Keeping a happy household is a task in itself, but when you have people interfering in areas that have no bearing on them, everyone suffers. My family is very simple, it’s just me, my spouse Justin, and our two sons, Dante and Dj. We lived in a small town pretty much on our own when both kids were born, so were comfortable in our lives, routines, and each other.
Not long after Dj was born, there were some issues in the building we were living in and we had to move. Instead of moving to another place within the small town, we decided to move to the big city where we’d be closer to my father and brother. There were a lot more opportunities for us here so we thought this move was the best thing for us and our family. Plus, having my father nearby meant we could have some help that we didn’t have beforehand.
We made the move in March of 2010 into a beautiful basement apartment. The landlord was the kindest lady, and we even had one of the biggest children’s parks nearby, as well. We were in a prime spot close to amenities but off the main highway, so it was safer for our kids here.
It was still cold at this point and even had snow on the ground for a few weeks after, but we made every effort to explore the area with the kids. Justin had lived his whole life in a small town, and I moved around a lot, so this city was new to both of us. We explored the park that was just around the corner, went to the malls, and just strolled the back roads to get our bearings of our location. We tried to have the freedom we had in our previous place, but with the city being so much bigger, it was hard without our own means of transportation. My father came over regularly to see the kids and he had a little Suzuki Swift for a car, but it was not big enough for all of us to go, at all. That took away from our family outings significantly. Since it was my Dad, Justin was usually left behind. He didn’t usually mind it, but it bothered me a bit that he was missing out on so much.
Around June, Justin finally managed to get a job not too far from home and worked from 8am-5pm, mon-fri. My father worked from 4pm-11pm, sun-thu, so this lessened our outings even more. One thing to understand with my father is that he doesn’t handle children in public very well. My brothers and I are all grown up now so it’s been many years since he dealt with very small kids like mine. He could handle it as long as both Justin and I were there, so we could take them off his hands if something went wrong. This wasn’t a very big deal really, but it made our outings so hard to organize. He did eventually get a new Ford Escape 2011 model, so there was then plenty of room for all of us to go anywhere and tons of room to spare. There was still the scheduling issue, but at least the ride issue wasn’t so bad anymore. The first little while everything was okay, but then the real fun started.
My father is a very opinionated person, which is something I grew up with my whole life, so was not surprised. However, after spending so much time around us, he started nitpicking every little aspect of our lives. Everything we did was wrong in his eyes. It wouldn’t have been so bad, but he would go back to his even more opinionated girlfriend and tell her everything. My father also tended to exaggerate as well, which didn’t help matters.
Just an example of what I mean; it was summertime and we had a small kiddie pool in the backyard for Dante. He had been out there most of the afternoon with me on the step with Dj watching him and enjoying the sun. Running around in the grass, any child would get a bit of dirt on the bottoms of their feet.
Anyway, we came inside for supper and went straight to the table. I didn’t realize how dirty Dante’s feet had gotten outside, and assumed he must have stepped into a little patch of mud. While eating supper, my father came over and sat in the living room just off the kitchen. He was nagging about toys on the floor, and how the kids need to spend more time outside. I told him they had been out all afternoon, but since he wasn’t there to see it, he didn’t believe me. Dante was very excited that he was here to visit, and hopped up from the table to run in to him. Whatever was on his feet had dried on already, and when he climbed into his grandfather’s lap, he immediately noticed the dirt.
The first thing he assumed was since the kids ‘never go outside’ then this dirt was from somewhere inside the house. We are not the most tidy of people, and with kids it’s even harder, but dirt is one thing I don’t leave around. I’m a bit of a ‘germaphobe’ so I would not tolerate it for any length of time. Not to mention, after spending all day in the grass and playing in his pool, Dante was going to be having a bath right after supper anyways, until his grandfather had shown up.
My father, of course, went ballistic over the bit of dirt, which in all honesty wasn’t as bad as it sounds to be. He said everything to me, about how I should be cleaning them regularly and bathing them, the floors should be scrubbed constantly and dirt shouldn’t be a factor. I tried to explain to him about Dante being outdoors all day, but again, he didn’t see it so didn’t believe me, and even went around looking for dirt on my floors.
I had never been so embarrassed and degraded in all my life. Justin came home from work not long into this and Dad gave him the same going over that he had given me. Justin of course bit his tongue and just went about his business. He knows I get very stressed out when the two of them butt heads, so whenever it arises, he tries to avoid conflict as much as possible. This was very straining on our relationship after awhile because my father liked to be the ‘dominant male’ on any premises, and was coming into our home and acting like he was the boss. Poor Justin didn’t say much about it, but he drifted away from me for awhile.
During this particular rant, my father pushed a few boundaries, though. He made digs at me being schizophrenic, at Justin being a bit overweight, and at the fact that Dante preferred not to speak to him. It’s not that he couldn’t talk, he just had his own means of communicating and spoke when he needed to. It was even confirmed by the public health nurses, but this did not satisfy my father. He didn’t speak to him, so he couldn’t talk, and it was my fault because I neglected and ignored him constantly, apparently.
We were completely appalled by him and everything he got on with. I’d finally had enough and told him to mind his own business, to which he decided it was better he left. We agreed, of course. He was only gone a few minutes when Justin asked me what had happened. He still didn’t know what was going on or why he was doing this. I told him about being out, Dante’s feet and Dad showing up, etc. This all upset Justin, because there was no need for any of it. I tried to tell him I would deal with my father when he cooled down a bit, but since this wasn’t the first time my father had done this, Justin was very frustrated with him, and also with me for putting up with it.
The strain of my father’s constant picking and nagging about every little aspect of our lives started to make me depressed for a long time. I stopped talking to friends. I stopped going out to the malls on my own, and started trying to push my kids as much as I could just to satisfy him. The biggest issue, though, was Justin having to deal with me. He had a hard time dealing with me because when Dad would come over in the afternoons Justin would be at work, and I would get the full brunt of Dad’s nagging. Then when Justin would come home, he would have to deal with the aftermath of my father. I was blaming him for not helping me around the house more, and he blamed me for not telling my father off.
It was so hard to deal with then, and even now. We talked to him many times and told him to leave us alone, and mind his own business, but week after week he starts on something. Justin doesn’t keep quiet so much anymore, and my father is the one who is disgruntled by it. I still get stressed now and then as well, but Justin and I talk it over. We decide how we are going to handle it and what to do, and then together as a family, we deal with it, instead of individually.
Personally, I think the only thing saving my relationship right now, is the fact that we communicate as much as possible. Even if we think it might be hard on the other, or start a fight, if we approach it together we can face anything, including my father. My biggest word of advice to anyone dealing with those pesky in-laws, communicate with your partner, and together anything can be overcome. I love Justin with all my heart, and even though my father is a pain a lot of the time, he’s still my father and I love him too. Now that we are handling him as a couple, it’s much easier on us both.