Wedding Woes

He really just jumped right in, huh?

Dear Prudence, 

My husband has invited his father and stepmother to our house for Thanksgiving week. He felt bad and told me right after he invited them. They are his only family left, and I understand that he wants our toddler to get to know at least one grandparent (I have no parents). I made all the plans on how to get them here, bought the plane tickets, and figured out the logistics.

Here is my issue. My husband’s dad was an abusive man who made his childhood miserable. The stories he told me about his childhood makes me very upset. I experienced my own abuse and was put in foster care, but he never was. They did not talk for 20 years and were not invited to our wedding. However, after having a child something shifted in my husband and he wants to give his father another chance. Besides not letting my toddler be alone with him, I have a hard time masking my emotions. How can I get through a week of letting them live in our house, knowing what he did to my husband? I already cringe after he ends every call with “I love you so much.” My husband doesn’t respond back, but it’s just all so awkward.

—Can I Punch an Old Man?

Re: He really just jumped right in, huh?

  • LW you and your H have a communication problem.   He should have run it by you before the invitation was issued.  You need to be more clear that while you're supportive of this reconnection with his dad if it's what your H needs, that what you know about your H's past has a profound effect on your based your past and it's a challenge for you to spend time with known abusers.  

    Since the train is coming down the tracks very fast, you have only a few options:
    1. Suck it up and deal
    2. Tell your husband to cancel
    3. Leave with your child and stay elsewhere if you really feel your child is not safe and/or his presence will disregulate you to the point of violence. 

    AFTER this holiday, y'all need to have a real talk about all this.  Maybe even investigate individual and couple's therapy.  Your child deserves parents who can manage their emotions to the best of their ability and communicate effectively with one another. 
  • Therapy. 

    But given this is happening now- sit and think about how you feel about this situation. Do you feel unsafe? Do you feel your child is unsafe? If yes- book a hotel immediately, either for dad or for you and your toddler. 

    If you feel safe- you need to work out ground rules on how this week will go. If Dad goes off what is the plan to get him to leave? What behaviors are off limits and trigger and immediate removal from the house? These aren’t hypotheticals and you don’t want to be talking about them in the moment. Figure out what your edge is and communicate those boundaries. Develop a clear plan for what happens if they’re crossed. 

  • Maybe he has changed. Only time will tell, but I like the idea of having a plan if things go left. It doesn't mean that they will, but it sounds like she will have a watchful eye on gramps the entire time anyway.
  • If I truly wasn't okay with them staying at the house, I'd tell my H to call them back and tell them we are happy they are visiting (I'm okay with that white lie), but that I wasn't comfortable having guests for that long.  He could admit he acted impulsively and should have asked me first.  Suggest nearby hotels.  If it fits comfortably in the budget, offer to make and pay for hotel accommodations.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
  • Wut? 

    1) Husband invited family to stay for a week without running it by you first.
    2) You planned their trip for them before even considering your comfort with it. 
    3) Husband hasn't seen his parents in 20 years, and the first meeting will be a week long holiday trip and will include introducing your kid to a grandpa with a history of abuse. 

    This is all a giant mess, and husband is not the only one acting impulsively here. Everyone should have done something different, but at this point I'm thinking hotel for the ILs and LW and kid need an escape plan for when things get tough. But also LW and H need a CTG about acting without thinking and get on the same page for boundaries during this visit. Kid needs to have at least one parent who isn't impulsive. 
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