When you marry your husband, you’re not the only two people tying the knot. You marry his entire family too, and they’re likely dysfunctional AF. It’s a lifelong supply of drama, and it’s my boyfriend’s mother in particular that supplies most of it and keeps me from wanting to say “I do.”
Mama’s boys don’t happen by accident. My fiancé comes from old world Italy, where in many households, the mom stays at home and does everything domestic and the sons do literally nothing inside the home. As a consequence, my fiancé is sort of (and I say this with all love and respect) a mama’s boy. He’s not used to cooking for himself, doing his laundry, or cleaning the house. He just never ever had to do those things and he believes they’re women’s jobs. Communicating that I’d like his help as well as a less sexist relationship is an ongoing project. I have his mother to thank for that, and she continues to reinforce that mindset every day.
My mother-in-law disses the U.S. hardcore. This is not true of all Italians, but my future MIL never has anything kind to say about my home country. If it only happened once, I could let it slide, but it’s constant. I constantly remind her that not everything she sees on TV is true.
Boundaries aren’t really a thing in Italy. My fiery MIL is sort of the human equivalent of a self-rolling bowling ball—she just plows through whether it’s the right thing to do or say or not. Social cues are completely missed on her and I’ve seen how she crosses boundaries again and again. It would be easier if my fiancé spoke up, but it’s usually not worth the fight. Plus, being a mother is the only life she knows. She’s not going to hold back when my kids are around, and she doesn’t understand why that’s not cool.
She’s really sneaky and it really bothers me. I’ve noticed that she sneaks things when she thinks people aren’t looking. She smokes in the bathroom, thinking that if we don’t see or smell the smoke, we’re somehow duped by her mysterious ways. I have to ask myself if she’s someone I can really and truly trust. My gut instinct says no.
My mother-in-law is going to feed my kids crap. I don’t think feeding people is a trait specific to this Italian mom. It’s pretty much what grandmothers like to do. My problem is that she sees nothing wrong with sugar, sugar, and more sugar. And while I’m not some crunchy vegan, I’m aware that sugar has this split personality: sweet but also addictive and inflammatory. I want my children to develop different taste buds, which she’ll assuredly destroy in one fell swoop with cakes and cookies.
Her negative energy is tangible. My MIL is a black cloud of negativity that literally dampens or drowns every and any mood. And being around her is mentally exhausting. And since family is so important here in Italy, it’s inevitable that we’ll be seeing a lot more of her once we’re married. Cut the grinding and gnashing of teeth for before, during, and after every family gathering.
We have completely different values, so that’s going to be fun. One of the biggest differences in our values is that she’s a self-proclaimed devout Catholic who never does anything religious and basically hates the Church. Nonetheless, she expects everyone to go through the Catholic rituals because it’s tradition. Me, on the other hand? I’ve chosen to stop practicing Catholicism and religion, in general. I see no point in practicing a religion for cultural purposes when the spiritual aspect is void and dead. That’s my opinion and you can totally agree or disagree. The problem is that she disagrees with me, and I really don’t want her to shame me for raising non-Catholic kids.
I don’t want to experience favoritism with my mother-in-law. Like I said, I’m the foreign freak from America, where people do strange things like wear jeans while eating eggs for breakfast. And even though the children I have will come out of my vagina, she’ll see them as the children of her son. And since there’s really no such thing as an independent human being here in Italy (because you are your entire family), I have this terrible feeling that she’ll claim our kids as her children. And so will begin a territorial war over my husband’s offspring.
My mother-in-law is just a bad example overall. No human being is perfect and we’re all a work in progress, I get that. But there are some things in today’s day and age that are just not acceptable anymore. #TIMESUP. And I’m really gutted that my future MOL is a total racist. I’m mortified by what she says about foreigners, completely forgetting that I too am a foreigner. She’s also deeply sexist and a walking example of every outdated stereotype out there.
She macs on our friends and it’s downright embarrassing. Remember that bit about boundaries and how she doesn’t really get them? It extends to flirting hardcore with guys who are young enough to be her sons. It’s obvious and painful to watch, making her anything but the doting grandma you wish for your future kids.
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