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Relationship with ex-DIL

Started by DDM, March 20, 2010, 09:54:57 am

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I need some opinions on how to maintain a good relationship with my soon to be x-DIL. Prior to the split we had an excellent relationship. The marriage only lasted less than 2yrs so in retrospect I didn't know her as well as I thought. The breakup was very nasty. She was (is) very hurt and became extremely spiteful and revengeful towards my son. I tried my best to be supportive without taking sides in the dispute. I listened to many unfair and often false accusations about my son and a few about myself as well. I knew she was hurting so I tried not to take it personally although it hurt very much.

It's been 6 months and it appears she has calmed down somewhat(?), although we really haven't spoken much at all over the last little while. I could just forget about her and move on but I have a 1 yr. old grandson who I am desperate to have be part of my life. I am afraid if I don't maintain a good relationship with his mother - or worse a bad one - that she will make it difficult for me to be involved with my grandson as much as I would like.

I have been going with my son to pick up the baby on his days off and have exchanging pleasantries at the door. I did send her a 'generic' birthday card a few days ago. I'm just not sure how far to go here. If anyones been there, done that, please feel free to offer your advice.


hello, as I read your problem, I see myself being faced with the same dilema, except my DIL could take my grandson away for good.  I have been raising my grandson since July.  Things could get nasty, so I walk on eggshells right now and try to not take sides.  It is hard.  She also comes to me saying things about my son.  I try not to judge and just ask her questions.  They are both going to counseling apart and then have their first appt to see someone together. 

To get the whole story you will have to read what I have posted.    I hope you get good advice from others who have been through this.  I can see my heartaches just beginning.   I am very worried she will use the child as a ploy, and since I have been raising him full time it will kill me once she decides she will use child to get back at son.

God Bless


Thanks Paris. I went and read your story. It's a tough situation and as you point out - only beginning. I have the same fear of my DIL using the baby to continue to punish my son. For now she is seeking her revenge by laying claim to all their assets. Once she accomplishes that the only power she will have left rests with the baby.


May I ask that you go about this carefully.  When I was 6 my parents divorced, my mother initially got primary custody because in those times the court almost always awarded the mother custody.  The thought was that children belonged with their mothers and unlike today, the best interests of the child didn't come into it.

My paternal grandmother went around my father, arranging visitation with myself and my brothers that undermined my father and his rights.  My father was fighting my mother for access to my younger brothers, because of my grandmother's interference my mother would skip their visits to my father claiming they were too young to be away from home so often and it was having an adverse affect on them. 

This lead to a lot of tension between my father and his mother, with him eventually telling her straight up to back off, that he was our father and her desire to see her gc and have time with them did not in any way, shape or form, supersede his right to be with his children and if it didn't stop, HE would take action to completely cut her informal access to us through the courts.  He told her she was being utterly selfish to the detriment of himself and us, interfering in his relationship with us.  He told her that she would see us when He had access and she was not to approach my mother for visits outside of him.

Now I am not suggesting that anyone here is doing that.  I am just offering a view from the other side.  Perhaps it would be best initially to go through your sons for access to your grandchildren.


I agree about caution. I have ex DILs but my great (yes!) grandchildren are now in high school and college and pretty much grown up. I think it's very important to be open and willing to have it work...'s complex. Your attitude is just part of the equation.

When a son and DIL part with hopeless incompatibility but maintain mutual respect you have more to work with. My ex DIL that I have written about here before is the "daughter of my heart" and we chose not to get divorced. I'm still her "Mom" twenty-five years later.

I don't have the same connection with the other one because the marriage and divorce were different and she has held me responsible for my son's real and imagined failings. When she sees me, she sees him  to some extent, and that doesn't help the situation.

It's also very hard to stay neutral and even harder to be seen as neutral, even if you are. Be very, very careful.
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


Hi DDM!  And welcome!  I think sending the birthday card is very wise on your part, and if it were me, I would continue in an accepting and loving way. 

I do understand divorce, having gone through my own and can say that there was a time period at the begining that my ex and I fought constantly.  I also said some really bad things about him during this time and let out some secrets that I felt needed to be known.  He did the same.  I believe you were simply caught in the crossfire, and hopefully have stayed neutral and understanding enough to continue in a relationship for your GC's sake.  Have you thought about sitting down and talking to your ex-DIL and laying all your concerns out for her?  Even though "they" are going through a divorce, she is still your GC's mother and will be concerned about her child going through this.  Knowing that you think of her still as a "good mother" who is concerned about her child, may help.

I agree with everyone else too, and I hope you get to read Luise's post.  Your attitude is really just part of the equation, but I also believe that keeping that attitude open to her in a loving and accepting way, may hold doors open that might have been shut in these circumstances.  It's the wisest thing I could think of doing.  Stay neutral and loving!

You are in my thoughts and prayers, and I hope you will keep us posted!  Hugging you!


Ever since my son filed for divorce last month I have not talked to my dil. He has filed for joint custody...he has his son on the days he does not work. If I see them it is during his time.

I don't know if I will ever have to talk to her again....I will do what my son wants me to...


DDM,  Sometimes it is good to write a little letter expressing how regretful it is that things didn't work out between your ex-DIL and your son but that your happy to continue to have a good relationship with her and your grandchild since the two of you didn't "Divorce" and put some humor into it.  Also I would recommend to give her plenty of space for a bit to get her thinking right again, its so traumatic to go through a divorce. But remember the day will come when she wants to date again and of course you will be right there waiting and ready to be a babysitter for her right?  I wouldn't worry too much, she will need you one day too and keep the humor going till then if at all possible.


Thank you everyone for your responses and advise.

POSTSCRIPT: May I ask that you go about this carefully.
As hard as it is not to give my council, I certainly know my place and it's not in their relationship. Even with my son I am very careful not to push my opinions on how he should or should not be handling things. My son is living with us temporarily so I figure I am actually seeing my grandson more than if none of this had happened. Kind of a mixed blessing.

LUISE: My ex DIL that I have written about here before is the "daughter of my heart" and we chose not to get divorced. I'm still her "Mom" twenty-five years later.
It's also very hard to stay neutral and even harder to be seen as neutral, even if you are. Be very, very careful.

I guess that is what I am having a great deal of difficulty with. I feel that my DIL is in the process of divorcing me along with my son. This may be the way she wants it to be. Break all ties. I hope not but I have a very uneasy feeling.
Of course we are never really neutral in these situations. Mothers really can't be, so I can understand why she may not trust me despite how neutral I may appear.

COCOBARS: Have you thought about sitting down and talking to your ex-DIL and laying all your concerns out for her?

Actually I have and shortly after the split I did write her. My husband and I almost split up a few years back so I had some understanding and empathy for what she was going through emotionally.  I wanted her to know that I understood her side having been there myself. She thanked me for the letter but I was very disappointed to discover she had shared my story with her family and friends, telling them my son was just like his Dad. I guess you hear what you want to hear.
I would like to try and have a nice talk with her. I would like to just go for a nice lunch and talk about 'other' stuff. I'm afraid however that it could turn into something I don't want. Maybe when all the legal stuff is over?

Thanks again everyone. It's nice to have a place I can talk about this.


You're right this is a volatile time. I couldn't have done anything that would have worked if my ex DIL hadn't wanted the same things I did. There were no kids. Sending love!
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


When people go thru separation/divorce, or just when the marriage is failing...they become people they are not....they don't want to hurt each other, but they do...there is much misdirected anger...and all kinds of terrible emotions....

if it were me, I would give it don't know how you feel yet, and your son is going to need may take years...however, you may make a friend out of this...and you could become best of friends...after all your the grand mama and she knows that....time may mature her and she may realize, the importance of her child socializing with all kinds of role models...

Don't do anything you don't' want to do as of yet...step back, give son support and take a breather, and let time work it's miracles...we humans are an impatient and emotions sometimes guide us to do things we wouldn't normally do, when things start to better...and they will, I promise...just takes forgiveness and must stream from the heart....the love that of which we were all meant to is on that for now...understand, it wasn't anything your son did or she did...they were just not meant to be at this time...they were not compatible...when the blame is gone, and the sun rises on a happy day, things will come together as they should....whatever paths you all need to take...this is a learning experience...for all involved, and we can so grow from these experiences, if we so choose.

wishing you and yours every happiness