Marriage has been on the decline over the past several years, with long-term couples delaying marriage and many deciding to opt out entirely, whether or not they choose to have kids. One such couple bucking the tradition recently came to reddit asking for advice about a family conflict over that decision, and boy did it open a can of worms.
A poster with the username googledrools came to the popular "Am I the A-hole" subreddit asking folks to arbitrate a dispute they're having with their parents over an upcoming family reunion. Their parents are celebrating 30 years of marriage, and the root of the conflict stems from sleeping arrangements during their visit for the big get-together.
Providing a little background, they write, "I have been with my SO for about 8 years. We live together, have several kids, and for all practical purposes are a married couple. For personal reasons though we decided marriage is not the best route for us at the time and are still just partners. My parents refuse to let us share a bed or room when we visit their house, so for the last 5 years we have never visited for more than a day."
Unfortunately, since the parents moved across the country, a short visit like that isn't really feasible for the upcoming anniversary, and in making arrangements for their visit, "googledrools" brought up the subject of accommodations, asking since their newlywed sister and her husband are allowed to share a bed, why mom and dad wouldn't also let these cohabiting parents of three share a bed during their visit. And to that, mom responded, "well you're not married of course."
In light of their parents' unwillingness to bend on this issue, OP decided the best solution would be to book a nearby hotel for their family of five, telling the matriarch that her behavior "further adds salt to the wound because it delegitimizes our relationship to my kids." Unfortunately, mom didn't see it that way and instead felt they were being selfish. She also said it "disturbed her" that they would expect to be allowed to sleep together in their home as an unmarried couple.
Also, in case it bears repeating, they've been together eight years and have three children. I think the cat is out of the bag on whether these two share a bed, mom.
I don't think it's spoiling anything to tell you that people overwhelmingly sided with OP over their mother, but what's truly crazy is that ol' googledrools here completely buried the main headline here. Way down in the comments, they reveal that mom's disapproval extends to the three grandchildren produced by this loving, committed, but unmarried, couple.
One commenter asked, "out of curiosity, does she ever refer to her 'bastard grandchildren'?" to which OP responded, "She sort of pretends they don't exist... if you know what I mean." No, we definitely do not. Please do go on. And that's when they revealed she basically ignores these three grandchildren, "and doesn't send them Christmas presents or birthday cards while she sends them to her other grandchildren."
Is your jaw on the floor? Same. It's one thing to punish your adult child because you disapprove of their life choices, and quite another to punish innocent kids who have no say in the matter and have done nothing but be born. And the worst part is, they're getting old enough to notice the disparity. The original poster mentioned the gift situation is obviously unpleasant, "especially for my eldest who asks "why her cousins get gifts but she doesn't."
Talk about burying the lede! Clearly googledrools has become so accustomed to mom's disapproval that they failed to realize this isn't just unfair but flat-out abusive, as several commenters pointed out. "NTA [not the a-hole] but you might if you go!" declared one commenter who caught this important bit of info that OP hadn't included in the main post. "It's one thing if she treats you and your partner badly as you're adults who can remove yourselves, but putting your kids there is worse, as they have to depend on you to do that for them.
"Stand up for your kids!!" they implored.
Another person pointed out, "They want you to celebrate their relationship while discounting yours," which is an excellent point. It's perfectly within their rights to disapprove and wish their children would make different choices, but this extra information makes it clear they value their religious beliefs more than a loving and meaningful relationship with their grandchildren. "I'd feel no guilt at all about staying home and watching TV," added tequilamockingbored.
Of course, things are always more complicated when it comes to family conflicts. While you can easily write off most people who don't respect your family, what do you do when the people doling out the disrespect are family themselves?
One fantastic advice giver suggested a script for the phone call informing mom and dad that this "illegitimate" family will be opting out, and I hope they use it word for word.
"I highly recommend a phone call on the lines of 'Just wanted to let you know we won't be attending," said YeahAskingForAFriend, suggesting they explain, "'the children are getting old enough to ask questions like "Why is grandma nice to (cousins) but not to us?" and you know how I'd hate to lie to them. So anyway, have a good party!'"
A slightly less passive-aggressive way to communicate this, however, would be to point out that they are entitled to their beliefs and convictions, but in holding so fast to them, they will be denying themselves a relationship with three beautiful grandkids, who don't deserve to be treated differently from their cousins from "traditional" families.
Here's hoping this family decides to divert whatever funds they would have spent on travel and hotel for this anniversary party on a vacation that won't leave them feeling like pariahs.