When to continue a relationship, when to 'shake the dust'


In a nutshell, I have been married 19 years, and in that time, my husband’s family has not once invited me, or even expressed any desire, to have me visit. (They’re about 5,000 miles away). There have been a number of other incidents which leave me feeling they don’t regard me as a member of their family, not welcome, and not wanted. DH has told me flat out that I am not part of their family. By contrast, dh is treated exactly the same by my parents as any of us born into our family.

Now, dh and I are flying to within a hundred miles or so of his mother and sister. MIL and SIL have decided they will come to where we are and join us for a day. I talked to my mil last night, and it struck me only afterward, when my son mistakenly thought they’d invited us to visit them: we’re that close and they still didn’t invite me. It didn’t occur to me at first that they would, but now that my son mentioned it, it is bothering me as just another indication that I am not welcome. (And I believe I have done nothing to deserve this treatment. If I’d done something awful to them, I’d understand.)

I believe the Biblical advise would be to go talk to them. But I know from past experience with dh and various of his family that I will be told I’m imagining things. Moreover, dh has lied to me repeatedly over things large and small for many years. I have experienced the same thing from another member of his family. So I believe that talking to them is useless.

I know the next advice is, after trying to talk to someone, nothing changes, ‘shake the dust from your feet.’ (Or something to that effect.)

It’s been 24 hours since my phone call, and I’m getting over my initial anger and annoyance at the realization that a normal family would have been thrilled to death and invited us over. I’m pretty sure I’ll just try to be gracious when they meet up with us. But I would still really like to know, as a good Catholic, who wants very much to follow God’s will, at what point is it acceptable to finally keep my distance, to say to dh, “Enjoy your visit with them, but I am not spending my time with people who have made it clear I’m dirt beneath their feet?”


Jesus’ words in Mark and Luke were instructions for those evangelists who went to preach in a town that would not hear the word of God…

Your in-laws are going to travel 100 miles to meet up with you? When gas is $4 per gallon, that is a really nice thing for them to do. I would look forward to it as a chance to begin a new phase.

Praying for your mil every day will be a huge help.


Well, they’re not driving 100 miles. They’re taking a ryanair flight for literally a few pounds. :slight_smile: Past events suggest they’re coming to see DH, not ‘us.’

There is another verse I’m talking about.

If the first 16 years of my being friendly and thoughtful, and going to great expense and difficulty to make sure DH and the kids got over routinely to visit them didn’t provide a good start, then there’s nothing I can say or do now that’s going to change their opinion. As I said, I will get together with them and certainly not be rude. But how long do you continue a relationship in those circumstances before simply removing yourself from the situation?

I pray for my in-laws quite routinely and have for a long time.


How is your relationship with them outside of not inviting you to visit? Are they considerate in other ways?


I’ve dealt with a similar situation. The main difference is that my husband supports however I choose to handle it.

Like you, I’ve prayed long and hard. I was torn by two forces: 1) I didn’t want to be a hypocrite, and 2) I want to do what God would wish me to do.

In the end, I got my answer. It’s a long story how I got it, and not worth going into here, but things happened that made it very clear that I needed to continue with the way I have been doing things. For awhile I was hardly talking to my mil, now we’re back where we used to be.

Sometimes we’re called on to do the difficult things.

Interestingly, a few days ago my mil went to Mass with me. If you knew her, you would understand how stunned people were that she went. I don’t know if it’s the start of something new or not. I do know this: she wouldn’t have gone if I had kept my distance.

You never know what you may do or say that God will use. It’s likely that you will go to your deathbed thinking you never affected them even if you did. Yet by remaining in their lives, you give God opportunities.


What “relationship”? It doesn’t appear that there is one to begin with. All you can do is be smile and be gracious, knowing that you have done what you could. That would show true class. There are many people in your situation who bend over backwards to try to please others with no positive response. Who knows why they don’t like you- some people are just plain mean and enjoy giving others grief. You will never change them, but you can still be nice to them. If it will really upset you- just send your regards and stay away.


This is a long and complex answer. I think it stems from the other sil being upset years ago, when she realized her brother wasn’t coming home, acting rashly in response, and covering up by accusing me of things I didn’t and wouldn’t have done. I suspect that she thought if they all pressured him to divorce me, he’d come home.

Regardless, I thought things were okay with mil and this other sil. But 3 years ago, mil made an accusation that she insists on despite evidence and witnesses to the contrary. It suggests to me that she has been affected by sil’s stories all these years. I don’t even entirely blame her-- that’s what happens when you’re constantly exposed to something-- but I do wish she’d made some attempt to get to know me, maybe to come and visit us herself. And I do think that our talks on the phone over the years,16 years of seeing no evidence of poor character or discourtesy, seeing how I’m raising my children, knowing what kind of work I do, and 16 years of me going to great expense and effort to make sure her son and grandchildren got there to visit should have told her I am simply not that kind of person. :frowning: (He’s from overseas, and we have 9 children, so it’s a big deal to make sure he and a few kids get there every 2 or 3 years.)

Since then, she generally pretends I don’t exist. She sends birthday cards and cash for 10 of the 11 people in our family. When she calls, she talks to the kids but not to me.

jmeyer and nannygirl, thank you for such encouraging answers. I think that is exactly what I need to hear. I think what really hurts is that my family treats dh with so much love, and it’s not so much what his family is doing (there have been other, cruel and destructive incidents from other members of his family), but that dh himself shrugs, tells me it’s not really happening, defends it, tells me I’m not part of his family (while taking it as his due that he should be treated as part of mine), and has even said in the past that I ‘deserve it.’ (Though he can’t tell me a single thing I’ve done to deserve it.)

Almost every time I post here, I begin to feel hope soon afterwards. I believe people here are offering prayers, and it’s one of the few times in my life that I feel it so strongly that I have no doubt that’s what’s happening. I have had a great deal of hope and peace about this visit, regardless of how it actually goes, if that makes sense, since I’ve posted. So to all those who are praying for me, thank you.


You’re right about people offering prayers. I know I am.

I’m like you. I can tolerate a lot when my husband supports me. That would be my greatest difficulty in this.

Good luck, and I’ll keep praying.


red flag for me is your husband saying you are not part of his family. What’s up with that??? It sounds like your MIL isn’t the biggest problem. Its your husband who won’t man up and make you his first priority and protect you from being treated shabily.


I agree. :frowning:


what relationship?
a relationship is not one-sided, they either respond to your good overtures, or they don’t. they have not, they will not, they are not going to change. if they don’t want a relationship with you, it is not going to happen based on anything you do.

Only you can change, to hopefully arrive at a point where you don’t let this bother you (quite biting your tongue, it might hurt), just forgive them and move on. See them when you have to, like the upcoming visit, dont’ stand in the way of your husband and children seeing them, and enjoy your own family.

I am far more concerned that your husband states you are not part of his family. that hints that his attitude more than anything else is what is bothering you, as it should, and that is where you should put care and attention at healing that understanding.

sometimes there is just no dealing with people, so my advice, having been in your shoes, is to treat them like business associates you have to be polite to from time to time, but give up hopes of having any kind of rewarding relationship with them, and concentrate on our own immediate family health. whatever you do, don’t allow them to place blame on you, and don’t play that kind of game with them, where they manipulate you into being the bad guy.


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