Help with the In-laws


#1

My wife and I married in June of 2005. We were currently attending a Protestant church and married by our pastor at the time. Prior to this, I had been studying the truth claims of the Catholic Church for about 2-3 years. In August we started RCIA to further our inquiry. We have since decided to enter the Church at Easter.

Problem: My wife’s parents are hardcore Assemblies of God members that hate anything that smacks of Rome. They hate me now, thinking that I decieved them in asking for their daughter’s hand in marriage as a Protestant all the while knowing I would become a Catholic. They find it suspicious that I waited right after we married to join the Church. I hope you understand that’s not how it happened.

They have made some rather strong comments to my wife and her siblings about me (however, they’re always cordial to me). What am I supposed to do? It causes my wife great amounts of stress. I wrote her dad a letter clearing up the deception issue and inviting him into some healthy dialogue on the issue, but he has never responded to me. That was months ago. He has written and spoken to my wife, however, sent her articles to try and disprove the Church, but will not address me.

Again, what am I supposed to do?


#2

[quote=Everyman]What am I supposed to do? It causes my wife great amounts of stress. I wrote her dad a letter clearing up the deception issue and inviting him into some healthy dialogue on the issue, but he has never responded to me. That was months ago. He has written and spoken to my wife, however, sent her articles to try and disprove the Church, but will not address me.

Again, what am I supposed to do?
[/quote]

I am very sorry for you and your wife. But am very happy that you found the Catholic Church. In dealing with people from Assembly of God I understand your dilemma.
Please continue to pray for them and just be a good example of a Catholic for them to see.
By their fruits you will know them.
Unfortunately I do not really see you walking in and saying look we decided to become Catholic after our marriage. Because in their mind you tricked them. So do your best to show them Catholic’s aren’t the people that they have heard in their teachings for years. Your example and prayers alone may just win them over to the faith.
God be with you and you are all in my prayers.


#3

Is their interference causing you or your wife to doubt your decision? Is it causing resentment or anger in your wife towards either you or them?

Fortunately, when I choose to become Catholic (I was formerly methodist, so I was not subjected to the same hardcore anti-catholicism as your in laws) my family supported my decision as one that I made for myself as an adult. I did have some anti-catholic friends who tried to dissuade me, though. It can be hard to have someone trying to undermine your choice especially when they are doing it in an underhanded fashion.

On to some things that might help you…Pray for them, pray for your wife, and pray for God’s guidance. Talk to your wife to see if she feels anger, or resentment towards you or her parents. Find out if she is having doubts, pray together about the situation, and for God’s guidance. It may become necessary that if this progresses or causes trouble in your marriage that you will have to cut contact with them. It may also be that her parents are controlling and believe that she must still obey them.

Has your RCIA group covered the sacrament of Marriage yet? If not, hopefully they will soon or go together to talk to your priest regarding the Church’s belief about this beautiful sacrament. If you have discussed it, talk to your wife about it, what it means to the two of you, possibly even talk to your priest with what you know, and what it means to you and about the situation with the in laws…I’ve received a great deal of good advice from my priests in confession and in general discussions. (my inlaws and I don’t get along well 9 times out of 10, and a visit with them usually leads me to confession, where I gain a lot of insight and a better way of dealing with our conflicts).

If the in laws begin to cause conflict, anger, or resentment amongst you and your wife, it may be time to cut off any and all contact with them until one or two things happens (or preferably both) 1. they recognize that you and your wife are adults, and that you are married, and as such you and your wife make decisions together with the help and grace of God. 2. they accept that they no longer are in control of the daughter’s life, that she is an adult, and that her decisions do not need their approval.

My own in laws have had some difficulty seeing my husband as an adult, and that as a married adult, he does not need nor need to seek their approval on our decisions. Things are improving though as time goes on, and as they see that we are not going to consult them on our decisions. My husband very much believes that he left his mother and father when we got married and formed a new life and family with me. Although our parents and siblings are still family to us, they are different from the family we have become. This took some adjusting for both of our families, but it is coming along…

sorry for writing such a long bit…
I wish you a happy journey into our Faith, May God’s light shine on you both!
Jamie


#4

Thank you both for your replies. And, yes, it has caused some doubt with my wife’s decision. It is usually just temporary doubt that springs up when she is feeling emotional about the way her parents are acting.

She is in the process of writing a reponse letter to her mother regarding what Catholics really believe, so that should hopefully help her parents have a better understanding of the Church, realize that this is also her decision, not just what i’ve persuaded her to do, and will help strengthen my wife in her own understanding of truth.


#5

I think in this case your job is to support your wife.

This is really your wife’s battle. It would be much easier if it were she who was asking the question rather than you. Unfortunately, you have limited power in this situation. It sounds as if you have been as upfront and polite with her parents as possible but they have chosen to disregard what you have to say.

It seems as if she is already trying to do so, but your wife needs to tell her parents that it is HER decision to embrace Catholicism, not something you are imposing on her. I’m going to assume for a minute that her parents are basically decent people. If so, then from their point of view, you have brainwashed her and they think it’s their job to rescue her.

Perhaps both you and your wife need to sit with each other and think of how grateful you are for all the years that her parents spent teaching and sharing their Christian values. They led your wife to this place in her life where she’s ready to take this next step in her journey with Jesus. Neither of you is rejecting all that you have learned. And you are certainly not abandoning Jesus for the pope! You are taking this step because you wish to encounter Jesus so much more deeply than you ever could before.

The next step is to convey these thoughts to your wife’s parents. If your wife can convey this message of gratitude and desire for a relationship with Christ to her parents then I think there is a chance that they may eventually accept her decision.

If your wife’s parents remain hostile after a few months have gone by, then you may need to put some distance between them and your family. But it will have to be your wife, rather than you, who ultimately makes that decision. You can advise her and tell her what you think is healthy but ideally you shouldn’t demand that she chose between you and her parents. Hopefully she already made that choice when she married you.


#6

Everyman,

I am happy to read that your wife is working on a written response to her parents. For now, this must be something that she works on with her parents. She is the daughter and she needs to help her parents understand that she continues to honor them in her love for Jesus Christ.

As a husband, the best thing you can do is be the spiritual leader of your family. This means you take all things that challenge your family into prayer. Lead your wife in prayer for a resolution to these issues. Did you know that a family that prays together, stays together? I know you’re only beginning the journey home to the Catholic Church, but have you spent time with Christ in the Eucharist by taking time before the Blessed Sacrament? This is a wonderful way of bringing your problems to Christ.

If your Parish or another in your area has a Holy Hour (or better yet, Perpetual Adoration), I highly recommend you take advantage of it. Bring your wife with you and offer up all your troubles to God. He’s far better equiped than either of you, to address these challenges.

God Bless you,

CARose


#7

Thank you all for the wonderful advice and the prayers.


#8

You and your wife will be in my prayers every day. We have a former Assembly of God minister currently going through RCIA - if you like, I could get his feedback on the situation and pass on what he says to me to the forum?


#9

First remember as the husband you are the head of the household. Next a strong Asy of God will never accept the teachings of the Catholic Church, you will be lucky if they don’t lay hands on you and try to drive a demon out of you, They honestly beleive that the Catholic Church is of the devil, not christian, but pagan. So to them you are dooming the soul of thier daughter to hell.

So you need to talk to your wife and support her, but she is also going to have to tell them to butt out and stop trying to interferre interferre in her religiouis life. She can tell them that you and her will be glad to sit down and discuss this with them, but attacking both of your faith and working to harm your relationship is not good for anyone.

To be honest it could be possible that this relationship may be strained and if your wife is strong can cause a break between her and her parents.

There is no good answer for this. Also write him a letter, has picking up a phone ( you and wife together) and calling them ever come to mind.


#10

This is a difficult situation and has no easy answer. My husband and I are in a similar situation, only reversed. I am Catholic and when my husband and I got married, he had a 3 year old son from a previous marriage (who we have full custody of). My husband began reading and learning about the Catholic faith soon after we were married. He decided about 6 months ago that he wants to convert and we are also putting our son (my step-son) through RCIA. My husbands parents are very upset about this. They themselves have no real faith to stand by, my father-in-law is a non-practicing Baptist, and my mother-in-law switches her faith every few years (she is currently Bai-Hai) sp??

Anyway, they are very upset my husband and son are becoming Catholic (although they didn’t care that we Baptized our triplets). They never say anything to me, but mother-in-law is always sending my husband letters letting her displeasure be known. As far as I am concerned, they can think what they want. My in-laws are very negative people and find fault with everything. We will never please them in anything we do. My husband realizes this and does not let their opinions cause him to second guess himself. If anything, he is determined to bring our children up in a loving Catholic household…something he did not have (including the loving).

I just pray about it with my husband. And it REALLY helps that my husband does not let them bother him. This is something you and your wife should pray about together, and hopefully your wife can one day not let them get to her. Good Luck.


#11

My dad is an Evangleist who has spent many years in the A/Gs. As a teen, I too spent many years there. I’m an adult convert to the Catholic Church - and thank God my parents have been loving in what they do not fully understand.

I always thank them for the strong Faith foundation they provided me, and focus on the similarities between us. When we visit, we make a point to attend both Mass and my parent’s home congregation services.

Be the very best example of a loving Catholic Christian, full of joy, that you can be. You are a walking advertisment!


#12

Another idea, perhaps get ahold of a copy of Tim Staples “Jimmy Swaggart Made Me Catholic” tapes - he is a convert who was in the A/G!


#13

You keep saying you are writing them…You are in Springfield, MO, where are they?

[quote=Genesis 2:42] “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body.”
[/quote]


#14

I don’t have much help for you, but have you tried contacting Scott & Kimberly Hahn? They might be able to point you in the right direction. Or you could try the coming home network. Their ministry is really to converting clergy, but they might have resources.


#15

Everyman,

I also have the same problems with my In-laws. They think I talked my husband into it because my father is Catholic even though I was Baptist( my mother is Baptist). They are constantly pushing stuff at us about what Catholics “a really like” and “why they go to hell”. The funny thing is my husband is the one who brought ME to RCIA. lol. Everytime the give me something from the internet or from chuch, I just say “I look at it later” and walk away. My husband then looks it up and find what is wrong with what the paper says. Thats what has helped us alot, including alot of praying! lol


#16

When I married my husband in August, his brother refused to attend the wedding. He has very seldom called me by name, usually referring to me as “that Catholic woman” At first I was upset, but then, I thought, “what better title could I have?” This man objects to me and to my marrying his brother because I am Catholic, and apparently it shows…so who am I to get upset. The thing is, since it is not my family, I stay out of it. Why? Because my husband knows the dynamic of his family better than I do. When my husband converted to Catholicism a few years ago, his brother stopped talking to him for quite a while. It is only natural to assume that it was because he was upset that he was converting. In truth I think it had more to do with the idea that if he was converting, he must be very attached to me (his brothers thoughts) and I was the enemy for taking his brother away… nothing to do with religion after all!! As for the Wedding…it seems he refused to attend his sister’s wedding too. As far as I can tell it is about marriage and since he is divorced, and has never so much as dated since, he has issues with his siblings getting married. All the anti-catholic rhetoric was just because it was easier to say it than to admit he is miserable and wishes that he was still married. It could be similiar in your case. Are you sure it has to do with religion? It may be about the fact that you took away their baby girl (in their eyes) If they are genuinely concerned for her salvation that is one thing, but if it is about their pride being hurt or their lack of control over their daughter, you were going to have this struggle anyway. How do you solve it? She has to, it is her family! I would suggest that she start by thanking them for the strong Christian upbringing and continue from there about how it lead her to seek a fuller relationship with our Lord. Usually this type of approach works well to open the dialogue for future conversations.


#17

[quote=BlestOne] He has very seldom called me by name, usually referring to me as “that Catholic woman”
[/quote]

:bigyikes: You didn’t tell us you were Catholic :bigyikes:


#18

You and your wife will have to knuckle down and tough this one out together. It must be very tough on your wife emotionally, which I’m sure you understand, and no matter how annoyed you feel toward her parents you’ll have to bite your tongue just a bit because harsh words about her parents will hurt her a lot. I doubt very much if you’ll achieve much trying to convince them in the short term, yet I think it will be easier to get through to them that (a) you’re both adults, and (b) that your marriage is a tighter and more sacred bond than their bond to their daughter.

Remind yourselves AND them that it was Christ who said that a man leaves the house of his father and mother, cleaves to his wife, and they become one. That applies just as much to a WOMAN leaving the house of her father and mother. LEAVES the house! She’s left! You and she are one. And what God has joined together, let no man put asunder. ie. No one…parents or not…have a right to try to come between a husband and wife. Her parents surely know this, and I do believe they’ll back off if you point this out.

You need to politely and respectfully tell them to butt out of the sacred bond that you and your wife have together, and you and your wife need to remind yourselves that you’re doing NOTHING wrong in defying the will of your wife’s parents. Yes, it’s hard for your wife because the emotional apron-strings will still be partially in place, but SHE has to accept that she no longer has to obey her parents word for word. Her bond with you must always come first.

Good luck, and hang in there!


#19

[quote=dhgray]:bigyikes: You didn’t tell us you were Catholic :bigyikes:
[/quote]

Thanks DH I needed a laugh just now!!! God Bless you!


#20

In our problems with in-laws, they often pulled DH aside (called him at work when they knew I wasn’t around, sent him pages, offered to meet him for lunch, even sent him mail at work) and used the time to push the right buttons. Afterall, they raised him. They know exactly what buttons to push. And they sure did.

We had to lay down the line that it was both of us or neither of us. They couldn’t have alone time with dh for a while. He told them that his work was not a place for personal correspondance and that they weren’t to call or write there. He let them know that I had access to all his email accounts, as well as his phone and pager. He screened his calls and discussed responses with me before responding. He responded to phone calls with email replies. We reinforced the message that we are one with me answering his phone on occassion and responding to emails sent only to him. We were very clear that we would love to spend time with them, but if conversation turned to talking bad about me then we wouldn’t stay. He had to hang up the phone on them a few times and we packed up and left their house several times.

Within a week, they had the message that we were united. Their complaints shifted to attacking our unity instead. They wanted to know why he couldn’t ever do anything on his own. If I was present when they were talking on the phone. That type of stuff. A week after that it became little digs that let us know they were accepting but lamenting it (we know you’re going to go talk to her first). Now we have a polite civility where they don’t say anything mean because they know it is both of us or neither of us.

Don’t let your wife deal with her parents all by herself. I tell you, our burden became so much lighter (even though their attacks increased) once we were united. It also really strengthened our own relationship, when before the seperation was actually hurting our relationship. He resented me b/c I was the cause of the grief with the family and I resented him not protecting me. Once we were united, he saw that the cause of the grief was them and I saw him standing up for us. Huge shift in outlook.

Have you looked into the book Toxic In-Laws by Susan Forward yet?


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