Friday, September 21, 2018
Parenting & Relationships

Tell Me About It: Future in-laws dig up dirt on bride's father

Q: I'm getting married in a year to a wonderful man. In the past few weeks, we've found ourselves in an odd position. My father is an attorney, and my in-laws recently approached us with information about professional sanctions my father was given about eight years ago. He wasn't disbarred or even suspended, he just had to pay a fine and attend a class.

My in-laws clearly Googled my parents, which is a little odd but ultimately not a huge deal.

What's difficult is that my in-laws seem to think my father is a white-collar criminal. This situation isn't even close to that. But my in-laws keep saying stuff like, "When there's smoke there's fire." My in-laws told my fiance that he needed to be informed of this.

My fiance doesn't really care about this issue, much to his parents' surprise. This has only ramped up their discussion of it.

How can I explain to them this is no longer up for discussion?

Smoke

A: Whether an issue is "up for discussion" is not something you explain. You simply discuss it or you don't.

So, next time it comes up, you spell out whatever last point you want to make about your father. For example: "Your son is not marrying my father. My father also happens to be a good man and remains a licensed attorney, and I will not stand for your speaking of him this way." Then you change the subject. If they go back to it, then you say, "This is no longer up for discussion," and leave the conversation/room. If you can't leave (moving vehicle, say), then you go silent until there's a new topic. That's it.

Presumably they use another cliche here as well to justify their persistence: that when you get married, you also marry the family. I actually hope they do, because then you or your fiance will have the perfect opportunity to point out that it cuts both ways.

And since it does: Make sure your fiance is not just willing to stand up to his parents, but also an expert at it. Their behavior does not bode well for living boundaried ever after.

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