Unaccepting In-laws

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This topic has 3 voices, contains 3 replies, and was last updated by  Miriam 7 years ago.

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October 28, 2010 at 3:12 am #5171


I am a non-Jewish woman married to a Reform Jewish man. I come from a Catholic background but am not currently practicing. Our love is very strong, and we have come to embrace our differences within our household. We have a happy house where we encourage many forms of spiritual exploration and continue to enlighten each other. Our one point of marital contention is that the extended relatives clearly do not condone interfaith marriages (or therefore, accept me.) They pretend to like me as a person (to my face) but then proceed to joke about finding their own kids “a nice Jewish girl” to marry. This can be so hurtful when I have been in the family for so many years doing nice things for people and always respecting the faith. It’s as though I’ve made no impression at all and am best kept isolated. Most of the times, rude things are said in my presence but not directly to me. For example a family member might talk about a preference to hire a Jewish person over a non-Jewish person for their business or a willingness to bake cookies for a neighbor because they saw a mezuzah on their door. Can’t they tell I’m sitting right there? Don’t they see that these pre-requisites immediately eliminate me and therefore hurt me and make me feel small? I’m sorry to say I also feel a sense of elitism from the kosher keepers in the family…I literally see eye-rolling if I ask questions about how the kosher diet works or what butter knife to use.

I understand I didn’t choose the easiest path, but this discrimination continues to shock and hurt me. Luckily, there are some family members who love me regardless and see the wonderful things I bring out in my husband. Any tips on how to handle the others? Do I stay silent and allow it to continue or do I start speaking up and asking harder questions? My husband is so sad to see me hurting but also doesn’t know what to do. Our marriage is strong despite the harsh conditions, but I want to make the most of the time with my in-laws before avoidance becomes the only option.

October 31, 2010 at 2:23 pm #5181


I am so sorry that your husband’s family is treating you so poorly.  It is painful to not feel accepted, and we Jews should know what that feels like.  From a mother’s perspective who has a daughter marrying a Christian, it has been really hard to accept.  But I decided that my daughter was more important to me than anything.  The groom and his family are welcome in our home and we will try to build a new family dynamic together.

Back to your problem:  I would approach your husband first and discuss your feelings.  Then bring your in-laws into the conversation perhaps at a dinner on your own turf.  Explain that you feel hurt when you are treated like an outsider.  They may reach out to the other family members and tell them to back off.
If you are interested at all in embracing a bit of Judaism, invite them over for a Channukah dinner and serve something we traditionally make.  Show them that your are willing to meet your husband 1/2 way.  However, they need to meet you 1/2 way too! 

You cannot control the rude behavior of others, but you can come out of this very much in the right by rising above and remaining strong.

November 15, 2010 at 11:26 pm #5220


sounds to me like your extended relatives are religiously biased people living in a bubble. be thankful that some of your husband’s family accepts you as you are and don’t make you feel like an outcast. i would talk to them and to your husband…inform them that some of your more traditional relatives are behaving rudely because they see themselves as superior to you. see if they can knock some sense into these uneducated bigots…they should be thrilled that you want to know about their customs.

unfortunately, there are still a lot of people who don’t know the meaning of respect.

December 12, 2010 at 4:07 am #5300


Emily, I had exactly the same situation with my husband’s family. They chewed me, but didn’t swallowed me. But do you know what? My husband noticed that and he backed up from his family. He had only one brother, who had 3 girls. We had 3  boys, two became doctors, and one a lawyer, they are unbelievable handsome. Two of my sons married jewish girls, and one married a Catholic girl. Unfortunately my beloved and loving husband passed away a year ago. We were married for 38 years, and both of us were happy 7/24 during all those years.  Later on, his family came looking for us,  they new the happy, and successful family we had.  His brother who was the one against me because I was Catholic, changed his mind and wanted to be the proud uncle of those 3 successful gentile boys, and wanted his three girls to be close with them. We welcome them into our family, and now that my husband is gone, his brother and wife have been of great support to me, and he is very close with his nephews. This is what life is about, and some people don’t think about religions when they fall in love. l

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