My in-laws criticized and insulted me and now it's awkward

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Hello, I need advice and this is somewhat of a long story with a few different aspects.
I am American and a year and a half ago I moved to Italy to be with my Italian husband. My in-laws were nice, I wouldn't say we had the closest relationship but no problems. My SIL is nice but I have absolutely nothing in common with her so when I see her we say hello and do small talk but I can never have a conversation with her because it's like pulling teeth.
My husband works out of the country 14-21 days out of the month and his parents would invite me over for lunch on Sundays and whenever they had a BBQ they'd invite me over. Well, I stopped going over there because his family (mainly mother because she's the one who usually commands the conversations) speaks in the dialect of this region (Naples) which I do not understand or speak. Before coming here I made the effort to learn Italian but I still feel like an outsider because she always speaks in dialect and I end up feeling like a fool because I can't take part in the conversation. Me and my husband have asked her to speak Italian when I'm around and she always resorts back to dialect. I have to add, it's not that I don't want to learn the dialect but there are NO resources to learn- no books, classes, TV, apps, NOTHING! Which means I have to learn just by listening which could take me years.
Another aspect is my SIL has a son who is about to be 7. He is extremely spoiled and misbehaved, which I can actually deal with, but he is also very rude and disrespectful, which I cannot deal with - spitting in people's faces, calling people pieces of ####, sluts, and hitting people. Also sticking up his middle finger. I have never made one comment to her about this nor have I made a comment to anyone for that matter, except to my husband- in private.
Ok fast forward to 3 weeks ago. My in-laws invited me to go to dinner with them for their anniversary. My 11 yo stepson (who is autistic) is in town for the month and he was there too, along with my SIL, her son and my in-laws. While we were sitting at the table, my in-laws wanted to take a picture with the boys and SIL's son sticks up his middle fingers. He was sitting right next to me and i told him "this is not nice, we don't do that". Then my step son mimicked this and my in-laws made a face like "oh shoot!". Then I said "well, he learned it from him." My SIL told me not to say anything to her son and she would handle it and that the gesture isn't even that bad, to which I responded "it's a very vulgar gesture". Ok- carry on with the rest of the night. I moved on like nothing, my SIL was super quiet but she's always quiet so I didn't think anything of it. We left and went back to the inlaws house where i said goodbye to everyone, me and SIL got in our respective cars and I drove off first.
Next day FIL calls me to ask if he can come upstairs (he was downstairs at my SIL house- we live in the same building) with my stepson to see our dog. I said yes of course. He sits downs and says "you were upset yesterday, what was wrong?" I did NOT want to bring up the topic of me not agreeing with my nephew's behavior so I said "nothing". Then he says "no, no, something was wrong. Why were you so serious?". Well I'm not a good liar and I told him that i don't like when my nephew starts his rude and disrespectful behavior. MY FIL tells me I should accept it because all kids do it and I should be ashamed of myself for taking it out on a boy. I politely responded that in fact, not all kids behave that way and no-one can obligate me to smile and laugh when he behaves that way. We argued back and forth about that. Then he told me when I have a child he's going to throw that conversation in my face. Then he started telling me how they have been nothing but nice to me since I moved here and my behavior is unacceptable because I don't go over to their house anymore. I am rude to my SIL because we should have a closer relationship. I am uneducated because sometimes I'm on my phone at the table. I was stunned. I told him that I don't go over as often because I feel uncomfortable because I don't understand their dialect and the reason I'm on my phone sometimes is because while they're all having a conversation, instead of sitting there like a fool, I look at my phone. I told him my SIL and I don't have much in common, which he then looked at me like he wanted to kill me and said " what do you mean?!! She's your husbands sister!!" I said "yeah I know, but I mean similar interests, personalities, ways of thinking....." I explained that we don't have much to talk about. He got upset because I go over to my husband's aunt's house and cousin's house (because they actually speak Italian and make me feel included) and I explained to FIL that I feel part of the conversation over there and I have lots in common with my husband's cousin. I told him that I don't really like living here and every day I'm trying my best to be around people I can talk to and make me feel included. He then started criticizing America saying "you don't like living here, well in your country people kill each other and ..... ". I told him that has nothing to do with anything and why was he criticizing my country? I never said anything bad about his country. I told him it's not abnormal for someone who has left their home to not be happy in their new place of living- including my husband who moved to another country for his ex wife and he hated it every day. He then left and i called my husband to tell him what happened. He then called his parents to ask them why they went to my house to say those things to me when he wasn't there.
My MIL then calls me telling me I have no right to call my husband and tell him about conversations we have. I told her he's my husband, we tell each other everything. She then told me "remember, before he's your husband, he's my son". To which I responded that I know and what does that have to do with anything? She then asked my why I told FIL that I don't feel comfortable going to their house for lunch. I explained because she speaks in dialect and she said "listen, I don't even speak dialect, I only say a few words".... I literally couldn't speak, I couldn't believe she was saying that. I think she's delusional. I explained everything that I had already told my FIL and she kept talking over me and saying that I'm wrong. I then told her I'm just trying to make her and FIL understand my point of view but I can see it's not going to happen because they aren't trying to open their mind to understand me. The she said "oh look! It's the American with the open mind". At this point I was so done with being insulted and criticized that I said we have different points of view and we hung up.
Since then I have stopped by my in laws house 3 times to say hello and see them, not because I want to but because I don't want them to have a reason to say that I never made an effort or after the incident I acted differently. The truth is, it is super awkward to be around them now, you could cut the tension with a knife. When I see my SIL I just say "hello". My in laws used to send me good morning messages (the little pictures you see on Pinterest with the sayings) every morning and since then I haven't received any more messages. They don't invite me over for lunch. I told my husband, see? I am still making an effort but they are acting differently and I'm not even the one who did anything wrong!
My FIL went over to his BIL house (MIL's brother) to talk to him about the situation and the BIL told my FIL that he is close minded and told him that he can't go over to a 40 year old woman's house making accusations and asking questions and then get upset when she says the truth. FIL got upset at him too.
FIL had a bday party that night with the entire family where nephew was also acting rude and other people made comments and my in-laws heard, so I was kind of happy that they could see that I wasn't the only one who didn't agree with his behaviour.
My question is- what do I do? Am I still supposed to keep making an effort when they are the ones who have changed after this happened? I feel bad because they're my husband's parents, but I don't feel like I should be making it seem as though my efforts are apologetic when I don't feel I did anything wrong. Help me, it just feels so awkward and what's worse is that I'm here alone and have noone! I get along great with everyone else in his family- we laugh, joke, dance, talk..... It's only around his parents and sister that I have never felt a connection and now it's even worse.

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  1. adela's Avatar
    The best thing to do would be to get your husband to speak to his family. There's absolutely nothing wrong with what you did or said as rude children become rude adults. At least your in-laws still discussed the issue with you, as I had in-laws who were sly and false and would never say anything controversial in front of me as I am straightforward which they don't like! We, therefore, didn't have a normal family relationship, but that's their loss! In the long run, it's best for your husband to speak to them and going forward you will all have a better understanding of one another. Good luck!!
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