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Married Son's Birthday

Started by edlo84, August 31, 2009, 08:32:46 am

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August 31, 2009, 08:32:46 am Last Edit: August 31, 2009, 08:41:52 am by edlo84
My son and his lovely bride got married a month ago. I have vowed that I will NOT be a meddlesome mother in-law, but will give them space. They live 1 1/2 hours away.
As I saw my son's birthday approaching (which was August 30 - yesterday) I chose to leave it up to them as to what they wanted to do to celebrate it so I said nothing. I figured if I brought it up, my DIL might feel undue pressure to include us in whatever. As the day got closer, nothing was said, so, having left the day open "just in case", we went ahead and made other plans.
Talked to our son later in the day of his birthday and learned that they had gone over to DIL's parents' home for burgers to celebrate (they live in the same town). That stung a bit, but then I had to ask myself, should I have taken some initiative with my DIL to plan a celebration?
I do recognize that, if anything, I will err on the side of NOT interfering...
What would you have done?   :'(


August 31, 2009, 09:19:53 am #1 Last Edit: August 31, 2009, 01:28:48 pm by just2baccepted
Hi edlo84 - as a DIL myself with difficult inlaws I hope I can be objective.  But you seem like you really are taking a hands off approach.  And I totally understand how that would sting that they celebrated with her parents.

Could it be that your approach is too hands off?  I was thinking that if I was in your shoes I would have said to son, "well your b-day is coming up, I'd like to take you out for dinner, what would be a good day for you?"  That's a no pressure approach in my opinion. My inlaws use this approach, which I appreciate.  This is one of the few times we don't feel guilted by them.  My inlaws are covert-aggressive and my MIL never puts on direct pressure.  MIL is NEVER direct, that's not her style at all, she always uses guilt and "oh feel sorry for me and please give me some attention" approach.   

The only thing is when we do go hubby and I both feel uncomfortable because MIL tries to pay for everyone's meal but that makes FIL mad.  I guess he doesn't like that they pay for my meal as well and he makes comments like, "momma are your gonna pay for everyone's meal?"  And I think to myself well the last time we took everyone out for mother's day, FIL tagged along and WE paid for everyone's meal including HIS.  But that's just another one of their covert-aggressive techniques.  They resent having me tag along for hubby's b-day celebration.

I wonder if your son and DIL wonder why you didn't mention anything about his b-day.  I assume you're not having any trouble with your new DIL.  If that's the case I just don't think they would mind if you took a little bit more of an aggressive approach.  Just my thoughts. Good Luck.  :P

One more thought about this, is now whenever my hubby and I meet them for his b-day lunch, which we always feel obligated to do, we arrive about 20 minutes before and pay for both our own buffets lunches so this won't give FIL an opportunity to try to embarrass me.  And no mother's day lunches or anything like that because he just has to ruin it everytime.  Sometimes the good thing is that if we don't go to the restaurant that he wants then he usually just doesn't show up.


My sense is that you were being more than careful but still had expectations. Otherwise, why the hurt?

That's a very subjective comment because I have caught myself doing that more than once. I think I am making lots of room for others, only find out later that I wasn't ready to deal with the consequences of my own generosity when the result disappointed me.

There is so much that is unspoken. We can all trip over assumptions. For instance: maybe you new DIL wants to please you as much as you want to please her and "assumed" that she shouldn't ask you to drive three hours (round trip) for a little cake and ice cream. You may assume that she would "know" that you would cross the ocean to be with your son on his just goes on and on.

New territory for both of you and none of this is easy for most of us.
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


Wow, thank you all - Luise, you put it perfectly about being disappointed by the consequences of our own 'generosity.' I find in this the all-too-frequent practice of letting go of expectations.
All that said, I absolutely love my daughter in-law and couldn't have chosen a better wife for my son. But I'm new at this MIL thing, as she is new as a wife and DIL, and we're both learning.
Now that it (my son's first birthday as a married man!) done, I'm wondering...should I say something, simply for communication's sake, or just let it go?
I'm really glad to have found this forum! Thanks again!


Actually the more I think about it. I definitely think you should have said something or invited them over because really you don't want to come off as you don't care, when in actuality you're just trying to not be meddlesome.  Since the marriage is new the DIL could look at your actions as not caring.  Just wanted to throw that out there.


And what I have learned is that my son and DIL don't necessarily talk to each other about whatever I present. So, one may never know what I suggested to the other.

I used to assume (there's that dratted word again) that they shared incoming data. Not so.

So now, I use email and send whatever I am proposing, observing, (whining about) to both of them. That seems to work great.
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama



As put adequately by Luise - your did not want to step on your DIL toes but expected her to include your side of the family. Your initial silence could have been interpreted as it wasn't that big of a deal to you. You guys could still all meet up and have a followup dinner to celebrate his birthday with you, right?