Like any other family, they have skeletons in their closet. Family secrets they hide from non-blood relations, inlaws included. The first time I met my inlaws, I thought it was odd that they kept to themselves. R's younger sis, L was the one closest to me in age, so she was the only one I got to bond with. They're really nice folks, except for the fact that they treat others like well... "others". Don't get me wrong, I love my inlaws. They are after all, R's parents and sibs, and my kids' blood relatives. Sometimes though, I wonder if they, in return, love me. It has been a long-standing Q for me and the other outlaws in the family. The ex of one of R's brothers once confided that my FIL once told her this: "In our family, we love our kids, and our kids' kids, but you girls (referring to the ones married to his children), psssh! We don't care about you." Well, something to that effect. I didn't really take it to heart because at first, my inlaws were really nice to me. R once said his father was proud of the fact that I was his daughter-in-law because I was smart and I come from a good family. But then, I noticed that they started keeping things from me - facts about R's whereabouts, his plans, his schedule, his visits to their place, etc. Once, when R and I were hanging out at his folks', his older brother told us not to tell his then-girlfriend (now ex) that he was in town. Later that afternoon, when the girlfriend came to pick my MIL up, my MIL lied to her straight-faced. Like it was nothing out of the ordinary, like it was matter-of-fact. That opened my eyes big time. Sure, I can tell a fib, but that episode started a string of hurts, especially for my BIL's ex. But then, that's another story.
But yes, everyone in that family is super secretive. And it is like they think of you as dumb to not figure things out. When R was in the US two years ago, he became incommunicado two months before he flew back, and when I had asked one of his older sisters M if she ever got to talk to him, she fibbed by telling me that she last spoke with him that day he left for the US! I mean, what a crock of poop! Why they keep things like that from me, I do not know. It isn't like I will fly off to look for him. I just care for my hubby and worry about his well-being.
It reached a point when once, upon having caught R with someone, I sought my MIL's comfort. And instead of reprimanding R, she advised him (in front of me!) to leave town!!! I mean, what mother tells her son to leave his wife? Once, over the phone, while I cried out to her on R's womanizing, she exclaims, "Matagal ko na kasi sinasabi diyan kay R na maghiwalay na kayo. Ba't ba kasi hindi nalang kayo maghiwalay? Pinipilit niyo pa sarili niyo na magsama! Sus!" I mean, what parent wishes for their son or daughter to have a broken marriage? Sigh.
My friend A once told me that when her brother was cheating on his wife, their mom felt it was her duty to defend her son no matter what. NO MATTER WHAT. After all, he is her son and moms love their sons regardless. So maybe it isn't my MIL's fault she was too defensive of her sons? Maybe it is second nature, like a lioness protecting her cubs? I look at my parents and they never, NEVER tolerated sin. Even the smallest, smallest lie didn't go unpunished. We were taught right from wrong, and that sin can never, ever be justified to be right.
Nevertheless, I love my MIL. I guess she realized that she cannot direct our lives and has resorted to telling me to "Keep Praying" each time she hears of marital woes between R and me. She is after all, religious. If there is one thing I admire about her, it is her unconditional love for her son.
APPRECIATING MY FIL
I once had a tussle with my FIL. There was one time when I sent R away, after one of our many heated arguments about his "past time". My FIL, upon finding out what happened told me off by saying "Walang pwedeng magpalayas sa mga anak ko. Aba, kung may nagpalayas sa kanila, PI sya!" And of course, I knew he meant me. But that incident has long been resolved between us.
One Saturday, around 2 years ago, my FIL had a long talk with me. During our hour-long conversation, he told me how he appreciated that I stayed with R all these years. He knew I was praying for R and that in some way, He knew I was a martyr for staying and he told me so. He also told me he was aware of his sons misdeeds, and that if it had been any other girl by his side, she would have left R a long time ago. It was a talk much appreciated. It was acknowledgment for all the years I served without wanting anything in return. In a way, he is right. I am a martyr. This, after all, is no longer for me. If this is the only way R can be a better person, then I will wait for that day.
Today, I look back at that day and realize how foolish it was to stay. But I guess God has His way and timing. I am stronger today. If what had happened recently, happened then, I'd be lost and a mess. Thank God for perfect timing!
My thoughts bring me to them today, because last night, as I sat pondering about all that has happened, I realize that they haven't (no, not once!) checked up on me or the kids. My mom says to just let it go as it is no big deal, I have all the support I can get at home and from my friends. But it does matter! They are after all, blood relatives of my kids - family who are supposed to care. A few months ago, when I asked R why his parents haven't even visited the baby and if they care at all to check up on their new grandkid, he said they do but are probably busy. Who'd be too busy for grandkids?! Your guess is as good as mine.
Two years ago, when chatting over YM with my SIL L, I wondered why their mom never even bothered to tell me that she was in contact with R, who was then in the US. Because I posed a lot of questions, I was told I was investigating and trying to catch them in a lie! But why hide the fact from me when they knew I was waiting for any information on my hubby's well-being?! That ended whatever relationship I had with L. Our communication was soon limited to Hi and Hello over once-in-a-blue-moon emails that went unanswered for months. She even went as far as deleting me from any network group we were previously contacts in. Secrets abound! That can only be my conclusion and it pains me that they treat me and their other inlaws this way. Weird doesn't even describe their attitude towards us. It is not in any way normal.
Or maybe it IS normal. I have many girlfriends who have similar problems with their inlaws. My cousin's wife H is in an even worse situation with her inlaws (my uncle and aunt!). They have gone as far as spreading stories about her - texting friends, pastors and church leaders to malign the poor girl. They've spread rumors about her baby not being my cousin's and have insinuated that my cousin should get a DNA test to see if he is indeed the father of their baby! Sad, isn't it? That parents, who are supposed to be more mature and lead by example, are the ones who instigate trouble in the lives of their children. Sigh.
I am not saying, however, that I am the perfect inlaw. I am nowhere near perfect. I have mistakenly involved my inlaws in my cause to save my marriage, when I know I shouldn't have. But I had no one to turn to during the first few years of marital woes. I didn't want to let my family know I was having problems with R. So I did what I thought was right, I talked to his mom. In my valentine's day letter to my inlaws last year, I told them that I admired the way they stick to each other through thick and thin. In fact, I still admire their determination to stay intact. It is what family is all about, after all. To stand by each other, to hold your hand in the midst of trouble, to be there when the whole world turns against you.
With the turn of events in my own family life, I have lost whatever anger I have against all that R has done. A friend once told me that if she sees me back with R in the future, she will slap me across the face. I wonder now if R and I will ever find peace in our situation. We were once best of friends. Partners who vowed to be with each other for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer... and yet, as death tiptoed close to R's door, I was nowhere near him, far from beside him. And I think to myself, why did it happen this way? Why did we take this road? Right now, I have no answers. All I know is that once, I had a dream to have the perfect family. Now that dream remains a dream, far from realization. I do, however, still have that chance to correct the situation with my inlaws. They are still family, and no matter how much pain and disappointment they've caused me, I still love them. Maybe one day, they will stand by me the way they stand by their kids. Maybe one day, I will be lucky enough to be treated like family. Yes, even if it does not work out with R.
Why do I even bother? Well, life is short, and bottomline is, the world will be a better place if we all got along. Ironically, I always got along with the moms of my exes. Fancy none of them became my actual inlaw. In the end, all I really want is a family for my kids. It will be a waste of time to bicker and hold grudges. Bottomline is, they love their son. In a weird way. But they love their son. That is all I need to know in order to understand.