Crude and Rude: Help With Former Army Father-In-Law?

Ms. Vicki

Ms. Vicki,

Please help! I can't face my father-in-law this Christmas. His is so crude, crass and arrogant. My father-in-law is a retired General Officer and my husband is an officer too, a West Point graduate.

Nothing we do is good enough, and I mean nothing. I can't cook good enough, my house isn't clean enough and our children aren't smart enough. My father-in-law compares my husband to his older brother, who is a Major in the Army. Of course his brother is the better man. He was better at sports, he has more money saved, he had a more viable major in college and, of course, his wife is prettier and their children are more stellar.

My father-in-law has to dominate every conversation. When he laughs it means we can laugh, and not one moment sooner. My mother-in-law will sit quietly and watch his arrogance at work. It's sickening to me.

Now I'm wondering why I have to be miserable at Christmas just because I love my husband. I think the holidays are too special to be miserable. I don't think I can do it again, but how do I get my husband to understand that I absolutely can't stand his dad and I refuse to be around him again, especially for the holidays?

-- Dealing with a Crude General

Dear Crude,

My first question is: where in the world is your husband and what is he doing when his dad is being mean and surly? I get the feeling that your husband and others have written off his behavior as "Dad just being Dad."

However, they must realize that Dear Old Dad's words and behavior hurt other people.

I don't blame you for not wanting to be around Mr. Scrooge. The holidays come once a year. They're a time for family, friends and faith. The holidays are a time to reflect and be thankful for your blessings and for your loved ones. From your report, I don't see any reason why you should be in your in-laws home for the holidays.

Choose to be with people who love and respect you. Honestly, your father-in-law's behavior is bordering on abusive. It's behavior that you don't have to take. Very soon this will have a negative impact on your marriage.

I think your husband should talk to his father about the way he talks to you. He may take it better if it comes from his son rather than from you. Perhaps the next time your husband visits his parents he can take his dad out to lunch and talk this over.

I'll give your father-in-law the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he will change when someone stands up to him and make it known that his behavior is unacceptable and unwarranted. Please let me know what you decide to do. Stay in touch and have a great Christmas.

-- Ms. Vicki

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