I really struggle with how to feel about my in-laws.
My father-in-law is an independent fundamental Baptist pastor, graduate of BJU. His wife is a music teacher, also graduate of BJU.
They were unable to have children. Spent ten or so years trying to no avail. So they adopted my husband at birth. His birth mother was a single woman who was leaving a lifestyle of drugs and alcoholism, staying with a local IFB pastor until she gave birth, until she could get back on her feet.
There have been times in arguments with Gary that his mom has told him that he is a bastard child. Not her son. Not legitimate.
When he was a child and having problems at his private school - being bullied by students and teachers alike - they never sided with him. When he would come home with bruises from other children and often from teachers as well, they did nothing. Until the time that he said, “fuck you” to a teacher while she had a vice-like grip on his arms. He was scared - he knew that would surprise her enough for him to be able to finally break free. He was almost expelled for that. He was in fourth grade. They STILL brought that up to him as an example of what a horrible child he was…when he was 19 years old. And during this incident, they literally beat him until he bled. He bled for days.
Then there was the whole debacle with me. They didn’t like me when we were just friends. Never met me, of course. But I was female. And I was three years older. And I wasn’t Baptist. His parents thought - and told him - that I was basically a cougar. That my biological clock was ticking, and so I went to BJU with the sole purpose of finding a man, and I’d decided that Gary was it.
Didn’t matter that I wanted nothing to do with him for the first two months I was there.
Didn’t matter that they had never had a single solitary conversation with me.
Didn’t matter that at the time I didn’t even want to get married.
Didn’t matter that Plymouth Brethren and IFB are sometimes just two sides of the same damn coin.
Then, over Christmas break, they found out that we’d started fooling around sexually. Man, oh man. At that time, I became a whore. Because Christian virgins don’t like doing the things that I like to do, apparently. They began fighting - verbally and sometimes physically. At one point, Gary was trying to walk away from the argument. His father wrapped his hands around his neck, choking him and yelling, “Look what this whore has done to you!”
To this day, if something brushes his neck…it’s bad.
When we finally did get kicked out and they came to pick him up, they were livid. I guess understandably. But you know what pissed them off JUST AS MUCH as the fact that we’d had premarital sex? The fact that we don’t believe that sex is only for procreation. That’s what his dad harped on the most.
I guess love and trust and sexual desire have nothing to do with anything.
When he came to visit me after we got kicked out, his mother emailed my mother and requested that Mom and I sleep together to make sure that we wouldn’t do anything. And she tried to sort of tell Mom about the things that they’d found out over Christmas break. Mom and Dad came into my room a couple of hours before we left to pick him up from the airport, wanting to know what I hadn’t told them and letting me know about my MIL’s request. I told Mom flat-out that I would not be sleeping with her - that if they were really that concerned, they could just lock him in the basement. And that my sex life wasn’t their business, and did they really want to know nitty-gritty details? Thankfully, that solved that.
When Gary was saving money, selling half of his possessions to have money, look for a job - his parents offered no help whatsoever. When he found a job an hour from me and he had to move within a month, they again offered absolutely no help. We think they were hoping it would fall through and he wouldn’t be able to go. He packed all of his worldly possessions that he hadn’t sold to give him money for the trip into his car and drove 17 hours. They did nothing, except helped him pack the car.
When we set a wedding date, they didn’t want to show up until the night before the wedding. They didn’t want to meet me beforehand. They didn’t want to get to know me. They didn’t want to spend time with their son. He had to basically bully them to come earlier. They came, but were not happy.
So I know all of this, right? We’re open with each other. We tell each other pretty much everything. I know what they think of me.
And when they finally do meet me, they’re all nicey-nice. I’m greeted with a HUG by his dad. I don’t hug men I don’t know. My FIL doesn’t hug his own son. It was weird. The entire situation was bizarre. I knew they hated me. I don’t know if they knew that I knew. But they acted like this was just an awesome situation.
Two days later, the night before our wedding, his dad tried to talk him out of marrying me.
I don’t know what to think of them.
They’re still nice to me. They don’t talk bad about me to Gary anymore. I think they may have tried once after we were married. Maybe. I don’t remember.
And they do love him. I know they do.
To me, though…it’s just clear that that’s the kind of “love” that fundamentalism teaches.
Not unconditional love.
Not love that meets you where you are, helps you become a better person.
It’s a love that has as its sole purpose making you into a little Christian machine. And if you don’t turn into a machine, then you are cut off.
And even now! They went six months without talking to us. During those six months, Gary called them twice a week. They never picked up. Never called back. Then suddenly he gets a Facebook message after he’s gotten a job, “Oh, we haven’t talked to you in a while! Call us!” What the hell.
They’ll go months and months without talking to us, then suddenly…we’ll get an email. Or his grandfather will die, and they’ll pay for our tickets and food to get there for the funeral. Or that time when we didn’t have enough money to put in his gas tank to get him to work, and they wired money to us.
Sometimes they’re there. But oddly, it seems mostly financial. Not substantial.
The night before we got married, my parents, his parents, and the couple that did our premarital counseling sat and talked for hours. Mom says there were lots of tears, lots of talk. Apparently his parents knew that their relationship with their son was strained to the breaking point. Might have even broken. But my mom told them that I could be the bridge that brought them back together. That I was a peacemaker, and that I could help.
Granted, they immediately went and tried to talk him out of marrying me.
Sometimes I’m not sure if I want to bring them all back together. I love them. They say they love me. They say they love Gary. But it sure doesn’t feel like it.
I’m torn. I’m so torn.
Family is very important to me. At least, immediate family. Parents, siblings. I want to have a relationship with them.
But I don’t know that it’s possible.
And I’m not sure that it’s even healthy.