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Old 11-23-2016, 10:15 AM   #2
Tad
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Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Ontario, Canada
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1) Welcome to Dimensions!

2) Warning, wall of words coming up next!

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I would suggest that this falls more broadly into “My ‘mother-in-law’* doesn’t approve of me or my influence on my partner.” In your specific case it is about fat, but you can find all sorts of cases where the same general thing applies, but replacing ‘fat’ with ‘politics’, ‘partying’, ‘tatoos’, ‘vegetarianism’, etc. To some extent it is also a bit like when parents don’t approve of their child marrying outside of their religion, ‘race’, social class, region, etc. Basically you are not the type she expected her son to marry, marrying you shows that he doesn’t share all of her values and prejudices, and the evidence is that over time he is coming to care even less.

I know she is not your mother-in-law yet, but it is the class of problem that many people have

Obviously “such is life” and she should just ask herself if her son is happy with you and you with him, and then be happy for you both – but it can be very hard to let go what we want for our kids, and for some parents it is hard to simply accept that they have lost their influence over their child now.

There is probably little that you can do about her feelings about fat, but you can try to emphasize your other wonderful attributes, and she may come to accept you more even if she remains an anti-fat bigot. For example, one of the most wonderful traits a child’s partner can have, for many parents, is making the child pay attention to his/her parents. In other words, make sure that you two send them cards for every occasion when a card is remotely appropriate, go visit, phone them, ask about their lives.

Basically, if you can help her feel that she is gaining a daughter and not losing a son, then you are a long way to making things more peaceful. But also don’t be shy about talking about anything else you are doing that she may approve of, come up with very thoughtful gifts for them, and generally redefining the conversation around what she might see as your strengths rather than what she would see as your weaknesses.

Now, your partner might be able to do a bit. He can be blunter to her (then you get to be the nice one!) He can say “If you want to see me, you will see both of us. If you want to see us, show it by being polite when we are here. I love her and will not listen to anyone insult her.”

All of the above is heavily influenced by my own experiences. My wife and I went through some of this ourselves, with a mix of issues about fat and socio-economic group (i.e. white collar parents vs blue collar parents). It took me longer than it should have to be firm with them, but I just didn’t understand at first that I needed to do so, I thought they should just be happy for me.

Things only really got good with my parents after my wife lived with them for a few months while on a work placement. They really got to know her better (before then we’d lived a six hour drive away, so they only saw her for occasional brief visits). And since she is a fantastic person, with months of getting to know her they got to see past the size of her butt to the size of heart and past the roundness of her belly to the sharpness of her mind.

After that I got in trouble if they thought I wasn’t treating her well enough! (I’m sure they would like both of us to lose weight, still, but they never say anything about it)
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