I notice several people have asked for more information. I apologise for maybe not including as much as I should have, but the post was already extremely long and I didn’t want to extend it further. Answers to some of the points/questions raised are as follows:
BF and GF were both aware that the Christmas visit was more of a family thing and their presence with the rest of the family would be expected for the majority of the time. By this stage, GF was already aware that BF’s parents may be considering her disability an issue because of comments made by Mother during the discussion she initiated about GF’s disability. Due to this, she didn’t want to call further attention to it and was hoping she could get through the day by moving around the sitting room every so often (which she did) and by taking pain killers, and be relatively fine the next morning. Someone mentioned that it can be difficult to know where the “line” is when it comes to judging the limits on what is going to cause a lot of pain and what will not, and this certainly applies to GF. Sometimes she can take part in something, sometimes she can’t, and she doesn’t always know how it will go until she tries it.
One poster suggested GF seemed to be blaming BF’s parents for “making her be in pain”. This is not the case at all, she was merely upset by their reaction to her pain – the accusation of being antisocial when she struggled to even get up out of bed to use the bathroom and the attitude of “we don’t care that you will have to drive 4-5 hours in horrible pain, we want you out of our house now”.
GF did spend what both her and BF thought was a reasonable amount of time with his parents on her previous visits, to the point that he was surprised that his parents had expected more from her. This issue was never previously raised with either of them and they were not aware that his parents were unhappy with the situation until after the Christmas visit.
BF was not intending to “force an invite” for GF to the family Christmas. As far as he was concerned, he was re-stating that he was not attending because he had prior plans with GF. GF had actually said that if BF wanted to spend Christmas with his family now that his parents had changed their plans to become a big family event she would understand, but he didn’t want to leave her to spend Christmas on her own. (My personal viewpoint is that Mother invited GF in the hope that GF would do what she did do – decide to attend so that BF was no longer caught in the middle, thus Mother would achieve her goal of having her son at the gathering).
Several posters have mentioned a hotel, but unfortunately this was not an option at the time. If GF ever goes to visit BF’s town again she is planning to stay in one. Someone said that BF should not have pushed the issue about her staying another night – he did not, he simply asked once and explained why, and he was told no. When he walked out with GF to her car and saw how difficult that was for her, he wanted to go back and talk to his parents and insist that GF stay another night, but she asked him not to do this as she didn’t want to further damage the situation with his parents. Her plan was to drive to find somewhere to stay, but once she started, she decided she might as well just get it over with. The driving was not a safety issue, it was a pain issue.
BF’s Mother was fully aware of the situation with regards to GF’s disability. Although GF felt the intense questioning was an intrusion, I did state in the original post that she answered all questions. She even volunteered information that was not actually asked for, in the interests of getting along with Mother.
BF is actually the more introverted and private of the two. GF is generally a very open and chatty person; it takes a lot for her to think someone is “over the line” socially. She was thrown into a situation where she felt that one of her BF’s parents didn’t really even want her in the house and the other one was trying to be instant “best friends” with someone they had only just met. Although the way BF’s Mother behaved towards her (especially all the hugging) did make her uncomfortable, she said and did nothing to indicate that she wasn’t happy with it. She went along with it because she wanted BF’s parents to like her.
There are no real cultural differences as such and no reason for BF’s parents to think that meeting GF meant she was “the one” as he had not said anything of the sort to them at that point. Since the excrement came into contact with the rotating blades, he has told them that he wants to be with GF, nothing they can say is going to make him change his mind and he hopes they will behave decently and respectfully towards GF in future.
Someone has suggested that something must have happened in between the “call us mum and dad” stage and the “you have to leave and drive home despite being in pain” stage. GF has done a great deal of soul searching over this, and the only thing she can put her finger on is that when she talked with Mother about her disability, she confirmed that the disability is likely to be a permanent one. GF was told that surgery was more likely to do further damage than be successful in repairing the damage already done. She shared this fact with Mother and said that she is grateful that she can still walk, climb stairs and drive a normal (manual – we are in the UK and automatics are not as common here) car. She does not want to have risky surgery and possibly end up wheelchair bound, needing a specially adapted vehicle and being restricted as to the kind of building she can live in. This could be where Mother’s opinion of her began to change, as until then BF’s parents might have thought that her use of a walking stick was for a temporary injury, and it is interesting considering how much of what BF’s parents have said about GF not being “suitable” for him directly relates to her disability.
Someone asked why the need for a long distance relationship as adults. BF and GF met through a shared interest and unfortunately just happened to live a long distance apart. They spend a lot of time communicating online, see each other for a long weekend every 2-3 weeks (at her house since Christmas) and are planning a future together. GF was thinking of selling up and moving to BF’s town, since his client base is there. However, property prices are higher in his town, she will probably struggle to find a job there as she is limited by her disability – and of course, she is now thinking that living close to his parents may be a spectacularly bad idea.
I am interested in why one poster thought that GF made a mistake and got off on the wrong foot. (My personal viewpoint is that I see a certain amount of misunderstanding and miscommunication, but I’m not sure what mistake GF made, other than maybe expecting Mother to be a nicer person than she turned out to be).
GF initially hoped that it would be possible for her and BF to sit down and talk things through with his parents, clear up any misinterpreted conversations and misunderstandings arising from them and start over afresh, even though she knows she is going to really struggle to forgive his parents for insisting she leave in the circumstances it happened. BF has said to her several times that he is extremely sorry and feels that the whole mess was his fault for not establishing his parents’ expectations beforehand. He has attempted to have similar conversations with his parents, but they seem determined to blame GF for the whole fiasco and they expect her to apologise and “change”. Everything they have against her does seem to stem from her disability (not sure how they expect her to change that), some of the comments made have been quite nasty and completely unnecessary (I really don’t want to go into detail) and yes, BF has defended her and put a stop to this nonsense.
This thread came into being because GF was wondering what on earth she did to deserve this kind of reaction from BF’s parents and wanted to know if she’d somehow behaved terribly and not realised it. Moving forwards, now BF is aware of how things stand with his parents he plans to be a lot more proactive in looking out for GF’s interests in any future interaction.