Posted by: Willem | July 20, 2009


Kate is out of town so I’m babysitting the blog for today. Those of you who have been coming here over the past month or so are well aware of the recent (and long term) drama brought on by my family. I’ve been here all along, discussing the events with Kate, and attempting to make sense out of a situation that has passed directly through Ridiculous and firmly into Pitiful. I’m taking this opportunity to express my thoughts and show public support for my wife while she is away.

My goal in this post is to speak objectively about some of the things that have been posted and commented on recently. I can do this because I have been in the middle of this fiasco from the start. I am the only person who has had a continuous relationship with both my mother and Kate throughout the past 15+ years. During this time I have witnessed innumerable actions and words directed at Kate that combine to form an undeniable pattern of behavior. This in not my opinion – this is fact. I have experienced each one firsthand. I am operating under the belief that human behavior that occurs with regular frequency over the course of more than a decade indicates willful intent. Any attempt to claim that these events didn’t happen is based on one side of the story. I was there. I dealt with both individuals. I know what happened.

I’m not interested in picking over the various individual events that have occurred over the years, but I will mention two of immediate interest.  First, I was the one who opened the plane tickets back in 1996. Mine were first class, Kate’s were coach. My height was never an issue.  My family has always aimed for the bulkhead seats in coach to handle this, and I don’t have long legs to begin with.  Even the ticket agent was red in the face and apologized when it wasn’t her fault.

Second, my mother has told me several times about her true feelings about Grandma (and about many other family members as well.  I’ve heard about so many things over the years from idiosyncrasies to issues concerning infidelity, abuse, and drugs that were none of my business.)  She has told me personally of her attempts to move Grandma out of her current home and into assisted living.  She has shown little compassion during these conversations, and treats Grandma like a burden.  This is not a big surprise to me, however, since my mother couldn’t be bothered to take care of Grandma when she broke her foot falling on the porch the night before my father’s memorial.  In fact, she said, “she [Grandma] is just looking for attention.”

When reporting on events like these, I want it understood that I gain nothing by lying or making things up. Kate and my mother are the two most important women in my life. Lying for any reason would be pointless and a waste of my time. Additionally, if I thought Kate was lying or making things up. I would not support her.  But these things really did happen, despite the repeated claims of the anonymous Commenter.

I’m much more interested in discussing the general pattern of behavior implied by events such as these. When I was first dating Kate, I would deny that it was actually happening. I would defend my mother, and in many cases, simply ignore the problem. This continued well into our marriage because I did not understand how anyone could dislike Kate and refused to believe that the events I was witnessing were intentional. Only after many years did I finally realize that I had been defending the wrong individual.

I can confidently say that in the 8+ years that we have been married, plus the 3 years that we were dating or engaged, that my mother has never accepted Kate for who she is, nor has she treated Kate like a true member of our family.  To say things like, “Everyone on Willems side of the family absolutely adored Kate and thought she was a sweet and beautiful woman” is misguided and frankly irrelevant.  Your thoughts mean nothing in light of your actions.

What Kate has typically been provided with over the years is what I would call Passive Tolerance.  I have seen no significant evidence to support a higher appraisal.  What is more important, however, are the repeated instances which have demonstrated blatant disregard for Kate’s efforts as a wife, mother, and individual.  She has been forced to stay out of important family events (such as the scattering of my father’s ashes).  She has been left out of financial decisions despite my repeated requests that she be treated equally.  She has been called “not a member of the family.”

What has not been reported are the efforts that Kate has gone through to show caring and interest in my mother.  Like the time Kate made a surprise birthday cake for my mother and presented it to her at our first house-warming in 2001.  Or the time Kate arranged for my aunt and uncle to make a 9-hour drive to surprise my mother on her birthday in 2006.  Or the time she bought my mother a $500 gift-certificate to go toward plane tickets so she could visit her grand-kids without having to make the long drive (which she subsequently used to go on a European vacation).  Or the many times she would take the kids to the mall to get their picture taken just for my mother.  Or the time she invited my mother out for Christmas four months after my father died, despite having made previous plans.  Or how Kate would call my mother once a month early in our marriage in order to maintain communication while rarely receiving the same (Kate got very used to immediately hearing, “is my son there?” upon answering the phone).  The list goes on and on.

Kate does not deserve any of the treatment she has received from my mother, and most recently, from my aunt.  She is an amazing woman who cares deeply for her children and works tirelessly to bring them up in an atmosphere of honesty and unconditional love.  She and I have built a strong and stable marriage that reflects few of the characteristics from our respective childhoods.  She has never displayed prejudice or hatred for any of my family members, dead or alive.

To those of you watching from the cheap seats: this is my statement for the record.  I’m not planning to write again anytime soon.

To those of you in my extended family, including the anonymous Commenter: your actions speak far louder than pixels on a screen.  You chose to verbally attack my wife during the memorial for my grandfather.  You showed no consideration for the time, place, or the neighboring audience.  You treated us like children in need of discipline.  You ruined the day for us and have never attempted to follow up in a manner befitting respectful adults.  You have never apologized.

Finally, to my mother:  I spoke with you in December about many things that were extremely important to me.  You ensured me that you would make an effort this year.  You have made very little effort.  You have made no significant attempt to develop or maintain a relationship with your grandchildren.  You have made no effort to get to know Kate or to accept her as a daughter-in-law rather than merely your son’s wife.

Your time and my patience are running out.



  1. Way to go! Put it out there and let it be known. I love it! Just don’t hold your breath about anything significant happening in the form of change because of this. SHE (your mother) is a piece of work. Good luck.

  2. Kate is a lucky woman to have you. I’m glad she does.

  3. Bravo, Willem. Whether this has any effect on your mother’s behavior remains to be seen, but I’m not sure it matters. You have shown your true colors to run deeper and brighter. You are everything a wife could ask for in a husband, and everything a child deserves in a father. I truly look forward to meeting you some day!

  4. Bravo Willem!

  5. Well done, sir. Kate and the kids are, indeed, lucky to have you.

  6. Well said, Willem! I’m sorry it has had to come to this for all of you though. Knowing you in “real life”, I can’t imagine how anyone could dislike Kate either, nor be willing to let a relationship with you and your adorable children suffer. Love & support to you all!

  7. Good job, Willem. And hugs — I’m sure all this has not been easy, and this post was probably very emotional and raw for you. Thank you for being such a great guy, really great guys are quite rare. 🙂

  8. Very well said Willem. I am sure that all of this has been hard on you, and putting this out there in the public forum is not making it any easier. I am sorry that you had to address it this way, but I am glad that you did it in such a wonderful way to support Kate.

  9. Bravo! Coming from another who has in-law issues, it’s wonderful to see you stand up for your wife.

  10. Nice job, Willem. Very impressed. I don’t envy your position as a son and husband in this situation – but, I must say, way to stick up for your wife! That was beautiful.

  11. OK, yeah, I’ll keep him.

    Willem, thank you. You know that no one – myself included – would have thought anything badly about you at all if you’d chosen to avoid this altogether, or deal with it in another way. I know how hard it was for you to write this, and I know it was even harder for you to click on “post.” Thank you. Really.

    And on the other end of the emotional spectrum, how unbelievably gross and unsettling that this situation has unfolded in this way. I’m not sorry that I triggered this latest round simply by having my blog, and I’m not sorry I sparked a bigger conflagration with my posts over the weekend. This is my reality and my truth, and I can’t regret that. But I’m sad for you, Willem, because you deserve so much better. I’ll keep trying to be more of what you deserve.

    And, on yet another end of the emotional spectrum, I’m *not* sorry it has all come to a head this way, because openness just seems like a healthier response, all around.


    OK, logging off, because I am still away from home and just checked in – quite a surprise, for that to be waiting! – and we’re scheduled to get massages in an hour. But you’ve certainly given me more to think about, and to appreciate. I love you.

  12. Kate, you’re right — he’s a keeper.

    Willem, kudos to you for standing up for Kate and your kids — not just behind closed doors but out here in the cyberopen, for everyone (especially your family) to see. It’s truly their loss at alienating such a wonderful couple of folks.

  13. Standing Ovation.

    Wilem, you are a wonderful husband. I wish every woman who has MIL issues had such a supportive husband to stand beside when these issues arise.

  14. I said it to Kate, and I’ll say it to you, Willem: I think the example you’re setting for your kids is wonderful.

    You’re right, the right word for this situation is pitiful. It’s pitiful that grown adults choose to act like children when they don’t get everything their way. It’s pitiful that an adult has to hide behind a fake email address and a pseudonym to say what’s on their mind, because even they know that to say it to your face is appalling.

    I have a lot of pity for these sad people, and the utmost of respect for you and Kate.

  15. I really try to believe that people do the best they can, given who they are and what they know. It’s hard to believe that in this case, and even sadder if it’s true.

    Every woman wants a man to stand for her and with her they way Willem has, and anyone reading this with a scintilla of intuition knows how difficult it is for Willem to move from being caught between the two most important women in his life to standing beside one, and reaching out to the other.

    I hope that all of this leads to a better relational context for all of you, but I’m not holding my breath. Nevertheless, I’ll keep hoping.

  16. Willem is forbidden from this blog and he didn’t write this.

    Anyone remember this post?

    Willem! Stop reading this, Mr. No-Self-Control. You promised. Leave my blog alone.

    Seriously. STOP. Log off and back away. I understand, it’ll be a surprise no matter when you find out. Shut up and turn off the computer.



  17. You know, I thought long and hard before deciding to post this comment. It may be none of my business but I feel it needs to be said (and Kate, feel free to delete if you’d like):
    R, put down the computer and step away. You are missing the point and when you are posting you are pushing people further away from you. Take a step back and re-evaluate your goal here. Your comments do not flatter you. They do not strengthen your argument. They make you look bad.
    Take some space and breathe. Try to gain a different perspective. If you continue to bury your head in the sand regarding your self-awareness, you will have many regrets.
    Speaking as someone who has not always gotten along with family members and who has some broken, never-to-be-the-same-again relationships, stop while you can.

    And Kate and Willem? You two are wonderful, amazing, thoughtful adults. You’re extremely lucky to have each other.

  18. “r” obviously doesn’t know loving spousal humor when she sees it.

  19. Oh dear lord, R. Willem DID write this post. Willem is NOT forbidden from this blog. The post you reference was from when Kate, S, W, and I were painting the kitchen as a surprise while Willem was out of town with the kids. A SURPRISE. She wanted to post about it, but didn’t want him to know before he got home. Therefore, she jokingly requested that he not read that particular blog post at that particular time. That is all.

    (Kate, feel free to delete this if you see fit. But given that I was present in your home for the referenced blog post, I felt it necessary to reply. Because, seriously? Yeesh.)

  20. Thank god my biological parents had a sense of humor.

    If you’re going to do research, try reading the entire article. And if you really doubt my identity, how about contacting me directly?

  21. Ok I wasn’t gonna post cause I’m a lurker, that’s what I do, but Seriously? Willem, you and Kate are great people that are handling this situation far better than I think I would. I learned a long time ago that people kinda suck and unfortunately family isn’t excepted from this. I’m so sorry that your family is acting a mess in a public forum, if it wasn’t so sad it would be kind of funny.. “I know, lets write
    sadly unwitty comments, that’ll show her” OR just make you look small, petty, and clueless…
    (and of course Kate feel free to delete)

  22. It’s hard to have problems with your in-laws, but even harder when you don’t have the support from your husband. You are lucky to have such a wonderful man that stands up for you and sees things as they are.

  23. Bloody hell they just won’t give up! Well done Willem although Kate doesn’t need defending you’ve written a heartfelt and honest piece that shows your love and dedication for a pretty amazing woman. Such a shame that your family members are so stubborn and defensive. I don’t know what more you can do to convince them. Wonderful post.

  24. Well done Willem! Even if you hadn’t said it in so many words, you can see the love and support for your wife and kids in your words typed today.
    Very tactfully done.
    And I must admit, R’s post made me giggle a little in an ‘OMG are you serious’ kind of way. Sorry you guys have to deal with all of this.

  25. Your (W & K) love and support for each other is amazing to see. I wish R and company could see that and foster relationships built in love.

    R? Possibly work on your communication skills to work on your relationships because it is truly depressing to watch what you’re doing here: self-righteous flailing.

  26. Cheers to both of you – you set such an example of love and commitment to each other while dealing with this mess!

    The truly sad part is, as this woman continues to distance herself from your family, in the long run she loses. It’s such a shame she can’t be a bigger person.

  27. Willem, you’re great. Just great. Kate, you’re fantastic. Just fantastic.
    I love how you stand for each other – that’s what real love looks like.
    And perhaps now we have seen the end of r’s intrusive commentary on this blog, where she truly has no business whatsoever.

  28. I still remember first meeting Willem. I met him first, later Kate. We were in graduate school in a class — several women, and Willem. I have a history of being truly uncomfortable with a lot of men in a professional setting – why? Being hit on at work makes me uncomfortable. I just don’t like it. I remember thinking…hmmm….strange…he’s normal, nice and is acting totally appropriate to everyone, in and out of class. I eventually spent more time with Willem passing by during office hours and such and was eventually, like everyone who comes into any contact with either Kate or Willem, was invited into the home. Eventually, over time. like others around Kate and Willem, became a member of the family – no more, no less. For me, it was a lesson on what family should be and what a marriage is and how children should be raised, generally speaking. I LIVED with Kate and Willem, nevermind the numerous evenings they have watched my children or I have stayed the night. Honestly, if it wasn’t for being a part of THEIR family, I would not be able to interact in such a healthy way in my own relationships; I didn’t have such role models in my past. Wow, guys, thanks for being such a backbone for your family and friends and I can only hope we can all give back to you what you have given us. Are any of us perfect? Please….spare me. That’s part of our charm. We learn from our mistakes as gracefully as possible, gravitating to the necessary resources along the way. But we never give up loving, giving, trying.

    One of the most difficult strains on a marriage is the conflict between a spouse and in-laws. Downright destructive. I will never know how they survived this and yes, I have seen some of it first-hand, not everything is posted here.

    Two beautiful children — this is totally crazy. They are the most beautiful, giving kids, much like their parents. Truly I hope Kate and Willem continue to feel confident in their parenting, relationship and life in general and ignore this horrible waste of time. In the meantime. I will continue to take every moment I manage to get enjoying the those 2 kids. Theirs and mine have known each other a good amount of their lives and that time is GONE and went FAST. It’s OVER. More is passing every day.

    I hop on blogs now and then. maybe accounting for .08% of my entire life, and that’s probably overestimating. I won’t be back for a long time, given that statistic nor do I have any interest in engaging in any of that crap. Even regardless of what r says is fact or fiction — it’s all in what you DO with it. Kate has always been of the mindset, STILL IS, treat me even remotely like a human being and I’m good. You never gave her a chance. How do I know, because there is one FACT, yes FACT, about Kate – she NEVER gives up on people, even the ones that treat her inappropriately for any long period of time. Just as much as she can recognize unhealthy patterns of behavior, she also recognizes change and effort — she doesn’t expect people to come to her on HER terms. She doesn’t ever expect anything close to perfection. She expects her childrent to be treated appropriately and expects just some effort at some point. She’s always there waiting….waiting to be there should someone need her and be willing to at least TRY. I’ve never seen her try harder at anything than accepting, loving and trying to maintain a relationship between her, Willem and his family. Same for Willem and for crying out loud, he took math qualifying exams!

  29. Let me ultra clear though on this, I’m not known for my clarity in my writing. I have been present for some of the ‘r’ behavior. I do not and have not questioned the truthfulness or even perceptions of Kate/Willem. Why? Their character AND I’ve seen some of it first-hand.

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