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Words and Actions Don't Match

Started by kimmieg08, March 05, 2016, 08:36:12 am

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I'm so glad to have found this group and the wealth of wisdom gained from experience that is here.  I'll try my best to give you the short version of the story.

Our oldest son became engaged in October to a young lady that I like very much.  A couple of weeks later, I found out that he had spoken to the bride-to-be's family in AUGUST asking for their permission/blessing on the decision.  My husband and I had heard nothing of his intent to ask her to marry him until we received the phone call saying they were engaged.  I was (and still am) very hurt that her family's approval was important to him and ours was not.   

They have been living together since July (which I don't approve of), however my son wouldn't share this with us either.  My mom intuition knew what was going on so in January, I asked him when we was going to be honest and upfront with me about what I already knew about their living arrangements.  Again her family knew of and actually encouraged them to take this step.  His reason for not being honest with us was "I knew it would disappoint you."  I'm more disappointed that he couldn't be honest with his OWN family. 

When we had the pow-wow about their living arrangements both my son and his fiance went on and on about how they wanted us to be a part of their lives and how important our opinions are to them.   Prior to this, my husband and I had made all the overtures/made all the invitations to spend time with them and get to know our future DIL.  I have taken her to lunch, for a pedicure, invited her over for a girl's night seeking to build a relationship with her.  Not once has she reciprocated.   After our conversation in January, I made the decision to make no further invitations to them to see if they were sincere in their comments about wanting to spend time with us and be a part of their lives.  After two months we were invited to his home for dinner. 

While I understand and accept that this is their day, I would so appreciate being included in the plans.   We haven't even been asked if there are family and friends that we would like to invite to the ceremony.  They are paying for the wedding themselves and are trying to keep costs down which I understand.  Is it unreasonable of me to expect that they allow us a set number of guests to invite.

Is it just me or do the words and actions not match up? 



Hi Kimmie,
Welcome! While I don't yet have a SIL or DIL (thank goodness!), I do have some thoughts about your questions.  First of all, it is probably too soon to know what the future relationship will look like with your future DIL.  It is too bad that your son could not be honest with you about their current living arrangement, but knowing your values I think he was just trying to avoid disappointing you (I don't think he is the first adult son who has tried to avoid disappointing his parents by omission). He may not feel secure enough in his adulthood to take a stand that he knows is different from what you would want.  I'm sure it was hurtful not to know about their engagement beforehand, while the future in-laws did.  That would bother me, too.

As far as doing things with the future DIL, it is nice that you made several overtures with her. You were smart to give her some space.  They did invite you to dinner after a couple of months.  It is probably not what you expected or hoped for.  But it is something.  And as for the wedding, maybe you can ask if there is something you can do to contribute or help with.  But the wedding is theirs, and they get to decide the guest list.  I wouldn't touch that one if they are footing the bill themselves.  Again, in my opinion, don't have any expectations that they will invite people that you think should be there.  It is YOUR expectations that will bring you down.  As I have read on this forum many times, we are the only ones that control our expectations, and having unmet expectations of our adult children will only bring US down.  They are really only our wishes, preferences, or desires, but nothing more. We need to let them go. Our adult children get to make their own choices now, and so do we. 

You asked if their words and actions matched or not.  Perhaps not, although they may disagree, but maybe the words are an expression of hope for the future.  None of us knows.  Plus they are now planning a wedding, working (I assume), and figuring out a lot of things as relatively new couples living together do.  All that takes time and a lot of mental energy.  They may have said they want your advice, but I would tread lightly in that area and only offer it if asked. 

I wish you well!


Welcome, K. 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 are a monitored Website.

My take is to list everything that has been pleasant and has worked for you and focus there. Although young, your son and his intended are adults and have the right to choose how they interact with others. They have a lot to learn just like we did when we were that age. We may not have done the same things, however we had to learn as we went along...just like they must. Our expectations are not their issue...they are ours. What I learned was that the more I kept mine to myself, the smoother things went for me. It was hard for me to get that my parenting days were over and that respecting my two sons as emerging adults was the next step for me to take. Part of my lesson was to learn not to judge then and interfere...their adult choices were none of my business. And the only way I survived that radical change was to focus elsewhere and get on with my own post-parenting life. That was a long time ago...I have a great granddaughter that is 22!
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama

Green Thumb

My suggestion is to pick your battles and remember that our kids are not our friends. They do not want to be our "best friends" or see us weekly, in many cases. They have their own lives and need to learn to be independent and create their own families and careers, etc. I have a mixed bag of adult children, some are friendly, some are mean, and some are distant. Getting invited over after two months is better than I get! So I would say this is a good thing.

Your son did not tell you the truth about their living situation because he knew you would get mad. Our kids live their own lives and morals have changed. While I agree with you on living together, what we think doesn't change how they think.

If her family is all in their business, they don't have room for you to be all in their business. She will choose her family, this is natural, and your son will go along with her because this is his intimacy partner.

It is their wedding to make their choices. I was not included in the planning for both of my daughter's weddings. But they each had a (future) MIL that was chomping at the bit to control and plan and do everything for them for the wedding. So I felt one more mother involved was too many! I had to make my one daughter invite my sister, my only living relative!


Green Thumb,

I fully understand that my son has his own life and I really don't want him camped out on my doorstep.  Guess I'm unusual in that I really like the empty nest.  :D  We have done our best to give them space and only invited them over/out about once a month.  As I told my FDIL, I don't want to be her mom or her "bestie" but I would like for us to be friends.  I'm left to conclude that that isn't something she wants since she has never been the one to extend an invitation in two years. 

Truly, I'm just about at the point of signing off and out of the wedding and all its drama. 



K., our forum is a 'take what you want and leave the rest' Website. Other members just toss out whatever they do and there is never a need to explain ourselves, take exception to posts or debate an issue. There are many sites where this is how it works but not here. We just share what our own experience has been and our point of view regarding what another member is up against. More hugs...
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama

Green Thumb

Kim, I do understand how you feel left out and perhaps stepping back for a while as you said would be helpful. Doing so has helped me in the past to be able to let things go and see things from other perspectives. I like to remember how it was for me as a new wife -- my MIL was nosy, bossy and I was polite but didn't want her in my life much and frankly, didn't think of her much at all! My husband didn't want his mother around either. T that age, I also didn't want to see my own parents that much, couple of times per year was enough. And yet, it so interesting how my adult children (AC) who are married have MILs that are so very much into their AC lives, they see them all the time, the MILs know all about what is going on in the AC lives, the Mothers raise the grandchildren, and the MILs control everything. It surprises me to see my AC put up with these MILs, but frankly, it isn't my business. It has taken time to accept my "out mother" status and sometimes it hurts my feelings. People on this forum will give you insights, ideas, their situations, and it doesn't always work for the original poster. It is meant to give perspective. Many times we become angry when we have expectations and they aren't being met, this is called being human. Some here would say, have no expectations and you won't be disappointed.


I'm a DIL so this is my opinion and I maybe wrong.

First, it tends to be tradition to ask the bride's family for her hand in marriage. So that's why he probably did it, while he was in excitement mode he probably either didn't think to tell you at the time or wanted to surprise you with the information. Or he could of been scared of what she would say and wanted to wait and tell you if there was only good news.

Second, most kids are scared to disappoint their parent. I don't think he wanted to hurt  you with withholding this information, I just think he didn't know how to tell you.

Third, are they having a small wedding? They may want to keep it to a few close family and friends. If there paying for it they may not be asking either family for a list. However, if you have a list maybe try to approach your son and ask to be involved with the wedding. Maybe ask to help him go over the guest list with his bride and help them double check they didn't forget anyone important. If you notice a few individuals that you really wanted there, and are not on the list. Perhaps ask, "We're you planning to invite so and so, I just want to make sure you don't forget anyone. I want this day to be perfect for you guys, and make sure you don't forget anyone you want there." Just be kind because you don't want to burn bridges, and brides can be very sensetive when it comes to their wedding.

Keep inviting your DIL to stuff, she may otherwise feel you don't like her and are cutting her out of your life. And in turn may also cut you out. So be the bigger person she'll appreciate someday.


You might be setting a precedent for how you want to be treated. My DH & I totally backed off over the wedding (even though we were paying for the "groom's FOO's share.") What this said to DIL/DIL FOO/DS was that we would gladly shuffle to the background & let DIL's FOO always be the main event.

I agree that you might want to ask about the guest list. Making them answer you might make it clear to your DS that things are kind of one-sided where family is concerned. I did do that much (we were finally allowed 6 invites compared to DIL FOO's 50+!) DS saw the unfairness right away.

It isn't my style, or DH's, to push our way in or speak up and make demands. Other than the invite issue, we did not speak up and now we have a lot more work to do to be seen as equally deserving of consideration. The tone was set years ago! We probably could have found non-confrontational ways to remind them we existed, lol.
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb