My common-law partner of 15 years and I have a son, 11.
My partner’s parents disliked me from the start because I’d already been divorced and had a daughter.
When our son was born they accepted me, but it didn’t feel sincere.
I’ve always treated them with respect. I invited them to all family functions. Yet they’d often badmouth me to my boyfriend and other relatives, even mine.
I felt that my boyfriend’s staying quiet gave them the opportunity to continue disrespecting me.
Then his father talked very badly about me to my own brother.
I’ve refused to speak with them, allow them in my house, or go to their house, for almost three years.
We’re now planning our son’s birthday party and my boyfriend suggested inviting his parents.
I immediately felt anger and anxiety.
My boyfriend had lost a lot of money because of dealings with them and his brother, resulting in a physical fight with his brother.
They haven’t spoken to each other since 2012.
We lost our house, had to live with his parents for one year - a horrifying experience for us, me, my son and daughter.
I ended up in the hospital with high blood pressure.
I moved out of their house with my two children. My boyfriend and I separated for one year.
We re-united two years ago. I was clear that I wanted nothing to do with his family. He said that he completely understood.
My own family and I are very close, we visit each other weekly, my boyfriend loves them, and my family love him too.
While separated, I attended counselling, because I needed help to get rid of all the bad feelings and emotions.
My therapist suggested I stay away from people whom I feel are not good for me and who hurt me.
My boyfriend and I were very good friends during our separation.
Even though I felt so disappointed in him for letting his family interfere so much, I was still very civil with him.
Am I a bad person for not letting these people into our family life again? Would my boyfriend resent me for wanting to stay away from them? Do I give them another chance even though I don’t want to?
My son and my boyfriend go see them at least once or twice per week, and I’m totally fine with that, as long as his family don’t come close to my house or me.
They feel they’ve done nothing wrong. They’ve never apologized, and haven’t talked to me since our separation.
My boyfriend has now decided that he WON’T invite his parents because he knows I’m not ready to see them or be around them.
He said that he hopes that one day we can all be together again, that he understands me, and doesn’t blame me.
You’ve done all the things that therapists advise about toxic relationships: Protect your well-being, and set clear boundaries.
But the most impressive moves arise from your own inspirations:
To not let your ugly experiences with your in-laws prevent them from seeing their son and grandson.
Plus, asking me (and mostly yourself) the hard questions as to whether you’re doing the right thing.
My more usual inclination regarding in-law disputes is to consider taking the high road and trying for harmony. You’ve already done that.
Maybe things will eventually change. Maybe not.
You’ve done your best and I believe you’ll keep doing so.
FEEDBACK Regarding a writer’s disapproval of the way her girlfriend treated her boyfriends (June 18):
Reader – “The girlfriend spoke to her about regularly cheating.
“Obviously this behaviour was totally against the writer's own moral code and ethics.
“By saying she should tell her friend she didn't want to hear about her cheating, you were encouraging her to continue supporting and enabling her friend.
“Friends should bring you up, not drag you down to their unacceptable behaviour.
“I was very disappointed in your response.”
Ellie – So was I when I read your feedback, which is why I went back to this months-ago column.
And I re-read my answer at the time: “Your personal values are becoming stronger than this friendship…. tell her so.”
Without insisting she end the friendship, I helped her draw that conclusion herself: “…that’s where this (the friendship) is headed anyway.”
Your response is strong and direct. Mine encourages the writer’s self-determination to speak up.
Tip of the day:
In truly toxic relationships, protect your own and your family’s well-being, and set clear boundaries.