Angry. Distressed. Devastated. Shell-shocked. Broken, it’s all so broken. We were at home on a Saturday, my husband and I. We had just moved into our house we had bought and we had gotten married about a month before. When the house phone rang and my husband picked it up I thought nothing of it. When I saw his face I thought someone had died. It was his mother, she and his father were having trouble. They’d been going to counseling and she was calling because she felt it was time he know, she needed support and love and reassurance.
Now to frame this, I’ve been incredibly fortunate with my mother in law. When she and I met she was genuinely interested in my life, asked me questions, learned my preferences and really cared. She was a woman of myths, a mother in law who never reminded me of the devil. She actually seemed to believe I was good for her son. She was so happy he had met such a nice girl. She was amazing through the wedding plan and continues to be amazing to me.
I had my husband call her again, make sure that she didn’t want us to come to her, or her to come to us, to have someone with her. She decided she was going to come to our house and she was on her way. An hour later she arrived at our house, she broke down and told us that after 31 years her husband, my father in law had told her that he didn’t love her anymore. That he considered her just a part of her life, that he had different plans for the rest of his life. She was understandably heartbroken. After being a stay at home mom, she’s being forced to figure out how to support herself at a time she anticipated she and her husband would soon both be retired and enjoying that together. I hugged her and hated him. I love her so much, and to think that he could so callously do that to her tore me to shreds.
I hate myself because I can’t help but worry that my new marriage may not survive, it feels so selfish. I had always kind of thought that after 30 years you were “home-free.” I called my mother and sobbed like a baby. “How could someone do this, to someone they loved?” I asked her if marriages could really survive. She reassured me that she and my father were never going to divorce and for the first time since I moved 700 miles away from them I felt like a fool for leaving them.
This all feels so broken. What seemed so perfect was broken. Perfect Thanksgivings, perfect Christmases. I have so much trouble talking about this with my husband because I feel like every time I bring it up I’m just reminding him of how his parents’ relationship is crumbling. Although I have told him when he is ready to talk about it I’m here. How will I even look at my father in law? Are we supposed to have a relationship with him like this never happened? I know that this is their relationship, and our relationship with him is separate. But there is that nasty little fact that, well, I hate him.