Testy Mother-in-Law Moves In, and Stays

By Wendy Belzberg

Published April 25, 2003, issue of April 25, 2003.
  • Print
  • Share Share

My mother-in-law became ill last September when she and her husband were visiting for the High Holidays. Though she has fully recovered, it has been eight months and my in-laws are still in our home. My mother-in-law is critical of everything and everybody save my husband, bickers nonstop with my father-in-law and meddles in everyone’s business. I have been polite and respectful to her all this time. If I say anything to my husband, he gets upset with me. I am ready to move out because I hate being home when she is around. Any advice? My husband will not go to counseling or speak with a rabbi about this.

— Invaded by in-laws

If your husband is unwilling to listen to a third party, you will have to do all of the talking. Let him know baldly that your in-laws are not the issue. It is your marriage that is at stake. Make it clear that if your in-laws were ill and required full-time care, or could not afford to live on their own, you would be delighted to welcome them into your household — assuming that a serious conversation preceded that move and that the decision was a joint one. The invasion was never discussed, and it’s time for it to end. If your husband doesn’t see your point, you may have to give him a taste of living alone with his parents. From what you report, you won’t need a hotel room for long.

* * *

Over a year ago we celebrated my son’s bar mitzvah. My brother-in-law’s son attends a military academy, and the parents had him wear his dress uniform. To make a long story short, my nephew became the center of attention rather than my son. I asked his parents why he wore the uniform, and they said that he didn’t have any other suit that fit. I think this was an opportunity for my brother-in-law to direct the spotlight to his son. Do I have the right to be upset?

— Angry auntie

Probably you did have the right to be upset — over a year ago. It is hard to imagine any adult so insecure that he would need to steal the attention from the bar mitzvah boy — especially assuming that your nephew had a bar mitzvah of his own, out of uniform. If he didn’t, the issues may be other than what you think. But the event — and your interpretation of it — are no longer the point. Your son has doubtless got on with his life, and it’s time you did too. Holding on for a full year to any slight — real or imagined — or grudge is not good for your physical or mental health. Especially since your brother-in-law is oblivious. Bury this one. And remember the bar mitzvah boy, who doesn’t sound to have felt one bit slighted on his important day.

Write to “Ask Wendy” at 954 Lexington Avenue #189, New York, N.Y. 10021 or at wendy@forward.com.






Find us on Facebook!
  • Will Americans who served in the Israeli army during the Gaza operation face war crimes charges when they get back home?
  • Talk about a fashion faux pas. What was Zara thinking with the concentration camp look?
  • “The Black community was resistant to the Jewish community coming into the neighborhood — at first.” Watch this video about how a group of gardeners is rebuilding trust between African-Americans and Jews in Detroit.
  • "I am a Jewish woman married to a non-Jewish man who was raised Catholic, but now considers himself a “common-law Jew.” We are raising our two young children as Jews. My husband's parents are still semi-practicing Catholics. When we go over to either of their homes, they bow their heads, often hold hands, and say grace before meals. This is an especially awkward time for me, as I'm uncomfortable participating in a non-Jewish religious ritual, but don't want his family to think I'm ungrateful. It's becoming especially vexing to me now that my oldest son is 7. What's the best way to handle this situation?" http://jd.fo/b4ucX What would you do?
  • Maybe he was trying to give her a "schtickle of fluoride"...
  • It's all fun, fun, fun, until her dad takes the T-Bird away for Shabbos.
  • "Like many Jewish people around the world, I observed Shabbat this weekend. I didn’t light candles or recite Hebrew prayers; I didn’t eat challah or matzoh ball soup or brisket. I spent my Shabbat marching for justice for Eric Garner of Staten Island, Michael Brown of Ferguson, and all victims of police brutality."
  • Happy #NationalDogDay! To celebrate, here's a little something from our archives:
  • A Jewish couple was attacked on Monday night in New York City's Upper East Side. According to police, the attackers flew Palestinian flags.
  • "If the only thing viewers knew about the Jews was what they saw on The Simpsons they — and we — would be well served." What's your favorite Simpsons' moment?
  • "One uncle of mine said, 'I came to America after World War II and I hitchhiked.' And Robin said, 'I waited until there was a 747 and a kosher meal.'" Watch Billy Crystal's moving tribute to Robin Williams at last night's #Emmys:
  • "Americans are much more focused on the long term and on the end goal which is ending the violence, and peace. It’s a matter of zooming out rather than debating the day to day.”
  • "I feel great sorrow about the fact that you decided to return the honor and recognition that you so greatly deserve." Rivka Ben-Pazi, who got Dutchman Henk Zanoli recognized as a "Righteous Gentile," has written him an open letter.
  • Is there a right way to criticize Israel?
  • From The Daily Show to Lizzy Caplan, here's your Who's Jew guide to the 2014 #Emmys. Who are you rooting for?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.