My mother-in-law made fun of my master’s degree and I’m still angry

Dear Amy: I recently graduated with a master’s degree.

My mother and father traveled separately to attend my graduation from the other side of the country.

I am grateful for both coming, but while MIL was here, she made repeated comments that I felt lowered my grade.

She said my graduation party was really for my husband because he supported me in school.

While he worked full time to support us, I also worked while I went to school full time.

She gave him a graduation gift, as well as a T-shirt that read, “I Survived My Wife’s Graduate Certificate.”

I was shocked and hurt by this, and continued to encourage him to wear it on my actual graduation day.

I found the shirt insulting because it reduces my accomplishments to something that was apparently too hard for him to do.

After the fact, I told my husband how I felt (through tears) but he told me that while he could see my point, it was just a joke.

For the remainder of the visit, I kept asking him to put on the shirt, but he continued to dodge the question and not put it on because he knew it upset me.

I tried to smile and bear it but I felt deeply hurt and felt ridiculous.

She had a pattern of making some negative comments about my degree and my future job.

I want to come up with this but it’s been a few weeks now and I feel weird calling her to tell her how I feel after the fact.

I appreciate all the effort it took to attend, but at the end of the day my feelings were still sore. How can I contact her and explain my feelings to her?

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Jarad’s speech

Dear Jarad: Your husband’s mother decided to make a big deal on him for your graduation, belittling you in the process. Her preferential treatment is embarrassing, silly (and, in my opinion, sexist), and you can try to honestly, but carefully, address your ongoing sensitivity about this.

When you call, start by thanking her for making the trip to celebrate your graduation. Say to her, “Something is bothering me, and since it’s still on my mind, I thought I should try to talk to you about it. I said a few things over the weekend that made it sound like you don’t value my degree and my career. I hope you understand that I’m sensitive because I I worked so hard to make it happen. Do you really feel that way?”

Give her a chance to respond, listen with intent, and do your best to turn this encounter from a confrontation into a conversation. Assure her that you appreciate your husband’s support, and now that you have this advanced degree, you will do your best to support him in the manner he is used to.

You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or message Ask Amy, PO Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @employee or Facebook.

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