Should I give my toxic in-laws a sec­ond chance?

Toronto Star - - LIFE - El­lie Tip of the day In truly toxic re­la­tion­ships, pro­tect your own and your fam­ily’s well­be­ing, and set clear bound­aries. Read El­lie Mon­day to Satur­day. Email el­lie@thes­ or visit her web­site, el­liead­ Fol­low @el­liead­vice.

My com­mon-law part­ner of 15 years and I have a son, 11.

My part­ner’s par­ents dis­liked me from the start be­cause I’d al­ready been di­vorced and had a daugh­ter. When our son was born they ac­cepted me, but it didn’t feel sin­cere.

I’ve al­ways treated them with re­spect. I in­vited them to all fam­ily func­tions. Yet they’d of­ten bad­mouth me to my boyfriend and other rel­a­tives, even mine.

I felt that my boyfriend’s stay­ing quiet gave them the op­por­tu­nity to con­tinue dis­re­spect­ing me.

Then his fa­ther talked very badly about me to my own brother.

I’ve re­fused to speak with them, al­low them in my house, or go to their house, for al­most three years.

We’re now plan­ning our son’s birth­day party and my boyfriend sug­gested invit­ing his par­ents.

I im­me­di­ately felt anger and anx­i­ety.

My boyfriend had lost a lot of money be­cause of deal­ings with them and his brother, re­sult­ing in a phys­i­cal fight with his brother. They haven’t spo­ken to each other since 2012.

We lost our house, had to live with his par­ents for one year — a hor­ri­fy­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for us, me, my son and daugh­ter.

I ended up in the hos­pi­tal with high blood pres­sure. I moved out of their house with my two chil­dren. My boyfriend and I sep­a­rated for one year.

We re­united two years ago. I was clear that I wanted noth­ing to do with his fam­ily. He said that he com­pletely un­der­stood. My own fam­ily and I are very close, we visit each other weekly, my boyfriend loves them, and my fam­ily loves him too.

While sep­a­rated, I at­tended coun­selling, be­cause I needed help to get rid of all the bad feel­ings and emo­tions. My ther­a­pist sug­gested I stay away from peo­ple who I feel are not good for me and who hurt me. My boyfriend and I were very good friends dur­ing our sep­a­ra­tion.

Even though I felt so dis­ap­pointed in him for let­ting his fam­ily in­ter­fere so much, I was still very civil with him.

Am I a bad per­son for not let­ting these peo­ple into our fam­ily life again? Would my boyfriend re­sent me for want­ing to stay away from them? Do I give them an­other chance even though I don’t want to? My son and my boyfriend go see them at least once or twice per week, and I’m to­tally fine with that, as long as his fam­ily doesn’t come close to my house or me.

They feel they’ve done noth­ing wrong. They’ve never apol­o­gized, and haven’t talked to me since our sep­a­ra­tion. My boyfriend has now de­cided that he WON’T in­vite his par­ents be­cause he knows I’m not ready to see them or be around them.

He said that he hopes that one day we can all be to­gether again, that he un­der­stands me, and doesn’t blame me. Hurt­ful In-laws

You’ve done all the things that ther­a­pists ad­vise about toxic re­la­tion­ships: Pro­tect your well-be­ing, and set clear bound­aries.

But the most im­pres­sive moves arise from your own in­spi­ra­tions:

To not let your ugly ex­pe­ri­ences with your in-laws pre­vent them from see­ing their son and grand­son.

Plus, ask­ing me (and mostly your­self ) the hard ques­tions as to whether you’re do­ing the right thing.

My more usual in­cli­na­tion re­gard­ing in-law dis­putes is to con­sider tak­ing the high road and try­ing for har­mony. You’ve al­ready done that.

Maybe things will even­tu­ally change. Maybe not.

You’ve done your best and I be­lieve you’ll keep do­ing so.

My boyfriend won’t in­vite his par­ents be­cause he knows I’m not ready to be around them

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