Author Topic: Re: Advice needed - Future daughter-in-law is allowing contact only via her  (Read 7912 times)

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Shelby

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Wow.  I have been so alone for several years until I found this site and thread.  Keys Girl, you have helped me gain strength. 

My DIL (I know DIL is daughter-in-law, but what is DS and DH?) made it clear when she and son were dating that she wanted little to do with his family.  When he was still in school we took a lovely, expensive family vacation.  They were not even engaged yet, but we included her in the trip - with my husband and I paying all expenses.  She was civil, but very standoffish.  I was surprised, as I would have expected her to be warm and appreciative of this signal of being accepted/welcomed into the family. 

Once mention was made of one of the funny family stories about my son when he was a little boy.  I asked her if she wanted to hear more of the family stories about when he was little.  She said "No."  Not "Sure" or even "No, thank-you".  Just "No."  What kind of girl doesn't want to hear the fun stories about the man she is going to marry? 

I tried to show her affection and make her welcome in the family - little gifts for birthdays - more significant Christmas gifts.  These often went unacknowledged. 

One year they borrowed our newer, more reliable car for a road trip just before Christmas.  They arrived home late on Christmas Eve, and had our other child bring the car home to us.  That was okay - but what got me was that they didn't bother to call or come visit on Christmas, even though we lived less than 5 miles from them.  And even though they had been using our car until the night before.  Wow.  That one hurt.  It hurt so much that my husband and I talked to our son about his attitude - and asked him to go to family counseling with us.  He agreed, and the three of us (husband, son and I)  worked through the issues, and now we have a great relationship with son - but there's still a vacuum where there should be a relationship with the DIL. 

When her car died - really died - we loaned them a car for quite a while - weeks, not just days.  When we loaned it, I explained that I would need to have it back in a few weeks to take the dog to the vet.  I called a couple of days before the vet appointment, left a message for her to return the call.  She never did.  I walked the dog to the vet and back.  Good exercise, and lord knows I could use the exercise - but I was baffled by the lack of return call, since I had previously mentioned the vet trip when they borrowed the car. 

I don't call without a reason.  I probably have not called her more than a half-dozen times in 3 or 4 years.  If she returns the call, it takes several days.  Often calls are not returned at all.  Therefore I usually call or text my son if I need to.  Emphasis on the word "need".  I never call without a reason.   And only when I need to - never just to chat.  Frequency of my calls to son are probably once or twice a month.  I usually let him initiate contact, which he does, and our interaction is very pleasant.  But it is just him.  He comes alone, spends a little time with his father and me, then goes off to do whatever.  She has come with him probably only a couple of times this year.  That's okay.  She's busy, and has been so chilly for 5 years that I don't really miss having her come. 

We have a big, close family, but she simply does not want any part of it.  She is very possessive of my son, so I just chalked it up to her insecurities, and comforted myself that if she came to realize the family was no threat to her, she would relax and want to be part of it.  We have backed off, but she is as standoffish as ever. 

I never show up at their place uninvited - except to drop off gifts.  In 3 years we've been invited over twice.  The only other times I've been was to deliver gifts - once on that Christmas they couldn't bother to call or come by, and on one other occasion that seemed to warrant a gift.  Both times I delivered the gift at the door -  I did not go in, and I did not stay.  Husband waited for me in the car, with the engine running.  Neither my husband or I have ever criticized her to our son, either.  So he is as puzzled as I am.

The biggest kicker was when son's very elderly grandfather was in the hospital for 2 weeks and nearly died.  He happened to be in the same hospital where DIL worked.  Son visited Grand Dad and was very attentive and concerned, but in all that time DIL never expressed any interest in Grand Dad, nor do we believe she ever stopped in to see him before or after her shift. 

Now they have moved to another part of the country.  Husband and other sons are planning a hiking trip to their area next year.  We would never stay WITH them.  Young couples need and deserve their privacy.  So we have already booked the cabin.  There is plenty of room in the cabin for me, too.   So I thought I'd go, and although I would not participate in the arduous hikes by day, I'd see the group for dinner in the evenings, etc. 

Now I'm rethinking.  I'd fly far from home just to have a couple of dinners (our treat, of course) with DIL who has absolutely no interest in me or our family.  Husband and other sons can get along without me - and have a nice stag hiking trip while I stay home. 

Should I go and see my son who now lives hundreds of miles away or should I detach and not make the  trip?  I do have an excellent relationship with my son - but he is completely besotted with DIL.  He compartmentalizes.  He sees his father and me by himself, and is devoted to DIL and conducts that relationship without involvement from us. 

If I go, I'll be intruding into her territory, which I am reluctant to do (remember I only went to their place an average of once a year when they lived in our city) - I won't do the daytime hiking with the guys - so what's the point in my going?

Okay, ladies, I could use some advice.  Keys girl, I'd especially like to hear from you.  Do I go to maintain contact with my son?  Or skip it and just back off completely? 



Offline Keys Girl

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Re: Re: Advice needed - Future daughter-in-law is allowing contact only via her
« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2011, 07:13:36 AM »
Hi Shelby, DS is "Dear Son" and DH is "Dear Husband" I believe.

I would book myself a nice "spa" day and luxuriate in having someone else take care of me.  I would let the guys do their "man stuff" and wouldn't intrude on her space, it's likely to upset the apple cart and the current relationships that you have with your son might be in jeopardy.  Your son could maintain contact with you, just as well as you can with him.  You've been choosing to do the "heavy lifting" and I suspect that won't change in the future unless you choose to change it.  Run across the country to visit someone who's about as hospitable as Hurricane Irene? naaaaaahhh.

Congratulations on getting some counselling for you and your son and husband, as well as having the patience of a saint and the discipline of an Olympic gold medalist to only see your son and his wife on such few occasions when they lived close to you.

Your husband waited in the car while you dropped off gifts and you weren't invited in?? Shameful.  I knew someone who was part of a large, close knit family and her daughter's spouse was hostile, with a capital "H", and seemed to be very jealous and angry about that.  The spouse did everything he could do tear the close knit family apart, but they were ready for him and closed ranks even further.  Sadly your DIL could be a very insecure young woman who doesn't want to "share" her husband with his family, afraid that there isn't enough love in his heart for everyone.  She won't change unless she decides to change herself and that would take some counselling.

It sounds as if you've done everything you can to welcome her into your family, I wouldn't be in any hurry to do much more for them, it doesn't sound as if it is appreciated or will be reciprocated........ just wondering if they moved across the country at her suggestion.

I think there will always be a vacuum where the DIL should be me, but I would just concentrate on the big, warm family that you already have, your DIL has her husband and that appears to be all that she needs or wants and she wants to keep him from enjoying his big, warm family.  Her loss is far more greater than yours, there's no guarantee that her marriage will endure forever, so one day there may not be a void where the DIL is because there may not be a DIL!
"Today I will be as happy as a seagull with a french fry." Author Unknown

Doe

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Re: Re: Advice needed - Future daughter-in-law is allowing contact only via her
« Reply #2 on: September 27, 2011, 07:17:36 AM »
Hi Shelby and welcome!


"  I do have an excellent relationship with my son - but he is completely besotted with DIL.  He compartmentalizes.  He sees his father and me by himself, and is devoted to DIL and conducts that relationship without involvement from us. " 

This sounds a lot like my relationship with my son.

How about if you stay home and give the money to your son for a ticket to come visit you whenever he wants to?  Alone?

Shelby

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Re: Re: Advice needed - Future daughter-in-law is allowing contact only via her
« Reply #3 on: September 27, 2011, 08:21:12 AM »
Doe and Keys Girl - thank you for your responses. 

Doe, yes I like the idea of staying home and giving him the $ to visit home.  However I would be reluctant to suggest that he come alone.  Her parents also live in our region.  I am reluctant to do anything that might  be construed as not friendly.  Not because I really care about what she thinks - (I'm WAY beyond that) - but because I care about what my son thinks, and I don't ever want to do anything that can be used against me.  Think of it as exercising my Miranda rights.  I don't want anything I say or do to be used against me.    I would be concerned that air fare for one would be something she could complain about later.  $$ is not a serious issue for us, and we could well afford to give them air fare for both. 

Keys Girl - I like your idea about the spa day.  I had not considered that I had been doing the heavy lifting.  Actually I gave myself permission to throw in the towel a couple of years ago - a decision the wisdom of which was confirmed by the fact Grand Dad was ignored on what could have been his death bed.  By my retreating, detaching, the monkey was on my son's back to maintain the relationship with his father and me.  Which he did.   And it was lovely, as he would stop by frequently, visit a bit, and be on his way.  Some visits were just 5 or 10 minutes, which was fine.  They were frequent, brief, natural and comfortable.  I miss that now that he is many miles away, but it is what it is.  But I would say that since I threw in the towel, DS is the one who did the heavy lifting.  And I worry that he is in for a lifetime of that - but there is nothing I can do to change that. 

Keys Girl - you are too kind to give me credit for patience in seeing the young couple so infrequently when they lived here.  Frankly, it wasn't a matter of patience.  It was simply not too pleasant to try to establish a relationship with a young woman who made it clear she was completely disinterested.  So I just left.  Didn't go away mad, I just went away. 

Actually when I dropped the gifts off, I was invited in - both times.  I declined, however.  I wasn't about to go in, chit-chat and pretend like nothing had happened when they had completely ignored our side of the family on Christmas day.  And for that my son bears probably more responsibility than she does.  He should have insisted they carve out a little time for us, but did not.  So he bears most of that responsibility, but she certainly bears some.  Anyway - after the counseling he came to grips with his responsibilities towards BOTH his families - and handles things well now. 

The move across the country was wanted by both of them.  He loves the climbing in the mountains - and wants to try another part of the country.  So he wanted it because he was going TO the mountains.  I wonder if she was going TO something or going AWAY from things.  But it doesn't matter why.  It just is. 

Keys Girl - you say her loss is greater than mine.  There I disagree with you.  She has my son.  She is his primary relationship - his life partner.  I am a footnote in the history of his life.  My relationship with her will be nonexistent.  My relationship with him will be affectionate but distant - emails, a few phone calls.  So I feel my loss is the greater of the two, which is why I was considering going on the hiking trip next year - even though I don't hike.  But DS would be hiking with his dad and brothers - Without me, they can have a nice stag trip.  With me, there could be much more forced inclusion with DIL who doesn't want to be there.   

I learned in 9th grade not to bother with people who didn't want you around.  Gee those lessons from high school years do come in handy decades later, don't they?

Thank you ladies, I appreciate your advice, which I believe is 2 in favor of staying home and letting guys go stag, 0 in favor of my going where I'm not wanted.  Thanks!  ;)

Offline Pen

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Re: Re: Advice needed - Future daughter-in-law is allowing contact only via her
« Reply #4 on: September 27, 2011, 09:26:44 AM »
Shelby, welcome. I do believe you've been WWU-ized already! This is a great site for comfort, wisdom and healing.

I agree with those who say let the men do their thing w/o you; an opportunity to spend time with your DS will present itself later. Your situation sounds very similar to mine - I always had a good relationship w/DS; we share same sense of humor, interests, tastes etc. Now contact is limited since we've not wanted to be overbearing or intrusive so we don't call unless necessary, never drop by, etc. DIL is trying to treat us more politely when we are thrown together thanks to DS standing up for his right to see his FOO, but makes no real effort to accept us as an important part of DS's life; we've never been invited over, for example. Good on you for not criticizing your DIL to your DS..a sure fire way to get cut off, IMO.

There are many wonderful DILs out there who are trying to get along with unbearable MILs, but we didn't luck out that way. I'm afraid you and I have DILs who never intended to bond with their DH's FOO and may have had an agenda from day one to "cut him from the herd" as Luise, our fearless leader, has said. I've learned to walk very carefully and to be grateful for those spontaneous visits/calls w/DS; few and far between but so precious when they happen.
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb

Offline forever spring

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Re: Re: Advice needed - Future daughter-in-law is allowing contact only via her
« Reply #5 on: September 27, 2011, 11:04:31 AM »
Hi Shelby, my 2 cents for what it's worth. ;) I wouldn't go either because you are putting yourself in a situation in which you are not in control. You'll be in a strange place and not feeling wanted by one person - to me that sounds like a bad scenario. I so feel for you because I've been there in the past. I've gone to things where I knew it would be difficult just to be near DS and I always came out really disappointed and hurt. Last October I went to a holiday park with the whole family, DS, DIL, FOO, DILs Sister and BF and 2 GK, one of them a baby. It was a total and utter desaster. I've felt really alienated and completely stressed out. My DH wasn't there, so no support at all. Now having experienced this, I can stay away with peace in my heart and enjoy being either around people who do appreciate me or I can enjoy my own company and do things that interest me and give me joy. I have truly let go and it is not a feeling of loss but gain! I have my memories of when DS was a kid and we got on wonderfully. Those memories support me. My relationship with DS could have changed into something different but we could still be close. It has not happen and I have to accept this.
I'm thinking of you.
Keys girl - congratulations to your chapter two, it sounds as if you are on the way to becoming a lot happier and healthier into the bargain. Wishing you luck and thanks for the update.

Shelby

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Re: Re: Advice needed - Future daughter-in-law is allowing contact only via her
« Reply #6 on: September 27, 2011, 11:14:27 AM »
Thank you Pen and Chelmsford.  It very much feels as if DIL wants to cut him from the herd.  And I have to accept that.  I feel that if I fight for him, it will simply backfire on me.  There are two women who love him.  One made him do his homework and wash behind his ears - the other has sex with him.  If there is a battle  between the two women, can we all agree on which one will win?  It ain't gonna be me!  ;)

I don't doubt his love for me - but I can't be the top priority in his life - and I certainly shouldn't be.  That is the wife's role.  I'm OK with that. 

Pen, the walking on eggshells is not much fun, is it?  I enjoy life more when I can be myself and not always worry about if I say or do the right thing.  When I haven't yet done the right thing and it has been 5 years!  And Chelmsford - I'm with you - it's not fun to go where you're not really welcome.

thanks, all.  I now count the vote as 4 in favor of stag trip with me at home, 0 in favor of me going where I have nothing to do but get in the way.  Thanks.


Offline herbalescapes

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Re: Re: Advice needed - Future daughter-in-law is allowing contact only via her
« Reply #7 on: September 27, 2011, 11:39:21 AM »
Shelby, you say your DIL is “civil but standoffish.”  What’s wrong with that?  Maybe that’s just the way she is.  As long as she is civil, I wouldn’t complain about her not being more social or warm or involved.  Playing devil’s advocate, maybe the woman suffers from severe social anxiety and can’t manage anything else.  Maybe she finds you suffocating.  It’s not that one of you is right and the other is wrong.  You are just different and different is OK. 

Not returning your car when you had made it clear you needed it was rude and disrespectful, but I would fault your son as well as your DIL.  Maybe your son was supposed to return the call and he dropped the ball. 
Perhaps when granddad was in the hospital DIL was able to check his condition through his medical records or maybe your son kept her up-to-date.  Maybe she did stop in and see him and you don’t know about it.  Since son visited granddad and was concerned and attentive I think that’s all that really matters. 

You are shocked that she didn’t want to hear stories about her husband as a child.  Maybe she is equally shocked that you’d want to share stories.  Again, one way isn’t right and the other wrong; it’s just different. 

I disagree with Keys assessment that your DIL wants to keep your son from enjoying his big warm family.  You say he visited on his own when they lived close and now he is going on a hiking trip with his dad and brothers.  He’s hardly cut off.  You say after you threw in the towel, he took the initiative to stay in contact.  Doesn’t sound as if she has isolated him from his family in anyway.  The decision to move away was by both of them. 

I cast my vote that you stay home and enjoy yourself while “the boys” go on their hikes.  You probably wouldn’t enjoy yourself and you’d be setting yourself up for more disappointment.  If you have the resources to offer plane tix to your son AND dil to come visit do so.  If you offer for just your son, that could easily cause WW3 to break out.  Couch the offer in such a way that both are included but acknowledge that if only son (or hey, only DIL) wanted to come that would be ok.

Is it possible to arrange a large family gathering near them that isn’t the guys off hiking and you left alone with DIL?  Maybe the next year?  That way you could visit with your son and not be isolated with DIL for everything but dinner. 

Good luck.

Shelby

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Re: Re: Advice needed - Future daughter-in-law is allowing contact only via her
« Reply #8 on: September 27, 2011, 12:07:31 PM »
Herbal - you make some good points, but I'll argue with you on a few.  I have definitely not been suffocating.  I call only when there is a need (and usually to DS cell, not hers) - like to tell them grandfather is in hospital.  Not for trumped up reasons.  Agree that different is OK - but will not accept label of suffocating - since we have helped when asked (borrowing cars) yet stayed out of their business (never just "stop by", etc.)   I vowed I would never use the words "you" and "should" in the same sentence when talking with her - and I haven't. 

Skipping Christmas visit was on son more so than DIL - but not returning car was on her.  She was the one with the dead car, was driving ours, and I called her cell and left message when it was time to take dog to vet.  So that was on her, not son, although if I had left the message for him on his cell - or if they had a landline - then it would be on him, too.   But she had the car,I left the message for her  - car issue is on her. 

Agree any offer of plane tix is for the both of them - I think I acknowledged that earlier.  But I do agree with Keys that she'd like to cut him from the herd.  She will not be able to do so completely - because he does love us.  But his life is with her. 

Thanks for the advice - I now count 5 to stay home, 0 to go.  Wouldn't most politicians love a landslide like this?   :)

Shelby

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Re: Re: Advice needed - Future daughter-in-law is allowing contact only via her
« Reply #9 on: September 27, 2011, 12:13:15 PM »
Herbal - also on hospital visit - we inquired of DS if DIL had checked in on Grand Dad.  Got no for an answer.  I would not criticize her for lack of interest unless I was positive that none had been expressed.  We said nothing to DS about her indifference.  It wouldn't have changed the situation.  But we bite our tongues a lot.  No comments about lack of Christmas visit, lack of thank-yous for gifts, or lack of interest in deathly ill relative.  She is different.  I may not be right, but I am right for me.  She is entitled to be her own person - but I take inspiration from Keys posts - that I don't have to cater to her, coddle her, beg to be around her, etc.  I have wonderful family, friends who enjoy me - and my time and energies are better spent there. 

I will continue to do as Keys does - enjoy my own life - and not worry about walking on eggshells.  And if my son is happy - then that is all that counts.
Thanks

Offline pam1

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Re: Re: Advice needed - Future daughter-in-law is allowing contact only via her
« Reply #10 on: September 27, 2011, 02:20:15 PM »
Welcome Shelby :)

I think as herbal said that it's just differences.  I know you've said you never stop in but you said previously that you did with gifts a couple of times.  As a DIL that would bother me *more* than just a random stop in, I would take it as a p/a swipe that we didn't come on Xmas Day and I think there is something to it b/c you do seem upset they didn't come on Xmas, especially after you just helped them.  I think also that some people would find asking if someone came to see someone at the hospital to be a little over the top -- I know I wouldn't understand why my MIL would ask that.

Your DS doesn't seem like he has cut you guys off at all and I don't really see any evidence that your DIL has pulled him away.  I do see you giving a lot of yourself and help but also expecting something back which I think most expectations are going to lead to disappointment but even moreso when you attach the act of helping/giving to your expectations as if you're owed.

I hope you don't take what I said as harsh, it's just my take as a DIL. 
People throw rocks at things that shine - Taylor Swift

Shelby

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Re: Re: Advice needed - Future daughter-in-law is allowing contact only via her
« Reply #11 on: September 27, 2011, 03:20:23 PM »
Pam - i said the only two times I stopped in were to deliver gifts - Christmas and another event - and that on both occasions I simply delivered and did not go in.  So I do not count that as a visit - I spent no time there.  Did not cross the threshold. 

I agree that I was hurt to not hear from them on Christmas - and made clear on this forum that son is more responsible for that than DIL, although they both bear responsibility.  What is a "p/a swipe"?  i have no clue - but if you mean did she feel embarrassed that I delivered a gift on Christmas when they didn't even bother to call, then I say let her be embarrassed.  I would not let Christmas go by without acknowledging all my loved ones, and don't feel I should have to apologize for dropping a gift off and leaving.    I also shouldn't have to refrain from delivering a gift to my son's house simply because it might make her realize how thoughtless they had been.  Her embarrassment and lack of consideration are her responsibility, not mine. 

I also disagree that inquiring if someone came to visit at the hospital is "over the top".  Remember, DIL works at the hospital.  She did not have to make a special effort to visit - only maybe take an elevator and walk down the hall to say hello to the Grand Dad. 

DS has not cut us off.  He is a fine young man and we have a great relationship with him.  He also loves his wife, and we respect that.  But he must compartmentalize the relationships, which is fine. 

I think it is unfair for you to say we have "expectations as if you're owed."  To be treated with respect and cordiality by someone who has asked and received favors does not seem to me to be too much to expect, (but then I'm old fashioned) - and I would hardly call that a feeling of "being OWED".  But I do agree with you fully that to have any expectation would lead to disappointment - which is why, like Keys Girl, I am giving myself permission to do what is fulfilling to me, and not to feel obligated to carry on some charade of a relationship.   

So, Pam, I assume your vote is that I get to stay home and let the guys go stag?  I think it's now up to 6 I stay home, 0 for me to make the trip.  Yippee.  Spa day, here I come  ;)
« Last Edit: September 27, 2011, 03:32:21 PM by pam1 »

Offline pam1

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Re: Re: Advice needed - Future daughter-in-law is allowing contact only via her
« Reply #12 on: September 27, 2011, 03:30:35 PM »
Shelby, I see what you're saying but I think otherwise and maybe your DIL does too.  Whether you went in or not is showing up uninvited in my books.  In any case, I think there is going to be so many different points of view but probably the only important one is how your DIL views these events.  Not that your point of view isn't important, its just that I think if you want something to be better or a different way (as in your relationship with your DIL) the way she feels about these things are going to be pretty important.  I don't think it hurts to explore some of our own actions that may have lead to our own disappointments.

As far as going or not going, I don't have an opinion, I think it is up to you.  If you want to go, I don't see why you shouldn't.  I would *love* some days to myself in a cabin in the woods lol.  I could read or hike on my own, which just sounds heavenly to me right now.  But I think your reasons for going would be different.  I do think though that going or not, it is fully your decision and it really doesn't have much to do with DIL. 
People throw rocks at things that shine - Taylor Swift

Offline pam1

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Re: Re: Advice needed - Future daughter-in-law is allowing contact only via her
« Reply #13 on: September 27, 2011, 03:33:25 PM »
Shelby, I've edited your post to remove the all caps, which is considered internet yelling here.

I'm also going to split this thread out of Keys Girl's topic b/c it deserves its own. 

Also, I didn't see that you weren't welcomed before by a moderator, sorry about that.  Please read the Forum Agreement and WWU History in the category Open Me First, we ask all new members to do so.  Thanks
« Last Edit: September 27, 2011, 03:35:07 PM by pam1 »
People throw rocks at things that shine - Taylor Swift

Offline pam1

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Re: Advice needed - Future daughter-in-law is allowing contact only via her
« Reply #14 on: September 27, 2011, 04:02:36 PM »
Shelby wrote :"Wow.  So dropping off a gift at the door is intrusive?  I guess I learn something every day.  At least I only did it twice in about four years.  And now it would be impossible to do, since they are waaaaaaay across the country.

I recently had surgery, and numerous friends and family members dropped off flowers, casseroles, baked goods when I got home from the hospital.  Some stayed a few minutes and chatted.  Others delivered their offerings at the door along with well wishes, and went on their way.  I did not feel that any of those gestures was intrusive.  But perhaps my perspective is skewed on that.

Pam is a Global Moderator -- I am simply a newbie - but I would be interested in others opinions - if dropping off a gift is intrusive, even if one does not stay - just drops and runs.  Ladies?" 

Shelby, I tried moving your last post in Keys thread but it did not work so I manually copied and pasted.  Please use this thread.

I'm simply a person with an opinion which is different than yours, I don't think the situation is as simple.  It was Xmas Day with uninvited visit, to me the gifts or no gifts wouldn't matter.  It was the statement, the gifts could have waited.  And they just got back from a day of travel, so yeah -- me personally, wouldn't like it.

I'm sensing hostility on your part towards those with just a different opinion.  IMO, this isn't a who's right or wrong contest, your DIL's opinion is going to be the most important regardless of what the vote is here.  If you want the relationship to be different I think you're going to have to figure out a way to determine her opinions and boundaries that make *her* comfortable.



People throw rocks at things that shine - Taylor Swift