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Second Fiddle

My husband’s “Dad” (I hesitate to use that word to describe this man) started out as his step-dad but then adopted my husband when he was eight years old. My husband’s birth father left his mother when he was just a baby so his adopted Dad is the only father he’s ever had. Shortly after we were married, my in-laws went through a bitter divorce with my FIL being a total jackass to my MIL.

After that, we heard from my FIL a lot. It was all about how to have a good marriage and bullshit like that. (Sure, I’ll take the advice of a man with two bitter divorces in his past, working on his third wife.) He even sent us one those stupid Mars and Venus books. Once that died down, he kept in touch a normal amount. We flew out to the East Coast for his wedding. After that, as he becamed wrapped up in his wife’s family (they live out there) and we heard from him less and less. I figured it was the same situation with my husband’s two brothers (FIL’s two sons from his first marriage) but we would hear things from them that led me to believe FIL was in communication with them much more with them than he was with my husband. Then my husband tried something.

My husband didn’t email my FIL to see how long it would take FIL to contact him. It took a year. We got a card and some presents for Christmas. The last straw for me, the one that made me write off my FIL completely as a decent human being, came when he was flying to New Zealand to visit one of his sons. He was spending two weeks in New Zealand for a visit. He had a three-hour layover at an airport near us so he asked my husband to meet him for lunch. One hour for my husband, two weeks on the other side of the world for his “real” son. My husband was pissed and hurt and didn’t meet the man for lunch, and really didn’t talk to him after that. That was a couple years ago. We’ve only exchanged Christmas cards since then, until recently.

The first time my husband hears from the man in years and it is an ultra-liberal email about healthcare reform. When it comes to issues like that, we run pretty conservative and my husband likes to argue, so they have exchanged some emails on the subject. Now, my FIL is spamming him with email forwards and links.

A couple days ago, my husband emailed my FIL asking him not to send those emails anymore, that he would much prefer to hear how FIL and his wife are doing and what is going on with everyone. FIL replied saying sorry but he wasn’t going to stop because he thinks it is more important that my husband be educated about important issues and that if my husband didn’t like it, there is always the spam folder.

I suggested my husband either not respond at all or respond with exactly the type of email he’d like to receive from FIL, filled with news about us. If it were me, however, I’d tell FIL to fuck off and never bother with him again. MIL is great and married to a great man who acts like a real father to my husband (New FIL has known my husband almost his whole life). My daughter calls New FIL Papa and has never even seen my husband’s “Dad” and never will if I can help it. In fact, I wish we didn’t have that man’s last name since it is clearly meaningless to him that we do.

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3 responses »

  1. Wow. Sounds depressing. Perhaps you need a neutral third party, say a family counselor, for you and your husband to talk these family dynamics over with?

    I’d say more, but they’d be gentle, tactful comments about how a large part of the problem appears to originate on your/your husband’s side based on your own accounting of the family situation … and I don’t need to be wrist-slapped for it.

    Reply
  2. anon: I would like to know what your other comments are. You’ll get no wrist-slapping from me.

    Also, I have an update. My husband did take my suggestion about emailing his dad the type of email he would like to receive. My husband sent an email about our jobs and our house and the toddler and the new baby with only a scant response about the health care situation leftover from a previous email. FIL took the hint, kind of.

    Reply
  3. I don’t blame your husband one bit for not meeting him for lunch. And it taking him a YEAR to write after your husband wanted to see what would happen if he didn’t email! That shows it all right there, I say. And then just spamming him with a bunch of stuff instead of asking how you guys are is really proof that you all are so much better off without him in your life on a regular basis. If he changes and starts realizing sensible priorities, that’s different. But his ho-hum attitude about it all makes me think he doesn’t deserve you guys’ attention unless he changes.

    I wish you and your family the best. I hope he comes to his senses and I think you’re a beautiful person to stand by your husband like you have.

    Reply

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