DEAR ABBY: I am very lucky to have wonderful in-laws. I have been married to their son for five years and together for 10. We have one child. My in-laws are divorced but friendly, and my husband has one brother.
My question revolves around my brother-in-law’s new fiancee, “Tami.” They dated only a short time prior to getting engaged. My in-laws were very slow to warm up to me and hard to get to know.
It took almost four years for me to become close to them and feel comfortable.
At this point, I am deeply involved with the family. My mother-in-law and I talk almost every day, and my father-in-law shows a lot of affection toward me.
I have received all the family heirlooms and am the “daughter my mother-in-law never had.”
It is apparent that Tami feels less welcomed, and it makes me sad. The difference in the way family members interact with us is striking, and I can’t imagine that it makes her feel good.
The family doesn’t intend this. Knowing them takes time. It’s just the way they are.
I have tried hard to involve Tami, but she isn’t local. The family is very spread out, but my in-laws visit us frequently due to the grandchild.
My question is, how can I help her feel welcomed and comfortable in a slow-to-warm-up family? Should I offer some of the heirlooms prior to their wedding?
Is there anything else I can do, aside from maintain a good relationship on my end? — SHARING GOOD WILL IN THE MIDWEST
DEAR SHARING: It is entirely possible that Tami has taken the cold shoulder she has received personally.
She is lucky to have you as an ally. If you haven’t already, it would be a kindness to have a private chat with her and share what you have written to me about your in-laws’ family dynamics.
Although you are well-intentioned, at this point, you would be jumping the gun to give her any of the heirlooms. Once she and your brother-in-law are married, and she has been accepted into the family, ask your mother-in-law if she would mind your doing so.
DEAR ABBY: My mother passed away six years ago. I have two older brothers and a father in my immediate family.
There was a rift between my brothers and me several years ago. I made clear to them in a letter how badly they had hurt me.
Instead of apologizing, they choose to no longer have a relationship with me.
Dad refuses to get involved. He says his kids are adults, and we should work it out. Recently, he admitted he was verbally abusive to my mom while I was growing up. I remember it well from my childhood.
I believe my brothers mimicked his behavior with me while I was growing up and as adults.
I resent my dad for not helping to resolve this issue. He was an angry and insecure person while I was growing up and took things out on Mom.
What’s the best way for me to address this with him instead of harboring resentment and avoiding a relationship with him? — WITHOUT FAMILY IN NEW JERSEY
DEAR WITHOUT FAMILY: What exactly do you expect your father to do at this point? Order your brothers to apologize? He is neither willing nor capable of doing it, as he has made clear.
Accept that this is the way things are and keep a cordial relationship with your father if you can.
It would also be healthy for you to concentrate on maintaining relationships with people who treat you well and who make you feel accepted and valued.
And recognize that those people are your “family” rather than the dysfunctional one into which you were born.