SENSE & SENSITIVITY
Wife’s past too exotic for in-laws

DEAR HARRIETTE: I married my wife two years ago and we have a beautiful newborn son. Just after the wedding, my parents found out from some nosy neighbors about my wife’s past (she was an exotic dancer during college to pay for school). Since then, they haven’t spoken to her. If she answers the phone when they call, they will hang up. They don’t acknowledge her at church or at family functions. My wife is so depressed now because of it, which is really horrible with the newborn, who my parents refuse to acknowledge as their grandson (“That could be anybody’s baby!”). I want my wife back and I want her to be able to enjoy our baby, but I want my parents to respect her, too. Any pointers? — Rohan, Snellville, Ga.

Rohan: Have you spoken to your parents directly about this situation? It’s time to clear the air. Acknowledge that you knew about your wife’s past and that you accept her for who she is and the life she previously led. Point out that your neighbor was remiss in spreading gossip — even if it was true — about your wife, because it’s none of that person’s business. Add that it had seemed unnecessary to tell your parents about her past since it was completely behind you, but now that it’s out in the open, you expect them to welcome her with open arms as they always have.

Since they are churchgoing people, remind them of the teachings of the Bible, including that it is not their place to judge your daughter. Their role is to offer her love and respect as a member of your family. (Jesus offered Mary Magdalene love, now didn’t he?) God will deal with the rest. If they remain unwilling to budge, you will need to distance yourselves from them for a while, rebuild the bond between you and your wife and pray that your parents will come around. Your focus must be on taking care of your immediate family — your wife and child.