What’s the saying when you get married? “When you marry someone, you marry their family.” Most of us just laugh this off as some old saying a relative brings up when someone has bad behavior at holidays and other family events, but lately I’ve been seeing more and more truth in this, and it’s starting to be a problem.
With the current world climate, it has become abundantly clear that people have very different opinions about how things should be done. This is no different in my extended family, and I knew when I married my husband a decade ago that our families would clash. We grew up in very different homes, with different parenting styles, religious views, and political stances. Everything had been civil and with a few light joking jabs at one another, we all found common ground. I was happy to listen to their views and see things from another perspective even if I did not agree.
But over the last few years, my in-laws especially have become quite insufferable to talk to.
I didn’t want it to ever get this bad. I had seen other friends completely cut off ties with their parents, and I know I have had people I’ve known since grade school unfriend me on social media. It has been a really long, frustrating four years no matter what your beliefs or political views are and I finally hit my breaking point this week.
Initially, I tried to set boundaries. Quarantine made this slightly easier since all our family lives out of state, we only got a Facetime call every week or so to check in on everyone. But when they started asking to visit in the middle of May, and we firmly told them no because we were still under quarantine, things changed. Every conversation with them turned in to an argument. I would feel my heart start to race with stress and anger when I would see a message from one of them. I temporarily stopped following all their social media so I would not have the added fuel to the fire every time I went on Facebook.
This spiral lasted for a couple of months and got to the point where my husband even avoided answering their calls and I would leave the room when the children Facetimed them.
When I first brought up cutting off contact with them for a while to my husband, I wasn’t sure how he would react, they are his parents after all. But he agreed whole-heartedly. Their actions had become too much for us and our family to deal with, and it is time to take a break, for our mental health and theirs.
I love my extended family, and I wish them all the best. But at some point, when a person keeps pushing and pushing you can’t be surprised when the other finally pushes back. I don’t know how long this break is going to last, but I hope we all come out on the other end of it together as a family again.