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!
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • 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.