Author Topic: FDIL and the demise of a close relationship with son  (Read 498 times)

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Offline sadheart

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FDIL and the demise of a close relationship with son
« on: October 08, 2017, 04:01:56 PM »
I've been reading here daily for about 2 months, and I so appreciate all of the wisdom. Your words have helped me to take steps in the right direction and avoid doing something devastating to my relationship with my son.

My son is engaged, has known his fiancee for a couple of years. We loved her. We invited her to all of our family gatherings. We worked at making her feel comfortable with us. We thought she was a perfect fit for him, as well as for our family. It turns out that she doesn't really feel the same way about us. 2 months ago they announced a wedding date, but told us we were not invited. This came out of the blue for us. We have always had a close relationship with our son. We were joyful they were getting married. This was the first clue for us that maybe our affection for her was not mutual. I told my son how hurtful this was, and we were given several different excuses why we were not invited, none of which had anything to do with us, his family. This angered the fiancee to no end, that I would say that our family was hurt. She unleashed her hostility on me, ambush-style, one afternoon, a month ago.

Over the past 2 months a myriad of infractions have been reported to us. By infraction I mean, one time needing help from my son, that took a grand total of 2 hours of his time (he never complained, but she sure did), and me having a long lunch with my son, one day, several months ago. She seems to be "keeping score" as she knows dates and how much time I spent with my son on those occasions. I now feel that she does not want us to have any sort of relationship with our son. Our son does not know how to stand up for whatever he may want. Our son's fiancee manipulates him with threats. I have been keeping my mouth completely shut, as I know that anything I say will be held against me. If it is true that he does not want to continue a close relationship with us, his parents and his siblings, then we need to know that so we can adjust our expectations.

I had a meeting with her, at her request about a week ago. That was the day that I really learned how she felt about us. She was hateful and rude. I was actually trying to love her and tell her that I just wanted to have her as a daughter, but she continued on this anger-fest. She is out of control with the criticism, where my son is concerned and with me. I realize that it is up to him to put a stop to that for himself. But I worry about any future children they could have. The two of them have had some relationship problems, and my only guess is that she thinks I am the obstacle. I'm not clingy. I have a life, and other children. Over the last year, I think I have spent about 8-10 hours per month with my son, some of this one-on-one time, some of this family dinner time. And some of that time, she was present.

Part of this post is just venting, as I need to find a way to keep my cool while I wait to see if things get better. But also, I need support and guidance so I don't do or say the wrong thing. I don't know how to manage my heart and be just a casual, once-in-a-while person in my son's life. Right now, I don't feel like I can just be grateful if I see him once every few months for 2 hours. I don't feel like I can host his fiancee in our home again. She is so mean and hateful to me. I don't want to have that in my life. Although my husband (son's father) and my son's siblings are also hurt, it seems to be me that is the target of her hatefulness. And I really don't feel that I have done anything horrible to her, except express that I was very hurt when we were told we're not invited to their wedding. She was especially angry about that. Do I not have a right to say that another person's choices hurt me and the rest of our family?

Up until 2 months ago, I really thought everything was going well. Help me keep my cool, not become clingy and needy, and make the best choices for a better future. How best do I go about asking my son what kind of relationship he hopes to have with his family, without looking needy? I'm walking on eggshells trying not to do anything wrong.

Thank you in advance.

Offline Bamboo2

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Re: FDIL and the demise of a close relationship with son
« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2017, 08:32:03 PM »
Hi Sadheart,
Welcome to WWU.  Please read our Forum Agreement under the heading Read Me First to be sure this is a good fit for you.  Your post is fine.  We ask all members to do this as we are a monitored website.

I can feel your confusion as I read the story of your son and future DIL.  While I have not experienced this situation myself, many women on this forum have, and you may have read some of their posts already.  One of the things that struck me from reading some of them is that their sons were in a tough spot, trying to make their spouse/fiancée happy and not knowing how (or fearing) to assert themselves.  If you have a conversation with your son about what his plans are for your relationship, it might just put more pressure on him, as he probably doesn't really know and is already feeling pressure from her.  Another thing is that if he tells her whatever is said between you and him, as he did when you said you were hurt for not being invited to the wedding (of course you were hurt, and certainly your son should have understood that!), this will also likely put you in a bad spot, as this FDIL may twist your words. That's a no-win situation. 

What I recall that others have done, and I have done myself with an AC who was turning away from me, is giving the AC time and space to figure out what is going on for himself.  While that is very hard to do at first, and there is a lot of grieving to be done over the changed status of the relationship, over time a certain acceptance can be reached, and the opportunity to turn toward others who do care.

Hopefully members who have experienced a situation like yours will respond.  We all care, and wish you well.  Hugs!

Offline Stilllearning

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Re: FDIL and the demise of a close relationship with son
« Reply #2 on: October 09, 2017, 03:20:54 AM »
Welcome Sadheart!! 

Boy I can really feel the pain you are going through!  I was included in the wedding but it was made very clear that that was the extent of my inclusion.  After all they wanted us to pay for the rehearsal dinner so they had to let us attend the ceremony.  I went to the wedding and it was absolutely the hardest thing I have ever done.  Sitting there smiling while I knew my DS was making such a terrible error was almost impossible.  My new DIL even made a big deal about hugging me on the way out of the church, something she had not prepared me for and I am sure the look on my face let all of her family know how taken aback I was.  Some time around then I gave up on trying to achieve a good relationship with my DIL.  If she weren't my DS's wife I would not even talk to her.  Anyhow the relationship I have with my DS has improved greatly while his marriage unfortunately deteriorates. 

I had to learn to plan things to keep my mind off of the fact that my DS forgot mother's day, my birthday, our anniversary, Christmas, Thanksgiving and (it felt like)how to dial a phone so I started planning something for those days.  I went camping, canoeing, to dinner with someone else. 

In retrospect it would have been nice to have the money I spent on the rehearsal dinner to plan a trip.  I would have planned the trip to coincide with the wedding so that when anyone else brought up the wedding I could say "I am going to (insert travel destination)that week!  I am so excited!"  Anyway, the point is that you deserve to be happy so don't let your future DIL take your happiness away.  Hugs!!
Your mind is a garden your thoughts are the seeds
You can grow flowers or you can grow weeds.
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Offline Mummybear

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Re: FDIL and the demise of a close relationship with son
« Reply #3 on: October 09, 2017, 09:35:48 AM »
Hi Sadheart,
Like you I read posts for a few months and found such comfort and hope. Your post has lots of similarities to my position. My dil doesn't want a relationship with me and no matter who upsets her from our side of the family all the hate and rudeness comes down on me. I feel I will never say or do the right things as far as she is concerned. It has made me ill.
The best piece of advice I was given on here was to back off for a while. It's been difficult but I feel better than I did and ds has been in contact (without the usual dramas) which has really boosted me.
I think the fact you haven't been invited to your ds wedding is absolutely awful and you have every right to be confused/angry/hurt and your ds must realize this. The thing is though as bamboo2 said he will be in a tough spot trying to keep everyone happy. I nearly lost my ds because I " said too much". It's not right what is happening to you and your family but if you want him in your life you will have to accept a different kind of relationship. This is all so hard I know but surely you deserve peace and a happy life after bringing up your children.
The other advice that helped me was to fill my time with things that made me happy and to spend time with people who appreciated me. The ladies on here have wonderful advice. I'm not so good with words but I do know how upsetting this all is. Keep as calm as you can SH and don't let FDIL bring you down. You will always be ds mother no matter what Take care xx

Offline Marina

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Re: FDIL and the demise of a close relationship with son
« Reply #4 on: October 09, 2017, 11:24:28 AM »
Sadheart,
I'm so sorry for the pain you are going through.  I agree there is no point in asking your DS about what he wants for your relationship.  DS probably doesn't know and it could change anyway.

It took YEARS after my DS/DIL's wedding for me to realize DIL was intent on undermining my relationship with DS and GC so that I would have no importance or influence in their lives.  As painful as it was, it helped my sanity to finally understand the reality of the situation.  Your FDIL has shown her true colors.  You will need to let go of your very reasonable expectations and not blame yourself.  FDIL will make you "wrong" no matter what you do.   

Just take it one day at a time.  Take very good care of yourself.   (((hugs))) 

Offline sadheart

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Re: FDIL and the demise of a close relationship with son
« Reply #5 on: October 09, 2017, 04:05:32 PM »
Thank you, all, for your wisdom. You're right, I won't say or do anything that could put more pressure on my son. Not only could that worsen the situation for our relationship, but that would just add to his burden, and that is the last thing I want to do. And my words (and intentions) would probably get distorted in FDIL's mind. I can't win in her eyes. Anything I do or say will be twisted. My best hope might be to give them space, and see if my son begins to see things more clearly. I just can't believe that this has happened to us. We loved her from the beginning, and went out of our way to make her feel included. I don't think we could have done anything differently. Thank you, again, for your kind words.

Offline not like the movies

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Re: FDIL and the demise of a close relationship with son
« Reply #6 on: October 10, 2017, 08:10:41 AM »
welcome sad heart...sorry for what brings you here. I know several mothers that this has happened to. You are not alone for sure. This alienation happens for such a variety of reasons. Like others have said here, pull back and focus on yourself and the things that bring you happiness. Of course it is natural for the upcoming union of an adult son and his soon to be bride to bring happiness. Sadly often it does not. When that is the case, you can only tend to your sad heart making it a happy heart by focusing on other areas of your life that bring joy. For me I had to find new ones. It's has since been about self-care and healing for me. There have even been times I have had to go full no contact not only to end the abuse but to heal.? Of course each situation is different. Normally, a logical, non-emotional response is recommended but that's not the same for everyone.? As you said even the most innocent response and actions can be twisted. Wow do I have experience with that. Many times my attempts to "help" or resolve the situation brought on more problems. I also had this expectation that all would be well in a short time. Not the case in my situation. These troubled, toxic, and chaotic relationships can endure the test of time if allowed! One positive of healing for me, is my ability to bow out quicker when ugly patterns rear up again. I use to go on for a long time trying to sort it out. It was exhausting. I just don't have the same tolerance as before. Too many other things call out to me and pull me towards feeling happy and at peace. Thank goodness I took the time to create a life outside my daughter and her family. I was pretty deep into it thinking that is where I needed to focus. I also had to come to terms that my daughter may never see clearly as in my version of clear. She has her own ideas and they are very different from mine. These are not easy times but there are better days ahead.
When you pick up a stick you get both ends!

Offline jdtm

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Re: FDIL and the demise of a close relationship with son
« Reply #7 on: October 10, 2017, 09:38:58 AM »
I'm walking on eggshells trying not to do anything wrong.

Offline jdtm

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Re: FDIL and the demise of a close relationship with son
« Reply #8 on: October 10, 2017, 10:11:02 AM »
Well - I did that wrong.  I was trying to copy your quote "I'm walking on eggshells trying not to do anything wrong" - must have hit "post" before I intended.  Anyway, what I was wanting to comment on was your phrase "walking on eggshells".  If you Google this phrase, there will be many hits - perhaps some of the information might be of help.  At least, it helped me.

It is sad - but I believe that some people cannot "share love".  It is as though they believe "love" is finite, and thus nothing is left over for others.  How sad - the opposite is true - the more love is shared, the more love there is - infinite.  This selfcenteredness is hurtful for everyone - including the selfcenterd one.  I feel for you  - our former DIL sounds similar to your son's finance.  Our son was married to her for many years, finally, she left our son and abandoned he children.  Her selfcenterdness finally won - she got tired of "looking after" others and simply left.    How sad for her.  And even though it is better for us, her children have paid a price.  As others have said, you are not alone.  I feel for you ..

Offline Pen

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Re: FDIL and the demise of a close relationship with son
« Reply #9 on: October 11, 2017, 02:36:00 PM »
Welcome, S.

Your post brings back memories. So sorry you're experiencing this, but you're not alone. Find Pooh's old posts. She was a moderator here and found great ways to live her best life while missing her DS & GC due to a similar dynamic to yours.

I agree that space is needed now, but perhaps there is a way to let your DS know that if your absence from his wedding is what he truly wants, you will honor his wishes. He'll be thinking about it (is this really what I want?), and it will put the responsibility for this situation on him where it belongs (maybe I should have stood up for my FOO?)

You probably are not thrilled about attending at this point, even if he changes his mind. I doubt I'd want to be around people who've let their dislike of me be known. Make some other plans! Pamper yourself, travel, spend the wedding gift/rehearsal dinner/new outfit/whatever money on yourself!! (((hugs)))
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb

Offline sadheart

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Re: FDIL and the demise of a close relationship with son
« Reply #10 on: October 11, 2017, 04:31:53 PM »
Thank you, ladies. I still feel like I don't know what happened. I am sad not only for my husband and other children, but I am so sad for my son. He looks like a wreck whenever I see him. I feel like he's in an abusive relationship, and I am powerless to do anything. My FDIL seemed so sweet for the first year and a half or so. This is making me so sick.

Offline Bamboo2

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Re: FDIL and the demise of a close relationship with son
« Reply #11 on: October 11, 2017, 08:44:39 PM »
I see your point about the relationship seeming like an abusive one.  My daughter was in such a relationship and I've recently wondered if the dynamic is similar to what happens between  some sons and DILs.  At least it seems like intimidation and control.  It may have your son stumped too and he may be wishing for the old version of future DIL, the one who seemed to get along with you and the family.  I know my daughter kept hoping for her relationship with (now ex) BF to go back to the beginning when he was wonderful to her.  It was a cycle but the good times were fewer and the bad times more frequent and serious.  When I got so sick and anguished  of hearing about their relationship I chose to not hear about him or see him anymore. Eventually my daughter figured out what we had hoped she would, what we had warned her about him as more and more red flags were flying. It was a constant stream. But she needed that time and distance from us to see it for herself and reach her own conclusions.  Painful for us as parents but we chose to become ignorant about her relationship to save our sanity.  We started planning things for ourselves and discovered new interests together.  It was so good for our relationship!  You can get through this!  It takes time and intention.  We are here for you on this journey.

As for your comment about not understanding what happened, Luise, our resident guru and creator of WWU likes to say "You can't make sense of the senseless."  The point is to just deal with what is because otherwise we make ourselves crazy, and for what? You've already acknowledged that this doesn't seem to be personal; it would most likely have happened to any other future in-laws.  This has everything to do with her, not with you. 

Offline Marina

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Re: FDIL and the demise of a close relationship with son
« Reply #12 on: October 11, 2017, 10:09:19 PM »
Sadheart,
Especially if you suspect abuse, I would do my best to keep the lines of communication open with your son so that he continues to feel loved by you and feels safe to talk.  If it means you only see your son sporadically, I would make it as pleasant as you can on those occasions.  With FDIL's attitude, I would avoid any confrontations and certainly would not have any conversations alone with her without witnesses.  Just take it one step at a time.   

Offline luise.volta

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Re: FDIL and the demise of a close relationship with son
« Reply #13 on: October 12, 2017, 08:36:09 AM »
Welcome, S. I think the hardest thing for me in raising my two sons was to get when they left the nest, that my parenting was done. My expectations were that I would always be included in their lives, useful and revered. As they moved into the beginnings of adulthood, they saw themselves as full-blown adults. (I did the same thing, but I forgot that.)


I honestly didn't get that they needed to make their own choices and face the consequences...or not. I had guided them since birth, protected them to the best of my ability and saw my biological role and what I had learned as still in place and of value.


Whoa! What a ride! My heart goes out to you...
"Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes it's a quiet voice at the end of the day saying, I'll try again tomorrow." -- Mary Ann Radmacher