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Annoying In-Laws Just Aren't Worth the Fight

Photograph by Twenty20

Like most newlyweds, I tried to please everyone on my husband’s side. I went out of my way for his friends and I tried to please his family no matter what. I hoped my new husband would do the same for me. Plus I thought that’s what all couples did, embraced the other’s friends and family as if they were their own.

And truthfully, I didn’t want to be like so many of my married friends whose personal rifts with one family member or friend created huge chasms within the group. Holidays became stressful for them and life cycle events, like birthdays or births, were ruined by the public tension between the two parties. I wanted to be different than that. I never wanted to be the reason there was tension in my house.

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Well as you can imagine, it was only a matter of time before someone from my husband’s side crept up my nerves so badly that I didn’t really care about making this nice anymore. It’s bound to happen, right? After enough years of being offended or insulted, one becomes less worried about not making Thanksgiving dinner tense or not ruining an event for everyone else and more concerned about not being insulted or disrespected. Add kids into the mix and you start to prioritize your time and sanity. Simply put, you just get too tired or too worn down to take anyone’s crap—even if the crap is coming from someone your spouse truly values.

He’d comment on everything from my house, “Well, I don’t know why you’d buy this house,” to my weight when I was pregnant, “I never knew you had a butt.”

So after 16 years together it’s safe to say that I’d simply had enough of my husband’s favorite cousin. We see him only once or twice a year, but every time we do see him he seems to go out of his way to insult me. He’d comment on everything from my house, “Well, I don’t know why you’d buy this house,” to my weight when I was pregnant, “I never knew you had a butt.” And whenever he visits, he leaves me a huge mess to clean up and makes constant comments on my parenting.

With each of the annoying cousin’s visits, I began to dread the next visit. I became so enraged the my husband didn’t notice his cousin’s comments, or didn’t mind them, that his visits started to put a temporary wedge between my husband and me. Like clockwork every time the cousin visited, my husband and I would fight. I feel like I should be able to expect, at a minimum, that someone is polite and respectful to me when they were a guest in my house. But my husband adored his cousin and turned a blind eye to the comments.

After the last visit, it got so bad that my husband and I were barely speaking. Finally my husband asked the question I’d waited years for him to ask, "Would you like me to tell my cousin he can’t stay here?” he asked. Much to my own surprise instead of blurting out, “YES!” I took a moment and said nothing.

It occurred to me in that moment that his annoying cousin’s visits were annoying, but not worth the fight. Whether his visits lasted a day or a week, it’s not that much time in the whole grand scheme of life. And it occurred to me that I don’t really care what his cousin thinks of me. I’d just prefer he not say it to my face.

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So instead of telling my husband to tell his annoying cousin to find another place to say, I let it go. His cousin could still visit, but I was going to make myself scarce when he did. His cousin wasn’t coming to see me anyhow. He’d surely be relieved by my absence.

Now when my husband’s cousin visits, I let them spend time together. I don’t feel responsible to entertain someone who insults me, but I can certainly put up with a few days a year of being totally annoyed. Because in the end, annoying relatives are usually visiting for just a few days. it’s not the end of the world. And certainly not worth the fight.

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