A long, unnecessarily drawn-out piece on my future in-laws.
I had met Boyancé's mother (MiL), stepfather (SFiL), and brother (BiL) before. We took a trip to near where he grew up the weekend before Thanksgiving, and it was a little shocking. Boyancé is not close to his family, and he had a tough life growing up. For these reasons, I really had to exit my current understanding of what family and "home" mean. It's very different from the privileged life I know.
What I knew: MiL is an outspoken feminist. She raised Boyancé and his older sister (SiL), whom I had yet to meet, all on her own for about 15 years. Their father left when they were toddlers and never looked back because he's a fuckity fuckwit. SFiL seems harmless enough. I think he only eats hot dogs. BiL is 15 years old and autistic; he only speaks to immediate family due to social anxiety, but communicates with me (and others) on Facebook without problems.
I kind of knew, but didn't really know. I'm trying not to be judgmental, but it's difficult, and I'm sorry. I'm sorry and I feel shitty about it. They have a ton of pets that all live indoors. Every inch of the house is covered in things and trash and hair. I had to dope myself up on Claritin to survive the weekend - and I don't have allergies! (Well, I didn't think I did...)
This explains how once, he came home to our home after a trip there, hugged me and thanked me for cleaning the house, when I had in fact destroyed it because I got really high and glittered a bunch of shit and tried to make chili but fell asleep.
Boyancé commences cutting an onion for dinner; his sister and mother are absolutely shocked, spend the time making fun of him. I quickly come to bat, telling them that he makes dinner for us at least half the week, often more. He does the lion's share of the housekeeping. They can't believe it.
It's one thing not to believe it, but the snide, shitty way they acted about it really pissed me off. They also said they thought he wouldn't last living away from Mom. Seriously?
It seems to me that there was a clear standard set - that men are useless, maybe? I could see this with how BiL (who was capable of doing more than he was allowed) and SFiL are treated. MiL and SiL are not the type to think it's a woman's "job" to do the housework. Maybe so many years tainted by one big fuckfaced loser (Boyancé's deadbeat father) informed this? I do remember when I first met Boyancé he was a little behind on the adulting part of things.
What they fail to remember is that he moved across the country at 17 with $50, got a job, and proceeded from there. I know from my place of privilege, that is an impressive feat. They forgot that he is smart and determined (maybe they never knew). They had no faith in him, and it seems there is not much he could do to earn their faith. All the jokes about me needing to take care of him finally made sense. I would never, EVER be with a guy I have to mother. That was like, Feminist Prerequisite #1 for me.
Republican Relatives (RRs) Because I didn't have enough!
It is clear to me that these cousins of MiL (who serve as Boyancé's aunts and uncles, more realistically), spend most of their time baiting MiL into arguments because she is liberal. She didn't take the bait - just rolled her eyes. She is used to this. She told the story of how at one family function, one of the nasty cousins told a bunch of the others that she worked at Planned Parenthood now (not true). She was crucified for months. My RRs are more of the Libertarian Mansplainer variety - this is a beast I am used to dealing with.
I would classify these as Tea Partiers although MiL said they'd just DIE to be associated with those people. They said Obummer, got mad about minimum wage hikes, and told fake horror stories about Obamacare. We only spent like, half a day together, and all this came up out of the blue. One of them also made sure I knew that the movie Interstellar is leftist Hollywood liberal propaganda. They talked about Sean Hannity as if he is a person. A PERSON.
Best ever, though: they did not realize the Colbert Report is a satire. One of them said something to the effect of: "I like Stephen Colbert - I can never figure out if he's kidding or not, but I really like most of what he says." I died. I LITERALLY (figuratively) DIED.
Where was I when the Ferguson decision happened? In the den of the RRs.
They all had news alerts ready to go on their phones - they all beeped at the same time, and then cheered - FUCKING CHEERED. They acted like they were rubbing it in MiL's face. Boyancé side-eyed me as I chugged a glass of wine.
I kept quiet, by gods. I kept quiet. I couldn't handle meeting in-laws, and getting bludgeoned. I need a few years of good behavior in before I can deal with this. I do not want to be constantly attacked like MiL.
Apparently you can't leave Indiana.
They were all shocked - SHOCKED - that we were not getting married in Bumblefuckton. We live in New Orleans. Not only is this a really great place to get married, it's not like it's a destination because we fucking live here.
And I understand that traveling is not a small ask. I don't expect people to make the trip if they would be put out, and I'm not going to have hurt fee fees if they don't.
But they were really shitty about it. They were like, "I would never go there" and "I will have to find a valid excuse to get out of it, ha ha ha ha ha, no just kidding just don't want to go." Lots of "why don't you have it here?" BUT WHY WOULD WE? ONLY YOU ASSHOLES LIVE HERE. Boyancé said that's the exact reaction he expected; a few cool ones will come and the rest will pout at home. Apparently he does not give a shit.
One incredibly positive thing
BiL spoke to me. More than once. When he wasn't in the room, MiL said she absolutely was astounded. I had followed instructions from Boyancé to make sure I treated him the way he wants to be treated: include him in group conversations but don't ask direct questions he'll be expected to answer; don't look him in the eyes or tap him or do something to get his undivided attention. Seemed easy: give him space but include him.
What ended up happening is that if I asked a question in a group conversation, he'd answer. By day 3, he was telling me things without my prompting or asking, and asking me questions.
So I feel really good that I made a connection, but also that it seems to be a strong indicator that a recent big change in BiL's schooling and social environment at school might be helping him tremendously.
There you have it, folks. More information than you ever wanted!
It's really strange to have to learn how to be a member of a family that is not yours; it didn't really occur to me before. I guess that is what makes being with your in-laws so difficult for so many people; all the stresses of family but none of the loving history to support it.