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Posted by: Wildberry | 2004/10/28

Mother-in-law blues

Dear CyberShrink

I'm a 27 year old lesbian and have been in a wonderful relationship for 3 years now. My partner is 35.

Throughout all this time my "mother-in-law" and I got along very well. She is a 75 year old Afrikaans tannie and very old school, but despite it she said that she accepts our relationship.

Since June however she has become increasingly hostile towards me. Whenever my partner is out of earshot the old lady guns me. For the sake of length I will not go into detail.

Thus far I have kept my cool and have been my polite self, but it has come to the point where I've told my partner that I will not visit her mom again and that I don't want her in our home, because I will not be treated like some stray dog with rabies in my own house. My partner thankfully understands and supports me in this regard.

My partner called her this evening for the usual weekly chit chat like a good daughter should and the old lady went bonkers.
She told my partner that she should either end the sinful relationship and live alone or lead a normal life and get a man. The reason for this outburst is unknown, because the old lady is incapable of calling a spade a spade. The only thing she said was that when she dies she will not be able to enter heaven because her daughter is gay and she as the mother is required to ensure that her children lead a clean life or else she will be held responsible.

I don't believe this "reason" for one second. In my opinion it's about money. I study full-time and due to administrative issues beyond my control my expected final exams have been postponed with 2 years. Her life revolves around money, I'm sad to say. Her purse is her god and her bank account is her salvation. I've picked up over the past 6 months that I'm looked upon as a liar and a sponge. She even wanted to know what is written in my partner's will, because she doesn't want the "family's money" to end up in a stranger's hands.

My partner's brother is in the same predicament. His wife of 10 years suffers from depression and has developed a hostile personality in general because of the mother. There too the issue is money.

Needless to say my partner is crushed, needless to say that I'm crushed.

It is pointless for me to get a job at this stage because of the demands of my studies and household responsibilities. The income I will generate with my current qualifications will not cover my transport expenses each month, let alone benefit our budget in any way. I fear even if I get a job it will still not satisfy the old lady, because I will get paid too little or some other fault will be unveiled.

I'm really hurt, because my partner is hurting so much. For 3 years all is fine and our relationship is looked upon as a blessing. Countless times her mother has said to me how good I am to her daughter, how happy I make her, I made her daughter smile again, she even said I brought her daughter back to her. And now this.

Christmas is supposed to be spend with her, but I can't see my way open to commit to the attacks and animosity. I fear that I might lose control and tell her off. This will not solve the problem. Staying away will have its own repurcussions. I really like and respect the old lady and I thought that we had a healthy and sound relationship. I bent over backward to accommodate her every whim and I tried my utmost best not to offend her in any way.

She is ill and her heart might not withstand a confrontation. As it stands her doctor told her that her heart is taking to much strain, she needs to relax. My partner and I both know it's because of me. I don't wish to be the cause of her demise.

What are we to do? Your advice will be greatly appreciated.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

Hi Wildberry,
One tends to wonder what has changed recently to have led to such a drastically different and more hostile attitude towards you and your relationship with your partner. I wonder whether, though you say she is "very old school, but despite it she said that she accepts our relationship." whether maybe she thought you were just two good friends, and maybe recently the penny dropped about an actual lesbian relationship --- and that she's more old school and less accepting of that, than you thought. It's not the sort of thing you may have spelled out very explicitly to her, and she may have preferred to see things in a way she found more acceptable, then either in her own throughts or after something, maybe even something very innocent, someone else may have said, she suddenly recognized what it was all about, and this is the Old School reacting ( and protecting it's sense of propriety and funds !). If she doesn't get to heaven, it'll be more likely because of holding an unChristian and hostile attitude towards others, than because of her daughter's sexual orientation.
Can the two of you find a way to minimise contact and hence conflict with her, while perhaps with time the srength of her hostility might fade ?

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

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Our users say:
Posted by: Wildberry | 2004/10/29

TO: WELL

I sincerely hope you return here to read this.

We all strive to be happy and I hope that you'll find happiness, because judging from your response I perceive you as an unhappy and very confused person who must have a hard time fitting into society. It must be harder for you than it is for us gay people who mind our own business. My thoughts are with you and your own special sins.

Have you ever given thought to the fact that gay people find themselves surrounded by abnormal straight people? Millions of them....yet we never complain or judge....we just try to please everyone, despite ourselves, for the "right" to breathe.

We are not welcome in your churches, that's ok. We're not welcome in your sports teams, that's ok. We're looked at funny and that's ok. We even tolerate rude remarks in restaurants and that's ok. We feel guilty for using "straight" public toilets and therefore stop along the roadside to pee, and that's ok. We have to explain our private matters with straight people when we want a joint bank account, and that's ok. We are blamed for the existence of AIDS, and that's ok. We can't adopt children which straight people have discarded like leftover dinner, and that's ok. We lesbians have to deal with rude mechanics, plumbers, builders and so forth who think we're thick and we should rather send a man to do business with them, and that's ok. We lesbians have to deal with rude hairdressers, sales assistants, nurses and so forth because we're "flirting" with them, and that's ok. Our cars are vandalised and our change gets tossed on the counter to avoid touching you straight people, and that’s ok. We fear the day our family turn their backs on us and that's ok. We have little or no friends and that's ok. Some men want to rape us to "make" us straight, and even that's ok. When our partner's are in hospital, we're not allowed to visit them because we're not regarded as immediate family and you know what, even that's ok.

What is not ok is for you to barge in uninvited on a conversation where you have no positive input to offer. I need to know how to deal with my mother-in-law and all you have to offer is a lack of intelligence and a lack of education.

Oh, and by the way, if you have the money for Dstv you might find Discovery channel and the like quite informative. Homosexuality does occur in nature, dolphins are a good example here. (I bet you liked dolphins and now you are confused.) If you don't have a dish, use your employer's PC and time to surf the net and Google the topic. But get someone to spell h-o-m-o-s-e-x-u-a-l-i-t-y and n-a-t-u-r-e for you.

Please define normal, you seem to be the expert here. If you wear clothes, have a toothbrush and have sex for pleasure yet animals don't, doesn't that make YOU abnormal as well?

Do you honestly believe people are gay by choice? Would any person subject themselves to constant abuse, ridicule and rejection out of choice? One doesn't grow up and then decide to be gay. It's a lonely and painful journey from childhood that no straight person can ever try to comprehend. Do you know how much it took from me to tell my family that I'm gay and sorry, there won't be any grandchildren? I've said sorry for who I am more than any other word in the known world.

Imagine waking up in a gay world one morning and finding that everything is upside down. Imagine your family and friends are gay. Imagine that everything you know and love is different from the rest of the world, even your clothes, your hairstyle and the way you walk. Imagine people stop and stare wherever you go, imagine people hating you without knowing your name, imagine everyone wants to change you, imagine nobody tells you that they love you. Imagine having to hear that you'll go to hell for your sin, yet rapists, murderers and so forth are overlooked, despite the lives they took or the people they have hurt. My existence has not affected your life, yet your words affected my life. Think about it.

Feel free to attack me, I'm used to it and you're not. I will be more than happy to educate you. We'll start with spelling and then grammar, followed by teaching you the art of manners and only then will we go on to the topic of your fear of gay people. Contact with me will raise your bar on the food chain considerably.

Have a nice carefree day now you hear, because you won't last a day in my world. And always keep in mind that you or your kids could've been gay too, so count your blessings and let me count mine in peace.

Reply to Wildberry
Posted by: Wildberry | 2004/10/29

TO: O.M

Fortunately my partner and I love each other very very much and this business has not hurt our relationship. But I am hurting for my partner's sake. To be discarded and rejected all your life and then to be told it's ok and then to be rejected once more like that must be so painful.

Last night we were watching TV and she just started crying silently.

Thank you for your support.


Reply to Wildberry
Posted by: Wildberry | 2004/10/29

Dear CyberShrink

Thank you for your feedback. We really appreciate it.

When my partner told her mother that she's gay, she did it in conjunction with the help of a shrink. The doctor explained to the mother what the gay life and being gay is all about, etc. She was fine with it, in fact she has known that her daughter is gay since she was in Standard 9.

My partner has had two other relationships before me as well where her mom played an active part. She liked the one girl so much she sometimes call me by her name. The other girl she never liked and it got really ugly. Hence my partner avoided her mother. When I came along the mom liked me very much, more than the first girl apparently. She said that I brought her daughter back to her.

In the 3 years gone by we have abstained from showing each other any form of affection in the mother's presence because we respect her so much. The same goes for my folks, though they really wouldn't mind. We never for one moment assumed it is easy for her to accept the fact that her daughter is gay, nor that I'm part of her life.

The mom knows that we share a bed and has seen it many times when we visit her and she brings us coffee or when she visits us and we have to camp out in the lounge because she got our bedroom with the double bed.

When we were on holiday with her, she even took a picture of us where my partner had fallen asleep on my lap watching TV.

When she calls she always sends her love, but not anymore. When I used to greet her she used to hug me, but now stands there like a stiff board with a look of disgust on her face.

When her grandchild asked about us she explained to her that we live together like her mommy and daddy does.

I hope that answers your question.

We can't exactly stay clear of the old lady, she's my partner's mom. We are supposed to spend Christmas with her this year and I don't have the strength to face her when all she wants is for me to evaporate.

At the moment the old lady is upset with me because I was rude to her and she believes that I have lied to her. She claims I said that I was to start work at a company that I have never even heard of.

She goes on to say that I was rude to her, which I know I was not. I do remember an incident when she visited us 3 weeks ago when she nagged me about the fact that my partner smokes. I too smoke, but she never said a word about my smoking. (The smoking was fine all along as well.)

She was "forcing" me to join her in "rehabilitating" my partner so that she can stop smoking. I didn't answer her, but merely smiled and changed the subject. If she considers that to be rude, then I guess I'm guilty. My loyalty lies with my partner and not with her.

Plus she thinks I lied about my botched studies. When I sit in front of my PC working she asks me whether I'm playing computer games.

Another reason she said I'm rude is that I excused myself from her company in the evenings. My intentions were for her to be able to spend time with her daughter without my presence, but that too is a lie. I'm a compulsive liar, a con artist and ill mannered all of a sudden.

We gave her very expensive clothing for her birthday for which she never thanked me, because it was her daughter's money. But I was thanked for previous gifts. I'm not saying that she should thank me, I'm merely stating that things have changed.

During her last visit here I asked my partner to take her mom shopping so that I may have a chance to vacuum our flat and so that her mom can spend time with her. The mom enjoyed the outing very much. The next day we all went shopping and her face dropped when she realised I was going too.

During lunch she asked how long we've been living together and we told her. She argued it was longer until we were so adamant in our response that she dropped it. It was all in good humour and being myself I asked her whether she has grown tired of me. Her answer was yes without looking at me. My partner and I exchanged looks and lunch carried on, despite my partner's red face and my trampled heart.

After lunch my partner said to her mom, in my absence, that she was rude in saying such a thing to me. The mom said I was rude in asking such a question.

My partner then had to go to the bank so I suggested the mom and I go to the toy store to look for a gift for her grandchild. She was reluctant in her body language but said nothing. Because she didn't carry a purse with her, my partner handed me her money to keep for her. The mom nearly grabbed the money from my hands but let me keep it. In the toy store she asked my opinion on every toy she saw and when I gave her my opinion she said she'd rather wait for her daughter to return to gain her input. Eventually all I said with forced politeness is 'ask your daughter, she'll know better'. At the till the mom checked out every single thing I bought and even peered into my purse. She gasped at seeing I have a credit card.

When we got home the first and only thing she wanted to do was to count her money, which she promptly did in my presence. Whether she was checking if I took her money, I don't know.

The bottom line is, we don't know what on earth sparked her horrible behaviour towards us. All we know is that we love her and she's hurting us very deeply.

Should we go to her and have a chat, should my partner go alone or should we wait for her to contact us, even if it means missing spending Christmas with her?

All I know is that I'm livid and I have no manner in which I can explode. Telling my partner exactly how I feel and what I think of her mother will not do our relationship any good. When I say something I do it in the most diplomatic way possible to avoid hurting my partner and ultimately our relationship. Telling my mom will only upset her and I don't want that. It's enough that I don't sleep at night. I don't want to tell a friend either, it's a family matter.

During the day I have the urge to call the old lady and give her a piece of my mind, I want to shout and curse and smash something. But you know what, she'll hang up if she hears my voice, so I can't even shout at her in my mind's eye. She'll probably die if I confront her due to her ill heart. As it is the doctor told her to relax because her heart cannot handle the stress. I'm the reason for it of course.

She might have an ill heart, but she has already killed her daughter. Logic tells us that she won't live much longer and we don't want her to go when there's bad feelings. We want her to live and die in peace, but peace means that I have to go.

I'm starting to wonder whether I shouldn't just go. For my partner's sake, to save what is left of her relationship with her mother, to give the old lady some peace of mind so that she can "enter heaven" and rest assured that the "family money" stays out of my greedy hands.

She has already written off two daughters because of her cold stubbornness, I don't want to be the cause of her death or of her losing a third daugther. But you know what, I can't get myself to go because I believe this can be solved. We just need some time and advice.

Thank you!

Reply to Wildberry
Posted by: WELL | 2004/10/28

Sorry but no sympathey for you...

YOU are sinning being in this relationship and maybe she now knows what the two of you are doing is wrongYou dont see animals of the same sex "with" each other...is not norm sorry.

Reply to WELL
Posted by: o.m. | 2004/10/28

wildberry you sure have a problem and there is no easy solution, you are faced with years of rejection by staunch Afrikaners who believe in the one way of life, as for money issues there is always money issues does not matter what relationship you are in, if your partner believes in you and you in her block out the bad, you will face it every day of your life and it can come from any walk of life, as for the old women not going to heaven because of her daughters sexual preference she is playing mind games why be polite to have your soul eaten away little by little to keep the peace what peace she has declared her intentions they seem like war, are you concerned your partner is going to bow the pressure and dump you as I think you have not put down what truly worries you ? talk to her communication is a great thing and if you have it going it works well in relationships try it she may surprise you and dispel your woes.

Reply to o.m.

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