Her Asshole In-Laws Have Ruined 10 Christmases In a Row—Should She Let Them Ruin an Eleventh?

Comments

1

This won't end the ugly debates and comments from her in-laws but perhaps the LW could consider joining the United Church of Bacon! (There’s no bias towards pork here. Veggie, vegan, beef, and poultry bacon 🥓 lovers are welcome!) https://unitedchurchofbacon.org

2

RE: @1

PRAISE BACON! 🥓

3

When you ask someone to cut their family out of your life

You're asking them to cut you out of their life.

It's not a winnable war.

4

Maybe my perspective is skewed, being a lib, but Dan’s so right: it was seems to be the liberals who are told to bite our tongues. When I visited my twin in Kansas, me and my other liberal California relatives are told not to talk politics because of their GOP friends. (Fortunately, their district voted in Sharice Davids so there are good people there, too.) But then at a cousin’s wedding in NorCal, some of the relatives on the other side were bitching about MY REP, Nancy Pelosi (while bemoaning their Senator, Elizabeth Warren.) it really does feel like liberals are told to bite their tongues while conservatives get to spout off about the latest Hannity conspiracy theories.

5

She should stop complaining and just be gracious and polite. No need to stress out her husband over it.

6

@5 Her husband isn't stressed. SHE is. HE should stop compelling her to attend, and graciously and politely enable her to avoid it. No need to stress her out over it, no matter how much he's enjoying it.

Tell me, raindrop, are you that sexist about everything? Because seriously - you've read this completely backwards and I don't see how.

7

@5

Yes, sit silently when you hear people say cruel and disgusting things. Great advice.

8

@6 It's not clear, snowflake is either that sexist, or he's a sociopath who comes here to say cruel things because that's the only way for him to have a feeling. Or maybe both!

9

Maybe move away from the idea that the goal is to change them.

If you don't feel you can NOT go, let go of the idea that they might some day change.

Go politer-than-thou: The message, instead, should be to parrot every saccharine holiday movie ever: politics are inappropriate topics for conversation on Christmas. We should be focused on family and togetherness and what unites us. Beat them to their own, "family values" punches. Change the subject. Engage on YOUR terms.

10

LW is in a losing position. If she holds her own Christmas gathering but hubby feels compelled (as if pulled by an invisible string) to go back home, I'm sure the relatives will be THRILLED at the evidence that he's pulling away from his evil godless wife.

If he decides to skip Christmas with the folks this year, then LW will be castigated even more harshly, as she has TAKEN their son away - gasp - perhaps PERMANENTLY. Add moans of grief and rending of garments for that authentic effect.

This should have been discussed by the third Christmas at the latest and a decision made long ago. Even though her hubby apparently enjoys the annual battle of words, she does not and it's cruel to subject her to it. Spelled out, that's emotional ABUSE.

11

@4 there's an entire genre of lefty tweeters who are simply re-tweeting the sad tweets from sad lonely conservatives who feel excluded from their families over their right-wing political views. Of course, in far-left twitter land, that's a great reason to mock those folks for having "fee fees". I'm not aware of that there are people christmassing alone apart from their family over too-liberal beliefs.

13

@6: Yes, he's not stressed by his relatives but she is; so there is no need for her to stress him out over what she should just handle like water off a duck's back. Seriously.

Who doesn't have annoying relatives? She married him, and his family is a package deal. She picked him.

If she can decline family get-togethers with no fuss fine. But she should also be gracious and willing to let him enjoy his family and his wife all together on special occasions and not be pouty about it. If she hasn't learned by now how to not sweat the small stuff (yes, her obnoxious in-laws IS the small stuff) - then I'm afraid he made a bad choice and is caught between a rock (his family) and his wife (a hard place).

Poor dude.

14

@5 All that Christmas sugar and spice has finally gone to your flaccid little head, sugarlips. As acirc @6 and others aptly point out, BLECH is the one who's stressed. Her hubby is enjoying the family feuds, and obviously doesn't give a shit that dealing with her asinine in-laws brings on such misery.
@10 Helenka (also a Canuck): Agreed. Well said. BLECH's situation reminds me of my own disastrous marriage of nine years too long before I finally had to say enough was finally enough.
@12 German Sausage: Yep.

15

@13: You've never been the only one with an opposing view at family gatherings, before, have you, sugarlips?

16

@14: Being annoyed is not misery when you can laugh that stuff off on the way home. That's what most people do. Her in-laws are "asinine" yes, but they're also his mother and father and deserve to be "creatively" tolerated on holidays.

Maybe she could ask her mother-in-law about her meat loaf recipe or which cold cream she uses, to make inroads so that other topics get discussed besides politics.

17

@15: She's not the only one dearest auntie, her husband is left leaning. She can grasp his hand under the table as she bites her tongue. Couples of opposite minds work the same way, such as James Carville clasping Mary Matalin's hand when his relatives trash talk Reagan.

@16: Make that: ...besides politics and religion.

18

"Maybe she could ask her mother-in-law about her meat loaf recipe or which cold cream she uses, to make inroads so that other topics get discussed besides politics." --rainy

Ask her where she'd like to be buried.
That should get the ball rolling.

19

Totes. My father in law is a raging alcoholic, abusive, Trump loving Baby Boomer piece of shit. He was always a redneck tool but I put up with it to be nice but did not hide my disdain. But once he he fell over blackout drunk a dozen times and told my in-laws he wanted them all dead I decided I was done enabling this garbage. So I don't go to holidays there, and he is not welcome in our house. But since the rest of the family is firmly dedicated to enabling his abuse and doing anything to keep their captor happy I still get a guilt trip every time. Make your own life. Fuck them.

20

@16 & @17: I'd love to see what you'd have done if you ever had to deal with MY abusive ex and former in-laws, sugarlips.
@18: "Ask her [mother-in-law] where she'd like to be buried. That ought to get the ball rolling." Kristofarian for the WIN, baby!!
@19 drjones: I can well empathize and agree--make your own life and fuck those who make us miserable--especially over the holidays.

21

LW is in a really tough position. I wonder if establishing some boundaries would help — or at least trying to establish boundaries? As in, “I don’t know if you realize it, but your political arguments aren’t fun for me. Can we please talk about other things?” This may be a lost cause, but she could at least try.

I have similarly ultra-conservative in-laws. Thankfully, they don’t usually talk about politics or religion with us. The shit may be hitting the fan soon, though, once they find out their teenage granddaughter is gay! It’s possible we may need to cut ties if they behave disrespectfully. I’m hoping not for my husbsnd’s sake.

22

A number of comments have morphed the LW's descriptions of annoyances into abuse. My comments are about annoyances. She is not being abused by mean alcoholics in a rage, or homophobia - that's a totally different story - and so would be my comments.

23

I assume she has a family, why do they only spend the holidays with his family? They can alternate years, in fact should.

Oh her family all died in a horrible reindeer accident shortly after their marriage. Even better, every other holiday session they spend alone in morning for her side of the family. A traditional act of respect and morning.

As for the odd years when she is still stuck having to tolerate his side of the family. I suggest she brush up on her Jabberwocky and deploy as needed for her own amusement. Nothing like a few nonsense words and sentences to throw right wing nut jobs off their game. Just remember to keep a straight face and toss em out in complete seriousness. No need to explain or define anything.

24

I might not voluntarily interact with people like BLECH's in-laws regularly, but I have also made choices on whom to date based on my sense of their family too, and with good reason, you cannot tell your spouse to cease seeing their parents and family, and spouses are expected to spend time with their in-laws. Sometimes people in Mr. Blech's situation voluntarily split from their family, but BLECH understood she was not marrying a man who had stopped seeing his family. As such, seeing Mr. Blech's conservative family was every bit as much the price of admission to the relationship, as BLECH's and Mr. Blech's sexual limits. So while I do not think they need to spend each and every holiday with BLECH's in-laws, I do think she is going to have to spend at least one holiday a year with them.

I do see it as reasonable for BLECH to ask Mr. Blech to stop engaging with his family so that remarks don't become debates or arguments, to let his parents know his secular lifestyle is his choice, and to try turning the conversation back to non-political topics. But beyond a good faith effort to do so, I think BLECH is going to have to accept she may hear remarks she would rather avoid.

25

I also question why they are not alternating with her family. Or hosting every other year at their house. Her house, her rules. At least half the time she will have the home court advantage and can tell them to leave if they stress her out too badly. Maybe there is some other compromise out there, like staying only for dinner, and her husband sticking up for her and asking his relatives to keep things pleasant. Surely they can manage some basic politeness for an hour? If her husband isn't willing to support some kind of compromise then her in-laws aren't her only problem.

26

@22: Reread my comments @14, @15, and @20, sugarlips. I clearly stated that MY ex and in-laws were abusive toward ME. I didn't say that was BLECH's case. Maybe cut back on the eggnog?

27

@25 tachycardia: Bravo! Very well said and summarized regarding BLECH, and I second it.

28

I would have stopped going after the first year. Probably even before that. Heck, I would have seriously rethought the relationship itself. If nothing else, BLECH and her husband should have established ground rules at the very beginning of their relationship over what she would and would not tolerate from his family.
And it's not too late. She should sit her husband down and the two of them should have a serious conversation about where they want this to go.
Her letter makes me feel very fortunate to have the very liberal, very progressive in-laws that I do.

29

Or you can fight fire with fire. I used to have an evangelical neighbor who was constantly proselytizing me. My defensive tactic was to point out conflicting doctrines in the Bible. For example, when he'd harp on how gay sex was an abomination against God, I gleefully asked him about the heterosexual abomination described in Deuteronomy. I learned just enough about the Bible to use it as a defensive weapon. Long story short: the proselytizing stopped. Not only that but he started refusing to discus anything concerning religion with me. For me that was Mission Accomplished!

30

Sporty @11: I find it hard to feel sympathy for people whose families don't want to be around them because they're bigoted assholes. Easy solution: Stop being a bigoted asshole. One reaps what one sows, and if you're going to spend 364 days a year trashing women, LGBT folks, immigrants, etc, don't be surprised if your family members come to feel similar levels of disdain towards you.

BLECH is in a tough spot, and the person to blame for that is her husband. He enjoys debating, so he's blowing off her unhappiness at having to hear such distressing rhetoric. A caring spouse would support her. He should ask his family to tone down the politics (and stop engaging when they don't) when BLECH is around, and visit them solo on other occasions -- they sound like they live fairly close. For her part, BLECH should tolerate "creepy prayers before meals"; this is a small price to pay for family harmony, unless the prayers are something like "Jesus, please kill all the gays." The other option is to minimise the visits to, say, once a year, and grit her teeth or leave the room when politics comes up. She could try something like a swear jar where every time an in-law says something bigoted, she adds a dollar to the Planned Parenthood donation pot. I wish her luck.

31

The L-dub is done with this shit after 10 years. Fair enough! Marriages are what you make of them. A marriage can survive a spouse not interacting with their inlaws. It's not ideal, of course, but life is a series of compromises. They should probably make this one.

In general, the older I get, the more I just don't engage w/ folks spouting what I think of as bullshit. Nothing tends to diffuse a situation like not being interested. And if they can't get the message, they look like a nutjob. Alternatively when I do engage,I often just indicate that no I don't believe that, in fact I believe this other thing that you think is completely insane, so let's just agree to disagree. Again, if they can't let it go... they are the nutjob. Most people don't like being the nutjob again and again so, over time, they back off.

32

Do the in-laws enjoy having BLEHC at the dinner table? Would removing herself bother them, or are they hoping to drive her away? It could be that they're getting a kick out of seeing her get so upset. If they like the debate, like baiting her (we could call it a debait), BLEHC should politely decline any but the most cursory interaction with them from here on out.

But let's say they genuinely want her there and would be hurt if she stayed away. Better yet, let's say they want to see their grandchildren (existing or future) and would be devastated at being cut out of their lives. If that's it, then it's almost easy. The secret to this trip is that BLEHC and her husband MUST arrive in separate cars.

Them: Trump!
BLEHC: If you're going to talk that way, I can't stay.
Them: Homophobia!
BLEHC: I hope you won't continue. I'll leave.
Them: Christ!
BLEHC: It's a shame you're such bad hosts. (Gathers things and heads for the door.)

33

@25 @27 The Letter Writer hosting her in-laws with the idea of "Her house, her rules" sounds good in theory, but it won't work in practice. Even though they're on her turf, they'll have strength in numbers and immediately start reinforcing each other.

And, alas, LW's hubby -- who's used to his family's right-wing politics and even enjoys debating them -- can't be counted on to support his wife's request (totally appropriate for the Christmas season) of Peace on Earth (or at least at the dinner table) and Good Will To Men (and Women, Transgendered, Everybody).

I second Dan's advice: If the LW is being made miserable year after year, it's perfectly reasonable to send Hubby on his way while she hosts her own friends (or attends one of their gatherings -- I'm sure she'll have friends who sympathize with her plight and would be happy to have her over).

34

I second @32. I'm a big fan of the guest appearance at family get togethers. Blow in with a nice host gift, ruffle some kid hair, get and give updates on current family business... smooches luvyasomuhch, I really must leave, sadly. No need to stay for the airing of the grievances or the quazi-intellectual political sparring.

It's much easier to love extended family (and be loved by them) when you limit contact. It's no one's fault that the only thing you have in common is ancestors.

35

An additional thought, about why this makes me so sad on LW's behalf:

I'm definitely on the liberal side of things. But I'm also a political independent (registered voter but non-affiliated) who has friends on the very conservative side (politically, religiously, spiritually).

Although I am hugely annoyed by politically-correct, social-justice-warrior leftists (and hugely worried about how they turn off moderates to good liberal causes), I'll say this -- Sadly, in my experience, conservatives are MUCH more likely to go into political speeches (and outright rants) during general social occasions and comversations with seemingly no concern that they're being inconsiderate of others' feelings (let alone being intolerant of others' views).

I'm not talking about the sincere, thoughtful and honest expression of political, social or religious beliefs. I'm talking about the kind of rude, self-righteous declarations that have so offended the LW.

BLECH, if you're reading this, you have my sympathies. Again, I'm highly critical of left-wing political correctness, but the basic bad manners you're describing seem to be very much a right-wing thing.

36

@1 The United Church of Bacon is not a real religion/church. If it were, the Vegan Bacon followers and the Turkey Baconites would have each formed a schism decades ago, and, after a long and sometimes bloody conflict, founded the Reform Church of Bacon and the Apostolic Church of United Bacon. And the United Church of Bacon would now be claiming that there is a war on bacon, with socialists, gay people and gun-control folks trying to take away real bacon.

37

I know a handful of cases in the reverse direction, though this does seem the more typical configuration. It's a shame the response couldn't serve equally well either way. I'd hope most reasonable people could rewrite the letter the other way around and give the same answer.

38

Raindrop @16: Can you explain why the in-laws "deserve" to have their views tolerated?

39

I think BLECH has every right to want to limit contact with her in-laws, but since her husband isn't bothered, don't ask him to cut contact with his family.

Ideally, Mr. BLECH would've asked his family years ago if they could manage a couple of hours a year of politely neutral talk, and asked LW to tolerate a prayer or two, and everyone would muddle through Christmas dinner talking about the weather or Joey's Little League aspirations. It's not too late, but it's going to be harder now that it would've been a decade ago.

If his family isn't willing to do that, then by all means, disengage hard. Let him visit his family (you really don't want to be the evil wife trying to cut him off from his family!) and do something more pleasant.

40

@36: I think that’s all very confusing especially their beliefs in the Chop, the Loin, and Holy Hock.

41

@BLEHC
"I should debate them too because maybe they’ll change."

Hell No. You have no obligation to do this. Particularly because you hate it.

And it's pointless. It's exceedingly rare for anyone to have their mind changed, and it's /their/ job to change their own minds. (And hell they're the only ones who stand to gain from stopping being wrong about everything, you're /already/ not wrong.)

I used to try to change people's minds and ended up feeling like /I/ had failed when it didn't work. So I just redefined it as their job to un-fuck /themselves/ up.

"You can lead a horse to water but can't make them drink" goes way too far. You can't drag a person to water, that's assault. Just quietly mention where the water is once and the rest is fucking up to them.

@9 mightydoll
Very mature comment! Honestly that's what I do when I end up seated next to one of those lunatics at a family function. I say things that unite us on common ground; there really is far more that everyone can agree upon, and it is exceedingly surprising to everyone on both sides to demonstrate that.
Er, I /mostly/ do that, when I can take the lead. I'm reminded of a very revealing vaguely homo-bigoted thing a relative-in-law said about their youthful sexuality; I replied with a comment some others got but was inevitably way way too subtle for the bigot pointing out the bigot had most likely revealed they were in denial about their own homosexuality.

@23 Machiavelli was framed
Heck yes, even if she has no family on alternate years they could simply have a peaceful asshole-free holiday.

42

I assume no one really thinks that her rules would apply or at least be respected at her house. Plus, it's not going to be her rules it's going to be their rules, meaning her and her husband's, and we know he's not going to stand up for her.

43

@33 said what I just did. Sorry for repeating.

44

Venn @37 Your comment reminds me of what Trump had to say after Charlottesville. Specifically his "I think there is blame", with a hint of "very fine people on both sides" nonsense. If you're not careful, your true colors are going to be exposed - despite your attempts to hide them under obscure and inscrutable literary references...

45

33 years of gay couple bliss and we never spent xmas once with the Boise assholes. Don't go.

46

My way of handling these sorts of people (mindless conservative relatives, of which I have a few) is to smile condescendingly and say non-non-commital things like "well, isn't that interesting!" or "It takes all kinds, I suppose" and then change the topic. If they push it, say "Oh, don't be so grumpy. It's Christmas! Turn that frown upside-down!"

And when they ask about what church you go to, just give a little laugh and say "Oh, I wouldn't dream of it" or just give them a blank look, nod your head, then shake your head, and change the topic. Compliment them on their decor or their outfit or the food.

It infuriates them, because they are looking to get into it with you, but as Dorothy Parker observed "I don't have to attend every argument I'm invited to".

You don't have to like your in-laws, and they are certainly not your responsibility, but you're stuck with them as long as you are married to that person. And you can take great comfort in knowing that you'll probably outlive them. Try thinking about how nice it will be to go to their funeral as they blather on.

47

btw, I have a cousin who is in a crazy fundamentalist religion, and she has pre-meal prayers that go on forever, even at restaurants. My late father was able to opt out of it by saying that he wanted to offer HIS blessing after her blessing, and would then recite some long prayer in Latin (That I suspect he made up, because no one in her moron family would know any better ). She didn't like the Papist influence, so whenever he was in attendance, she opted for a short, perfunctory blessing.

48

@38: Creative toleration does not equal acceptance. It means putting on a plastic smile and changing the subject when Trump comes up. It means not getting your feathers ruffled if the host wants to say grace before eating.

And it means laughing and tearing your in-laws to shreds in the car on the back way home.

@26: Nowhere does the LW talk about abuse. You want to bring up abuse so it's off-topic. Now re-read @22. Please stay focused.

49

Theory:
This was acceptable for 10 years because the rhetoric isn't "hateful" - it's rhetoric that was perfectly fine 10 years ago. Now they have opinions like "I'm not sure college should be free" which are of course intolerable. Joking a bit, but many of us have noted the phenomenon that was fully allowed in living memory is now seen as anathema, and the far left has absolutely done work in convincing people, for example, that disagreement is abuse, that we are all owed belief, etc. It seems impossible that this LW put up with this for 10 years if it was as intolerable as she intimates.

50

@38 - and it means the wit and wisdom of Catalina's late father-in-law (@47).

51

@16 Meatloaf recipe? Cold cream? What century are you even living in?

52

Here's a little psychobabble I believe in... If you've never read "I'm OK, You're OK" you should...it gives you strategies to deal with situations exactly like this. Basically, you are letting yourself get "hooked" by your asshole relatives, and that is your CHOICE. You don't have to. Stop viewing this as a personal assault on your values (even though it is) and instead view it for what it is, ignorant assholes being ignorant assholes and stop stewing about it. It seems your husband has already learned how to do that, though he enjoys the tit-for-tat. You don't have to participate. Just say, "no comment" and disengage. And, work with hubby to shorten your visits as much as possible. You ought to be able to endure the occasional afternoon with grace. Even a day in the pig barn can be washed off with a hot shower.

53

@51: It's actually a line from 'All My Children' circa 1984 when Daisy, trying to follow her husband Palmer Cortland's advice in being civil to houseguest Cynthia Preston (whom later got her claws into Palmer), replies "Oh really, what should I have done - asked for her meatloaf recipe, what kind of cold cream to use?"

54

You have a husband problem, not an in-law problem. You need to be able to either tell the in-laws to cram it and have your husband back you up, or avoid contact and have your husband back you up. Instead, he's not backing you up in setting and holding boundaries, he's siding with his asshole family and pushing you to not assert or hold boundaries. He's not on your side; DTMFA if he won't shape up.

55

Raindrop @ 48 “Nowhere does the LW talk about abuse.”
And yet this is what you consistently offer her time after time, shit like “stop complaining and just be gracious and polite,”
“She married him, and his family is a package deal. She picked him.”
He also married her, but I can see where that counts in your logic.

“Being annoyed is not misery when you can laugh that stuff off on the way home” – can you give us any examples from your own experience?

56

@55: Yeah, she doesn't talk about her family and how her husband gets along with them. So that's a knowable unknown by anyone's logic.

I certainly have held my tongue and kept my cool around my brother-in-law, except once I loudly said 'oh hush' out on the patio. Thankfully, my sister was in the kitchen at the time.

Regarding abuse, can you point me to anything abusive LW describes?

57

Someone who has posted over 9,500 comments on Slog tells someone else to keep quiet. Priceless!

58

@54: They've been married for ten years, they might have kids, but above all - she never said she doesn't love him. Annoyances can be worked out. Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

59

@57: Please be my guest if you want to out tally me.

60

I think there is still plenty of time to have "THERE WILL NEVER BE A WALL" embroidered on a Christmas sweater.

61

The next time your in laws spew their garbage. Ask them where is their compassion and charity for the poor, Only a hypocrite would claim to believe in Jesus Christ without compassion and charity for the poor.

St. Paul's classical description of charity is found in the New Testament (I Cor. 13). In Christian theology and ethics, charity (a translation of the Greek word agapē, also meaning “love”) is most eloquently shown in the life, teachings, and death of Jesus Christ.

That should shut them up. If it doesn't ask them for the family bible, they surely (dripping sarcasm), turn to First Corinthians Chapter 13 and read verse 13. "And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity." If they still persist follow it up by turning to Matthew Chapter 7 and read verse 1. "Judge not, that ye be not judged." or Luke Chapter 6 and read verse 37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven

62

At 33, there is the problem of not being as able to leave your own house. However, it is easier to be assertive in your own home, where you don't have to worry about offending your hosts. You can also cut the festivities short. I have a shitty relative, and while I can't stop him from showing up in other places, everyone knows better than to have him around me and definitely not to bring him to my home. Since I pressed battery charges, I have the rest of the family's support in this, but even before then, he knew to behave himself if he came to my house. I did mention other compromises, and that her husband not standing up for her are an issue. Her house, her rules, should apply, but if she hasn't managed to assert herself in 10 years, y’all are probably right that she wouln't stand firm when outnumbered, even in her own house. ps. She should be able to tolerate a blessing before meals, and I love the idea of using their own beliefs against them. It's one of my favorite debate strategies that should appease the husband that she is engaging, make the in-laws back off, and she can exact a bit of revenge.

63

Don't debate them, just sit there serenely and let them splutter.

64

In general, I'm all for avoiding contact with toxic people who show no interest in changing.

But. Family is family. LW's husband seems to love his relatives regardless of politics. And no-one's views are being shut down here. So I think LW can put up with dealing with a bunch of Trump-humpers for one day out of the year. And then maybe her husband can reward her self-sacrifice with something suitably cleansing, like a day at the spa or something.

Side note: the Trump-humpers themselves are probably a lost cause. But it's important for their kids to see that there are perfectly respectable members of the family who do not hold those Trump-humping views. Modeling healthy alternatives for those kids is important. Even more so if one of those kids ever turns out to be LGBT or something...knowing you can call Auntie and Uncle BLECH for help and support could be a really big thing. You never know.

65

@48 My, my, sugarlips. Don't BiDanDan (@38) and I deserve a little tolerance? LOL
If you don't practice what you preach, your arguments fall about as flat as a lemon souffle after the oven door slammed shut. Geez, I warned you to watch your triglycerides! Maybe you should give the 20th century soap opera analogies a rest, too.
@57 tensor: You see? I KNEW I liked you! Bravo and well done.
@60 dvs99: I LOVE it!! Bravo!

66

Rain dear @ 56
”Regarding abuse, can you point me to anything abusive LW describes?”
Your ever-merry self seems to be even less smart than previously thought.
The abuse is coming from you, with advice like putting up with all this because she married him and is now obligated to be with the rest of his family.

Your personal experience doesn’t seem to matter much either. We’re talking in-laws and extended family, all together, not just one person like your brother in law. That you momentarily lost your cool and said ‘oh hush’ is indeed very moving and once again highlighting your inner beauty, though not really relevant to the case at hand.

67

@65: This is an advice column. Advice to take the high road is not preaching. LW is in an uncomfortable situation, not an abusive situation. A certainly ubiquitous problem many of us have in our family relationships. I am not a saint, but rather than exacerbating a situation to stand your ground you can also endure it, make light of it, and just go on, as a perfectly reasonable (and very healthy) course of action.

But I understand how my take is upsetting to you, dear auntie, and to others whom love to lick the wounds in their delicate sensibilities inflicted by annoying relatives, because the chance to harvest a sympathy fix is just too irresistible.

In regard to my Slog verbosity, Urgatha's wit and wisdom hit the 10K mark several months ago.

68

@66: You're trying to be clever, but you didn't answer the question I posed to you. The context is her letter to Dan, not the comment thread.

If you find any of my comments abusive, please click the button 'Report this'.

69

I don't think she should ask him to pull away from his family. He loves them even if he disagrees. At the same time, she shouldn't be expected to sit through their speeches. My move would be some combination of the following: (1) Ask him to do an every other year with the family and she would only show up for Christmas dinner/holiday celebration and spend the rest of the time hanging out in whatever city or town visited. (2) She spends time with her family and he spends time with his family during Christmas. I know this is going to sound harsh but if they've been married for a while and his family drives her nuts then she needs to treat the other days of the year as their holiday time together. (3) She travels with him but goes off and does her own thing when he goes over there for dinner/holiday celebration and the rest of the time they spend together on vacation.

I might have mis-read the letter and am assume they travel to see his family (I make this assumption because she is only complaining about the holidays). If they live in the same town or near each other then the whole thing is even easier. She stays home when he goes for Christmas dinner. It's one dinner on one day. I know it's Christmas, but, she would just need to reframe the day and they would spend Christmas Eve celebrating together.

Short version: she doesn't need to tolerate their BS but she shouldn't be demanding that he avoids his family.

70

“Being annoyed is not misery when you can laugh that stuff off on the way home” – can you give us any examples from your own experience?

CMDwannabe dear, Mr. Vel-DuRay's family is rather peculiar and argumentative. They're not very bright and as such rather conservative. One belongs to a nutcase church. I hold my tongue and use my coping mechanisms outlined above because they're the only family he has, and I am rather fond of him. And we do have a lot of laughs about them when we're done. Just like we have laughs about my family. That's part of a good marriage.

71

@59: Please take your own advice.

72

@71: I would if it applied, but you're not annoying me. Sorry.

73

Dear Catalina,
I'm glad this works for you, but it clearly does not to LW.

74

LW, if you’re trying to get out of this yrs’ Xmas Day get together, it’s a bit late to pull out now. By my reckoning, and it’s Saturday here in hot hot land, it’s a couple of days away. Go along this yr and smother them with love and compassion. Ignore the words they throw up trying to engage, let your husband do his thing, while you be the bestest daughter in law they could ever have hoped for.
Then come the new yr, sit down with your spouse, and lay down a few ground rules for the future. Dan is right, time to start creating your own holiday experiences. Maybe visit his folks for Easter or their b’days. A few yrs without you two at their main events might sober them up, then try again, not under any rigid programme, and see if there has been any change.

75

Kinda funny. My family is conservative, but I'm the loud obnoxious liberal always dragging THEM into debates. My dad has always said that if you want to know his opinion, you'll have to drag it out of him. They never talk about their politics, and can get along with almost anyone in the world. They're your garden variety late 20th century style republicans, not the new crazed version, but when it comes down to it, we definitely wouldn't agree on most things. I've decided to back off the debates. It's pointless. And it was turning me into an obnoxious cliche.

76

I agree she should not ask him to pull away from his family, but also she should feel no compulsion to ever communicate with them again if she doesn't want to. It sucks that this is the world we are in right now, but it is. There are people like that in my life as well, and I've cut them out. It really upsets me sometimes, but there's only so many times you can overlook some people's glee at other's suffering before you realize you can't have this in your life anymore. And for those of you who think we are talking about differences of opinions here, I think you are fortunate to not have any really far right people in your family. Things have changed in the last few years (looking back, I see it started way before Trump) and it's now pretty acceptable for a certain type of conservative to openly use racial slurs and call ethnic cleansing or the deaths of poor people as just being honest about how things are, not to mention all the really weird conspiracy theories- I have family members caught up in the q anon stuff which at least so nuts that it's interesting. So, to those talking about tolerance and changing the subject- good for you if you don't have these people in your life.

Part of the reason it doesn't work is that there really is a brand of Fox News watcher who is motivated by nothing under the sun more than owning the libs. Seriously they would cut off their own foot if they thought it would work up a snowflake. You can't redirect because they push. They don't stop. All you can do is ignore or crack a joke to deflect. In a big family, even if you choose to ignore or successful redirection/deflect, they will still have those conversations with one another and you can't police what people are allowed to talk about in their own homes. If you are the sort of person who can sit around and listen to people laugh about boats of migrants sinking to their deaths in the mediterranean and manage to just ignore it and redirect by asking or a meatloaf recipe, then good for you. But that's not a position we should all be expected to take.

I don't talk politics with my father's side of the family because I know we will fight and I know from years of experience it will be futile. They don't bring it up with me either one-on-one. But in a group- they talk to each other about politics and they say things I find extremely offensive. And it's not just about differences of opinions or just keeping your offense to yourself- it's about being forced to sit around with people talking about how they are supporting policies that actually do affect our lives and the lives of people we care about. They just voted to get rid of Obamacare in Texas for example and have nothing to replace it with and my dad's side are all perfectly fine with this, support it, think it's great that people I know and love will no longer have insurance because they should just get a real job with benefits (most jobs aren't real apparently) and if they die, that's survival of the fittest could my bleeding heart just accept reality and not expect them to pay for other people's health care. I see all of this on Facebook, it's why I've started skipping any interactions with my father's side that are not one-on-one.

@Sporty, re Lefty Weird Twitter- the people they are talking about (at least what I've seen) are racist boomer uncles and grandpas whose family avoid them because any time they come around, they start ranting about globalists and how the cops should shoot more black people or how sharia law is coming to America, etc. Yes liberals and lefties cannot tolerate far right opinions any more than far right people cannot tolerate liberals and lefties. While SJWs can get very annoying (keep in mind that far left doesn't mean SJW but that's another point), it's one thing to hear someone talk about how they want content warnings in college or how they are offended by microaggressions and another altogether to have someone literally advocating for an ethnostate or laugh over the deaths of immigrants who died of sun stroke in the desert. If you can't see the difference or think I'm being hyperbolic, then I invite you to spend a Christmas with an extended family of white boomer Alex Jones fans.

We have to stop pretending this is some "can't we all get along" bullshit.

77

@73: That’s an assumption on your part because LW didn’t mention trying it.

78

@76: All good points but LW didn’t convey that her situation is as severe as what you go through.

Given the scailability of the various parameters involved, no one answer is correct.

However, in the spirit of the season, ‘Counting your blessings’ is always appropriate.

79

Let me give an example, as clear as I can be. This was the last time I went to my dad's side for Christmas. It was the year the video came out of the cop chasing that man in the park and then shooting him in the back. This was what they were discussing and laughing about. The cruder members of the extended family cracked some extremely racist jokes that revolved around how black people learned to run so fast that they win the sprinter medals at the olympics. These are people who really I have no contact with other than the fact that they are related to my family more generally- my more immediate members (dad, brothers, uncle, stepparent, first cousins) are not so bad and part of this is because that part of the family is so diverse- a few immigrant spouses, several of us are biracial, a couple are gay. But some of them are likewise conservative- there are many conservative Hispanic people in Texas and being gay does not prevent someone for being a bigot Trump supporter. Generally though, these people are more libertarian, but moving right at an alarming rate. I don't think they would tell a joke like that, but they will laugh at it.

But a joke I can ignore. Some of them regularly use the n-word, it's their culture and right to do so you fucking snowflake who wants a safe space and are so easily triggered why can black people use it if they can't. Again, most of my family just rolls their eyes, tell them to not be rude, but it doesn't seem to bother them as much. That's just how those people are.

So I did engage with the conversation of that shooting because even the not as racist and more sane members of the family were on the side that if the man had just done what the cop said for him to do, he would've been safely arrested and none of this would have happened, so it's his fault. Why are people so stupid as to not follow cops' orders? Now let aside how you feel about what happened, I decided to engage with this idea at face value. Are they really suggesting it's OK for the police to shoot people who don't follow their orders? Is that the world we are in now?

Yes, it turns out. It is. And the thing my conservative, even the not-as-racist, even the gay/Hispanic ones, even the supposedly I'm-a-libertarian ones (no one in my family is religious on my dad's side btw), even the pro-gay rights ones, wanted to make it clear to me that it's my bleeding heart (what we'd call snowflake now b/c that term wasn't in use as much then) inability to face reality that is causing America to go down the drain. The truth is that there are a lot of people in the world who waste air, who contribute nothing and never will, who are so stupid or lazy or criminal that they are just a drain on the rest of us, we liberals need to stop pretending you can help people or that people are all nice and accept the cold hard reality of what the world is.

At that moment, I realized how persistent this point of view has been for a long time with them- my father is the generation of working class white southern man whose life was fodder for the war machine in Vietnam and he's always believed the "one hand tied behind their back" theory- that we could've won that war if we'd been allowed to use all tactics available to us. I remembered then that it's what he said about Iraq too. It's why these people think it's fine to hear Trump say torture is good, Guantanmo is fine, murdering family members of terrorists is good, etc. It's why they don't care if desperate people on the border get put in camps or if they die while crossing the desert or if they get shot in the back while running from cops.

You can't find common ground here. Some people start with the point of view that there are no possibilities other than ruthlessness and disregard for huge chunks of the world on the one hand or being a pussy bleeding heart snowflake cuck on the other. And the second will lead to the decline of Western civilization.

So no, I don't want those people in my life. And while liberals (who often do have really naive and simplistic ideas about the causes of suffering and inequality) and SJWs (who are often annoying and have to rant all the time) and religious people (who judge others through fundamentalism and want to destroy church/state separation) all test my albeit limited patience, the difference is that they are starting from a place of wanting the world to be a better place than it is for everyone. The current (maybe not as recent as we thought) brand of MAGA conservativism is ONLY concerned about making things better for themselves (and some of their concerns are valid and should be addressed) even if it is at the cost of very high levels of brutality (that incidentally are often racist).

There's no laughing about this in the car on the way home.

80

Nonsense Raindrop. She says they parrot Fox News talking points, and if you think there isn't anything I described that does not appear in some form on Tucker Carlson, Glenn Beck, Hannity, or OReilly. They might sometimes be more subtle about it, but it's literally the stuff Trump shouts from the podium at his rallies.

The Christian conservatism and church stuff might be a different ball of yarn altogether, but everything I mentioned are in fact Fox News talking points. The more extreme people are in the Alex Jones world and in retrospect I see the younger are in the 4Chan world, but this is pretty standard fare for Trump supporting Republicans now- the LW talks about hatred and the desire to trigger people, this is standard shit now and it's disingenuous to pretend you can agree to disagree or just sit around with people like that.

Most people aren't political at all and don't really think/talk about it unless someone works them up, so I'm sure there are plenty of sort of Republicans out there who you can get along with. My family and the LW's family are both loud and opinionated and obviously very political. It might be hard for people from families that are not like that to understand how impossible it is to redirect or tolerate. The LW's husband engages- he does not redirect.

If we are going to give her advice on how to continue to hang out with them, here's what I suggest- Tell your husband to tell them that they need to cut out the political and religious arguments during the couple of hours they spend at holiday dinner or else the wife is not going to attend, and then have the husband stick by it and save his arguing with his family time for the other 364 and a half days of the year.

81

@72: If you don’t follow your own advice, you can’t expect anyone else to do so.

Considering how much obvious annoyance you derive from Our Dear Divine Vel-DuRay’s dictum, “Republicans are horrible people,” your lack of sympathy for the LW’s similar, yet more-intense experiences doesn’t bode well for your advice working, now does it?

(Especially when you yourself can dish it out, but can’t take it...)

82

Ms Jibe - I have said before that I cannot abide the idea of one-party power, and that I want to die with the gay vote evenly divided (assuming that at that time both parties are being nice to us and are generally about equally okay overall).

I hold it as a fault when Mr Savage's response to a letter is entirely dependent on whether the LW is on the "correct" team. I have a centrist friend whose recent Thanksgiving with his SJW mother and her cohorts was quite like what this LW describes the other way around, with obnoxious views expressed and approved, fights being picked, and the attendant ganging up. He might even have had it worse, as he was apparently the only non-SJW in the house, while LW at least has had a spouse who generally agrees with her. But I don't think Mr Savage or the assembled company would have treated my friend kindly. Anyone who can't imagine a reasonable person being ganged up upon from the left (though it does in my experience happen more from the right) is probably more of the problem than of a true answer. As Miss Brodie reminds us, Florence Nightingale knew nothing of the team spirit, her mission being to save lives, regardless of the team to which they belonged.

I'm also not sure that LW isn't a badvocate for gay issues. Many self-proclaimed "allies" end up doing more harm than good. About three years ago, there was a temporary wave of increase in the dropping of F-bombs just because the straight people on Tumblr who were crusading against the word got so bent out of shape by it. That was when I began telling people I was "Not Your Sword".

My stepmother, though, who just turned 90, does provide a rather odd example of right-wing nastiness. She spends most of her day flipping between Fox News and Lifetime movies, but I have heard her interrogating her cleaners about whether they didn't agree with some Republican policy or other (about which they likely had no opinion) in much the same way that Henry VIII might have asked a courtier whether Greensleeves weren't the greatest song ever composed.

83

My goodness up to 80 comments now. Most are in the cut-off-ties-camp, a few are in the brush-it-off-camp, but it all reminds me of how classic this all is. Bitterness and squabbles like this have ruined peoples' Christmases during every administration as long as I've been alive.

I'm in the latter camp, only because it's easier in the final analysis I've learned. Especially for your marriage. Given the pain I saw my late husband go through for his mother when she died after I nearly cut her out of our lives - well, I'll always be haunted by that.

84

@67: UPsetting? Not at all. I actually find your hysterical babbling as hilarious as it is nonsensical. Fell free to take an acidophilus capsule and lie down if this comment thread becomes to much for you to stomach.
@81 tensor: I keep warning sugarlips about the chemical content of his breakfast cereal but he never listens.

85

@84: Acidophilus, though healthy, would not provide immediate relief from stomach upset. But a cocktail is better in this scenario.

86

This letter reminds me of something my Mom told me in later years after Dad died. She said before they married, Dad had never taken her to meet his parents. They married at her brother's home and neither set of parents were there. So her first time to meet his conservative parents was the day after they married. She said that if she'd met his mother before the marriage it might have never taken place. The LW's husband did sound like my Dad who enjoyed seeing his parents. At least we did alternate families we spent holidays with while both sets of parents were alive. Of course this was years before Fox News and intense political polarization.

87

Not going to read all of this, but Skeptic @61, I think you win the thread. Happy holidays.

88

@76@79 EmmaLiz
Holy crap I'm so sorry you have to go through all that. I'm so f-ing happy to live in a place where there are only the smallest % of conservatives. The few times I've been in Texas (and the like) I was glad I was free to get my ass out of there ASAP.

The way the left and the right regard each other are not equivalent. The one thing that bonds the rightwing(1) is it's hatred of the left. The left is about nothing more than it's concern for every person (by no means is that true of the right!).

(1) I highly recommend John Dean's book "Conservatives without Conscience", which presents a priceless picture of the psychological research on rightwingers.

89

If you choose to go again you could remind them that Donald Trump loves stupid people. And repeat as necessary.

90

@84: Good grief, Charlie Brown! Look at all my glaring typos-in-law--written cold sober after midnight and no alcoholic consumption. Griz will rectify that right now. Cheers!
@85: Cocktails? I like your thinking, Phoebe. Cheers!
@87 BiDanFan: I nominate you (@38) in a tie for the win with a skeptic and a cynic (@61), Cheers!

91

Venn – Your wish that both parties “are being nice to us and are generally equally okay overall” belies reality. White evangelical Christians are one of the largest constituencies of the conservative movement and by extension the Republican Party. While LGBT acceptance is growing among all Americans, it is the Republican party alone that contains the last pockets of resistance. They also oppose reproductive rights for women – a constituency that I realize holds little appeal to you, but is of supreme importance to many of us. The Republican party is on the wrong side of more than just these dreaded Social Justice Issues.

They reject climate change science and oppose almost any action taken to ameliorate humankind’s destruction of the environment. They are in the process of rolling back regulations related to coal ash, emissions from all power plants, clean water and air, fuel efficiency, offshore drilling, trophy hunting, and pesticides to name just a few off the top of my head. For the first time in history, lands protected by the Federal Government will actually shrink! Some of the most pristine wilderness in the West will be opened up to mining interests. You can now shoot bears and wolves in their dens, and use leaded ammunition (which devastates prey bird populations) on federal land.

They oppose food stamps, universal health care, affordable housing, and public education. They oppose democracy itself! They have waged all-out war on voting rights while at the same time opening the floodgates to dark money and corporate money. (Unfortunately, that money is an equal opportunity corrupting influence.) They have thrown out regular order with regard to the federal judiciary. Anyone remember the good old days when it took 60 votes to confirm federal (and Supreme Court) justices? They are stacking the decks for the next generation. I’m afraid I won’t live long enough to see that damage undone.

That list took me 15 minutes to come up with, and I’m leaving a LOT out. So I’m sorry, but your “I cannot abide the idea of one-party power and want to die with the gay vote evenly divided” comment is ridiculous. Putting aside the policies that directly affect our community, there are ample reasons why people, not just those in the LGBT community, would NEVER vote for a Republican.

If you’re interested, I’ll follow up with my take on your Milo inspired SJW nonsense…

92

@91 JibeHo
(Great username!)

In fairness, I think Venn knows all that. And I do think he's right that one party rule sucks.

But in a perfect (and as I've written before here, achievable) world with two major parties conservatives would control neither. I'd be happy to see the current Democratic Party balanced by an equally powerful progressive party.

Because like you said, you could have gone on and on and on. Personally I think rightwing economic policy is a fundamental dysfunction; by maintaining and exacerbating economic inequality, it disempowers (since unfortunately money is power) the people from attaining ALL OTHER progressive aims. Including gay rights.

So (forgive me but) fuck log cabin Republicans. Yes they're right about one thing, but they're wrong about a world of no less important things. (And if they weren't that "one thing" themself...they'd be f-ing wrong about that too. Rightwingers can 'get' rights only if they or a nuclear-familymember is affected, and that's shameful.)

93

Curious2. In fairness to what? Venn’s been making his “both sides” arguments for years. Let him defend himself.

94

@93 JibeHo
I take that back, I agree. While one-party rule invites dysfunction, two-party rule when one of the parties is rightwing is much worse than one-party rule by non-conservatives would be.

Hell that's pretty much our proper goal now. Rightwingers refuse to compromise on anything, so the only way for this country to be the slightest bit functional is to seize political power from them and then for us to be big enough to do the right thing unilaterally.

95

Mr Curious - Thank you for that.

I'll add a minor disagreement about the poor LCR - when they were a young organization, there were still liberal Republicans, but those have all been turfed out. And your concluding sentence is not right-exclusive - consider John McEnroe's support for equal prize money at majors.

Ms Jibe - Reality may give one a greater or lesser chance of dying in the world one wants, but saying that I want to die after Agnieszka Radwanska unretires and wins Wimbledon seems as valid as saying I want to die after Rafael Nadal wins the French Open for the twelfth time (eliminating one of Margaret Court's remaining records), just less likely. Of course, given the way the Democrats are going, I could easily see them disintegrating to the level of the Republicans before long, maybe slightly better in columns A and B and slightly worse in columns C and D.

While some views are so obnoxious that no sugared framing can render them good (which feels like a knock to Shakespeare's Richard III), no view is so good, pure and perfect that it cannot be rendered obnoxious in the mouth of a true [word I don't use]. Approaching LW's question by first determining whether LW is on the good team or the bad team makes me think of Merle Miller's novel What Happened. The narrator was a composer who, during the war, wrote a satirical song called "God's the Referee for Our Side" (one verse repeated the title line and continued, "He won't let the Hun/Steal a single run..." etc) which was taken for the hoot and half he'd intended when performed privately, but which somehow came to general notice, got taken seriously, and became a massive wartime hit.

Anyone who really thinks that one side has a monopoly on good which immunizes its adherents from being obnoxious should... let's see... how about, have Christmas dinner with Riley Dennis and admit to having declined to date a trans person.

96

BDF @ 87 Thank you and happy holidays to you as well. Bigots and racists almost always are religious hypocrites as well. Prince of Peace and all that jazz.

97

@69 Bravo and Congratulations, surfrat, on scoring the Lucky @69 Award for this thread. May fabulous holiday delights abound your way soon!
@87 BiDanFan, @96 skeptic and a cynic, and all those celebrating: a heartfelt Happy Holidays!

98

American politics is very polar, and different to how it is here. I’m sure my neighbours have some racist attitudes, we just never talk of politics. We all have our blind spots, and keeping the heart open and attempting to engage helps to cross the divide.
Lots of Democrats would have cold hearts, even if they say the right words.
I don’t know what I’d do in the LW’s situation. I like Christmas to be a smooth day of simple pleasures, not bun fights. Though over these many Christmases, there have been lots of those.
I wouldn’t be told by my husband what I had to put up with, now or ever, if his family had shown themselves to be so intractable.
This guy is caught trying to convince them, or whatever.. and it’s never going to happen, and he’s hurting his wife. Time to leave all that sludge behind. Then make short visits, and as soon as they start their bile talk, leave.

99

Does anyone have anything else to say?

100

@99, ‘are you the gatekeeper?’

101

Venn - I've been reading Dan's column almost since the beginning, and I would venture that his advice would be the same, regardless of why the LW found the gatherings odious and intolerable. I'm sure you'll disagree, but in light of your constant, pointed, and rather personal criticisms of Dan, your esteem for Our Dear Advice Giver seems irreparably tainted. In fact, that "taint" seems to boil down to the fact that you deem that ODAG is too "nice" to women - for lack of more eloquent phrasing.

I never said that the Democratic Party, or liberals for that matter, are perfect. But I am a fan of that age-old wisdom "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." So, in the interest of a better world for everyone (except, one can hope, the plutocracy), I am ALL IN with those who share my world views. In the U.S. that would be the Democratic Party.

Your quibble seems to be with how the message is delivered, rather than the message itself. I agree that force-feeding any views to unwitting recipients is rude and obnoxious. I encourage anyone, (regardless of political persuasion) who finds themself on the receiving end of an unwelcome diatribe, to leave.

But the foundational problem with your "both sides" argument is that the right lies. They deny science. They distort or simply make up statistics out of whole cloth to justify the hatred and fear they need to manipulate their voters. There is no widespread voting fraud. Immigrants are actually MORE law abiding than the native population. The Russians DID interfere in our election. One of my personal favorites - we do NOT live in a gynocracy. The list goes on and on...

So yes, progressives and liberals are frustrated, and without a doubt, we can be as obnoxious as conservatives when trying to persuade others. But give me a flipping break with your what-about-isms.

And your final comment about Christmas dinner and refusing to date a trans person is a head scratcher. Are you saying that you've dated transmen in the past?