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Can't find a footing

Started by Beverly, January 16, 2016, 10:21:18 am

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Hi, I'm new here and new to being a MIL. I have 4 kids, been a single parent for 19 years and last May my oldest got married to a women he'd met online 3 years earlier. The relationship between my DIL was bad from the beginning (as in 3years ago). She seemed to come with a predisposition to hate MILs. She is young and uses Facebook in a way that bothered me. She'd say unpleasant things about employers, coworkers, then about me all the time. My DS finally got her to stop but she just made it more secretive as in she'd still say the same things but not attach a name to it. She considers that fine and still does it today. She is needy and is never at fault. I am forever apologizing but then I'm in trouble for not having apologized for the right thing. I went to their wedding (a long ways away at huge expense) because my son really wanted me there. It was obvious I wasn't welcome by her side at all. It was horrible and I was completely ostracized. The wedding was also on the same weekend as my daughter's prom and I had to fly home immediately to make it for her event (she hadn't been invited to the wedding as DIL refuses to have anything to do with her) and being her prom wasn't of a mind to go either. He/they also refuse my wedding gift of ($400) as it wasn't supposedly meant for both of them. ???

This was 7 months ago. And things have gone downhill since then. My son was a loner in high school and university, he had good friends but no girlfriends and his first is the one he married. He was afraid he missed the relationship boat and grabbed on and slipped in under the wire. The thing is - he's happy. That's what I want for him. He feels he's in the middle and has to choose between his wife and mother even though I try to reassure him that's not true. 

Yet I am soooo tired of being in the wrong. The one at fault. Who did it wrong. Who has to apologize to make it all right. I have been doing everything I can to make things right. To be able to see them. She won't come to the house, refused to actually meet me until the meeting was forced by the wedding itself (!!!) even though I asked and invited her to lunch, tea, restaurant, etc on her many visits here over the 3 years until I was blue in the face.

Then about 10 weeks ago they asked if I wanted to do coffee every two weeks at a neutral place in an effort for her and I to get to know each other. I jumped at it. Do you see where this is going? The meeting was a disaster. I left almost in tears. My son contacted me later asking why I'd treated his sweet wife so badly. I was floored. She wouldn't look me in the eye, played on her cellphone. Wouldn't speak unless he spoke to her and never answered a question unless she could give a yes no answer. I tried to explain and he said he'd talk to her. We did a second coffee meeting and it was sooo much better I was feeling great about the future. Then they went away for their delayed honeymoon and when the coffee time was supposed to come around I never heard from him. Sure, my fault too. I have 3 kids at home, my own business and was in the middle of trying to finish house renos - and I didn't contact him. They live an hour away and come into town a lot and figured he'd call me when they would be coming. He contacted me about a financial matter and that's when I realized they were in town but had not planned on coffee. I asked him about it. He said that they needed more interest on my part and that they figured as I hadn't contacted them all week I wasn't interested.

At no time did they consider that they should call me for coffee as they were in town and it was great timing. And of course things have been sliding downhill. Coffee was supposed to be today.  It's not happening. I DID contact him when they got home from Christmas at her place to make sure they were fine, and did contact him this week about coffee. But got a very distressing email from him last night about how he feels in the middle and that until I apologize for comments I made a long time ago (if I made them - I might have but I pride myself on being nice and not mean) and welcome her into the family (something I apparently didn't do properly) then the relationships can't move forward.

He doesn't even sound like himself anymore. It's like htey have a big checklist that they know about but I don't so I can't follow through on anything thus I fail at everything every time.

I cried myself to sleep. :( I feel so many things. Confused. Abandoned. Betrayed. Lost. Alone. But I did wake up with a modicum of peace. I found your website last night and realized I wasn't alone. I might not have been a perfect parent but I showed up for that job and did my best for 28 years of his life. I just wish I knew what to do now. Inside I think I have to walk away. How do I make my feet do that when my heart is tearing in two?

Sorry this ended up horribly long. Suggestions? Help? Am I in the wrong - if so please help me to be in the right. I'm so lost and can't find a footing in this reality of parenthood.


Welcome, B. We ask all new members to go to our HomePage and under Read Me First, to read the posts placed there for you. Please pay special attention to the Forum Agreement to be sure WWU is a fit for you. We're a monitored Website.

My take is there's nothing we can do or say to help someone to be different. Your DIL is how she is, and your son is happy. If she decides to grow up some day...things could change, but only when she does...of her own accord. Her behavior toward you is abusive in my book. It took me a long time, when it happened to me, to learn that I deserved better and that if I accepted such treatment, it was on me, not my DIL. I eventually told my son that my self-respect had returned and I would only interact with them when they saw fit to honor that. She made me wrong and he bought it. It worked for them...and I moved on to being with those that wanted to be with me.
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


Oh B the truth is that none of us 'found our footing' easily.  It is a process and it contained several "aha" moments for me.  The biggest eye opening thought that I had was when it occurred to me that I no longer enjoyed seeing my DS.  I finally understood that the person I wanted to be around, the DS I knew, was gone just like the toddler DS and the teenage DS.  I wish my DS had picked a wife who was more of a partner and a team worker than he did but honestly he seems happy so oh well.  The attitude that the two of them had changed once I stopped trying so hard to get along with my DIL.  It took a while but eventually they noticed that I was no longer knocking at their door wanting to get in.  I was kind of like that high school kid who so desperately wants a friend that no one can stand to be around them.  Anyway we now have a tense but manageable relationship that will never be close but we can tolerate each other for short periods of time.  Not what I wanted but better than the angst of trying to be friends.  She has her job (keep my DS happy) and as long as she is doing that I will stay out of her way.  Sad though.

As for Facebook.....I have a love hate relationship with Facebook.  I finally told my DS/DIL that I was not going to monitor it the way I used to.  I told them that it hurt my feelings and I did not like myself when I felt jealous.  I made it so that my DIL's posts would not show up on my newsfeed but I did not unfriend her.  When I feel like I can handle it I go and check out her page to see what is happening.  She actually stopped posting all about how she and her FOO were with my GC in where ever doing what ever so checking out her page is not the same emotional gut kick it used to be. 

Anyway I would stop apologizing.  You tried that and it did not help. 

Good luck!  Hugs!
Your mind is a garden your thoughts are the seeds
You can grow flowers or you can grow weeds.
Author unknown


Hi Beverly,
While I have not had this kind of DIL issue, I do have a DD who was trying to blame me but not ever be clear what it was about and just "punished" me with the cold shoulder.  Finally when I told her how I expected to be treated and then let go of my end of the rope and turned 180 degrees toward good things and people that wanted me in their lives without playing games, things eventually improved.  I truly feel now that if she chooses not to have a continuing relationship with me, it will not be the end of my life.  It took getting to this point and deciding that I am worthy of respect to know for certain that life will go on with or without her.  Of course I would prefer to have her in my life, but not at the expense of my self-respect.  Luise said something I will always remember: when we allow others to treat us disrespectfully, we are modeling disrespect to them.  It does them no favors.  I'd encourage you to have the talk about respectful treatment and then just let go.  The ball will be in their court and I wouldn't wait around to see what they decide.  They have rigged the deck against you so there is nothing you can do to change the outcome but to say your piece and move on.  Grieving is normal and there is no shortcut except to take care of yourself, be with others who love you, and concentrate on what gives you joy. You have other children to focus on now, as well as yourself.  Wishing you all the best, Beverly.  So many of us can related to your story. Trust me that there is a good life waiting for you beyond the pain of this moment.  That is one of the many things that has given me comfort on this forum.

Green Thumb

I think you have hit the nail on the head to say your son is happy with the wife. Men are often like this, they do what needs to be done to keep the wife happy and to be able to have intimacy with her.  The wife definitely sounds mean spirited and toxic. But she has something your son desperately wanted in his life (sex, excitement, drama, rescuing the damsel in distress so he becomes the knight in shining armor, something). So you have to look at this how she meets his needs in some way and how he has chosen this woman for a reason.

I suspect he married someone with a mental health issue or a personality disorder, which is not something you can fix, you surely can't cure it and you can't change it.

There is some kind of pressure he is feeling, and I guess it is she wants to control him and eliminate his birth family and he wants to see you cause he loves you as his mother. His feeling that you did not call him so therefore you don't want to see him makes me think, 1. his wife has planted this seed in his head to weaken the bond between you, or 2. he is very insecure himself and needs constant attention and reinforcement that he is loved by you. Could it be that since you are busy with 3 children still at home, that he feels "left out" or the "less than child"? Also it is easier to blame the mother than to acknowledge his wife has some major problems.

I have a couple of mean kids that are never satisfied and are out to create trouble and problems and do a lot of manipulating and controlling. What I do is limit my contact and stand up for myself when necessary, and refuse to be forced to JADE: justify, argue, defend, explain when they are being irrational. But I will apologize for anything wrong I do and take ownership for my mess ups. I won't be abused however and if someone is toxic in our lives, well they are just toxic, even if they are our beloved Adult Children or their spouses or whomever.


Welcome, Beverly. I am so sorry you are dealing with this but I'm so glad you found us! It's heartening to realize that we are not alone. You've probably already read many of our back stories. Funny (not really) how so many of our DSs have married "
DILs who share your DIL's qualities.

I agree with the others - you can only take care of yourself. If you are healthy & thriving & not demanding of DS you'll not only be seen as a happy, independent person by DS (who is feeling caught in the middle) and thus not the reason for his stress...he'll possibly be better able to see who really IS the reason for his stress!
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb


QuoteYour DIL is how she is, and your son is happy. 

Focus on what Luise said so clearly and simply. 

Don't invest yourself in your son's life; invest your energy in YOUR life, knowing your son is happy.


I'm gradually learning when and where to set boundaries and when to accept how things are. Thanks WWU  :)

DIL has shown her true colors. DH & our friends have seen it (recently posted on FB, more of an omission of us than an outright hateful comment) and so has DS. I don't need to say a thing. She is who she is, and we all know who we're dealing with. Since I cannot change her, I choose to accept the situation for my own sanity and to keep a good relationship w/DS. I know if forced to choose between the two of us, DS would choose DIL - that's how we raised him, to be honorable and keep his promises!

However, if DIL crosses a line in her overt treatment of me I will not accept that. I will speak up for myself. That boundary is in place, and I think DIL knows not to cross it. As much as I hate to admit it, I think her FOO (who put us down behind our backs) would be shocked if she was openly rude or mean to me.

Some days I'm sad about how things are, but I am grateful that DS lets us know in little ways that he considers himself a part of OUR family and that he loves & respects us. I continue to live my best life knowing that there will be challenges when GC come along - I want to be ready by being a strong, happy, fulfilled, centered person who isn't whiny or needy. If DIL tries to manipulate us out of the picture, I want DS to see me as a person of value, someone he is willing to stand up for!
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb


Good for you, Pen, figuring out when to intervene and when to just let go.  I imagine it gives you a sense of peace in knowing where your boundary is and knowing others are aware of them, too.  You provide us a good example of dealing with a tough situation with grace, acceptance, judiciousness, and a focus on the big picture in your relationship with DS and any future GC.  You have always struck me as a woman who takes the high road and speaks her truth very carefully and thoughtfully.  Those traits will serve you well, no matter what the future holds.  DS knows your values and can plainly see the differences.  How are plans for that spring trip for you and DS coming along?