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Q: I am an avid fan of your column, and now I have something to write to you about. I will try to be brief, but as with any problem, I also want to make sure you know the important parts. My partner, Chris, and I have been together for over three years. We are both fortunate as the majority of our family members are accepting and loving and treat our relationship as they would a marriage. We had a commitment ceremony last August and had many family members attend. One person whose presence meant a lot to me was my grandmother. This was not the easiest thing for her to do (my grandfather did not come), but she came and has always treated us with love and respect, as has my grandfather. As far as the rest of my family, I have two aunts who, although civil to us, I know do not approve.
Here’s the issue: At the next big family gathering after our ceremony (Xmas), my mother introduced Chris as her new “daughter-in-law” to everybody. Although everybody acted fine about it at the time, apparently my grandmother took my mom aside and told her she should not have said it as it made people feel uncomfortable and was inappropriate. I have to admit this hurts my feelings, but I think my grandmother is primarily trying not to “rock the boat” while continuing to sort through her own feelings. My mom however, is very upset about this. She told some of her friends at work about it, and they discussed whether her comments at the reunion were appropriate or not. Although some said maybe she should not have said it, the majority think it was the right thing to do as it told everybody how she feels about our relationship and leaves no question that my mother treats us as she does my heterosexual married sibling.
I do not want my mom to be upset with my grandmother, but I also do not want to confront my grandmother on this issue, considering how far she’s come. I also do not plan to make any kind of concessions to my right-wing aunts, as I feel I have no reason to try to make them feel more “comfortable” with us just because they are unaccepting at this point. I guess my feeling is, Chris and I plan to spend the rest of our lives together – time should be the major healing factor for everybody. I know that my grandparents know how much we love each other, and if my aunts can’t or do not want to, life is too short (and our relationship too extraordinary) to worry about what they think. I think it is also important to note that Chris and I are intelligent and well-mannered adults and have never acted inappropriately in front of my family (this isn’t about kissy-faces and make-out behavior), but we act just as they would with their spouses. What do you think about this?
A: I couldn’t agree with you more. Your grandmother has come a long ways just being at your ceremony. Let your love and time help grandmother move further along on her path to understanding and acceptance. Confronting her on this would just bring up her defenses and set things back. As for your mother, you can’t control what your mother feels or says to your grandmother, but you can let your mother know how you feel regarding your grandmother. Then, let go of trying to control what she might say. You might also send your grandmother a note telling her how much it meant to you to have her at the ceremony. By the way, you have got to be VERY proud, loved and accepted by your mother. You are a very lucky woman, and she’s a wonderful woman to want to stand up for you.
“I like to believe that people in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890 – 1969)
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