Dear Sad wife,
My guess is that your husband is caught between being a “good son” and a “good husband” and doesn’t know quite how to do both. From his point of view, he risked his family’s disapproval when he married you. In that sense, he has already very much taken your side. On the other hand, he doesn’t want to fight with his family, so he lets comments slide
Your problem is not that he doesn’t stand up for you. Your problem is that you are agreeing with the idea that there is a contest for his loyalty. In that sense, you are helping his family keep your husband in the middle of a conflict that is probably very painful for him.
Real love doesn’t require people to choose between the people they love. Even though your in-laws are doing that to your husband, you don’t have to do the same thing. A much better way to return your husband’s love is to drop your end of the conflict and instead focus on your good fortune in finding a good guy who loves you a lot. (Most of my mail comes from women who would envy you.) Calmly, let your husband know that although his family’s comments hurt you, you understand what a difficult position he’s in. Instead of demanding that he fight for you, work together to figure out ways to win his family over. Show respect for them and find ways to make positive connections with them. They can’t be all bad. They did raise the fine man you married.
Once his family understands that they won’t lose their son because he married you, they may eventually change their behavior. But even if they don’t, you will make things better by relieving the stress on your husband and by refusing to let the negativity of others put a shadow on a good marriage.
I wish you well.
This article has been updated from the original version, which was originally published here on April 16, 2006.