Dear Carolyn: My parents have been unwelcoming toward my husband of two years. They’ve never corrected him when he calls them “Mr.” and “Mrs.” When my mom and I leave the men alone, my dad abandons him, affording only the briefest and most surface-level of conversations.
I know the reason behind their coldness: They just don’t approve of his career and moneymaking potential. It’s become so awkward that my last two visits, he didn’t even bother to come.
I’m stuck, because what can I say? “I want you to be nicer to my husband”? “Please stop giving him the cold shoulder”? What if they refuse? Do I stop my visits too? I should note there are no kids/grandkids involved here.
Interceding for Spouse
The “what can I say” bit sounds disingenuous. You can say: that in freezing him out they push you away; that in judging him by surface standards they not only insult you both but embarrass themselves.
It’s possible that they just don’t like him or they legitimately disapprove on a deeper level vs. just not being wowed by his job. None of this excuses a failure to say, “Please, call us Joan and David,” when the Mr.-and-Mrs. act lasted past the point of silliness, so you can certainly talk your way to a solution there; and nothing you say will solve the problem of “the briefest and most surface-level of conversations.” You can’t make anyone like anyone.
When you do ask them for a basic level of effort and civility, they can refuse, of course – in which case you’ll have a decision to make. The choices range from showing up with your husband as a form of quiet insistence on his proper place in this family, to playing the middle (seeing parents sans husband, for e.g.), to seeing your parents less, to severing the tie outright.