be me. We were both wrong. Once it became apparent to her that I would not meet her expectations, or be putty in her hands; pliable and easily molded, everything changed. 

By the time the we closed escrow and the lender handed over the keys, she was as ready to get me out of her house, as I was anxious to get the heck out of there. The rapport we briefly enjoyed with one another had all but deteriorated. There was never a big, dramatic confrontation between her and I. We were able to maintain a politeness with one another. However, the tension between us was very much like the big, pink elephant in the room. It was obvious, it was undeniable, yet no one mentioned it, myself included. I was young, I was in love, and everything else about my life was stellar. I was engaged to a wonderful guy and had just bought a house. I was busy planning our wedding. I was just a few months away from finishing school. Surely she and I had some common ground and that was enough to build a relationship on. We didn’t have to be best friends. I was okay with that, soon I would find out that she was not. With her was “all or nothing”. You either surrender yourself to her control, or you suffer the consequences. So the wedding approached, she went into overdrive. She did not want her son to marry me, and the gloves came off. Her subversive, little digs she dished out with dinner became down right, and undeniably rude. I shrugged it off. She responded by not inviting me to her home anymore. She would invite my husband over, but only if I was working or otherwise busy. I didn’t let it bother me too much because, quite honestly at that point she could keep her “hospitality”. With our nuptials looming over her she decided to up the ante. She actually began pushing my husband into getting me to sign a pre-nuptial agreement. And for me that did it, she had finally found a way to come between us. By now I was very conflicted. I should have been relishing my status as bride-to-be, I had been planning every detail of my wedding day since I was a little girl. I was supposed to be beaming with happiness, and I was until a big, dark, doom cloud decided to rain on my parade. On one hand I felt bad for my husband because I knew, as hard as this was for me, it was harder for him because he was in the middle. On the other hand, this was his mother, and it was his place to put her in check. I certainly would have done so had it been my mother. He tried, she would not let up, so he arranged for she and I to talk, just the two of us, face to face. I thought okay, what a good idea. We will hash it out, really communicate, and move past this. How naive I was! What I did not know was she had absolutely no intention of moving past anything, she just wanted me out of the picture. Her exact words to my husband were “…watch and see, when I tell her what I think of her, she will leave you…” Now, does that sound like someone seeking a resolution?

Well, she told me what she thought of me. I did not leave me husband. We went ahead with our wedding. It was perfect, truly a perfect, fairytale like day. She and her husband chose not to attend. I must say if she had attended,  I believe it would not have been our perfect day.

Following our wedding, my new mother-in-law pouted and didn’t speak to her son for a week or so. He, being the loving and forgiving man that he is did not hold a grudge. After a month or so had passed, she decided we could all move on, and just pretend as though nothing had ever happened. As for me, I am not so forgiving, especially since not a word of acknowledgement, or regret, much less an apology had ever been uttered. No, I could hold a grudge. And I was not going back to having the big, pink elephant in the room!

To date, my mother-in-law has never acknowledged her hurtful actions and words and the effect they had. So needless to say, she has never expressed any regret or anything resembling an apology. I do not expect that she ever will. She and I will never be as close as she pushed us to be. I’m sure she realizes that she only has one person to blame for that, unfortunately that person is, always has been, and always will be me. Oh well.



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