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Overheard: Meeting the Mormon relatives for Christmas

December 24, 2009
Awkward Family Dinner

" do know that our daughter deserves a worthy priesthood holding husband...can you be that?"

I was eavesdropping (I guess that’s not really possible in a semi-open online conversation, especially not with Facebook’s new privacy settings) and I heard some girl talk about having dinner with her boyfriend’s Mormon relatives for Christmas.

She was quite worried. She would have to hide that she is bisexual, smokes, and that the two aren’t virgins. I guess the parents shouldn’t be too surprised, because the son in this case (the boyfriend) is excommunicated (but that’s another story). But…the way she expressed her worry, I thought, was poetic:

Actually, I’m just worried I’ll accidentally mention smoking or the word ex girlfriend or something and there will be some big awkward pause and the grandma will drop her spoon at the dinner table and her hand will shake and she’ll just look angrily at (boyfriend) with this big terrible stare and a cricket will chirp and i’ll be like I’M SO SORRY.

Then everyone will cry and be like “how.. how could you ruin christmas…”

Yes. How could you ruin Christmas?


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  1. Mentioning smoking at Christmas dinner? That would be like killing Santa. Or maybe Jesus.

  2. 🙂

    I remember the first time I brought my husband home for Christmas… It was a little nerve-wracking for both of us, to say the least. He was especially worried, as he figured Mormons must have some special rules of etiquette that he would accidentally violate.

    My parents put us in the same bedroom, but had separate twin beds for us. We just pushed the beds together. Every visit since then, there’s been just one bed.

    My parents pretty much fell in love with him from the beginning though…

  3. When Paul first told his parents we were dating, the very first thing his father said was, “Well, I guess it’s okay, just as long as you don’t marry her.”

    I think he jinxed himself with that one.

    • HAHAHA. What did they say *after* you two got married?

      • After we got engaged, they took a couple of shots at talking him out of it. Unsuccessfully, as you can see.

        They came out for the wedding and were very cordial and everything. Paid for the groomsmen’s tuxedos and paid for us to take a belated honeymoon to Nauvoo later on in December (we got married in November, in the middle of the semester), arranged for an open house in Iowa during Christmas break. I’m told that after Paul and I took off to spend the weekend in Park City after the reception, the two families went off to dinner together wherein his parents made comments to the effect that they expected our marriage to end in divorce. To their credit, they were almost right about that, even if it was an unkind thing to say. (That is assuming that my source is telling me the truth, which I don’t know for sure.)

        I tried so hard to be a good daughter-in-law. For the first year of our marriage, I called them “Mom” and “Dad,” I spoke to them every time they called on the phone, and I remembered the birthdays and anniversaries of everyone in the family and sent cards and gifts every time. I knew I wasn’t the daughter-in-law they had been dreaming of, but I wanted so badly to have the best relationship with them that was possible in spite of that.

        After we had been married about ten months, Paul told me he wanted the divorce. I fought him on it, but at twelve months I moved out into my own apartment. At one point I got nosy and checked his e-mail account (I know, bad Jack). There I found an e-mail from his parents concerning the divorce. They said some really awful things about me (I won’t repeat them here) and urged him to finish the divorce, offering to pay for the entire thing.

        I was reeling. I had done NOTHING to deserve that, I had never said a cross word about them behind their backs. Healing came slowly for me on this, even after Paul and I got back together. I’ll admit, it took me a long time to forgive them.

        I’m questioning the wisdom of telling this story on a public blog as I write this. I’m not trying to air out old grievances against my in-laws; I have forgiven them, and we have a much better relationship now. Part of me still wonders if I can ever trust what they tell me to my face about me, but I’ve decided that’s an uncertainty I simply have to live with.

        I’ve decided to hit post because, if there are any other couples out there struggling with religious resentment from the in-laws who are reading this, I want you to know that the best thing you can possibly do is to keep on loving them. Don’t hold onto grudges against them and let them fester. It’s painful. I know how painful it is. But you need to just let it go, and do your best to be a good son-in-law or daughter-in-law no matter how they feel about you.

        You can’t control how your in-laws feel about you, you can only control how good of a SIL or DIL you are. So focus on what you can control and stick with that.

      • :/

      • Guest Writer 800+ permalink

        I appreciate it Ms. Jack, as I am currently (and perhaps insanely- because of where I stand) dating a Mormon girl. Her parents are very much against me. In fact, I believe they called some of my words “poison.” (I don’t talk to them about religion, but I guess she mentioned a Facebook discussion I had had about the significance of skin color in Mormon doctrine.) The “poison” I had spouted were actual scriptures. It really upset my girlfriend when her parents were calling their own scriptures poison.

  4. The twin beds story is genius. Glad things went well!

  5. Family is just hard sometimes. Religion or not.

  6. I know a Mormon couple who were saved and became Cristians . She subsequently became quite ill . Her Mormon parents did all they could to insinuate that her illness was due to her leaving Mormonism and they encouraged a divorce . Things were not helped by the fact that the husband worked for an organisation with strong Mormon influence who engineered his dismissal . The two of them along with their six children are suffering terribly . Thank God they are still strong in their Christian faith .

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