Unwanted Affection From Father-in-Law Makes Woman Dread Mother’s Day

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Hi Al:

Before we see my in-laws for Mother’s Day, I need some advice on how to deal with my father-in-law.

I don’t like the way he hugs me or how long he hugs me. He pulls me too close to him and holds me far past the time of a normal, socially-acceptable hug. What’s even worse is that when I attempt to give him a peck on the cheek, he kisses me on the mouth. He is starting to seem really skeevy to me and is making me dread going to see my husband’s parents.

So far I haven’t said anything to my husband because I’m afraid that he won’t believe me, or he’ll freak out, or tell me I’m misinterpreting, or some combination. He won’t want to hear what I have to tell him.

Every time this happens I get more tense to the point that I’m worried that I might say something that makes everybody blame me because it it’s such a small thing. Is this whole issue ridiculous and am I overreacting? Should I just put up with it? How should it handle this?

Skeeved Out 

Dear Skeeved:

Are you making a big deal out of something insignificant? No. If it bothers you to the point that you dread going to your in-laws, it’s a big deal.  You are doubting yourself because the whole situation makes you feel uncomfortable—physically and psychologically.

You don’t want to have to tell your husband that his father is behaving in a way that casts doubt on his father’s sense of propriety or decency. Given the circumstances, I think you have to ask if your husband has noticed his father’s greeting when you arrive. If he hasn’t, ask him to give a look next time.  In this way you won’t have to tell him about how is father is acting toward you when he can see it for himself.

In the event that your husband dismisses or minimizes his father’s physical boundary-crossing, you can adopt this strategy: When he starts to advance toward you, put your hand on his shoulder with your arm nearly extended so he can’t pull you in. In the same motion, turn your head so that all he can get is the vicinity of your jawline. You’ll appear to be embracing him when in fact what you are doing is bracing yourself. Nobody will know the difference but him.


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