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Question for the DILs

Started by tryingmybest, May 18, 2012, 05:22:51 am

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I had an "aha" moment this week. My DS's birthday was last week, and for the first time we didn't see him on that day, also for the first time I didn't see him on Mothers Day. He spent that day with his wife and...wait for it - her mother. :-\.
we were told when it would fit in to their schedule for us to see them for DS birthday...translation. "Present the presents." I'm now preparing to see them on Sunday, over a week after his birthday, and the last of all scheduled parties..."geez".
Well anyway talked to him on the phone on the actual day, and actually was honest with my feelings, saying "it seems strange not to see you on your birthday."
What I got in response was a huffy, "Well I have my OWN family now."
My question for DILs, when you got married did you stop thinking of your FOO as your family? I know I didn't. What has me sad and incredibly angry is I think women "expand" their families, and men "replace."  ???
Is that ability to continue a loving relationship with a FOO while starting another family seen as a feminine trait, and is THAT why men who do that are seen as "Mamas Boys".
And do any of you raising sons realize they learn what they see, and by perpetuating this dynamic you are setting yourself up for the very pain you see on these pages every day?


Very well put post, and some interesting questions, of which I would like explained also.  I think it's been pretty well established that more often than not the situation is pretty much as you outlined.  The vast number of us in this dynamic seems to dispell the feeling that this is an anomoly solely the fault of a few crazy MILs.   There are just too many of us for that to always be the case.   Does it mean the women really do the planning and men don't care?  How can a son go from loving and respecting his mom to indifference in a few short years? 


And I have to amend my post, in many cases I don't think the DIL perpetuates anything. What I'm wondering is whether men have the ability to maintain only one emotionally connected relationship with a woman at a time. I'm wondering if in order to establish that connection with a wife they HAVE to sever it with their mothers? I'm coming at this from both sides. I'm married to a man who has always been infuriatingly emotionally distant with everyone EXCEPT his mother. The two of them can talk for hours. It wasn't that I hated his ability to talk to her like that, what I resented was his INABILITY to talk to me. If he could only maintain one emotionally connected relationship at a time with a woman, his failure to replace his mother with me did damage our relationship, and his relationship with his kids. So it is a puzzlement, I don't know the answers, I just know this is rough to navigate.


Yes, when I got married, DH and I became our own "family" and our respective FOO's became "extended family".  As such, we were #1 to each other, and our FOO's became secondary.

Now, I had fought for my independence from my parents already, so I was already considered an Adult.  However, DH had not separated from his family, although he lived in another city.  When we got married, it was a VERY hard transition for MIL.  It's been almost 15 years and I think she still thinks of us as "kids".

I think it's especially hard for MIL, because we DO have such a good relationship with my Mom.  For the record, my Mom is the Nicest Person I know, she really is.   But really, my Mom treats us as grown ups, with our own opinions and our own agendas.  She understands that we want to do things with our friends (for our birthdays too!). 

I have to say Trying that your story about your DS's birthday surprised me (and pressed a hot button).  My MIL had a HUGELY hard time letting go of DH's birthday.  She INSISTS on talking to him at his birth MINUTE.  Yeah, the first Christmas at my parents house, we didn't appreciate the phone call at 1 am Christmas morning (most people think that a 1 am phone call means that someone DIED).  We had been in bed since 10 pm and she woke up my parents, DB & SIL and me, in the end, DH was sick and I couldn't wake him up, so she didn't talk to him.  To me, this was CRAZY, over-the-top and downright RUDE.  It didn't help our relationship.

So Trying, I have to ask, why are you looking at this this way?  Why do you feel the need to see him ON his exact birthday, with any other day being "not good enough"?   

... I really want you to think about this.  I think it's important in reflecting on your relationship with your DS. ...

Because, seeing him a week later does not diminish the fact that you're celebrating his birth.  In fact, if you looked at it optimistically, you would be saying "Yahoo DS! Look at you!  You get a whole Birthday WEEK!"  Personally, I *LOVE* having a Birthday Week and extending the celebrations.  (I guess that's a big part of it to me.  You COULD look at it positively, but it seems to me that you're choosing to look at it as a negative.)

I'm even thinking about my family.  We don't see each other on our EXACT birthdays.  My DD is too little, but I'm thinking of my brother and niece and nephew.  As teenagers (the DN's), we know that they want to spend their birthdays with their friends and we make separate plans.  The funny thing is that this year, I invited my niece for supper the weekend before or the weekend after her birthday and she said 'no' because NOW weekends are at a premium with her friends.  As a change of pace, we got to see her on her actual birthday.

Trying, I hope you can see through my response and weed out the good stuff from the stuff that came as a result of one of my hot buttons being pushed.


Quote from: tryingmybest on May 18, 2012, 05:22:51 amAnd do any of you raising sons realize they learn what they see, and by perpetuating this dynamic you are setting yourself up for the very pain you see on these pages every day?

Trying, I'm not sure I understand what you mean by this. 
This too shall pass.  All is well.


Whoops!  My apologies, Trying - I should've continued reading to the end before posting my question.  You answered it further down.  My bad!
This too shall pass.  All is well.


I still consider my FOO as my family. Although our little family (me, DH and DS) has to be my first priority, the rest of my FOO is not far behind. I think on some level it's a gender thing, even my friends who get along with their MILs still tend to see their FOO more. My brother is the same way. We all needle him about his absentmindedness sometimes (and he laughs about it too), but my mom just sees it as the difference between having a son and daughter. It just is that way to her. She's not upset, resentful, angry or hurt...it just is.

I think that there has to be some sort of balance. One extreme or other will just lead to problems. I don't think that making your wife your first priority has to come at the expense of your mother. I actually find that men who are considerate to their moms make good partners because it shows they have respect for women. There are always exceptions to that as well. And I think the men who can't detach at least a little bit from their moms will have big problems in their marriages. My own MIL has been having a difficult time as of late letting go of the 'mom' role in regards to our son in favor of a 'grandma' role (which in my opinion is way more fun, no 3am crying babies!). It's been causing some friction. I never saw that coming because she always treated DH and I as an independent adults.

lancaster lady

Trying :

As your DH is unable to communicate with you , do you try to compensate through your DS as another
male companion ? Filling the void your DH leaves ?
I mean this in the most kindest way .

It was my DS's birthday on Monday . I offered them a roast dinner on the Sunday , only if he didn't get
a better offer . He celebrated with his DW and DD on the Monday , and I gave him a cake to take home
with him for his birthday . It all seemed to work fine .

Re the MIL / DH question .
When I got married nearly 40 years ago , I tried my best to maintain a relationship with my MIL .
My DH had left home a few years before I met him , and kept in contact with his FOO.
However after we married , he didn't seem that keen to see his DM , no matter how much I
tried to persuade him .Consequently my own kids didn't really know them , also my MIL made no
attempt to contact me , ever . My kids didn't ever receive one gift from her .
Now it looks as if all fingers pointed to me at the time for us losing contact with his FOO.
However it was me who tried to keep it going .
No explanation from my DH whatsoever . I even bought M/Day cards for him to sign and send
which he didn't .
His parents are both now passed and we only receive contact from FOO at Christmas time .

So the DIL isn't always to blame , and perhaps men only have one place in their heart for a female
relationship . Who knows , men tend not to wear the hearts on their sleeves !


Scoop, no problem, understand hot buttons, believe me. After 26 years it was strange, to not see him on his birthday, not devastating, not horrible, but different and strange. Transitions like that are hard for mothers, and my thoughts are your relationship with your Mom remains good because the emotional connection she had with you prior to marriage remains intact. Maybe the issue is daughters do the work of separation with mothers during the teen years and establish an adult emotional connection at the end of that. I don't think sons do, Mom remains their number one girl, getting the privilege of taking care of them, UNTIL they enter a relationship with a SO, then it's "Don't call us, I'll call you."
I'm just trying to wrap my mind around a better way to navigate this mine field. kind of if I knew then what I know now, what would I do differently, hmmmm.


That's exactly what I'm saying LL! As far as focusing on DS to fill the void, no I saw that danger early on because that's what MIL did with DH, because FIl was like a houseplant with a pulse. Saw early on that caused big problems with DH.
The birthday caused a problem a small one kept solely to myself, and well all of you, because of Mothers Day, and every holiday for the past four years...."pfit" gone....Sure I'll do the same thing I do with all the other changes ..make it fine...but failing to acknowledge it's hard to myself keeps me from doing the work I need to do to make all these reconfigured relationships work for ME, because I do still count...to myself anyway.


I think some men just don't have the relationship and coping skills, they want their wives to do it.  Times have evolved where it is acceptable for wives to maintain only her side of the family but men haven't caught up, yet they accept this.  I think some men just don't see it as a problem, sad to say.  They don't see the position they put their wife or Mom in and it's easier for them to ignore it than a female can.

I also tend to think like Scoop said, a lot of women do the heavy lifting and prepping in their relationships with their FOO to establish their adult status prior to getting married while some men don't. 

On the other hand I do several men who are able to do it without problems and some women who aren't able.  In general I think women are better (for whatever reason, I don't know) at relationships but it can happen both ways.
People throw rocks at things that shine - Taylor Swift


Sorry about your situation tryingmybest....

This is a complaint of thousands of MILs everywhere... It's very typical in our culture when a man marries, he leaves his FOO and bonds with his wife's FOO. It's also typical for DH FOO to resents the DW because of this, IMO..

As a DIL, this is my humble opinion:

If your DS and DIL have a child (ren) then I really can't say that he did anything wrong by spending the day with his DW or her FOO. Altough I can certainly see were that would hurt u. As long as he called you or acknowledge you with a gift/card then he has the right to spend that day with his wife. Samething goes for his Bday. Sorry that's just IMO...

Having sons is a blessing (I have three) but I realize that I'm raising them to be MEN... Right now there babies. They follow me around the house, cry when I leave the room, and smile when I enter. They actually fight over who's turn it is to sit next to me on the sofa. But I'm not expecting it to be that way always.. Inevitably there will come a time when they leave the nest, and I will no longer hear the pitter patter of little ones around my house.

Yesterday my oldest came home from Pre-K and actually said "mommy, you're my favorite girl in the whole world". It was so sweet... As sweet as it was, he's not going to always feel that way. The dynamic of my relationship with my children is sure to change as they get older. The best I can hope for is that they'll always love me, communicate on a frequent basis, and see me as often as they can. When they marry I do hope that they will still make time for me, but if they don't I can't blame the DIL. It really isn't a DILs job to ensure that her DH continues to be a respectful son... It's HIS job. Its also not  a DILs job to ensure that her MIL has a sense of meaning and purpose in life. That's HER job.  If your DS is failing to do his job, than the best you can do is have a heart to heart with him.

I'm not sure what the future holds but one thing I know is if I want to have a great relationship with my DSs  GCs, I better make sure that I get along with my DIL... That's just the way it is.


"He is like a house plant with a pulse." I don't think I will ever forget that incredibly accurate description of the person who has totally given up. 

My Take: Each of us has differing experiences and we always have to be careful to remember that the variables are endless. As has been highlighted here many times...my expectations (both known and unformed) can come up against yours. They can all be perfectly reasonable while also being painfully incompatible. Often, the less they are met, the more set in concrete they become.

Most of all, we have to be constantly vigilant on WWU about generalizing. There are no stereotypes; no "DILs" or "MILs." There are just individuals who are struggling internally and expressing externally...some of whom expect others to "fix it"...(whatever "it" is.) We see one person pointing and saying, "If she would only...(fill in the blank.)" and often the person she is pointing at is pointing at her and saying the same thing.

We learn, when we do and if we do...where our influence lies. We find it within and go about reevaluating and taking action, if only of our perceptions. We alter our hopes and dreams, set boundaries, let go of "what isn't" and take responsibility for our own happiness. Is it fun? Does it come easily? Is it what we wanted? We all know that answers to those questions...but/and it's about survival. Beyond that it can be liberating and expanding to at last get off the merry-go-round; even when we fall off and get scraped and bumped in the process. Peace lies in healing...and healing is not for sissies.
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


May 18, 2012, 10:02:10 am #13 Last Edit: May 18, 2012, 10:47:31 am by luise.volta
Thank you Luise, as ever a Wise Woman. Life is an evolving process, and we have to evolve with it, sometimes it's hard though and that's why it helps to talk to women making the same journey.


This is, as always, a "take what you want and leave the rest" forum. Let's just do that and move on. For those who don't want to and prefer to debate...there are many Websites out there for the picking. I'm closing this thread and sending love to all concerned.
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama