Thursday, May 22, 2008

I'm Finally a Full Member of My Wife's Family

My wife's family, like many, often has a lot of "Drama" - someone is mad at someone else, and then others get drawn into the conflict.

Last Saturday, my wife's cousin got married, and my wife was the matron of honor (see my last post for a more complete story). One of her uncles was the photographer and, after a few days, forwarded all of the wedding photos to members of the wedding pary via email.

A portion of my wife's family was unable to make it because of the travel distance involved. Being the considerate sort, she immediately forwarded the email to her aunt so that she could see the photos right away. A few minutes later she got a very harshly worded email in reply complaining that the photos were in the wrong format for her to view properly, a few more untoward things, and then finishing with telling my wife to "grow up and think of someone besides yorself for a change".

Now for a bit of background. When my wife and I first met, this particular aunt was very down on her luck. This isn't a bad or shameful thing. I myself at one point in my life was under-employed and in very poor financial shape. It can happen to anyone, and I am forever grateful to one of my cousins who helped me out. Similarly, my wife, being the kind of person that she is, took this aunt in to live with her, rent free, for 18 months. By the end it did grow to become uncomfortable (my wife was pregnant, we needed the bedroom, she was still living there...), but you cannot seriously argue that my wife was insufficiently "grown up" about it, or that she failed to "think of someone besides" herself.

Nor is my wife a martyr. She does not need exaggerated thanks or anything resembling it. She has done this kind of thing for members of her family before, and will certainly do it again. It's the person she is, and they are her family. But she did feel slighted, perhaps a little insulted, and certainly unappreciated. So she wrote back another email, and in it she announced her displeasure, made some fairly uncharitable comments about her aunt - and cc'ed her mother.

And so the snowball of "drama" grew...

Husbands, do you feel obligated to "stick up" for your wives?

Wives, how do you feel when your husbands do, or don't, "stick up" for you?

Because in response to the email from my wife, one of her cousins (son of the aunt in question) wrote back a scathing email letter, and cc'ed literally everyone we know - including my father (where did he even get the email address?) our next door neighbors, several of my friends - everyone. In the email, he pointed out that he meant me no ill will, my only mistake was in marrying my wife (and he thought I would be OK with this?). And he was very insulting to my wife, and finished with the phrase "GROW THE !@#$% UP!" - except he used the actual obscenity.

We are all very lucky that this was an email and not a conversation because I was angrier after reading that email than I recall having ever been before in my life. If he and I were in the same room at that moment, there is not a doubt in my mind today that I would have punched his lights out - and enjoyed it.

Still, my body actually shook with rage. So now it was my turn to respond to him. I hit "reply all" and, in my angered state, wrote back an email that could have melted a diamond. I extensively described his failures mental, physical, moral, and spiritual, and using as much profanity, obscenity and vulgarity as was possible. Then, knowing that the aunt would be a recipient as well, I continued, and repeatedly and colorfully accused her of cowardice, ungratefulness, and being a public disgrace to her father.


In retrospect, my email lacked the dignity I am trying to write with here, but I was under tremendous duress. Interestingly enough, it got a very positive review from several members of my wife's family. They felt my wife had been wronged, and were glad that I had spoken up - and the more anger I showed, the better. I actually got calls of congratulations from my wife's sister, and another of her aunts - and that aunt's fiance referred to me as his "hero, from now on."

I had never gotten involved in any of their intra-family conflict, in even a very small way. I guess now I'm finally a full member of my wife's family.

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