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Can you give a little advice to a DIL?

Started by peachykeen, November 21, 2012, 02:33:54 pm

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Hello everyone, I'm hoping you have some advice or words of wisdom for me.  I'm a DIL.  On the surface I have a decent relationship with my MIL, but under the surface I feel a certain amount of hurt, and am trying hard to not take it personally.

My dh and I have been married for two years.  This is the second marriage for both of us.  We each have three children from our first marriages.  Both of us enjoy joint legal and physical custody of the children, but have them in our home the majority of the time.

My MIL remains very close to my husbands ex-wife.  She vacations at MIL's with the kids (MIL lives about 10 hours away from all of us) and her new boyfriend.  MIL has flat out told me that the ex wife is her DIL and will always be her DIL, and that she doesn't really care if I have a problem with that.  She has many times commented in front of dh and I that his ex is her hero, her best friend, that she loves her more than just about anyone else, etc.  My dh is very uncomfortable with the relationship and feels hurt, often that his mom is choosing his ex wife over him.  Myself, I'll admit that it hurts me too.  I understand that they have history and are close, but they're so close that MIL won't even give me a chance, to get to know me or anything.  I'm a good wife to her son, a good step-mom to her grandchildren, and I'd like to think I'm a pretty nice person in general.  I'm almost to the point of giving up on trying to break in to her good graces though, because it feels like a lost cause.  I'm always going to be the outsider to her, and trying but getting kicked down over and over is getting old.

The only thing I've ever done to her is marry her son.  After he and the ex were divorced and she'd purchased and moved in to a new house, he and I met and started dating.  When his ex found out he was dating me she begged him to take her back, said she changed her mind and wanted to try again.  He said no.  So even though I in no way, shape, or form had any part in their divorce, I'm seen as the reason they didn't get back together (that's my opinion, or how I think she feels).  My husband is an only child.  His ex wife was treated like a daughter.

I get it, I really do, and it's not like I want to try to 'break up' their friendship.  What I wonder is if you think I'll ever really have a chance, or should I just get over it, accept it for what it is, and move on?  We only see her a few times a year, and I can be pleasant and cheerful for those few days.  If it's pointless, though, I don't want to continue to put myself out there.  The effort I put into trying would be well spent elsewhere, considering we have six kids we're raising.

Thank you for any insight you can give me.


Welcome Peachykeen  :)

Please read the highlighted items in the category Open Me First.  We ask all new members to do this in order to get a feel for WWU and how we came about.

I think you're on the right track.  Maybe some day MIL will come around but today is not that day.  Being civil and kind when you do see her is a very nice thing to do, especially in light of how she treats you.  It says a lot about your character and I think you should continue to do that in her presence.  However, when she is not around I think you should clear your mind of it and her. 
People throw rocks at things that shine - Taylor Swift


Welcome, Peachykeen. There are a ton of MILs here who would be more than happy to have you as a DIL! I'm sorry you have to deal with the one you've got.

Your DH is understandably very uncomfortable & hurt, but what does he do to support you in front of her? Has he ever spoken up to his mother regarding her overly close (IMO) relationship w/his Ex & her flat out denial of you as a bona fide DIL?

As with so many of our issues here, the DS is often caught in the middle but doesn't do much to help. Many WW here think DSs are the key.

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


Thank you for your replies!  My husband isn't all that close with any of his family (his dad is deceased, he talks with him mom on the phone once or twice a month and sees her a few times a year - when I see her).  He fully supports me as his wife.  She (MIL) isn't mean to me - she's cordial and pleasant, but very closed off - reserving any affection she has for his ex wife.  My husband hasn't really said anything to his mom about it, because it really doesn't have any bearing on our day to day life, and he's a mind your own business type of guy.

The situation isn't one that I can't live with....but I will potentially spend many years (God willing -with her health and whatnot) in the same family as her, and would love to have a close(r) relationship with her.


Quote from: peachykeen on November 22, 2012, 05:36:50 amI will potentially spend many years (God willing -with her health and whatnot) in the same family as her, and would love to have a close(r) relationship with her.

For whatever reasons of her own, though, she doesn't want a closer relationship with you.  It's sad, but it is what it is, and I think accepting it and moving on is your best bet.  Maybe she'll come around, maybe she won't, but you can get to a place where it doesn't really take up much of your emotional energy either way.
This too shall pass.  All is well.


If she doesn't want to have a close relationship with you, and she's been clear she doesn't, there's nothing you can do. If you can all be in the same room together and be nice to each other, you might just have to accept that's all you're ever going to get. It'd be a gift for your stepkids to just keep being polite and civil to her. If your husband is hurt by his mother's actions with his ex-wife, it's his issue to take up with his mom. Understandably, you don't want to see him hurt, but getting involved with that may make things worse.

Don't waste your time or energy trying to fix something you have no control over - her not wanting a close relationship with you.


Welcome to this group.  I was interested in your post.  I had a similar situation actually.  I was previously married, and my ex mother in law was one of my very best friends.  I helped take care of her as she was dying of cancer.  I can understand your feelings about wanting to also be accepted by your mother in law.  My "new" mother in law was already headed into dementia problems, so a great relationship with her was not going to be.  I did help her when she needed and took care of her after surgeries etc, but I was always closer to my ex mother in law.  I can also see where this situation might affect your husband as it is his ex wife.  I never thought of what my ex felt, but since he didn't "have time" to care for his dying mother (even though he was living in her home for free), I was glad to do it.  I hope your new mother in law will try to treat you with kindness and give your relationship a chance.  I must say that if she chooses to keep a relationship with ex daughter in law, I think it should be accepted...but I hope she will give you a fair chance at a friendship as well.  I hope I made sense!  It was easier on me with my "new" mother in law because my husband never was married before.  Best of luck with your situation.  J


Hi Peachy - My sympathies.  My situation is the mirror image of yours.  Only there are no previous marriages or GC involved.  I'm the MIL. The DIL treats us as your MIL treats you. 

DH and I welcomed the DIL to our family, but she would have none of it.  Always civil, but never warm or interested in us in the least.  We tried and tried - and finally gave it up.  It just isn't worth the effort.  We are civil to her for DS sake,  but actually don't give a rat's rear end about her.  Not after years of being rebuffed.  So she wins.  She has possession of our son.  We tried.  She was not at all receptive.  We've essentially lost our son, except for robotic interactions.

You tried, the MIL was not receptive.  But YOU win.  You have possession of her son.  My DIL had nothing to lose.  She gets our son and has nothing to do with us. 

Your MIL, however, has lost a great deal.  By freezing you out, she has really damaged if not totally lost her relationship with her son. 

Do I think MIL will ever change?  No - but that's just my opinion.  I wouldn't hold my breath,  - it's just not worth it. 


Thanks again for the replies.  :)

It appears as though the general consensus is to just keep on as I've been - be cheerful and cordial when I need to be, but don't go out of my way to do any extra.  Which is hard for me. 

Over the holiday this weekend, dh's ex took the kids down to MIL's for a visit.  I saw a Facebook exchange between the two of them leading up to this (their pages are both public), in which MIL said something along the lines of dh's ex-wife needing to give her another grandchild.  My husband saw it too, and got really, really upset.  I have three children (her step-grandchildren) that she very seldom acknowledges unless they're in the same room.  My husband has said something to her several times about this, and she's no longer allowed (by my husband) to send gifts for his kids to our home - she sends them to his ex-wife.  This came about after she sent his three kids DSI's for Christmas, and my three kids each a set of cheap paintbrushes.  >:(   My mom goes to such extremes keeping things even and treating her step-grandkids the same as her bio grandkids (every child gets a $50 check for their birthday, there are no extras for her bio gkids), and it upsets my dh horribly that his mom acts as she does in that regard.  I try hard to forgive these things, because dh's kids are her ONLY grandkids, so of course she wants to spoil them rotten.  If I let myself, though, I can easily become very angry over the slights to my children.  Anyway, she's asking her ex-DIL for another grandchild, when she has three sweet kids clamoring to be loved right here.

Thank you all again for your advice and POV!!


I would be angry as well.  I try to treat my "step" grandchildren with the same kindness as the others.  We refer to them ALL as our grandkids.  It is very hurtful to kids to see things like that, and shame on your MIL.  I refuse to have a Christmas get together and pass out a nice gift to my own grandkids, and not give the others something equally as nice.  That is really mean, and I know how it feels because it happened to me as a child.  My own grandmother had a few "favorites" and once when she ever did give me a Christmas gift it was a pair of underpants...but the "favorite girls" got a tank top and bra and panty SET.  It sounds petty, but I was a child then and I recall feeling like I was not as good as those other grandkids.  If you do for one, do for the others ESPECIALLY if the gift giving is done right in front of all of them...good grief.  I take my "step" grandchildren camping just like I do the biological ones, go to birthday parties, etc...equally!  So sorry your children have to see this.   J


It's a shame your MIL can't see the bonus GCs she's got right in front of her. Especially if and when they're aware of the way they're being treated.

I grew up with a step-GF, who was around before I was born. He was always our Grampy, and never treated us differently. My DF was estranged from his DF, who died when I was a toddler. I suspect even if he had lived longer, we still would not have had a relationship with him.

In our situation now, my DF is remarried and our DS is his only bio-GC (so far). SM has many GCs, but everyone is treated the same. So much so, I didn't find out til well after they were married that one of her GCs was not a bio one. They never ever distinguish between bio or step, and when my stepbrother started dating a girl with a child, they view him as a GC too. All the kids call them by their GP names, regardless who they 'belong' to. I'm thankful that my family has the sense not to put kids in the middle, since they have nothing to do with the choices their parents are making relationship-wise.   


Welcome Pk and so sorry your new MIL doesn't see that she can have a great relationship with you as well.  I kind of get to see both sides of the situation.  I have an ex SIL that was in our family for 20 years.  When my brother and her divorced, my Mom still kept her too.  Now, she treats new DIL very well but she will always have a special place for Ex-DIL in her heart and still includes her in her life.  She's a very good person and was always great to my Mother.  There is what I call a "respect" boundary there though.  My Mother would never invite Ex-DIL over for let's say, Christmas knowing brother and DIL would be there....things like that.  She keeps the relationships seperate out of respect for new DIL.

And I'm in a rather weird situation with my DH.  One of his Sisters has remained best friends with his Ex.  It's even to the point that his Sis didn't come to Thanksgiving at her Mother's last year, choosing to spend it with his Ex and her new husband's family instead.  They talk all the time, hang out constantly and are really close.  His Sister treats me ok, but has no desire to be close to me.   I get it.  Ex was her SIL for many years and they were close.  I wouldn't expect her to just drop her and quit being close to her.  As long as she's respectful to me and treats me nice, I have no issues with it.  It truly is just how it is.  So I accept it and accept that her and I will never be really close.

As far as the kids that's a major no-no with me.  All children, grandchildren, etc. should be treated matter what.
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell


Again, thank you for all of the responses.  Sadly, I think things are going to shortly come to a head with my dh and his mom.  His ex took the kids down to his mom's for Thanksgiving, and has said that she's going to take them again the week before Christmas when she has them.  She (ex) recently had a birthday, and I have as well - our birthdays are less than two weeks apart.  His mom gave her a beautiful, thoughtful (expensive) gift.  She told me happy birthday on Facebook.  So that, coupled with the frequent trips down there, have my husband pretty upset.  We're supposed to be taking a long weekend to visit her in January or February, but I honestly just don't want to go.  I haven't expressed this to my husband, hoping that he'll just call the whole thing off on his own.  I'm debating just staying here with my kids and telling him that if he'd like to go and take his kids that's ok with me.  I'm pretty certain he wouldn't go without us though, and I don't want to be that wedge or that wicked DIL who won't "allow" her son to visit, kwim? 

Part of dh's upset over the extravagant gift for his ex is that his mom has legitimate financial problems (her husband died, she lost nearly everything in Katrina and has a ton of loans, she supports her elderly mom, etc) and we send money every month to help with his grandma and whatever is most pressing.  He feels like the money we sent to help most likely went to the gift for his ex, which it probably did, but I guess we can't dictate where the money goes as it's a gift of sorts.

I also have to finish Christmas shopping in the next few days, so that we can get gifts in the mail to arrive in time for Christmas.  My husband has a pretty crazy work schedule right now, so shopping for his mom and grandma has been left to me, and I just don't know what to get, or really even want to shop for his mom at least.  His grandma has always been so kind to me, calls to chat, has written a letter to my mom, and is just a sweet person.  I have no idea what sort of gift to get for a MIL who doesn't even really care to call herself my MIL. :(


Peachykeen - I had wanted to reply to your post earlier, but I didn't get a chance and then too much time had passed.

BUT - I really want to reply to you now.

First off - stop sending your MIL money.  Obviously, she's not good with it.  If you want to help, then pay her bills DIRECTLY.  It's not right for 'your' money to go to extravagant gifts from MIL to ANYONE.

As for MIL's friendship with your DH's ex.  Unfortunately for you, she's allowed to be friends with whomever she wants.  And if that person is the parent of her GK's, I can see the allure even more so.  MIL's only obligation to you is to be civil.  You can be the sweetest, perfectly ripe, juiciest peach and there will always be someone who doesn't like peaches.


PK, I have a similar gift-giving dilemma with my DIL. She has made it very clear she doesn't like me. She wants nothing from me that will remind her of me for years to come, so I give her gift cards for either a service or a store she likes.

It's really difficult to deal with people who dislike us. At least you aren't losing anyone if you cut off your MIL. If I cut off my DIL I lose my DS.
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb