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Not sure what to do with this

Started by Lillycache, May 03, 2012, 04:02:48 pm

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Hello... This is my first post, but I have been reading here for some time.  I have a situation which is causing me great hurt and pain.  My relationship with DIL has been on the decline for some time.  She is distant and cold.  When my son and her and the kids visit, she barely speaks and looks very unhappy while she is here.  I have asked my son what the problem is, but he is not saying.   He is vague and says.. "oh it's me not you"  I didn't want to confront her and create a problem.    I always thought I was very careful about staying out of their business and not offering uninvited advise... not visiting without being invited... etc..  But her coldness was very perplexing.

This week I was bored and surfing the net... playing around and typing in names and emails.  Up pops a message board with my DILs name.  It appears that going all the way back for years she has been writing horrible things about me in this support group.  She has called me horrible names and made accusations that I have absolutley no recollection of.  She has told these people outright lies.  Her hatred and viotrol were scathing.  I am reeling.

I have not done anything with this.  I have not told my son.  I have not confronted her.  But I don't know if I can ever look at her again.  Our relationship is not good now.  If I bring this up I am afraid it will be completely over. My son will be stuck in the middle, which I don't want.  What should I do?   Continue on as it is with a knot in my stomach everytime I see her?   I had no idea she harbored these feelings about me.  NONE..  Apparently everything I've done or said for years was discussed.  I'm just sick.   How I wish I hadn't been snooping on the net, but what is done is done.  Where do I go from here?   If only she had come to me with her complaints and not let it go on so long. I had no idea I was such a problem.

Beth 2011

Welcome Lilly,

If you have been reading for sometime, you will understand from the posts that we try to resolve our situations or figure out the best way to cope with family issues. It is a good place to help make positive choices for yourself by getting and giving advice from past experiences.  The ladies here are awesome. From my experience, I would not say anything and leave it at that because you have a decent relationship with your DS it sounds like to me.  Why open a can of worms? 


Welcome Lillycache :)

If you haven't already done so, please read the topics in the category Open Me First.  We ask all new members to do so not because there is anything wrong with your post.

I agree with Beth2011, it's probably not a good idea to bring it up.  I'm not sure how you can talk about it without this being turned around on you.  So sorry you had to find out this way what the actual problem was, it must be frustrating after all this time and you asking directly and not getting an answer.  That says to me that either DIL or DS does not want to talk about it with you, even further reason not to bring it up with them.

Where to go from here?  I'm sure you are very, very hurt and need some healing for yourself.  So basically I think it is up to you, be gentle and honest with yourself. Oh and I wouldn't go back and read some more, my take is that it will only be painful for you.
People throw rocks at things that shine - Taylor Swift


Are you sure it was your DIL? Could it not have been a different woman with the same name and some life similarities? I can't see any reason for anyone to lie on a message board.


Lily - is it possible that what your DIL is writing is her reality?  Because I'm sorry to say that your post could very easily have been written by my MIL.  I'm sure that she doesn't realize why we don't have a good relationship.  And I'm sure that I could give a huge list of things she's said and done, that she would deny, forget or claim as lies.

To me, you've been given a "cheat sheet" for dealing with her.  If you can put your ego aside and read what she's written, it might give you a road map of the landmines in your relationship.  This could make things better between you.  But really, if that doesn't work, you can figure out how to push her buttons!


Lily, welcome.

I understand your devastation over this suddenly discovered bit of information. I found out a few months into my DS/DIL's marriage that she & her FOO hated us. She said there was no specific reason, we hadn't done anything, just that she thought we were losers and she detested us. She didn't tell me first hand; DS came to us & vented one day after he'd had to tell us we were uninvited to an event that included DIL & her FOO.

I felt like I'd been kicked in the gut. We'd done a lot for her and her FOO, and I didn't understand where this was coming from.

It made things very awkward when we did see each other. I wanted to bring it out in the open, but I'm glad I didn't. We acted like all was well, although since then I am not as open w/DIL as I was starting to be. We keep things on a very superficial level.

If you can possibly do so, please keep this to yourself. If you're not ready to handle the possible fall-out (losing DS), don't say a word.
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb


Thank you all for your input.  Not saying anything is the way I was leaning.  I just needed to hear it from others I guess.  It is going to be so difficult from now on.  I will be absolutely afraid to open my mouth... and I'm sure THAT will be construed in a negative way.    Let me give an example of what was in those posts...   When they had their first baby, it was a boy.  I was thrilled!   I love that kiddo with all my heart.  He is my first grandchild and holds a special place.  However, when they told me they were expecting a 2nd child I said that I hoped it was a girl this time.  I never had a girl...  MY grandmother and I had a very special relationship that holds only the fondest of memories for me.  When the ultrasound was done and it was confirmed she was a girl I was estatic!  Just thrilled.  I said that I was so happy about having a granddaughter.   However my excitement apparently was taken in a different light.   On her message board, it was turned into my not caring about my grandson!  That I didn't give a hoot about him anymore, because a granddaughter was coming.  How can you anticipate that happening?  How can you even know what to say?   Had I not said how happy I was, I'm sure that would have been taken to mean I didn't care about any of the kids.  So things like that are what I said were lies..  I guess not really lies, but total twisting of meanings and intents.   That is only one example  of many.  I was amazed at how such innocuous statements by me were taken totally out of context.   

Also my caution about not being intrusive and not calling to ask to visit without an invite was also taken to mean that I didn't give a hoot.  I never asked to go to Tball games, or ballet recitals..   I was never invited.. I didn't even know these events were taking place.   I blame my DS for that, not DIl...  But still, it apparently has upset her as I am painted as not caring.  Somehow I suspect that had I called constantly to see what was going on and asking to come would not have been the right thing either..  Don't you?   

As for knowing for certain that these posts were from her..  No doubt about that.  Her picture and the kids pics were in her siggy.  So no doubt about the legitimacy.   Can you understand how difficult is will be for me now?  I don't know what she is thinking or what the right thing to do or say will be.  I don't think that anything I say will be the right thing.   I know also that I have inadvertantly been the cause of battle royalles between her and my son.  From some of her posts, this issue has been the root of all the fights and problems between them.  What a heavy load I feel I have to carry.  I don't want that. I never wanted that.  I never suspected that.  Sorry so long..  I guess I just needed to get this off  my chest.


I think each person's perception is their reality, and it may not match up with those around them. It would make sense that if she was offended by something but you found it totally innocent or harmless, she would remember and you would not. Or that she would see it as a bigger deal. You totally may not have meant it as not caring about your grandson, but stating you hoped it was a girl, and were really excited about having a granddaughter, and hoping to have the same 'special' relationship you had with your GM could come across that way (especially if as big a deal wasn't made about grandson's gender when he was born). You've been given some pretty uncensored insight into how DIL thinks, and I'd agree that DS bears a lot the responsibility here too. I think that's it's possible to find a balance between not being intrusive and being involved. You don't have to swing totally in the other direction of calling constantly or showing up for every little thing.


Lilly, I am so sorry. What a painful and uncomfortable position to be in.

About the visits. I can understand your point about not wanting to ask for visits because you wanted to be unintrusive, and I can understand why your DIL thought that meant you didn't care. Neither of you was wrong, and it looks to me as though this is something that could be really easy to fix. Can you find a way to say to her, "I have avoided asking to visit because I was afraid of being intrusive, but now I think I made a mistake. I feel as though I missed out on spending time with the kids and you. Is it okay if I start coming by more often? I'd love to come to some of their events if you don't mind."

As for saying you hoped the second baby was a girl, etc., know that there is a longstanding rule that one never -- and this goes for everyone, not just GMs-- NEVER expresses a preference in regards to sex, nevernevernevernever. Whatever you're thinking in that regard you keep to yourself because what you say is very likely to hurt somebody. What if the baby had been a boy and he had found out at some point that GM had wanted him to be a girl? I can tell you from personal family experience that that would have hurt him. It's understandable that you want a special relationship with a GD like what you had with your GM, but if your older GC knows about that desire, he may very well feel left out and not as special as his sister. Also, your GD is her own person and there is no guarantee she will be someone with whom you can have the relationship you want anyway. There is nothing wrong with having that kind of desire, but no good can come of sharing it.

Time to hash out what was said and use this information you've unwittingly stumbled upon to try to make things better between you and your DIL. It must hurt a lot, but who knows, maybe someday you'll be glad you found this stuff. Wouldn't it be great if we could speak our piece to our family before serious damage has been done and didn't spill it on message boards instead?


It would be nice to be handed a manual regarding the appropriate thing to say or how to react to every given situation. It seems MIL cannot just relax and interact with DIL as she does her own family.  I think that's where most of us go off course.

As for my expressing a preference for a girl the 2nd time around and my excitement at finding out the ultrasound results... My goodness..  DIL herself stated she wanted a girl and she would have one of each.. When it was confirmed she was over the moon and saying how she looked forward to now being able to buy frilly girlie clothes and ribbons.  Should I have inferred from that that SHE now didn't feel her son was as special, or that she would now love him less than her daughte?  Of course not... That never entered my mind.  I was sharing in her excitement and voicing my own.  I can't believe she would twist things the way she did.   

But be that as it may... it's done and a myiad of other innocent gaffs of mine have been festering for years and years.   I don't think there is much hope to turn back the clock and start over.  I can't help but feel it is way to late for that. 


Lily - my heart goes out to you. What in heavens name is going on with all of us mils and dils and ac? I know i am in the same boat you are - just have not found the posts from dil. Part of me would like to find them so I could do what Scoop says and employ the 'cheat sheet', the other part knows finding that info out there would shut me down even more.
Keeping the zipper closed on our mouths seems to be the consensus.  Doesn't that doom us to 'eggshells' forever, as the elephant in the room only grows over time unless there is a miracle?

When the borderline-hate, borderline ridiculous comes to us from ac and il's or we ourselves engage in it as their parents, isn't it proof there is deep if misdirected caring and love?  Wouldn't indifference be worse?  If that is true, then isn't there something to work with if we are open and honest with ourselves and them. I, for one, wish for the difficult conversations (respectfully handled). Yet I read again and again how that leads to being close to cut off if not entirely cut off. Oh what to do - other than distract ourselves?


Lilly - your story is similar to mine.  Whatever I did or said or thought was wrong and I was accused of things I did not do, did not say, and did not think.   I believe that our exDIL (after 15 years she left our son and abandoned her children) suffers from mental health issues.  I have no answers for you except to try to keep the ties to your son and grandchildren.  I suspect you will never have a relationship with your DIL simply because it takes "two" for a relationship so let that "go".  Don't discuss "her" with your son or anyone else (except your husband or a very close and trusted friend).  Never mention her to your grandchildren unless in a very positive light (and even then, not often). 

I, too, was blamed for all of the ills in our son's marriage.  When our DIL stopped interacting/speaking to us, he had to "face the music" without our always being blamed.  With no one to blame, the marriage was over in less than a year.  So, when with your DIL, be cordial, happy and confident - after all, this is "all about her" and nothing you can do or say or think can repair it.  However, don't lose your son and grandchildren over her - she's not worth it. This is where I might suggest you place your focus and love.

So sorry - been there and wish I knew then what I know now ....


Lilly, there do seem to be different sets of rules for us in many cases. Often they change with DS/DIL's moods & it's hard to keep current on what is OK & what is not.

My conclusion, based on years of interactions with other family, friends & co-workers, is that if someone doesn't want to like you they will be motivated to find fault in much of what you say or do and may twist those things around to suit their agenda. I've experienced this w/SM, ex-MIL, bosses, cubicle mates, jealous friends of close friends (just like junior high school drama, but unexpected & weird from adults.)

We may be tempted to bend ourselves into pretzel shapes to accomodate DIL's wishes, and still be left wondering what we can do to please her. We may realize we can't make any headway, and fade quietly away. We might get frustrated, angry & hurt, letting our emotions get the best of us which may lead to DS/DIL feeling they were right in their initial assessment of us as crazy old bats. We might keep trying, ever hopeful, only to have those hopes dashed over & over again.

As you've probably already figured out, MILs here have done all of the above & more depending on their own situations/personalities/pain thresholds. I tend to swing between hopeful, loving detachment and deep sorrow...w/a bit of unspoken resentment & anger thrown in 'cos I'm not very evolved, lol. 

Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb


jdtm - my therapist told me what you have experienced if I understand you correctly.  Namely, the projection of all this angst  at us parents allows the younger couple to avoid the real issues in their marriage - a projection outward which can help them short term yet in time will come home to roost  when we lovingly detach. I've got my hip boots on  and am still having trouble not getting splashed!
My therapist also told me the only way to my son is through my dil, so am trying to foster the purely superficial relationship she prefers unless is it about her needs from me. The most recent is ' We're going to need a lot of help' in the brief conversation we had this week telling me they are preggers. Oh joy.