Article Discussion: My Jewish Mother-in-Law Loves Me Even Though I’m Not Jewish

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This topic has 4 voices, contains 5 replies, and was last updated by  Avigail 966 days ago.

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July 21, 2009 at 4:40 pm #3389

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Click here to read the article: My Jewish Mother-in-Law Loves Me Even Though I’m Not Jewish

August 29, 2009 at 10:03 pm #3671

Unregistered

I came accross your article, as i desperately seek ways in avoiding divorse. I congratulate you in making it work, and welcoming your mother-in-law as part of your family. I, too, am catholic, and my husband is Jewish. I’ve been married for 5 years, and truly love my husband. My in laws, did not have a problem with me marrying their son. I respect my husbands religion very much. I love their traditions and always take part in their Holy days. My problem has been allowing my mother-in-law, to get to close. My husband is an only child, and she cannot let go.
She doesn’t mean wrong, I know, but she has an opinion and a comment about everything. She wants to be so involved in our lives and that of our children, that it is overwhelming. I have throughout the years, alienated from her. I rarely let her babysit, I only speak to her when we go visit ( never even call her to say hello). I feel horrible about it, because my husband is awesome with my family and this bothers him sooo much. It’s the only reason we fight in my house. I don’t know how to love and accept her as she is. I wish so much that i can just love her as you love your mother in law. I envy that.
Do you experience this? If so how do you deal with this. I hate feeling that the stereotypical behaviors of jewish mothers are legit, but in my case it is and it is ruining my marriage.
Any advice is appreciated.
Best wishes to you, and congratulations.
Ana

September 2, 2009 at 7:28 pm #3693

InterfaithFamily Administrator

Dear Ana,

Your story and desire to get along with your mother-in-laws sounds extremely similar to my relationship with my mother in law.  My husband and I are both Jewish.  I think it is likely that your mother in law would act the same way even if you were not an interfaith family. 
It sounds to me that your mother-in-law should be honored that you respect your husband’s religion and love her son.

In my situation I do limit the contact we (myself, husband, and son) have with my mother-in-law.  We have moved several hundred miles away.  When I do see her I focus on my child and she is more than happy to focus on her “child” (my husband.)  As the years march on, I have found that my husband prefers to spend more time with my family because he knows that he is loved and grateful for a peaceful and enjoyable family gathering.

Perhaps her husband and son can help her find some new interests, focuses, and hobbies.

All my best,

Robin Schwartz
Network Director
InterfaithFamily.com

October 19, 2009 at 5:55 pm #3910

Unregistered

I’m 20 years old and have been dating my girlfriend for eleven months. She’s Conservative jewish and I’m a catholic, and because of that alone — her parents despise me. My gf and I have talked about marriage and have talked about “how would it work?” She doesn’t want to change faiths, and I don’t want to either (I’m hugely religious and she isn’t at all, but she doesn’t want to change in the least. And on top of it, her parents said that if she gets engaged with me that they will disown her and stop helping her with college and kick her out of the house.

I have no idea how to make her mom like me, in the least!! And her mom leads her family, so I just need to make HER feel better about me. Any help would be ENORMOUS!

October 20, 2009 at 12:02 am #3914

Debbie B.

Dear 20-year old writer of “reply #3″ (take a pseudonym to make it easier for discussion),

Try to understand that your girlfriend’s parents have probably always envisioned a Jewish wedding for their daughter. That would not be possible if she married you. And they are afraid that future grandchildren won’t be Jewish and that they won’t be able to pass on their heritage. Even if they are not religious, they may have stronger cultural ties. I’d be sad if my children intermarry for those very reasons even though I did so myself. (I converted much later.) i am now the same age as my parents were when I married, so I can see the situation as a future in-law.

Just remember that lots of parents are initially very critical of their children’s potential spouses, even if there is no interfaith issue, because that person is not exactly the person they envisioned for their child. Think of all the “in-law” jokes and stereotypes which indicate how difficult that relationship can be. Before your girlfriend’s parents can like you, they have to have the chance to get to know you. Don’t specifically aim at the mother. You don’t know the personal dynamics behind the parents’ relationship, and the father’s opinions may matter more than you think.

I would look for opportunities in which they can get to know you in a low-pressure situation. In the beginning, it doesn’t even have to involve discussion and interaction—they just have to start to be able to see you as a regular person rather than some threatening being who might take their daughter away from them. Perhaps there is some kind of social or cultural event that you can attend together—do they like music, art, theater, etc? Even though you and your GF have discussed marriage, you are not engaged yet, so I would talk about the *friendship* that you share which is not as threatening. You may be head over heels in love, but I would try to avoid overt displays of affection in front of the parents that will trigger their negative feelings.

With the added challenge of an interfaith relationship, you would be wise to take things slowly. If your gf is the same age as you, she will probably graduate from college in a couple of years, and be ready to move out of her parents’ house anyway. If you marry then, at least you won’t have the financial withdrawal issue. (Although I certainly know that the emotional issues can be just as important.) A couple of years may seem like a long time when you are only 20, but it is a very reasonable time to allow your relationship to develop even if the parents did not object. (I met my husband at age 18, but we didn’t marry until age 24, and I don’t regret waiting. After all, that time in the beginning is short compared to the 22 years of marriage we’ve had so far.) Take time to thoroughly discuss and plan how your interfaith marriage would work, particularly if you plan to have children. I think it is also a good idea to read through articles on this website that show how other interfaith couples have managed and to better understand the challenges that do come up.

Good luck.

January 24, 2012 at 8:52 pm #6515

Avigail

Thank you Ana for posting your message. I dont feel so lonely in this world anymore. I find myself in the exact same situation. I understand you 100%. To your message I would add that it is not enough to be in this horrible situation, but on top of that, most people dont understand it. People dont understand why you dont want to get your mother-in-law´s food every day, or take her as a babysitter. My own family think I am so evil. We even went to therapy and the guide told me that if I dont go for coffee with her, my marriage will fail. But I dont want to.  I am so depressed. I dont see any way out.

Unregistered wrote:
I came accross your article, as i desperately seek ways in avoiding divorse. I congratulate you in making it work, and welcoming your mother-in-law as part of your family.  I, too, am catholic, and my husband is Jewish.  I’ve been married for 5 years, and truly love my husband. My in laws, did not have a problem with me marrying their son. I respect my husbands religion very much.  I love their traditions and always take part in their Holy days. My problem has been allowing my mother-in-law, to get to close.  My husband is an only child, and she cannot let go.
She doesn’t mean wrong, I know, but she has an opinion and a comment about everything. She wants to be so involved in our lives and that of our children, that it is overwhelming. I have throughout the years, alienated from her. I rarely let her babysit, I only speak to her when we go visit ( never even call her to say hello).  I feel horrible about it, because my husband is awesome with my family and this bothers him sooo much.  It’s the only reason we fight in my house.  I don’t know how to love and accept her as she is.  I wish so much that i can just love her as you love your mother in law.  I envy that.  
Do you experience this? If so how do you deal with this.  I hate feeling that the stereotypical behaviors of jewish mothers are legit, but in my case it is and it is ruining my marriage.
Any advice is appreciated.
Best wishes to you, and congratulations.
Ana

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