COMEDIAN Jeff Foxworthy may have hilariously described his horrible experience with his in-laws for laughs, but for many people who have to contend with these extensions of their partners, it's no laughing matter.
“For the first time ever I was taking the family on the road. We stayed with my in-laws, which on life's list of experiences ranks right below sitting in a tub full of scissors,” shared Foxworthy, who is known for his “You might be a redneck” one-liners.
In-law relationships are notoriously challenging; for every one good story, there are nine bad ones, and the issues boil down to boundaries and expectations. The in-laws feel that because of the blood ties they should have zero boundaries, and they also have certain expectations that the new partner is expected to meet — expectations that the partner might feel pressured to comply with because the in-laws are in fact stakeholders in the marriage.
What is the most irritating thing your in-laws do?
They comment on my baby's appearance all the time, even though she looks just like her dad. One of the aunts commented on the baby's nose the first time she met her, saying she wished the baby had gotten my 'straight' nose. My husband's sister says we will have to relax the baby's hair soon because it's 'nappy', and they comment all the time on how dark she is, and how they wish she had gotten my husband's lighter complexion. Mind you, my baby is just eight months old. I cut them off as soon as they begin talking most times, and I would never think of sending her to spend time with them because they're so colourist and awful that I'm sure they will give my beautiful baby identity issues when she's older.
They believe that they have first dibs on holidays, and we're expected to spend every major holiday with them, even though we're trying to build our own traditions, and even though I have a family too. Last year I asked my husband if we could leave the Christmas dinner early because it was a curfew day, and they were taking too long to get started, plus the dinner was outdoors and mosquitoes were nibbling at our kids. When he told his mother she threw herself over the table and announced to everyone that if he hadn't married this Jezebel, he wouldn't have even considered leaving.
My aunt-in-law is a prayer warrior and I appreciate her fervour, but this woman will come and pray over my husband at random times, and will mention that evil forces are in his life, and that he should be careful whom he shares personal information with. And the whole time she's doing this, she's usually glaring at me, like I'm the evil force. And it seems that all the bad talk has worked because the other day I glimpsed his car insurance policy renewal and he had his aunt and uncle as emergency contacts and not me, his wife. I don't even have the guts to ask who's on his life insurance policy.
I'm older than my husband by three years, and my in-laws won't let me live it down. His uncle keeps making jokes about older women with money, cougars, and what my husband must have to do sexually to keep my interest, never mind that my husband earns way more than I do. Then they watch my womb, and keep hinting that I have to have babies soon because, obviously, I'm an old lady.
My mother-in-law refused to attend my wedding because I'm a divorcée, and she believes that because of that I'm not fit for her son. She also declined when we asked her to babysit our new baby as he was “conceived in sin”. So my husband doesn't really have a relationship with his mother anymore, except of course when she wants money, then she will call him and chat him up to beg, all the while pretending like my son and I don't exist.
My in-laws hate me because they claim that since we got married my husband doesn't visit them or does things for them anymore, even though most times I am the one who encourages him to go visit them. It's like they are searching for a villain, and because I'm new to the family, it has to be me and not my husband, who just doesn't have the time to visit anymore.