Partner vs family. Let the battle commence.
February 27, 2007 8:36 AM   Subscribe

In a nutshell, my fiancee hates my family.

Through a series of snubs and impoliteness (by her definition, not mine), my fiancee has come to hate my family. In particular, my sisters. I'm not that close to them, but I don't want them out of my life either by a long stretch. And she doesn't care for most of my friends either, the online ones in particular.

The latest spat has come about because my sister mentioned that there was a job in a different part of the country, which my fiancee took to meaning that she was trying to interfere in the relationship, and take me away from the area that she loves and the house we live in.

The one before that, she refused to spend Christmas with them even though it was "our" turn to spend Christmas with them (she having insisted that we spend Christmas with her family last year). So I spent Christmas with my family, she spent Christmas with hers in tears and it's been various forms of drama ever since.

While I can see her point of view and can understand why she might feel snubbed etc., I feel that the "punishment" she has dished out - she doesn't ever want to see them, invite them to any wedding etc. - is OTT.

The trouble is, I love her. She loves me. I've never felt more at home and comfortable with anyone else when things are going well. And then my sister or a disliked friend will call or email, and then the fireworks fly.

So how do you decide which is more important? I think the two are equally important, but maybe I'm wrong here.

(btw, do you let your partner read your email?)

For fact fans: both in our early/mid-30s, engaged, met two years ago, engaged 14 months ago, I moved in with her (cross-country)7 months ago, not set a date.
posted by aprivateperson to Human Relations (110 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
She sounds like she's being very unreasonable. It's perfectly fair to share holidays in the manner you describe, and most people do work it out this way. My partner doesn't read my email and I don't read his, unless something comes in that's addressed to both of us.

Your finance sounds incredibly insecure about your relationship - she sees any other emotional attachments you have as "threats." I'm not sure what that means, but have you tried asking her why she gets so panicky? Have you made it clear you are going to spend time with your family and that you would appreciate her being by your side during that time?

If she can't put her finger on any perceived "slights" or even if she can and they don't sound like slights at all, I would have to wonder what else is going on in her head. Is she afraid of rejection? Is this just neediness and clinginess? Is she afraid the marriage won't happen? How's her own family life?

That was a lot more questions and probably not a lot of help, sorry!
posted by agregoli at 8:42 AM on February 27, 2007

Your fiancee hating your family is a problem. Your fiancee manipulating you and breaking her promises to you is a different and much bigger problem.
posted by rdr at 8:43 AM on February 27, 2007 [3 favorites]

No to the e-mail thing.

Well, my blood family is full of jerks and drunks and a lot of people regret marrying into it. I keep as far a distance between them and myself as I can. So, is your family deserving of her dislike?
posted by IndigoRain at 8:44 AM on February 27, 2007

RDR is right: If she actually wants to marry you, she might start by caring about the things you care about. Even if she doesn't have the respect for you to accommodate your family, shouldn't she at least care about your feelings?
posted by anildash at 8:47 AM on February 27, 2007

are you prepared to choose between your friends and family and your fiance? Because it sounds like that is what she is steering you towards. As horrible as it sounds, you may have to decide which of these means more to you. If she is being irrational and unreasonable now there is no reason to think things will get better with time.

You need to have a big talk about this, assuming you are not willing to cut off your family and friends. Let her know you will not turn your back on your family and friends and she will have to deal with this. Tell her the way she is behaving is not going to work in the long term. Offer to go into counselling together. Maybe she will come around.
posted by PercussivePaul at 8:48 AM on February 27, 2007

She is trying to isolate you from your family because she is at heart afraid that you love them more than her. This is a very dangerous precedent. Don't get married until you resolve this via some serious therapy.

And no to the email thing. My husband has no interest in my email, why would he want to monitor my communications? Again, very dangerous precedent.
posted by miss tea at 8:48 AM on February 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

I've never felt more at home and comfortable with anyone else when things are going well.

See, that's the thing. You're going to be spending the rest of your life with this woman, and she seems to want to cut you off from everyone you have anything to do with except for her. Why does she have a problem with your family or friends? What specific reasons does she have to dislike them? "Snubs and impoliteness" are not specific reasons.

She seems kinda paranoid to me. Your sister mentioned a job in another part of the country and your fiancee thought that meant your sis was interfering in your relationship? Come on.

It seems like you do a lot for her--a lot she doesn't deserve. YOU moved in cross-country with HER. YOU went along with HER to her family's Christmas after SHE insisted you two spend it with HER family. Now, it's YOUR fault that friends or family members whom she dislikes call. Plus, from your side-question, it looks like she wants to read your e-mail. Why? Not that you shouldn't let her; if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to hide. But, from what I can tell, she'll probably just read into it and make up some grandoise story and hate yet another person you care for.

Have you given her a reason not to trust you? If not, then you need to put your foot down, and tell her that you won't put up with her over-the-top drama queen crap any more. For someone who's in her thirties, she seems remarkably immature.
posted by Verdandi at 8:49 AM on February 27, 2007

You are right to be wary of the long-term implications of what is going on here. It may well be that she is right and that your family is manipulative, bad, ugly people. But consider the consequences of being married to her. Do you want to have estranged relations with your family the rest of your life? Do you want guaranteed drama anytime you deal with your family? Is your partner the sort that forgives? Meaning, if your sisters came to her and said 'we're sorry, we've been awful, be our friend' would she forgive and forget?

I think that if the answer to that last one is "probably not" then you should really reconsider.

Also, does she like ANY of your friends? Is she more trying to separate you from a friend network, or does she have legitimate gripes with specific (i.e., not all of them) people? Another biggie.
posted by norm at 8:50 AM on February 27, 2007

I have to moderate this somewhat by saying that I've come into contact with several families in my life that I'd never be able to get along with on anything more than a superficial level. Is your family one of these? Or do you lack perspective to say? Rarely is one person in a situation completely right and the other completely wrong.
posted by Phyltre at 8:51 AM on February 27, 2007

Consider her current method of conflict resolution as a preview of what you can expect if/when you get married. If you intend to keep her as your fiancee, you both need to see a couples' counselor, ASAP. She has issues that need to be addressed.
posted by mosk at 8:51 AM on February 27, 2007

No, my girlfriends/partners don't read my email, although they may know some of the passwords. It's a trust thing. I would dump anyone I caught reading my email. Trust is essential in a marriage; without it you aren't going to get very far.

She's failing to trust that your other attachments won't get in the way of your marriage, and she's testing how much control she has over you. (I've been here recently. Trust me on that last one.) She's doing that without caring about your feelings for your family and friends, which is pretty selfish and manipulative in my book.

Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!
posted by SpecialK at 8:51 AM on February 27, 2007

(btw, do you let your partner read your email?)

If she happens to see it, no big deal, but in general my e-mail is mine, her e-mail is hers.

I've never logged into her e-mail except by her explicit request.

Best of luck with the rest of it.
posted by PEAK OIL at 8:51 AM on February 27, 2007

I don't know how to say this nicely. She's being completely childish, unreasonable and this won't get better till she gets some counseling. Or go see somebody with her. While some of her feelings may have some reasonable aspects, but the way she's mishandling them, her problem solving skills or lack thereof, her mistrust (hell no she shouldn't be reading your email), her desire to control what's OTT, these are very, very bad.
posted by tula at 8:52 AM on February 27, 2007

met two years ago, engaged 14 months ago

This is likely the root of your problem, IMO. 10 months from strangers to engaged is WAY TO SOON.

And what everyone else said about her being unreasonable. It's perfectly acceptable for her not to like your family; it's not OK for her to act out her feelings about them that way.
posted by mkultra at 8:57 AM on February 27, 2007

I've never let girlfriends read my email; they've never asked. That sounds extremely intrusive to me, but maybe it's ok with others.

Is some sort of couples counseling a possibility? I have never tried anything like it, but a trained, neutral observer might be helpful.

Because (from getting only your side of the story), your fiancee seems to be acting in an unreasonable manner. When you're married, you trade off holidays. And she's perfectly free to not like the job that your sister mentioned, but the Cheney-style assuming and projecting the worst possible motives on your sister is not a great way to handle it.
posted by ibmcginty at 8:57 AM on February 27, 2007

I know we're only hearing one side of the story, but it does sound like your fiancee is unreasonable. It doesn't seem like she has to have very much actual interaction with your family or online friends, so it shouldn't affect her so deeply. That said, in my experience the ease of dealing with in-laws (or almost-in-laws) is completely dependent on the partner. Make sure you're doing everything possible to make her interactions with your family easy (ie, standing up for her when they commit actual snubs, listening to her vent her frustrations without getting too defensive, trying to relay any positive things they say about her).

However, you haven't told us what your family/friends have done that make you "understand why she might feel snubbed," short of your two very innocuous examples, so there might be something we're missing here.

My personal opinion is that not being willing to be civil to my family (whom I really only see a few times a year) is a dealbreaker. We're not talking daily or even monthly interaction, so it shouldn't be too hard to make polite conversation and sacrifice a little bit of time and effort, and I try to make the same effort in return. Of course, if my family was clearly doing wrong, I would stand up for my partner. The problem seems to be that you and your partner don't agree on what constitutes polite and civil behavior.

As far as email goes, neither me nor my partner has ever requested to read eachothers email. But we don't worry about the other being able to read over our shoulder (in other words, don't give the partner any reason to think we're hiding something).
posted by twoporedomain at 9:04 AM on February 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

She is trying to isolate you from your family because she is at heart afraid that you love them more than her. This is a very dangerous precedent. Don't get married until you resolve this via some serious therapy.

This is a very serious concern. I had a girlfriend who in some respects fell into a pattern with yours, and after the fact, I realized would have been perfectly happy if I had completely distanced myself from my family. Of course my family had done nothing to deserve this. I warn you that this pattern is very hard to see when you are in it.

(and absolutely not to the email.)
posted by advil at 9:09 AM on February 27, 2007

She sounds incredibly insecure.

Does she recognize this as a problem? Does she want to change and accept the idea of getting help? If she does, maybe there is a chance that with therapy she can learn to stop seeing your outside friends as a threat.

If she doesn't think this is a problem, then I have less hope for the situation, because I do know many women who think this way, and in some circles it's accepted behaviour.

Either way, it doesn't sound to me like you've done anything wrong here, so don't let her insecurities control you. If a man did the same thing to a woman, it would be considered abuse, regardless of whatever personal flaws or disordered thinking may cause it.


I would never let a partner read my email -- I wouldn't even share a login to the computer with my partner, if I had to share the computer. It doesn't matter what the content is -- I just think that is personal. And the people who sent me the email did not consent to other people reading it.

Which leads me to: what is up with couples who share an email account? I refuse to email these people.

(I'm female, low 30s, fyi)
posted by loiseau at 9:10 AM on February 27, 2007

My partner doesn't like my family, with one person as an exception. We come to a compromise about this though. I don't force him to be around my family if he doesn't want to. For holidays he will come visit my family and hold his tongue in a respectable manner, or choose to talk to the person he enjoys. He does this because I've made it clear that I will not choose between him and my family, and if I were ever in that position I'd hands down choose my family, even though this man is the love of my life and I don't have the best of relationships with my family.

Anyone who puts you in a position in which you have to choose one or the other, like your fiancee has done, has no care about your feelings. It is a totally selfish action. She wants to see if she can make you choose.

Emails are private unless they pertain to both of us, but our desks are close enough to easily look off another's screen. My partner knows my passwords and I his, but I don't root around his email and vice versa. That's just not showing trust.

You are the one who decides who you talk to, who you are friends with. If she has a problem with the people you associate with, that's HER problem and she should have enough respect for you to distance herself from these people but still allow you to associate with who you want. But instead she's trying to control who you associate with with these childish temper tantrums. She spent the holidays crying? What the hell did she do before meeting you, cry all holidays as well? What this all sums down to is that she's acting like a child. Like others have said, it's not going to get better, this is who she is. You need to think about whether you're willing to deal with this before getting married.
posted by Meagan at 9:20 AM on February 27, 2007

dude, this girl is crazy. seriously. Think about it. Not inviting your family to the wedding?

If one of my girlfriends didn't get along with my family, I would dump them immediately. Simply because if a person loves you enough, they'll put up with your family for like 2-3 days.

This girl is totally insecure and you're going to be totally depressed after you get married. You're going to lose all of your friends, all of your guy nights out, and become totally dependent on each other. Your family is going to hate you, your friends are going to hate you, and you'll be divorced at 40.

Fix this or get out.
posted by unexpected at 9:29 AM on February 27, 2007

When I was a little kid, one Christmas my uncle's wife decided for reasons no one quite understands after a family visit that our family (by which I mean my mom and her parents, though mostly my mom I think) had been "incredibly rude" to her. The next day my uncle came over alone and, taking his wife's side, pretty much angrily broke of contact with the rest of the family for many years.

He grew to regret that. Years later when he had a new job that involved fairly frequent travel near where my mom lived he started healing things with her, but in the end it took his dying of cancer to really get both sides of the family back talking to each other fully. Which is sad because I have two cousins I don't really know that well now, because the whole time we were growing up and could have been visiting, we weren't.

I can't say I have any practical advice for you as far as what to do, only a little note that letting something like this become a full-on family split in the end will hurt everybody in ways that are hard to recover from.
posted by dnash at 9:31 AM on February 27, 2007

I've never felt more at home and comfortable with anyone else when things are going well.

I got married on precisely this basis.

It turned out that marriage is not uninterrupted bliss, and in fact includes a regular dose of things not going well. The hot and cold routine got really old, really fast.

In retrospect, everything I needed to know about why my marriage wasn't going to work was in plain view during the engagement -- I just talked myself into believing that the marriage would somehow change things.

Sounds like you're in the same boat, frankly.
posted by tkolar at 9:32 AM on February 27, 2007 [4 favorites]

If you really want to keep the relationship with your family and your fiancee, then what you really need to do is get to couples counseling and find out what are the roots of her anger and help her find constructive ways to deal with it without turning into a horrific argument every time.

Suggesting counseling will be difficult, but not nearly as difficult as becoming estranged from your loved ones for the tyranny of a woman who feels every real or unintended slight as a bodily injury.
posted by parmanparman at 9:41 AM on February 27, 2007

My experience is with an in-law's inlaw whom I've met and heard extensively about. It's the same story, but magnified 10fold, but of course, in the beginning it wasn't that bad.

If now you give credit to bogus sensitivities and allow her to win on issues where you must give up your family and friends, it will only get worse as she learns that she can force you to choose her.

The end result in the situation I know of is a husband who was not "allowed" to be with his father or family while his father died, nor ever attends any family events. He also routinely does things like trimming his wife's dogs' nails over keeping a prearranged medical appt. for his widowed mother.

As kindly as you can, you need to lay the law down now. She is not allowed to choose your companions, limit your family contact, or view your email. I say kindly because you do want to keep your relationship with your fiancee, obviously, if possible and convince her that your love for her is independent of anything else. But if she refuses to compromise as it sounds you have already done (on rather illogical issues), then she might need help beyond that which you can give her (in the case I speak of, the woman is in obvious need of therapy).
posted by artifarce at 9:43 AM on February 27, 2007

Wow, she sounds like she really sucks. You should be with a giving person, she sounds like a tarantula.

I think that when someone says 'you choose: them or me', always choose the one who doesnt make you choose. Unless "them" is drugs. Don't choose drugs.
posted by ZackTM at 9:45 AM on February 27, 2007 [2 favorites]

The person you marry should be your respite from all the crap life dishes out, not the predominant source of it. Why are you even considering letting someone cut you off from your family when it's seemingly unwarranted?

I know you love her, but one of life's hardest lessons is that marriage requires way more than just love. You need maturity, consideration, also sanity is nice, and from what you've written here, she's severely lacking in those areas. If you marry her without addressing this, you're going to spend your entire life walking on eggshells to cater to her whims. Why? You deserve way better than that. Do not marry this girl without getting a TON of counseling and seeing some improvement over a long period of time.

And as for the email, he doesn't really try to read it. But, I don't have anything to hide, and wouldn't mind if he read any of it. I usually end up reading half of it to him anyway whether he wants to hear it or not (e.g. "oh, so-and-so is moving, I told them to look in this area..." etc.).
posted by boomchicka at 9:46 AM on February 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Assuming your previous question was about the same girl, I think you have a seriously insecure/jealous woman on your hands.

You need to lay down the structure that you will be comfortable living within. She needs to do the same. And you both need to see if the other's matches your expectations.

Don't shy away from the problem, it will only make it worse. Likewise, a stubborn backlash will also just make it worse.

At the end of the day, you need to remember, this is the rest of your life, and you can't change yourself for anyone else (hell, it's hard enough changing for yourself).

Good luck.
posted by gadha at 9:48 AM on February 27, 2007

While I hear people urging you to be cautious and to see her behavior as isolating and controlling, I think you're not getting the same "OMG, RUN!" kind of response you'd get if the genders in the question were reversed. Seriously, if a guy was getting angry when his fiance spoke to her family, refused to participate in an agreed upon visit, and acted with suspicion and dislike towards any relationship the fiance had outside of theirs, we'd be more explicit and adamant that you get out.

Regarding the email, No. Married for 13 years. We maintain not only different email accounts, but also our own computers. We tried to share a computer, once, years ago. It didn't work for us. Yes, we know each others passwords. However, just as he has every right to a private phone call, I believe he has every right to his email without me nosing about. He has the same approach.

posted by onhazier at 9:49 AM on February 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

I just popped a peek at your profile, and read the previous question. Based upon these two questions, and your follow up in the last one, I think that the two of you, at the very least, will need a trusted, neutral (more for her sake than yours) counselor if you continue this relationship.

Perhaps it isn't so relevant, but is this your first "in love" relationship? I know I am only getting one side of the story, but the two questions combined, the isolation from family, the guilt? That is not at all what happy relationships are, at least in my experience.
posted by kellyblah at 9:50 AM on February 27, 2007

Congrats on getting engaged.

You do have a problem if your fiance and family can't get along. It will not go away or get better without action, and _you_ will feels the brunt of it from both directions.

My suggestion is to get some couples counseling. A counselor will help you both work out what the issues are an come up with tools to use to get through tough situations.

My wife and I went to a counselor before we were married to deal with similar issues and it helped immensely. Now my wife and I even have easy way to get through tough situations with both of our families. Having a way to acknowledge between us that someone in our family is acting badly helps a great deal in getting through things. For my wife and I, just a couple words between us quietly can turn a tough situation into a funny one.

What you should not (IMHO) accept is having to choose between your family and your love. That is a recipe for disaster.
posted by Argyle at 9:52 AM on February 27, 2007

Do not let her read your email. It sets a precedent that you will rue. If she wants to know what someone said, forward her the email, or better yet, a quoted excerpt from it.

She's not required to either love or like your family, and it wouldn't even be surprising in such cases if she became unconsciously divisive. But this is consciously divisive behavior, which is destructive and can only be perceived as such. When (not if) you discuss this with her, ask her to imagine your life together if you followed all of her demands. Imagine yourselves five years from now. In her ideal future scenario, how often do you see or talk to your family or friends? Frankly, any answer except "whenever you want" is unacceptable.

The most telling fact of this story is that she spent Christmas with her own family in tears. Because the goal wasn't to spend the holiday with her family-- it was to compel you to ditch yours. And she failed, hence the tears and ruining not only her own Christmas but others' as well.

When you become someone's partner, you suddenly inherit a whole new mythology and pantheon of characters: their past, their life, their family. Some of it may be embarassing and unbearable, but when you love someone you see him or her as being wonderful in spite of, if not because of, this background. It is fascinating to imagine your partner growing up in a world populated with those other people, those strangers who ultimately delivered him/her to you. Believe me, I've inherited some family that I wouldn't cross the street to take shake hands with, but having crawled into my partner's memories and seen them through his eyes, I have a lot of respect for these people-- and when they wrong him, I am his advocate, capable of feeling the indignation or outrage that diplomacy forces him to suppress. His story is now part of my story, and his family, whether they've even heard of me or not, has become mine.

If you marry someone with this capacity for jealousy and unpleasantness, you'd better really love her, because over the years she's going to make sure she's the only person you can count on. And if the marriage doesn't last, you'll emerge from it with years worth of estrangement to undo in the friends and family department.

I'm all for treating women with respect and striving for civilized conflict resolution, but the next time she picks at this topic, I'd just tell her to grow the hell up. And I would ignore her shock, outrage and tears, her inevitable frantic attempts at manipulation, and when she calms down do everything you can to remind her that you love her. Repeat if necessary-- if you don't prove that you can stand up for yourself, you'll marry someone who isn't convinced of it and she'll bank on it in every conflict. And if she can't bear this upheaval now, then she never will be able to.
posted by hermitosis at 9:56 AM on February 27, 2007 [5 favorites]

It doesn’t sound like your fiancée is ready for a relationship.

Even if your family is a horrible band of violent alcoholic racists who make constant snide, derogatory and threatening remarks to your fiancée, making her right not to want to spend time with them, there’s still a problem. You want to spend time with them, she thinks they are evil toxic scum. You might be in the wrong, but the two of you aren’t in tune on this one. And it’s important.

The friends she objects to are mostly your internet friends. Perhaps you aren’t in tune with how much time it’s appropriate for you to spend online.

Both of these things result in you both being unhappy with the relationship. Now you say that things are good when they are good, but that doesn’t say much. Things are always good when they’re good.

I got this one from Miss Information on, and it’s a gem that changed my perspective on my relationships. When you fight, you spend intense bonding time together reconnecting afterwards. So you may think that the fighting and struggling is unrelated to the good times, but they are strongly connected. In addition, the intense bonding time and the fighting both take you away from friends and family, isolating you and making you more dependent on the relationship.

So spend more time with friends and family, not less. Feel more sane. Then take your new, saner perspective back to the relationship. Is it what you want?
posted by kika at 10:01 AM on February 27, 2007

She's being manipulative and irrational. This is not a healthy relationship. When you find yourself saying "everything is great, except A, B, and C", everything is not great.

You may get along with this girl one on one, but life is not about living one on one. If she won't share your family, friends, and interests with you, then I wonder why you're marrying her.
posted by chrisamiller at 10:04 AM on February 27, 2007

Two statements from your other question raise MAJOR red flags:

...she's not comfortable around strangers or anyone not from her local area....

WTF? This is her problem, not yours. If she can't deal with the other people in your life, then she's not ready for marriage.

for the last six months, my life has been pretty much exclusively focussed on her.

And the one time you want to spend time with anyone other than her, she freaks? Bad, bad sign.

Also based on the "I thought we would" type of statements in your other question, add "poor communication" onto your list of relationship problems.

Boy. You really have some things to work on. Good luck to you.
posted by boomchicka at 10:04 AM on February 27, 2007

She has serious issues that need to be addressed, or you're just setting yourself up for failure. You already have doubts about the possibility of success in this marriage, this post just confirms it.
posted by cellphone at 10:09 AM on February 27, 2007

I'm gonna be very opinionated about this...

She's drama. Yes, the highs are great, but are they really worth the frustration of the lows?

It seems you're willing to put up with a lot more of her shit than she yours. Love should lead to reciprocal, compromising situations, not polarizing ones.

Family and friends aren't replaceable. That's 10-30 years you've spent building up. She's a 2-year project. Take all her best qualities, only minus the insecure, invasive drama and at least a tolerance for those who've been the foundation of the person you are today, and you've already got a better option.

You might feel handcuffed because of the love and engagement. Rip it off like a band-aid. You know you wouldn't have gotten involved in the first place if you knew her true character would have turned out like this. And you know it'll only get worse.
posted by Mach3avelli at 10:09 AM on February 27, 2007

Some families are like some gods: They are Jealous.

Her family is one of those. If you marry her, you will have to be adopted into her family, probably with a (not conscious) ritual and a ritual ordeal, which may include a formal cutting of all pevious ties by, say, not inviting any of them to the wedding (!), and your initial status within that family will likely be low. The problem with this, if all that is not already a big problem for you, is that such 'we are a special breed apart' families generally have some very special twists that will be anathema for you to point out-- or even notice.
posted by jamjam at 10:10 AM on February 27, 2007

And on the email question, no we don't read each other's email.

We have seperate computers, but with no passwords. IF we wanted to look, we could.
posted by Argyle at 10:11 AM on February 27, 2007

I have a hunch that her problem with the internet friends (if you aren't actually spending an insensitive amount of time online) is that they are (being online) are solely YOURS and out of her reach. As in, she has no acces to them, no way of assessing their influence over you, and no clear concept of who they are as people-- which means less ammunition with which she can shoot them down.

Since they are online I doubt she really views them as people at all-- they are an annoyance and an intagible symbol of the part of your attention that she doesn't have access to.

I say bring her to a MetaFilter meet-up! ;)
posted by hermitosis at 10:12 AM on February 27, 2007

If someone I was engaged to asked me to choose between them or my family, I would automatically default to family. There's no logical reason I couldn't have both. It's not even like I get on with my family that well, but I refuse to be under the emotional blackmail and control of someone else.

You might well love her, and I'm happy for you that you do, but it doesn't necessarily follow that what she feels for you and terms "love" is in any way comparable. Her definition of love might be something rather different to your own. For me, love is something unconditional. Not something that asks me to choose.
posted by Solomon at 10:15 AM on February 27, 2007

yeah, this sounds like a really possessive and insecure woman.

Think twice before marrying her. I found myself in a similar situation before, and it was not pleasant.

The top things that break up relationships are friends, family, and money. You've got 2 out of 3..
posted by drstein at 10:15 AM on February 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

I don't really have any advice on the situation, as I feel I can sympathize with your fiancee. Not because her reasons make sense, but because I am in a similar situation and I don't feel comfortable commenting on it from fear I might be projecting my own baggage.

About the e-mail thing:

My fiance and I both came from relationships in which we were cheated on, couldn't trust the other person, etc. We decided from the get-go that we would have each other's passwords for everything. I mean everything--e-mails, messengers, online bank accounts, forums, etc. If something happens, we can easily change them. I think people saying that this means we don't trust each other don't make sense--I get curious sometimes, he gets curious sometimes, and I trust that he won't make a mountain out of a mole hill. It's not that he would not trust me if he didn't have access to my e-mail, but with our pasts [and OCD, which we both have] we get unreasonably insecure sometimes. Having passwords to everything is a reassurance that we are not hiding anything.

Not to mention, it's so much easier that I can call him while I'm out at the grocery store and ask him to look up that recipe I saved in my e-mail and tell me what ingredient I forgot, etc.

I'm not saying you should let her read your e-mail, but that it's not always a horrible, bad thing when a partner wants that. I think you shouldn't share things like that with her until you clear up whatever the basis of this problem is, most definitely.
posted by starbaby at 10:19 AM on February 27, 2007

Another thought from reading your last two followups: You not only seem new to what a relationship should or could be like, but also that you have been immersed in just this relationship for awhile. The first gives you a naivete, the second only enforces it by clouding your perspective. I second a previous comment that you need time away (or even in couples therapy with an objective third party) to reconsider what you want, what you have, and what you could have.
posted by artifarce at 10:24 AM on February 27, 2007

Do not marry unmedicated crazy people.

No other way to put it. She's got issues, which isn't so bad, everyone does. But she has issues that are going to drag you down into some dark little room at the bottom of the basement and really, who wants to be in a room with a crazy person for five minutes, LET ALONE THE REST OF THEIR LIFE.

The trouble is, I love her.

Some people love snorting drugs. Doesn't mean it's good for them.

So how do you decide which is more important? I think the two are equally important, but maybe I'm wrong here.

A real friend or lover would not put you in this position. Any lover who demands directly or indirectly that you limit contact with your family or friends needs to be told once (and only once) to knock it off and it's not going to happen. Should they persist in being insane, you need to show them the door. No ifs, ands, or buts.

Your home should an oasis from real craziness. There should be laughter and comfort and happily tired groin areas. It should be such a happy place that you want to invite family and friends over 'cause you want them to partake in all this happiness, you've go so much, the people you care about should come and share and they can go away happy too.

You don't have that. You're not going to have that, not as things currently stand. Explain that she's driving a wedge between your family and friends and that's unacceptable. Tell her if she doesn't knock it off, you will leave her. Tell her you'll help her as best as you can, but she needs to fix these things. Give her six months or a year and she if she has changed.

Doing this will make her angry and/or upset. That's understandable. Give her a week to come around to the idea. If she doesn't, then leave her. And if you do leave her, take a long, hard look at yourself to determine why you would this behavior to occur.

Good luck.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:24 AM on February 27, 2007 [4 favorites]

I vote get out - I was on a similar road and this old guy at the bar I worked at told me "where you are headed, I've already been -- get out".

Looking back, I'm glad I did.
posted by thilmony at 10:27 AM on February 27, 2007

I've been in a similar situation. I went with the fiancee. The marriage lasted eighteen months and we haven't spoken since.
posted by Hogshead at 10:27 AM on February 27, 2007

My initial reaction was to tentatively side with the girlfriend, since even the poster admits "I can see her point of view and can understand why she might feel snubbed etc"—there are a lot of nasty families out there—but then I reread the part about "she doesn't ever want to see them, invite them to any wedding etc." and changed my mind. That is over the top, no matter how difficult they are. You need to do some serious reassessment; if she doesn't change her tune, this marriage might be a disaster.

Somewhat OT, but I have to dispute this comment:

10 months from strangers to engaged is WAY TO[O] SOON.

That's just nuts. Every relationship is different. My wife and I corresponded for some months, met and hit it off instantly, and I proposed a couple months later. The marriage has worked out great. My first marriage went down in flames, and we lived together for years before deciding to get married. There are no rules.
posted by languagehat at 10:28 AM on February 27, 2007 [2 favorites]

So in order to stay with her, you have to:

1. Get rid of your friends and family.
2. Let her back out of deals she makes with you because she changes her mind.
3. Deal with her jealousy over things you have no control over.

Sounds perfectly reasonable to me. I can understand how much love you must be feeling from her.
posted by fellion at 10:30 AM on February 27, 2007

No...he doesn't read my email and I don't read his, and both our computers sit out pretty much 24/7.

As for the family - I agree with everyone. There are red flags everywhere. Without having met her, and having been on both sides of this situation, it's hard to know what's really going on. Maybe your family really IS being rude. Maybe they don't like her and would like her to go away, and they make it very clear to her in ways you could never see or understand. But...she has to know they're your family. They come as part of the package. It's up to you to decide how much or how little you want to see them.

So, unless you all can find a way to meet in the middle, marrying her is kind of crazy. It cannot end well.
posted by clarkstonian at 10:30 AM on February 27, 2007

Although it sounds like everyone else is right on with the assessment that your fiancée is overly jealous, just to cover the bases, ask yourself -- honestly -- would you consider your friends'/relatives' behaviour towards your fiancée snubs/insults/whatever if you weren't friends with/related to them?

If the answer is yes, then I think the onus is on you to explain to the offending parties why the behaviour in question is hurting your fiancée's feelings, and tell her you've had this discussion, and see if you can't get a fresh start between them. If you don't think it's something worth confronting people over, even just acknowledging her feelings can help: "Yeah, my mom can be harsh sometimes. I don't know why she said that! Don't take it personally."

I say this only because I think a lot of people's in-law issues stem from the fact that most of us wear "family goggles": the crazy things our families do seem less weird to us because we're used to them, and so we expect those things not to faze others. (Example: your sister tells your fiancée, "wow, you shouldn't eat so much. You can't stand to gain any more weight." You brush it off because she's your sister and she just says stuff like that sometimes. Your fiancée runs from the room in tears.)

All that having been said, from what you've told us she is being unreasonable. Demanding to monopolize your time like that is definitely a red flag, as is her unwillingness to compromise. Do not get married until you've worked this out. It's much easier to break off an engagement than it is to get a divorce.

Finally, since you asked: my husband and I don't read each other's email, but we're not overly private about it either (we both leave Outlook open on our respective computers, so we could read each other's if we wanted to). If I suspected he was up to something, I'd just ask him about it.
posted by AV at 10:36 AM on February 27, 2007

I think there's two possibilities here, though your story really only allows for one:

1. Your fiancee is insecure and controlling, and your family is perfectly nice people who've treated her well enough and she's being unreasonable. In this case, you probably need to choose your family over your crazy fiancee.

2. You're blind to the very real insults and harsh treatment your family has been dishing out to your fiancee and you're being incredibly unsupportive. In this case, you probably need to support your fiancee against the attacks of your family.

You and she both lack the distance from the problem to determine which of these two situations is the case. I'd suggest you get some pre-marital couples counseling so that a third party can figure out which one is actually true.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:54 AM on February 27, 2007

Speaking to your perspective: I left my friends and family and moved across country for a guy that I knew for four years (online) or for 8 months (in person), depending on how you look at it. We've been together (in person) for six years and married for 3.5 years.

I try to get back to see my family once a year, usually without him. I do this so I can spend time with my friends and family without having to worry about him having a good time. However, if I wanted him with me, I know he would go. It's just a compromise you make when you're a part of a couple. I always extend the invitation for him to go with me, but if he doesn't take it, I'm fine with that. It's not like he's avoiding my family, he just hates flying, crashing at friends' and relatives' houses, and relying on them for rides -- three things I insist on, since my time with them is limited.

Speaking to her perspective: I'm lucky in that my current in-laws are fabulous, but I've had boyfriends whose families seemed to act in judgmental ways towards me. In hindsight, it wasn't so much them being judgmental as me feeling insecure -- both about my self-esteem, but also because I came from a poor family and their families were upper middle class (belonging to a country club, even!). I also felt like I couldn't do anything right when I was around them, and everything I said was wrong.

It was hard to spend time with them, feeling as I did, but I put on a happy face and told myself that it was only temporary. They didn't live locally, so our trips to his family's house were infrequent and of limited duration.

That all being said, I think it's unreasonable to expect my boyfriend/fiancee to drop his friends and family for me. Afterall, that's like taking a hammer to the wedge in our relationship every single time I make a disparaging or negative comment about people he loves.

It's unfortunate that your girl doesn't see things similarly. I suggest you try to address her insecurities, but ultimately put your foot down and tell her that it's unacceptable for her to expect you to sever ties with people she doesn't like. Make sure you tell her that you want her to come with you for family visits, but if she doesn't go, she can't be crying about you spending the holidays apart from her. If she wants to avoid your family, she can only do so on a limited basis and that what she's asking of you is too much.

Finally, be willing to compromise if she's willing to compromise -- for example, if she is willing to go spend the holidays with your family, suggest that you both stay in a hotel rather than stay with family. This could go a long way towards giving her some "alone" time.

As to your other question: No, we don't share e-mail. No reason to. If she's wanting to, likely that's another sign of her insecurity.
posted by parilous at 11:00 AM on February 27, 2007

Sounds like she has some hard-core issues. I'm not saying she has Borderline Personality Disorder, but you should at least read through the answers to this recent question.

My guess (and IANAD) is that she probably won't change. If she does change, it won't be for a long time. You need to decide whether it's worth it to be with her as she is before you get married. Refusing to invite your parents to the wedding is completely out of line, assuming they aren't completely out-of-control abusive or something. Being "snubbed" does not count.

Love isn't as rare as you think. Find someone you can love who will love you and not be insane.
posted by callmejay at 11:05 AM on February 27, 2007

I just saw that your previous question -- the only other question you've posted on AskMe -- is about the same problem. In light of that, might I add: You should ask yourself, if this issue is still persisting enough for you to post two separate questions, is it really worth dealing with? If I may psychoanalyze from my armchair, you might just be looking for someone here to rationalize your staying because you're afraid to leave. If this relationship was going to work, you'd both be able to compromise: not liking in-laws is a very common problem and not hard for two adults to deal with, as many of the previous posters have pointed out. If what you need to do is get out of this relationship, then do it. It won't be as bad as you think it will be. Good luck.
posted by AV at 11:07 AM on February 27, 2007

I think there's two possibilities here

The truth in any situation is usually somewhere between the two black/white sides of the story. It's possible your family snubbed your fiance; it's possible your fiance is also closed off to the idea of you being close to them. I've been in the middle of stuff like this*, and it's a tough situation. I think you'll have to think through how things are going to be in the futue, and who is willing to conceed what. Maybe you encourage your family to be more friendly; maybe your fiance could compromise with you on spending time with your family. Take stock of who is willing to do what. In the specific case of your fiance, if you have a serious talk about this, and she's still unwilling to concede any ground, that would strike me as a dealbreaker. Life is too short.

*What's funny about my situation is that once the couple was married, the family chilled out and all resentment seemed to die down. Not sure if that's common.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:26 AM on February 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

No you should not let her read your email. Change your password now. If she freaks about that, its time to change the girl, too.
posted by mr_book at 11:29 AM on February 27, 2007

Seconding what callmejay said. IANAP, but this sounds like a crazy ex-friend of mine who had BPD.
posted by notsnot at 11:34 AM on February 27, 2007

Well everyone has pretty much covered it here, but I thought I'd weigh-in. She does sound like she has some very serious issues with trust. As someone said up-thread if this was a man this could be considered abuse. I was in a relationship a long time ago that started out fine and got into similar situations (although we weren't living together.) I began to dread her and her moods. As a guy it's hard to deal with the fact that you can be scared of a woman, our ego's won't allow it, which is stupid. She sounds like a control freak and that can be very scary, it's emotional bullying which in a relationship is terribly unhealthy. I think you have one of two choices, either confront her and make sure that you get couple's therapy, or cut your losses and get out. She's not going to change if you ignore the situation, and it won't go away.

Lastly no to reading your partner's email. I would never, ever read my wife's email and she would never read mine. It's a point of trust and principle. Quite frankly until I read this I'd never even thought about this as being an issue. Good luck.
posted by ob at 11:41 AM on February 27, 2007

ob, thanks for expanding on my gender reversal comment up-thread. I think we tend to make more excuses for women when they're the one being abusive than we do for men.
posted by onhazier at 11:55 AM on February 27, 2007

I've been in a similar situation -- twice.

My family is scary enough that merely attending a cousin's wedding shifted one S.O.'s everyday chatter from marriage to breaking up, overnight... I fell all over myself from then on trying to accommodate her issues. Another S.O.'s method of handling it was a covert multi-year campaign of driving away my friends and family... which worked very well until she started getting lazy about hiding it. Both of them knew quite well I wasn't the type to just ditch people I care about on a whim, it was part of why they wanted to marry me in the first place -- so they did what they thought they had to in order to distance me from the undesirables.

I stayed with both of them longer than I probably should have, so I don't any moral authority to tell you not to. All I know is that I made myself miserable giving in and giving up things for both of them, until I finally got it through my thick skull that I could never marry them -- no compromise would ever be enough, and marriage would just be giving them even more power to abuse.

All that chatter aside, that's basically the issue you have to deal with here: if she's using the power she has over you like this NOW, what do you think she's going to do when you give her all the extra power that comes with marriage?
posted by Pufferish at 11:56 AM on February 27, 2007

met two years ago, engaged 14 months ago

This is likely the root of your problem, IMO. 10 months from strangers to engaged is WAY TO SOON.

posted by mkultra at 11:57 AM EST on February 27

Sorry for the flashback to the beginning of the thread, but I'd like to offer the suggestion that this factor has nothing to do with the relationship problems you are experiencing, and that they have everything to do with the two specific individuals participating in said relationship. What's right for mkultra is certainly not right for everyone else, including my very happy marriage and the marriage of many other couples I know. If she's the right woman, she's right at 10 months and 10 years. It may take some of us longer to be certain of that factor than others, but I resist the notion that because the OP was engaged in a shorter amount of time than certain people deem appropriate, the relationship is bound to have crucial problems.
posted by theantikitty at 12:04 PM on February 27, 2007

10 months from strangers to engaged is WAY TO SOON.

Just curious: how long wouldn't be too soon?

Anyway, she seems to be a bit off the deep end (it's completely unreasonable to demand that you not invite any of your family to your wedding—this is supposed to be one of the most important moments of your life, right?).
posted by oaf at 12:07 PM on February 27, 2007

Your girl isn't coming across as a real winner, but that could just be your frustration bubbling through.

I'd suggest picking a time when there isn't a specific issue/instance and generally discuss how you guys want to *be* as a married couple and talk out some family scenarios that haven't happened. When my husband and I were engaged we discussed Christmas, whether we would lend money to relatives, things like that. It's just important to discuss them and be able to be "yay team us!" We have a rule that both our families know about that Christmas is just for us, and we're not going to visit, and we love them anyway. I don't think you should tackle anything specific that has already happened though, if you can possibly avoid it. It's about planning for the future, not about casting blame for the past.

From the other side, I was never crazy about a part of my husband's family that he really liked. I didn't like them because I didn't like how they treated him though, not because of how they treated me. It was a bit of an issue between us because I tried to avoid them. Several years later I felt very vindicated when we were in courtrooms coping with the fallout because the family that he liked had led secret lives and were doing not-nice-things. I got to say "I never liked those people, I knew they were mean". I'd have really rather been wrong, though.

The friends thing is probably the biggest red flag. If she's shy, and if you have friends that are yours as a couple without problems, it might just be that she feels left out of the intimacy you have with those friends. You can't pick your family, but you picked your friends, if she doesn't get along with them it can be a sign of other issues.

And set a date for cryin' out loud. It can be a date 3 years in the future, but set it. I'd be a little paranoid if my intended wouldn't set a date and seemed to have this secret internet life.
posted by Mozzie at 12:08 PM on February 27, 2007

At the risk of putting my head above the parapet, this is just to give a different view on the point about reading e-mail - my fiancee and I read each other's e-mail. At least, we have access to each other's. We share a PC at home and she uses Outlook, I use Thunderbird. There's nothing to stop us checking each other's and we sometimes do, eg if she's going to be home late one night I might log on and see if there's anything urgent that she'll need to deal with. I don't think it's that weird, really. And on a practical basis it helps us keep in touch with things when we're busy, eg when we get invited to something and one person forgets to tell the other...

As languagehat said, there are no rules. However I suppose there is a difference between my example and obsessive checking of every single e-mail to monitor its content.
posted by greycap at 12:11 PM on February 27, 2007

I'm sorry to be one of those "OMG SEEK HELP" people, but I bet you five dollars this is one of those things that could be largely resolved by sitting down with a professional for about three sessions.

You guys have a foundation here: you love each other and like each other as people and want to be with each other.

You also have some stuff going on: ostensibly surrounding family and, based on the email question, boundary issues. In therapy, though, I'll bet you another five dollars that this will come down to your girl's tearful admission that she secretly believes that you're prone to choosing other people over her, and your realization that you have perhaps inadvertently reinforced this impression. You'll cry, you'll laugh, you'll go home and make out.

Not all relationships can be fixed with therapy, but when you have a set of communication snags that have ballooned into something like this, I think counseling can be very, very, very helpful.

Good luck to the both of you!
posted by thehmsbeagle at 12:15 PM on February 27, 2007

Okay, going against the majority on this one. One of the hardest things I had to learn was that once marriage, my loyalty was due first and foremost to my husband, not to my family of origin. It took me a while to get this, but it meant a huge step forward in our relationship.

Regarding personal privacy on emails, letters, phone calls, you guys have to negotiate what's acceptable between you two.

I think counselling is a good idea, even if it's only to learn successful strategies in arguing, you know, keeping on topic, avoiding personal attacks, tolerating over-emotionalness.

What if she's right? What if, because of your personality and your closeness to your family, you can't see how they treat her?

On the other hand, learning not to be insulted by extended family is also a useful skill. Perhaps a counsellor could help her with strategies there, a means of being polite but distant. I'd reference the "guess" people identified in an earlier mefi thread but I don't know where it is.

You're going to have to resolve this one way or another. It won't go away.
posted by b33j at 12:38 PM on February 27, 2007

How do you feel about your family, and how is your relationship to your parents and siblings? What do you think about the friends that she doesn't like? In my experience, your family and close friends can usually spot issues that you're too close to the situation to notice.

If you're already distancing yourself a little from family and previous friends because you're reevaluating yourself (it can happen, especially if your new chosen path in life doesn't mesh well with the life you've previously led). But if you've had good friends and family, then why isn't your fiancee getting along or at least giving them the chance to communicate? And what sort of cues do you get from your family when they're around your fiancee?
posted by mikeh at 12:42 PM on February 27, 2007

My little brother just got out of a relationship like this - there was some good from it, mostly bad. It ended up on the extreme bad side, but she finally believes him when he says "no"

Anyway, I don't know enough to tell you what to do, but I've found this site useful.

There's also

My father's family hated my mother. Probably still do. Nobody talks to them any more, even us kids - they're quite toxic.
posted by lysdexic at 1:15 PM on February 27, 2007

Her hatred of your friends and family sounds more like controlling behavior coming from a place of insecurity rather than an honest-to-goodness dislike of your friends and family. Problem is, she probably doesn't even realize her issues are motivated by insecurity. Based on this and your previous question, it seems like she resents anyone or anything that has more influence in your life than she does.

I don't know how much you can do on your own to improve the situation, other than reassuring her that she is important. I doubt that that will do too much, though. This is an area where change is going to need to come from her. This problem will not resolve itself, I think you'll need to sit down in front of a neutral 3rd party to get these things out in the open.

For the record, in my opinion, it is not typical for SOs to read each other's email. I think there needs to be room in relationships for each individual to have their own space, and email is one of those spaces. Over the years, friends and family have sent me many personal emails that the wouldn't want shared with my SO. Just because I decided to share my life with a person doesn't mean that my friends and family have to share their deeply personal moments as well. Also, if I purchase a gift online for my boyfriend, I would hate to have the surprise ruined by him seeing the confirmation email.

I do wonder if her need to read your email isn't an insecurity issue, as well. Does she really care about the notes that your friends and family send? Or is she insecure and paranoid that you/they are talking about her?
posted by necessitas at 1:29 PM on February 27, 2007

onhazier, yeah I think we're on the same page here. Whilst many women when they're preyed upon end up turning things back on themselves a lot of men refuse to believe that they can be bullied by a woman. They seem to think that as men they should just deal with it. I say this as I have two friends whom I'm pretty sure are in abusive relationships one of whom I believe (and our other friend thinks the same) is being beaten by his partner. He seems to not acknowledge this, and thinks that the bullying is just part of male/female relationships.

I say all of this in no way to trivialize abusive male behavior, but just to point out that there are other societal complications when dealing with women who are abusive to their male partners.
posted by ob at 1:34 PM on February 27, 2007

i don't have the time or patience to read through the crapload of responses so far, so i'll be quick: GET THE HELL OUT!

that is no way to start a family. the behavior you cited abouve is virtually identical to my first wife. hated my parents, brpothers, etc. lots of 'imagined' slights.

long story short: she ended up collaberating with several siblings to try to get me charged with domestic violence and child abuse.

it's been 10 years and i am $50k less richer. went ahead and got married again. and we both love each other's family.

once again GET OUT!
posted by lester's sock puppet at 1:52 PM on February 27, 2007

I think the two are equally important, but maybe I'm wrong here.
you are right but I must say that you guys got engaged pretty quickly and that two years is nothing. okay, there is a pretty goo chance this will work out but if this is your first rough patch, I'd recommend you two wait and see how this will work out first.

living together with someone you love means having to make compromises for the other person. you are making them happy just as much as they are making you happy, at least that's the theory, right? so what does it tell you when your partner is unwilling to play nice because it would please you? doesn't that indicate that she values her own happiness a lot more than yours (I am speaking in the plural here - your both)? you two should have a talk. what does she expect from you? is she going to roll her eyes and try to avoid your family forever? make your feelings known and try to get her on board to find a solution. how she responds will tell you a lot about future conflicts. you know there will always be some, that's just how humans are.

btw, do you let your partner read your email?

fuck, no!
what I discuss with my stripper is none of their business.
posted by krautland at 1:55 PM on February 27, 2007

Obligatory NYT article on questions to ask before getting married.
posted by lalochezia at 2:38 PM on February 27, 2007

I've never felt more at home and comfortable with anyone else when things are going well.

Of course! I don't know of anyone in a relationship that would disagree with that statement. The issue is how are you guys when things aren't going well? Punishments, fireworks, and tears (all your own words!) don't seem to be good signs of a happy relationship or marriage. I think that's your main issue and all this stuff about snubs, families, emails, and internet friends is just filler. Do you want this for the next 40 years?
posted by ml98tu at 2:48 PM on February 27, 2007

btw, do you let your partner read your email?

I use gmail and so does he, and we have our own laptops, and we both stay logged in pretty much all the time. There's nothing stopping either of us from opening the other's laptop and looking at their email, but we don't. Because spying on your partner behind their back is wrong, and so is wanting to monitor all of your partner's communications.

For the overall issue, I'd recommend (1) couple's counselling and (2) talking to a trusted non-family friend who has seen her interact with your family, and find out if you are blind or she is crazy.

If she refuses to go to couple's counselling, then leave her. Seriously.
posted by joannemerriam at 2:53 PM on February 27, 2007

In general women are the ones in a couple who invest a lot of time maintaining relationships, including relationships with the spouse’s parents. I know I’m the one nagging my beloved to make that Sunday morning call to Mama.

While this is a sexist generalisation, it’s also a reality check regarding the way many healthy couples function. Your couple is functioning in the opposite way, which is a signal that you need to look carefully at what’s happening.

Regarding e-mail: we have one another’s passwords, but we aren’t interested in reading one another’s private correspondence so we don’t.
posted by kika at 2:54 PM on February 27, 2007

Please do not overlook these clear warning signs. I did not - same feelings of comfort at the beginning of the relationship, my easy-going qualities seemed to balance his more difficult personality. We had a LOT of fun. I thought he would mellow over time, but after 25 years, I realized that I dread being alone with him when the kids are gone. To avoid constant conflict you will try to go along with the program and you will find your life being marginalized slowly but surely.

Divorcing now after 20 years of marriage.......

And also over time family becomes more important, especially if you have children or a parent has significant health issues. Never consider marrying without family present. They are your roots and will always be part of you.
Good Luck
posted by readery at 2:56 PM on February 27, 2007

aprivateperson: I've never felt more at home and comfortable with anyone else when things are going well.

ml98tu: Of course! I don't know of anyone in a relationship that would disagree with that statement. The issue is how are you guys when things aren't going well? Punishments, fireworks, and tears (all your own words!) don't seem to be good signs of a happy relationship or marriage.

This is so important that it needs to be emphasized again and again. During a fight at some point last year in which I was getting increasingly defensive and distressed, my boyfriend took my hand and said, "honey, I'm on your side." That changed everything -- not just at that moment during the fight (which we were able to resolve in a completely different way than I had expected), but in some ways our entire relationship. From that point forward, we have always, always seen ourselves as part of the same team, even in our most difficult moments. I have his back, and he has mine. We can be royally pissed off with each other, and still be at home and comfortable and safe with each other at the exact same time.

Like finding out who your real friends are when you go through a crisis, the real test of the health of your relationship comes when the chips are down. And what you describe when the chips are down in your relationship appears to be an unhealthy and unhappy dynamic that will not improve with marriage.

Marriage does not make bad relationships good, and it does not make insecure partners into secure ones. Barring a significant, long-term commitment on her part to develop healthier ways of dealing with you and your family/friends, what you are experiencing now with your fiancee will not only continue when she is your spouse, it will be magnified.
posted by scody at 3:21 PM on February 27, 2007 [2 favorites]

I'll nth what everyone said: something needs to change. But I disagree with the run! comments in one particular way: sometimes insecurity really can get better, if you feel like working on it (though I don't think many would blame you if you didn't). When my boy and I started dating, I was very, very insecure. And I pulled all sorts of stupid shit that would have made dumping me totally logical. But he stuck around and every time I did something rotten, he loved me anyway, and now we have a great relationship in which I am very secure. We are happy, and a boon to one another, but also able to enjoy an independence that is much greater than I would have imagined six years ago. Every day now, I am grateful he thought I was worth waiting around for.
posted by dame at 5:20 PM on February 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

There do seem to be a lot of imagined slights on her parts. Also, can you have a heart to heart with your family about how they feel about her, just to make sure they don't hate her? She might be picking up on something you can't. But if it turns out that she's just reading too much into it, then talk to her about how much it hurts you to hear her talk badly about your family.

It could be that she isn't ready to get married or doesn't want to marry you or something. Shrug.
posted by onepapertiger at 6:02 PM on February 27, 2007

Also, I don't share email with my boyfriend. I cherish having some privacy.
posted by onepapertiger at 6:04 PM on February 27, 2007

When you marry someone, you get an entire, additional family, with an entire, additional host of responsibilities. Does she not get that? When you marry someone with family, you're signing on to sit at those people's sickbeds, to be in line to step up and care for their children, to keep predatory mortgage brokers and the Publishers' Clearinghouse Sweepstakes away from them when they become frail, to figure out how to pay for their dozens of prescriptions, to arrange for their long-term elder-care, to dilligently ride herd on their doctors, and maybe even to bury them, in the end. This, if it is not obvious, is no small thing.

You don't have to like your new family, but will-you, nil-you, as long as your spouse claims them and vicey-versey, they are YOURS.

This, despite the fact that they are probably crazy. Even wonderful families tend to be crazy, to some degree.Yet another of the many jobs of a life partner is to stand at the beloved's side and give the beloved's hand aperiodic, knowing squeezes while the family is engaged in bedlam-like barking and spasming.

Then, after the audience with the family is over, you get to bitch in the car.

(Also, big fat "no" on the e-mail.)
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 7:07 PM on February 27, 2007

I'm having trouble going through this very long thread that I just now found, so forgive me if this has been addressed before, but is it possible there's a real issue involved? Is she of a different race, religion, ethnicity or "lifestyle" than your family? I've been involved with women whose families didn't accept the relationship because I wasn't Jewish, Black, Christian, "educated" or whatever, even that I as simply not as "gorgeous" as they wanted for her, and it was not easy (note the past tense); often even when they tried to be nice I could still tell the difference, and sometimes when I couldn't tell I was being insulted the girlfriend or a mutual acquaintance would sense it and tell me about it.

That is, could she be (over-) reacting to a real problem and not simply a psycho hosebeast?

And why (apparently) are so many people jumping to the "Ditch the bitch!" conclusion? Maybe his sisters really are rude stuck-up brats. I recall being horrid to some of my sisters dates/boyfriends, sometimes I even started it.
posted by davy at 8:45 PM on February 27, 2007

Then too not every slight is imaginary. Some are just so subtle that (e.g.) only someone of the same sex would notice. Once I was asked "Where did you get those combat boots?" in a way that made it clear to me that I was being called a fag, but my girlfriend at the time totally missed the tone (and jumped on me later for being not so subtly rude to him).
posted by davy at 8:50 PM on February 27, 2007

I want to respond to the e-mail thing because it seems like mostly everyone is against it.

My last partner and I have shared computers where I would be working online and get a notification that he got a new e-mail. I'd read enough of it to know what it was if he'd want to know about it and tell him(like his mom writing from england vs spam), and vice versa. We worked fine like this, because I would never log into his e-mail to snoop around when he wasn't there and (I think) the same for him.

It's more about how your relationship is than a simple "No I would dump them if they read my e-mail" because every situation is different, you really have to decide.
posted by rubberkey at 11:35 PM on February 27, 2007

The key point with the email thing, I think, is whether it's a two-way street: presumably she wants to read your mail, but do you get equal access to hers? It's not a matter of whether you want to read her mail, it's whether she's playing fair and wants an open relationshop, or whether she wants full access to your business and personal affairs but isn't willing to surrender the same to you. Because if it's the latter then trust me, that's a very bad sign.
posted by Hogshead at 4:09 AM on February 28, 2007

None of the three issues you listed warrant never seeing or speaking to the offending parties again. Look how much that one small thing hurt your mom. And as for everyone who's saying "it's only going to get worse from here" - listen to them. They've been down this road before; it almost always gets way worse. Marriage doesn't exist in a vacuum, so no matter how much you *love* her, your relationships with the other person's friends and family will always be a pretty big factor, as you're seeing. You shouldn't ruin your relationship with your family because of your fiancee's problems.

And the email thing -- that's just wrong. Your fiancee clearly has some insecurity / jealousy issues that need working through. If she won't go to counseling, then sadly, I don't see a great chance of her actually doing anything about it. I'm really sorry about this.
posted by boomchicka at 4:55 AM on February 28, 2007

Response by poster: I'd like to thank everyone for their thoughtful ... erm... thoughts and opinion. Now I just need to get some courage and cojones to ask her to go to counselling - although the last time I tried that, she was of the very firm opinion that strangers shouldn't be able to discuss our problems. Hell, apparently our friends shouldn't be able to discuss our problems.

In the interests of disclosure and all that, we do have different ethnic backgrounds (although I personally think my sisters are about as British as most other families, just eat weird foods, and my mum's dead shy) and she is most definitely a proud native of these isles. One particular section of one particular country in particular - which is why she'd never move anywhere.

As for what the particular issues surrounding my sisters and my fiancee are:

1. We dropped in unannounced at my youngest sister's London flat - but stressed with working at home, she said
she didn't have time to let me in . She wasn't even aware that my fiancee was standing next to me at the doorbell.

Yes it's rude, and I've said that, but she still maintains it's a reason to diss her and not see/speak to her again.

2. We saw my other younger sister, who had a spare single bed and sofa but asked that we get a hotel room because there wasn't any room - and probably because we were still in the phase of being a nauseous couple at the time.

My fiancee still really resents that, and says she won't be welcome in the house. It's this sister who also told me about the job that sparked all this off (again).

3. My mum and sister came round to our newly-rented house, and my mum made a passing comment in her native tongue about how she thought there wasn't much light in the house or something like that. The fiancee picked up on it, and proceeded to sulk for the rest of the day saying about how rude my mum was. In fact, she threatened to
storm out unless I phoned my mum to tell her how rude she thought my mum was - which I had to do. This kinda knocked my mum for six.

She's said all these things in anger, and afterwards when the argument has died down we'll just ignore the big white elephant in the room and not talk about it. But just when I think she's willing to change her mind, something happens and we're back to Square Zero.

Now I need to get some courage I guess.

Thanks for your time!
posted by aprivateperson at 6:09 AM on February 28, 2007

What the - how did your last comment go away and then magically reappear after my last comment, which was in response to yours? Weird.
posted by boomchicka at 6:14 AM on February 28, 2007

Response by poster: My last comment was made using my "real" MeFi account. I wouldn't want to out myself now, would I?

So I begged the Gods at MeFi to delete said comment, then wrote it again ... but in the meantime, you'd written yours!

No, I'm not paranoid in any way, shape or form, oh no... :)
posted by aprivateperson at 6:32 AM on February 28, 2007

she was of the very firm opinion that strangers shouldn't be able to discuss our problems

Wait'll she sees this thread...
posted by mkultra at 7:37 AM on February 28, 2007

In fact, she threatened to storm out unless I phoned my mum to tell her how rude she thought my mum was - which I had to do. This kinda knocked my mum for six.

You didn't HAVE to do it; you choose to do it. This is not a healthy way for two adults to act. Counseling, counseling, get thee to counseling.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:46 AM on February 28, 2007 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Well, if I didn't, she was going to walk out. Which I didn't want to happen.
posted by aprivateperson at 7:54 AM on February 28, 2007

Oh OK, now that you mention it, I did notice it was under a different name. Don't worry, your secret's safe with me. And my paypal account. ;)

In phone call example, you did choose to do it. You chose her over your mom. And that's just one of many times she'll be asking you to make that same choice in the future if you don't put a stop to this silliness ASAP.
posted by boomchicka at 8:09 AM on February 28, 2007

my mother in law is a weirdo, fundy, nutball with a smart mouth who dumped off my husband and siblings with her sister nearly 40 years ago. her husband is a control freak weirdo fundy nutball, as are my husbands brothers. the sisters are drama queen weirdo fundy nutballs. i still visit with my husband because i love him and if his relationship with his family ends, it will be because he had enough weirdo fundy nutballness and can't stand it anymore, not because I am too childish to realize as much as i don't really like them, he has a family.

counselling is a good step, but your fiancee sounds like one of those people who is always thinks they have been done wrong, so it will take some serious convincing to get her to do it. please realize that you are allowed to expect better behaviour from her. she is trying to control many aspects of your life and there is rarely an altruistic motive behind such behaviour. if you are trying to please her and she is trying to please only herself, that is two on her side and none on yours.
posted by domino at 8:14 AM on February 28, 2007

Seriously, there are nice people out there that aren't like this and won't do this to you. I'm all for relationship-saving and counseling, but to me, this is way more trouble than it's worth. I'm getting the impression that you're too scared to leave her after moving cross-country, not knowing anyone, and not having established a life in your new place. Leaving her would be like admitting defeat and starting back at square one and that's scary. It seems that you're in this position where you're so afraid of it ending that you'll bend over backwards to make sure she doesn't walk out, including considering choosing between your family and her. In my opinion, she is holding all the power here, because every time she feels upset, all she has to do is freak out to get her way. And you guys never talk about it when things are okay, so there's no recourse for you. This is really not the recipe for a long and happy life.

P.S. It's totally not rude that your sister wouldn't let you in while working from home. She was at work, the same way you wouldn't necessarily want to be interrupted at the office where you would be working, particularly during a stressful time.
posted by ml98tu at 8:14 AM on February 28, 2007

My brother's girlfriend does this sort of thing. Even if you fix whatever she feels is wrong with your family, she'll find something new.
The short version is that your fiancee is nuts. As I've realised in my later life, being in love is a necessary, but not sufficient condition for serious relationship, just to geek it up a little.
posted by Kreiger at 8:53 AM on February 28, 2007

ThePinkSuperhero: You didn't HAVE to do it; you choose to do it. This is not a healthy way for two adults to act. Counseling, counseling, get thee to counseling.

aprivateperson: Well, if I didn't, she was going to walk out. Which I didn't want to happen.

No, ThePinkSuperhero is correct: you CHOSE to placate her, because she's made you frightened of the consequences if you don't. This, my friend, is emotional abuse. The attempt to isolate you from friends and family is part and parcel of abuse as well. So of course, why would she go to counseling? She doesn't want to stop behaving this way, even if it makes you (individually or collectively) miserable, because it's allowing her to get what she wants! (Plus, as a bully, she's frightened of being exposed for what she is -- better to keep making you think that she's the victim and you're the problem, along with your terrible friends and family.) So your only option in that arena is to go on your own -- if nothing else, to help get some of the courage you say you lack so that you can start standing up for yourself and leave your abuser.

Seriously, no one deserves this. No one. This is not a healthy relationship by a long shot, and no amount of placating her anger, demands, jealousy, etc. will ever make it healthy or make either of you happy. You do deserve to be treated with kindness and respect, and you will never receive that in this relationship. Please take care of yourself and seek help.
posted by scody at 9:26 AM on February 28, 2007

P.S. My email's in profile if you would like someone to talk to. Get a new free account with a password she doesn't know.
posted by scody at 9:28 AM on February 28, 2007

Yes like scody says, from reading your comments she is a bully. I don't want to tell you how to feel, but I think that you really should view her behavior as unacceptable. She now knows that in order to get her own way all she has to do is to threaten to walk out. She'll press that button time and time again and, if anything, she'll get more demanding and her behavior will get worse. I think you know that you shouldn't have to put up with this.
posted by ob at 9:39 AM on February 28, 2007

Well, if I didn't, she was going to walk out. Which I didn't want to happen.

Sounds like you've already made your decision.

I forsee a very interesting, hopefully short, and extremely painful marriage in your future.
posted by tkolar at 9:45 AM on February 28, 2007

Well, if I didn't, she was going to walk out. Which I didn't want to happen.

No she wasn't. Or maybe she was, but she wouldn't have gone far, it would have been a ploy to get you to come after her. That was just a manipulative power play, plain and simple. The more you cater to her threats, the more she'll make them. She needs to be constantly reassured how much you care and need her, and you are playing right into it.

Well-adjusted people know how to tell someone when they are feeling needy, they know how to let their partner know they need a bit of attention or reassurance without resorting to childish threats. Does she frequently make these "if you don't do [insert demand] I will [insert punishment]" threats?

If you stop giving in to her threats, eventually she'll stop making them. Next time she threatens to walk out, let her. She'll be back before you have time to make a cup of coffee.

By the way, I think it was pretty unfair and cruel of her to ask you to call and humiliate your mother. She is not a mentally healthy person and you are going to have to deal with this for the rest of your life together.
posted by necessitas at 10:04 AM on February 28, 2007

Response by poster: Since then, she has occasionally walked/driven out on me in the middle of an argument, but then come back 2 mins later. Unfortunately, in the meantime, I've gone off for a long cool-down drive and come back an hour later usually.

In case you're interested, she is still adamant that she doesn't want to spend any amount of time with my "rude, obnoxious, snubby" family. She might lighten up if my family "apologies" to her, but I'm not too sure how to ask for that without dramatizing the entire situation to my family as well as her. I'd rather keep the drama to as small a circle as possible...

Anyway, thanks for listening and if you want to email me to tell me I'm being an idiot or being abused or I'm simply wrong, it's

I thank you :)
posted by aprivateperson at 6:41 AM on March 1, 2007

Anyway, thanks for listening and if you want to email me to tell me I'm being an idiot or being abused or I'm simply wrong, [...]

If you haven't gotten the message after reading this thread, I don't think you're ready to hear it just now.

On the other hand, it's not the end of the world. There's no experience like personal experience.
posted by tkolar at 10:16 AM on March 1, 2007

An apology, eh? Well maybe try this.

Talk to your mom and sis and let them know that your partner has lamented that she feels distant from the family, and that this has resulted in her perceiving the distance as a rejection, which makes her upset (wow, that all sounds so rational without the yelling!) Tell your family that they of course are allowed to have their own opinions and feelings about her, but that it would be great if they could make some sort of welcoming gesture that would unequivocally represent acceptance.

If you can get them to be direct about it, this could be worked into a "soft apology," as in "You know, I'm sorry distance has kept us from getting to know each other better, and I hope I haven't done anything that sent the wrong message. We're so glad that aprivateperson has you in his life, and will do what we can to make you feel welcome." Etc. Like in a card with flowers.

If this isn't a clear enough admission for her, then man that's one tough lady. If your mom or sis agrees to this, they're top notch.
posted by hermitosis at 10:24 AM on March 1, 2007

all the advice above...
as for email - we might be different in reading each other's email somewhat regularly. i think we have an implicit understanding that we don't read email from close family members - I assume that his mother wouldn't want me to read her emails to him, and I know mine doesn't either.
but otherwise, I find that it helps us to be better in touch with each other's lives - it's often easier and faster to read the original emails rather than having each other summarize its contents.
posted by barmaljova at 4:19 PM on March 1, 2007

but otherwise, I find that it helps us to be better in touch with each other's lives - it's often easier and faster to read the original emails rather than having each other summarize its contents.

Forwarding emails accompishes the same goal. I would rather forward interesting emails to my SO or have him forward them to me instead of going into his email account or vice versa
posted by necessitas at 4:37 PM on March 1, 2007

"[Y]ou CHOSE to placate her, because she's made you frightened of the consequences if you don't. This, my friend, is emotional abuse."

What's so damn abusive about it? People "placate" each other all the time, for the other person's sake and/or for The Relationship. Don't think I wash dishes because I love it: I do it because she's a better cook than I am and that's the trade off she made clear. Should I complain about "abuse" because she "makes" me wash dishes?

Can't we be adult enough to recognize that life ain't always binarily simple? And can't we be charitable enough to assume that the guy's not a totally wimpy idiot and his girlfriend's not a castrating neurotic bitch?
posted by davy at 11:07 PM on March 1, 2007

So you have a different opinion, so what - we don't all have to conform to it because you've dubbed certain responses too mean.
posted by agregoli at 6:57 AM on March 2, 2007

What's so damn abusive about it? People "placate" each other all the time, for the other person's sake and/or for The Relationship. Don't think I wash dishes because I love it: I do it because she's a better cook than I am and that's the trade off she made clear. Should I complain about "abuse" because she "makes" me wash dishes?

There is no trade being proposed in this situation. Instead, it is "you do what I want or I will punish you."

There is no hint of fairness about abuse. It's all about power.
posted by tkolar at 9:46 AM on March 2, 2007 [1 favorite]

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