Over the past couple of posts I have mentioned the in-laws as behavioural influences, so I thought fitting that I explain it a little bit. I’ll make it clear I get on with them. We don’t fight and there is no dispute, but a lot of barely husband’s actions are clearly reflections of his past, just like a lot of mine are results of my parents doing.
They both come from modest families. My mother-in-law’s dad was an army officer. She was brought up in an old fashioned environment where women were raised to be housewives. I don’t question the choice to be a housewife when it’s your choice, but in her case that’s what she was expected to be. My father-in-law worked really hard chasing his dream to become a Doctor. He was a late entrant to Med School and his family were all very proud when he graduated. By that time they were already married with a baby (my husband).
He was offered a job in this up and coming area, where lots of companies were building new manufacturing facilities, so they moved from the big city they were from. They found themselves in a small town, where he was THE Doctor. He was basically worshipped there and I am not exaggerating! Money flooded in, both from his job and from his newly started private practice. It was more money than they had ever seen in their lives and my mother-in-law was very quick to settle into her role as THE Doctor’s wife. They bought cars, a massive house, jewellery and clothes. They had a second child, a girl, and the kids were showered with all the best.
One thing I can say about my mother-in-law is that she is NOT modest. I’m not sure if this started with the piles of money from her husband’s job or if she has always had this air of superiority. She likes to say she is very modest and I think she truly believes it, which makes me laugh to myself. She also loves gossip, she loves to brag and she starts fights for nothing and in those fights she is very quick to put people down by diminishing their possessions. Faced with all these things plus the fact that she declared she does not like sex, my father-in-law started an affair with a nurse. He abandoned her with the 2 kids and bought a new house to live with his lover. He left them high and dry and suddenly she became the town mockery target. What a fall from grace!
The kids were bullied like crazy in school. This separation didn’t last very long – a few months – but the damage was done. She did take him back straight away, as that’s what she was brought up to do, but she proceeded to make his life living hell, with all sorts of demands to which he quietly complied. Strangely, these demands were mainly focused on finding my sister-in-law a husband (let’s call sis Vivien, shall we?). Yep, you read it right: she was already planning pre-teen Vivien’s wedding.
That included tons of bridal magazines, fairs and weekend trips to whatever town was considered the hotspot for potential husbands, as all single young males living in their town were then deemed unfit for purpose in mother-in-law’s eyes. She said they were drunks or druggies, including all of my husband’s friends. Vivien was not allowed to be friends with any girls in town anymore as they were suddenly all whores.
My husband hated all of this, especially being forced on these husband chasing trips. He was still too young to stay behind. From that tender age he started trying to put some sense into their heads saying what they were doing was not the right way, but he has never been heard. To this day Vivien, now is her 40s, is still going around with a checklist of husband requirements – handsome, rich, young (yeah, don’t get me started…), no kids and preferably a doctor – instead of taking the time to go out and meet someone she likes and taking it from there.
Barely husband was quick to run away as soon as he could. He went to university then moved across the country chasing a job opportunity and that’s when we met.
I only met the in-laws a few days before our wedding, when they travelled to our town for the first time to attend the ceremony. I did speak to future mother-in-law on the phone where I gracefully listened to her colour coordination preferences and accepted the pile of bridal magazines she mailed me. I’m a clever girl and I know when fights are not worth it. To this day I either play dumb or I smile, nod and then proceed to do what I want.
After we were married, he confessed he didn’t want us to meet before because he was afraid I would back off. Ha! Maybe that would have been the nail in the coffin. Who knows? Also, years later, he very wearily told me what she said when I left after we met first time: that I wasn’t good looking enough for him. My reaction was not the one he expected, as I pissed myself laughing. I know I’m no Victoria’s Secret model but I don’t consider myself ugly and by then I knew what she was like and only the most beautiful princess loaded with money would be up to her standards.
I am sure these standards, although very much toned down, were still in the back of his mind when he came after me. After all, I am the daughter of two prominent Doctors, with a degree from a prestigious University (so I can’t be that dumb). Those were ticks to the list but my rebellious attitude, dirty mouth and especially my love for tattoos were not. They should have ruled me out of the perfect wife contest, but didn’t. I know he slowly (and probably unconsciously) did his best to kill all those things in me and that’s one of the reasons why we find ourselves where we are now, with me refusing to compromise any longer.
His panic and search for therapy after the cheating episode also are a reflection of the suffering caused by his father. He pushes me as far as to ask for a divorce and then he backs away quicker than I can blink. He doesn’t want to fail.
The thing is, I am not the perfect wife and I never will be.