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Help! I can't stand her parents!

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Dear Diva,

I met a terrific girl and we have been dating for almost a year. I think she might be the “One”. I would have already proposed by now, but one thing…I can’t stand her parents! …I know it sounds terrible but they really drive me crazy. Her mother complains non-stop, even when we are out at a restaurant or in public and her poor father just sits there and never says a word probably because he can’t ever get one in.

I have heard that if you want to know what a woman will be like in 20 years to look at her mother. I just can’t help wondering if that is what we would look like in 20 years. Do you think she will end up acting like her mother? Do you think that we could make a relationship work for the long haul when I can’t stand to be around them for more than a couple hours? What about holidays and all that? When you marry a girl, do you really marry their whole family?

Signed,

Anti-social Son-in-law in Addison.

Dear Anti,

You have valid questions and concerns, and are smart to address them before ring shopping. Family dynamics are different in every situation, and if you have always thought that you would be close with your in-laws it could prove to be a challenge in this particular situation. But don’t go running from a great girl quite yet.

The woman you met is her own person, and sure we all share characteristics of our families to some extent. But your marriage is not her parents marriage and how you manage it is up to the two of you together. You didn’t mention some key things that I am wondering. How often do you see her parents? If you live in Dallas and they live in San Diego, well it may only be an issue a few times a year. If that is the case I would tell you to “Suit up, show up, and shut up”, and try and make the best of the family visits. If on the other hand, they live in the same town, and insist that you buy the house that just became available on their block…well that would give me pause.

What bothers you about these people? Are they basically good folks at heart? Every family has their flaws, and that one relative that drives you nuts. But there is a trade-off there. Having a close family surely has advantages as well. To have a support system while you are starting out, buying a house, and having a family, is a great gift. You may even find as the years go on , they grow on you a bit and you become fond of them- including their faults. Sometimes you put up with a bit, you bite your tongue, but it’s worth it. If there are some real issues there that would truly interfere with your married life on a daily basis those need to be addressed.

Talk to your girl! She is the best indicator of how things will work out. It doesn’t need to be an intense conversation. You can even begin gathering information over small conversations. Questions like “Do you see yourself always living in the same town as your family?” or “How much do you think your mom has influenced who you are tolday?” are great getting to know you questions and open the door for further conversations about her family without being a jerk and saying “I can’t stand them, will we have to live near them our whole lives?!”

Pre-marital counseling is never a bad idea. It’s some couple time to talk about important issues like family dynamics and concerns that you have. If you see yourself spending your life with this person, you should be able to talk and work out compromises and solutions about concerns BEFORE they become issues.

As always, this is just one Diva’s opinion, and I always welcome yours.

Good luck & let us know how it works out for you!

Love, Diva

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