Advice | Ask Annie
Dear Annie: My son was married eight months ago and now lives on the other side of the country. During their courtship, engagement and wedding, I did everything I could to be friends with his wife. I bought her a rehearsal dinner dress, which she approved of at first. I helped her dress for the dinner. I invited her to go shopping. I called. I texted. I reached out because I knew she would not be so inclined.
There were several things that happened with her parents and her during the wedding plans that were hurtful. The most hurtful was that their seating chart put my mother, my sister and me at the back of the room, while his father’s table and her parent’s table were in a place of honor.
The latest to occur was today, her birthday. I called first thing to wish her a happy birthday, but there was no answer. I left a very nice message. I also sent her a really cute card that my son said arrived yesterday. I received no text, at the very least, no acknowledgment and no thank you.
My question is this: Is straightening this out his responsibility? Shouldn’t he be upset that she ignores and disrespects his mother?
I am not overbearing, though I know that the above may sound like I was pushing myself on her. This all took place over several years. I really don’t call very often and try to be the opposite of what my own mother-in-law was. I eventually got divorced and she was probably one of the reasons.
Do I speak to my son and let him know that it is up to him to fix this? Do I tell him if his kids don’t have any relationship with me, then it’s because of him?
He is so grateful to this girl that he walks on eggshells. Right now, she is supporting him while he finishes school. She has made the comment that she is the breadwinner and he is the caregiver.
Meanwhile, I have mostly made peace with the situation and have decided that as long as my relationship with my son is good, that’s all that matters. The above questions stem from my mother prompting me to have it out, so to speak, with my son. My instinct is to just let all this go.
What should I do? — Hurt Mother-in-Law
Dear Hurt Mother-in-law: First, do not tell him that if his kids don’t have a relationship with you, it is because of him. That is putting all the blame on your son and taking no responsibility.
It sounds like your daughter-in-law is tough. The question you have to ask yourself is how to best navigate this. If your goal is to be close to your son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren, maybe now is the time to pull back. Give them their space while letting them know that you would always love to see them.
It must be hard on your son to constantly we walking on eggshells in his marriage. Have compassion for him and keep being a kind and sweet mother.
All of the issues reagrding the rehearsal dinner rein the past. Have a direct conversation with her and apologize if she felt that you were mean to her that night. Be direct and tell her that she is a part of your family now and you very much value family and love her.
I think your own instinct of letting it go will be far more useful than “having it out” with your son. Best of luck!
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