Turning away from an organized religion comes from a lot of trauma. And when you do, some parts of your identity need a reckoning, including spending time with people who really do value that in themselves and in others.
This is the situation Redditor limitedcontentuser found himself in by asking his wife to spend less time around her conservative and religious in-laws. But his wife did not take too kindly to the suggestion, leading to tension between her and her husband.
Wondering if he could have handled the situation better, he went to the popular subReddit “Am I The A**hole?” or “AITA” for feedback from objective strangers.
“AITA for not wanting to spend as much time with my inlaws as my wife does?”
Our original poster, or OP, gave us a background on why he has issues with his in-laws.
“For background: My wife and I are both in our early thirties and have been together about five years. We had our first child roughly a year ago. And we live near my in-laws (within 30 minutes).”
“Additionally, I’ve been going to therapy for a year now. Through this I’m working through issues from my childhood.”
“My parents were very conservative and religious. Because of wanting to get along with my parents, I’ve tried to hold onto the religious views over time.”
“But I’ve come to realize it’s not something I believe, as it’s been a source of great pain for me. Trust me when I say, I’d rather I did buy into it, as it would make relationships easier.”
“My wife’s family is also religious, and my wife still identifies that way. But we don’t go to church or do religious-y things, and she doesn’t seem to mind. But she still identifies as religious.”
“And it seems like it’s more about wanting to maintain a good relationship with her family than the actual religion part.”
“Which I get, but also, I’ve come to believe that it’s important to ‘chart one’s own course,’ so to speak.”
OP has some political tensions between he and his wife’s family.
“So I admit I’ve changed and I know this bothers my wife. I’ve also become more outspoken in political conversations, and it got to the point where my wife asked her parents/me to not talk about politics.”
“But unfortunately, that hasn’t worked, and her dad provokes me. Additionally, her mom will send political emails and harass my wife about political issues.”
“Including saying things like ‘Poor <son’s name> for having parents who voted for <politician>.'”
“I’ve become less and less comfortable being around my inlaws, but my wife wants to spend most of our leisure time with them.”
“We do spend a lot of time with them, and I am pleasant (my wife’s words, not mine). But it’s to the point where I could snap at any moment and say something I regret.”
And then the opportunity for a trip came up.
“So to that end, my wife and I had discussed going up to her parent’s lake house on July 4th for a week.”
“But I told her that I do not want to go and I need a break. Keep in mind we were up there for a week over Memorial Day and we also see them outside of the lake house.”
“I suggested we set boundaries around this and agree ahead of time on going up for every other holiday, say. But her expectation is that we spend every major holiday with her parents.”
“So I told her I am putting my foot down, and I am not going on the 4th. I also said, she is welcome to go and take our son, because it’s not fair for me to demand she stays behind (I also offered to watch our son so she can go for what it’s worth).”
And now his wife is very upset.
“This pains me because I love both of them and want to spend time with them. But I also feel my wife is unfair in her expectation of how much time we spend with her parents.”
“And to editorialize more, I feel she’s having a hard time detaching from her parents and being her own person.”
“My wife tells me my frustrations are all in my head and I need to learn to get along with them. And now she’s giving me the silent treatment. So I don’t know, am I being an uncompromising a**hole?”
Anonymous strangers weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
- NAH – No A**holes Here
Redditors immediately took OP’s side.
“Sounds like it’s time for OP and wife to get some marriage counseling, since wife doesn’t seem to understand that OP and their child are her nuclear family now.”
“They should have family traditions of their own, rather than just being assimilated into her childhood dynamic with her parents.”
“I love my in laws, but no way would I want to use all my vacation time visiting them.”-Seeker131313
“NTA for setting boundaries for yourself.”
“It sounds like spending time with them isn’t all that relaxing for you based on your fundamental disagreements on religion and politics, so of course you wouldn’t want to spend every vacation with them.”-AMadManWithAPlan
“NTA, and I too am married, early 30’s, one child, and don’t want to be around my in laws as much.”
“I can totally relate to this growing apart – I literally just had the conversation with my wife yesterday that I’ll no longer be spending the entirety of fathers day at her parents house.”
“I am willing to stop by, but now that I’m a parent, and almost for the second time – I’m not sharing the day.”
“Your situation sounds so much like mine (except we aren’t religious) – every holiday, standing Sunday dinner, and time during the week to top it off.”
“Like a big nuclear family. I personally have just started to grow out of it as we hit our later 20’s and into our 30’s. I want my little family to have its own identity, not just exist as a bolt on piece to her family.”
“Relationships evolve, and sometimes people grow apart. Fortunately in my and your situations, it’s not an issue with our spouse – but rather her parents hovering.”
“I’ll tell you – if my in laws were badgering with religion and politics – especially what you said about ‘poor sons name’ – I’d have left then and there.”
“Life is way too short to put up with being insulted in front of your own child. What do they want, child to grow up not respecting his parents? How does that help your son?”
“Lastly, doesn’t the bible say something about leave the parents and cleave to the spouse? They need to practice what they preach a little bit more.”-MikeDaRucki
“NTA- this is what I hate about some couples. There is always a level of immaturity and your wife proves just that.”
“Giving you the silent treatment? What is she 5?!? The silent treatment completely erases any communication and you shouldn’t be forced to go if you don’t want to.”
“It can be tiring seeing the same peoples face all the time. Tell your wife to grow up, smh.”-Total_Associate_281
And people have weighed in that perhaps this is actually better for OP, rather than worse.
“NTA. Your wife can’t expect you to enjoy spending every holiday being deliberately provoked by her parents.”
“It might be worth flipping the schedule a bit, and telling her you’d like her to come to your parents (or friend’s, some kind of equivalent) more often, make it a regular thing.”
“If she’s uncomfortable, she should understand. Relationships are a two-way street, she can’t expect you to acquiesce to her all the time.”
A”lso, as an ex-religious person myself, good on you. It can be hard to make that call, especially when the pressure is on to keep up the lie.”
“Better to be honest about your beliefs than to pretend to follow somebody else’s.”-TheGingerCynic
“NTA. That’s a sh*t situation but I get why you feel the way you do. People like that are very tiring and annoying to be around. I personally had to cut off a friend for similar reasons so I feel you.”
“You’re definitely right about setting boundaries. The fact that they don’t seem to respect your boundaries is bad.”
“But they don’t even respect your wife’s boundaries. I get they are her parents but this doesn’t seem like the healthiest relationship in my opinion.”
“Have you tried marriage counseling? Or maybe even individual counseling for her?”-Life-Sense-4584
“NTA. There’s no reason you need to be at every function. When ex and I were together, he often skipped functions (not just with my family but even with his own).”
“I would attend them with our son without him bc I enjoy being around my family and his (most of the time on both accounts).”
“I think you and your wife need to look into counseling if some sort. It is OKAY for you to have boundaries and it is OKAY for you to stay behind sometimes.”
“It’s OKAY for you to have a different opinion or desire regarding how much time y’all spend with family. Especially since you aren’t expecting her to skip them each time you do.”-Miss_Hallmark
“NTA. As someone who has been in your wife’s shoes, it took me a while to realize I can’t please everyone.”
“I didn’t want to let my husband down, I didn’t want to let my parents/family down, and ultimately my husband was paying the price.”
“I’m sorry you’re in that position, and I wish I could identify and tell you what my ‘Come to Jesus’ moment was that changed it for me, but I hope you guys figure it out. But you are NTA.”-Beautiful-Tower-7330
And that a silent treatment from OP’s wife is doing more harm than good.
“You’re NTA, but this sounds like a much bigger problem than just ‘Who’s the a**hole in this situation?'”
“Your wife apparently considers her parents an essential part of her nuclear family. You consider your wife and child – sans in-laws – as your nuclear family.”
“You’re NTA to put your foot down, but really you have to decide what your limits/boundaries are, and whether your wife (who keeps encouraging her parents, and insists you should have a close relationship with them) can respect them.”
“It sounds like you’re changing and she’s not, and that’s just generally a bad situation in any relationship, regardless of the values involved.”
“You have to decide whether it’s going to work for you and for your kids (current & future) to stay together given that who you think is ‘our family’ is quite different.”
“Because if she’s that close to her parents and that connected to the religion she was raised with, I suspect there are a hell of a lot more problems coming down the pike, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.”
“So, you know: NTA, but most of what you’re asking about is way above this sub’s pay grade.”-FeuerroteZora
“NTA. And it’s not healthy to spend more time with your parents than your kid and husband. I get she’s dragging you along for the ride but I mean.”
“Solo. Family time with just you and the kiddo should be a thing.”-BodaciousBonnie
“NTA. Your wife needs to put your comfort ahead of her parents. She’s not a child anymore. My husband’s family is very traditional Catholic.”
“I was raised very right with evangelical. My in-laws are much liberal than I was raised, but not to the degree I currently am.”
“My husband respects my views, agrees with most, and doesn’t force issues. He’s on my side when there are issues, not his parents’.”
“Your wife needs to figure out if her marriage is a priority or if her relationship with her parents is.”-Busymomintx
“NTA. You shouldn’t have to spend all your free time with your in-laws especially since they frequently provoke you.”
“It’s great to be close to family, but not at the expense of your marital relationship. Also, don’t apologize for changing. People do that.”
“People grow as they get older and experience more of life. That is normal.”-scllymldr
OP has made a choice about his life that is different from his wife’s trajectory, and that is okay.
But he may have to reckon with the idea that this could separate him from his wife.