Author Topic: How to Cope With the Upcoming Holidays?  (Read 3875 times)

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justdontunderstand

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How to Cope With the Upcoming Holidays?
« on: October 05, 2010, 01:53:49 PM »
We haven't spoken to our new DIL since last December. We have exchanged a few short emails--they seem contrived and businesslike but no "real" connection. Our son has been married for a year now. Since the wedding, the trouble we saw coming has blossomed into  benign neglect. No one yells. No one name calls. We just have minimal contact. It is as though we don't exist for DIL. We are not angry or difficult people. We try to treat others as we would like to be treated.

The way I feel is that for four years before the marriage, I did everything I could to let DIL know we accepted her and were grateful our son had found love. She has remained distant, cool and unresponsive. What more can I do? I don't have the energy nor do I know what else I am suppose to do to break through the barriers. I think she has just the relationship she wants with us. We struggle to keep our relationship going with our son. He has now visited twice without her without explanation of why she doesn't come. We have a general "don't ask policy" when it comes to DIL.

We got through last year's holidays without our son. (They went to her family's home). Is having no expectation for holiday visits the answer? Is that how we cope? Will we finally lose the battle to stay connected to our son because he will need to keep the peace at home by always doing what DIL wants during the holidays and otherwise? Why would someone turn their backs on a loving family who has done them no harm? How do we cope with the loss? Thanks for being there for my vent.

barelythere

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Re: How to Cope With the Upcoming Holidays?
« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2010, 02:01:04 PM »
We haven't spoken to our new DIL since last December. We have exchanged a few short emails--they seem contrived and businesslike but no "real" connection. Our son has been married for a year now. Since the wedding, the trouble we saw coming has blossomed into  benign neglect. No one yells. No one name calls. We just have minimal contact. It is as though we don't exist for DIL. We are not angry or difficult people. We try to treat others as we would like to be treated.

The way I feel is that for four years before the marriage, I did everything I could to let DIL know we accepted her and were grateful our son had found love. She has remained distant, cool and unresponsive. What more can I do? I don't have the energy nor do I know what else I am suppose to do to break through the barriers. I think she has just the relationship she wants with us. We struggle to keep our relationship going with our son. He has now visited twice without her without explanation of why she doesn't come. We have a general "don't ask policy" when it comes to DIL.

We got through last year's holidays without our son. (They went to her family's home). Is having no expectation for holiday visits the answer? Is that how we cope? Will we finally lose the battle to stay connected to our son because he will need to keep the peace at home by always doing what DIL wants during the holidays and otherwise? Why would someone turn their backs on a loving family who has done them no harm? How do we cope with the loss? Thanks for being there for my vent.

Dear JustdUnderstand,
Your story hurts me too. I wish things like this didn't happen! They hurt too much.  I'm wondering if she set out to make this happen, to make the distance great between you and your son? They can do that.  I know we as Mothers try but sometimes it isn't in the cards for them to be trying too.  It takes two to make a relationship.  I wish I had something more I could say.  What a cold and hard thing to have happen.  Thinking of you.

Sassy

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Re: How to Cope With the Upcoming Holidays?
« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2010, 05:22:09 PM »
Quote
Is having no expectation for holiday visits the answer? Is that how we cope?


That's how my husband and I cope.  We learned from our minister to have no expectations from family.
It has been tremendously helpful.  And I am not a Mother or MIL.

Quote
Will we finally lose the battle to stay connected to our son because he will need to keep the peace at home by always doing what DIL wants during the holidays and otherwise?


If there are other ways you can stay connected to your son, other than seeing him on holidays, that might be more fulfilling.
Emails, phone chats, visits at other times than holidays are ways to stay connected.  Celebrating the second Saturday in October isn't a holiday, but it is a day - and an opportunity to share something.

Quote
Why would someone turn their backs on a loving family who has done them no harm?


Do you think your son feels he is turning his back on you?  If you do still have an expectation of him coming for a holiday, then I think there is a connection between son and family, for you to entertain that expectation.  He may not be facing you as he once did, but he may not feel he has his back to you.  If he's skewed in his stance, but there's still a little love there from him, though not as much as you would like the way you would like, then focus on that little love.  It's still love.

One thing I've had to learn, and been thinking about a lot lately, is to accept the love people have to give, even if it's not the love I would like to have from them, in the form I would like to have it.  It is an adjustment.  It does take time.  Does being hit up for "loans" (cash gifts) feel like love? No.  Does getting a call on my DH's birthday feel like love?  It can if we want it to, I suppose.  If we leave out the request for money part of the call in our mind's focus, then we can say "hey, it's a birthday call" and take whatever good we can find in that.  If that's what someone has to give, I don't think it's it my power to change that.  And there's a certain releif as well.

It truly sounds like you do the very best you can do.  Making your plans known, keeping an open door.  Sometimes there is peace in knowing you truly did all you can do, gave the best you had to give at the time,  and have no regrets of your own.

Wishing you peace.

barelythere

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Re: How to Cope With the Upcoming Holidays?
« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2010, 05:30:17 PM »
Quote
Is having no expectation for holiday visits the answer? Is that how we cope?


That's how my husband and I cope.  We learned from our minister to have no expectations from family.
It has been tremendously helpful.  And I am not a Mother or MIL.

Quote
Will we finally lose the battle to stay connected to our son because he will need to keep the peace at home by always doing what DIL wants during the holidays and otherwise?


If there are other ways you can stay connected to your son, other than seeing him on holidays, that might be more fulfilling.
Emails, phone chats, visits at other times than holidays are ways to stay connected.  Celebrating the second Saturday in October isn't a holiday, but it is a day - and an opportunity to share something.

Quote
Why would someone turn their backs on a loving family who has done them no harm?


Do you think your son feels he is turning his back on you?  If you do still have an expectation of him coming for a holiday, then I think there is a connection between son and family, for you to entertain that expectation.  He may not be facing you as he once did, but he may not feel he has his back to you.  If he's skewed in his stance, but there's still a little love there from him, though not as much as you would like the way you would like, then focus on that little love.  It's still love.

One thing I've had to learn, and been thinking about a lot lately, is to accept the love people have to give, even if it's not the love I would like to have from them, in the form I would like to have it.  It is an adjustment.  It does take time.  Does being hit up for "loans" (cash gifts) feel like love? No.  Does getting a call on my DH's birthday feel like love?  It can if we want it to, I suppose.  If we leave out the request for money part of the call in our mind's focus, then we can say "hey, it's a birthday call" and take whatever good we can find in that.  If that's what someone has to give, I don't think it's it my power to change that.  And there's a certain releif as well.

It truly sounds like you do the very best you can do.  Making your plans known, keeping an open door.  Sometimes there is peace in knowing you truly did all you can do, gave the best you had to give at the time,  and have no regrets of your own.

Wishing you peace.

Sassy,
I just want to say that I think you are so kind in your writing.  I thank you for that. We are a sad and hurt bunch and don't know what to do half the time.  When we have someone as kind as you are, it's a shock but a nice one.  Thank you so much.   :)

Offline Keys Girl

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Re: How to Cope With the Upcoming Holidays?
« Reply #4 on: October 05, 2010, 06:25:43 PM »
My happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance, and in inverse proportion to my expectations. Acceptance is the key to everything................ Michael J. Fox

Sassy, it sounds like your DIL is playing the same game of "he's mine now" that so many of these new DILs play.

I would consider starting a new holiday tradition, offer to include them and have a deadline where you need a "Yes" or "No" from your son and DIL.  If you don't get an answer by the deadline, I would make new plans and not sit around waiting for them to show up or be polite.  I think the battle has been "won" and now it's a waiting game.  With a 50% divorce rate, who knows your son might be banging on your door soon looking to sleep on your couch one of these days.  There are lots of us in the same boat, sadly, but since this "warfare" doesn't use bullets we can move on and be as happy as possible.

There are lots of people who could use some extra love in their lives around the holidays.  Sounds like you have a lot to give, I hope you find some people who will accept it from you and appreciate you.
"Today I will be as happy as a seagull with a french fry." Author Unknown

Offline Pen

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Re: How to Cope With the Upcoming Holidays?
« Reply #5 on: October 05, 2010, 06:29:34 PM »
I think a lot of the hurt and frustration over the holidays comes from knowing that DS is spending the time with DIL's FOO. If DS & DIL were on a cruise alone it wouldn't bother me so much, but to know that DIL's FOO always gets first pick is a bit much. Our DIL's FOO would take it all if DS let them - he finally got them to agree to an EOY arrangement for "the big day," although they all take a luxury cruise every winter holiday no matter whose year it is. We can't afford to bankroll such an extravaganza so here we sit. DH & I would go somewhere alone but we have a disabled adult child who wouldn't have a holiday if we did that.

We don't have any other family so it really hurts to be left behind. My mom passed away quite a few years ago. DF joined up with SM's family when he married her; she cut him from the herd and he went along with it, sneaking out for a visit on rare occasions telling us, "Don't tell _______! She's really jealous of you guys!" They actually say that they can't see us because it's a "family holiday." Oh, sorry...whaaa?

It's hard for me not to feel sad during the holidays now that DS has also joined another family. How do the DIL/SM FOOs justify this stuff? If I were in their position I'd feel horrible, but they just feel entitled and it doesn't seem to bother them a bit.
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
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barelythere

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Re: How to Cope With the Upcoming Holidays?
« Reply #6 on: October 05, 2010, 06:52:38 PM »
I think a lot of the hurt and frustration over the holidays comes from knowing that DS is spending the time with DIL's FOO. If DS & DIL were on a cruise alone it wouldn't bother me so much, but to know that DIL's FOO always gets first pick is a bit much. Our DIL's FOO would take it all if DS let them - he finally got them to agree to an EOY arrangement for "the big day," although they all take a luxury cruise every winter holiday no matter whose year it is. We can't afford to bankroll such an extravaganza so here we sit. DH & I would go somewhere alone but we have a disabled adult child who wouldn't have a holiday if we did that.

We don't have any other family so it really hurts to be left behind. My mom passed away quite a few years ago. DF joined up with SM's family when he married her; she cut him from the herd and he went along with it, sneaking out for a visit on rare occasions telling us, "Don't tell _______! She's really jealous of you guys!" They actually say that they can't see us because it's a "family holiday." Oh, sorry...whaaa?

It's hard for me not to feel sad during the holidays now that DS has also joined another family. How do the DIL/SM FOOs justify this stuff? If I were in their position I'd feel horrible, but they just feel entitled and it doesn't seem to bother them a bit.

Pen, this might not help at all but I think right now, they are taking advantage of the FOO's wealth and ability to do things they probably can't do. It's enticing to your son but it will grow old after awhile.  He will look around one day and realize that he left some great people behind.  It's not going to be good for them when he realizes all this. 

cremebrulee

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Re: How to Cope With the Upcoming Holidays?
« Reply #7 on: October 06, 2010, 04:15:27 AM »
First, I wouldn't ask my son questions about what they are going to do, if there were problems...it might make him even back off more, from guilt and hurt...(I really believe most of your sons are hurting just as much as you are)

I would directly connect with DIL.  I would plan a Christmas dinner, before Christmas, maybe the Sat. Night before, and ask her directly, not son, if they would like to attend. 

I would ask them about 3 weeks before and if she says yes, then tell her the time, etc.  I think sometimes DIL's would like to be the person MIL asks?  Maybe not, but believe it would make her feel somewhat more important, instead of MIL going to son and asking him?  Explain to her, that you don't want to make her feel obligated to come, however, the invitation is there and if they can't make it, you'd like know ASAP, as you'd then make other plans.  It doesn't hurt to try int?

If she see-saws around, then make other plans with hubby and go...and a Christmas Cruise sounds fantastic...there is nothing more invigerating then going on a Christmas vacation if you can, to get away from all the hustle and bussel.  I did it alot after my son was grown, to simply get away from all that family running around from place to place.  It was really an excuse for me to get away, and it ended up being so much fun. 

I know a gal at work who did it with her family( not her kids, but her extended family) ....everyone made they're own reservations, paid for they're own trip and went, and no one bought anyone gifts, that was they're Christmas gifts to each other.  She just stopped by my desk yesterday and shared with me, that she wished they were doing it again this year...just hubby and her, and were actually contemplating it. 

I've gone to the Bahamas many times or planned a Christmas Vacation by the ocean, b/c I love it so much....I've talked about this so much, to many of my friends, that a friend who just lost her husband is going to do it...she just went to the beach this past weekend by herself for a trial run....and she loved it....the peace and quiet she said was great....

I think we put way to much emphasis on the Holidays...yes, if your family is getting along fine, it's great, however, if your having problems like many of the women here, I would plan something just for me, and for hubby....don't sit home by yourselves, start a new tradition and don't put so much emphasis on your children fulfilling your happiness over the holidays...they won't live up to your expectations....they can't for one reason or other...but be do diligent and very very dedicated to the idea of making a change....

Many resorts put on a lovely Christmas for people who just want to get away...or rent a cabine or villa in a resort for the Christmas holidays...I, myself, find a destination I'd like to spend that time at, and then I start looking on line for a privet home to rent....they are a bit more reasonable in price then the resorts...we owe ourselves vacations....getaways....there is so much beauty out there to see, why stay stuck in a tradition which isn't working and just makes you sad....? 

One thing I must implement again...you cannot, base your happiness on the expectations of your children to fulfill your dreams, be it holidays or otherwise, make your own...don't depend on anyone else but you and the tools you have to work with, and be bound and determined...to start new happy traditions...you are how you feel, and if you think your going to be unhappy, then you will be.

I don't see my kids over the holidays either....either on Thanksgiving or Christmas....they choose to be by themselves with they're daughter, not running around to anyone else's home, but getting up when they choose, opening gifts when they choose, and allowing they're daughter to play with her gifts...then they plan a dinner together, be it at they're home or going out to eat....

I could very easily sit around and sulk, and put myself in a bad place b/c I'm alone, but I don't...I make plans...if you don't make plans to look forward to, the latter will happen.  You must make plans...and plan something YOU can look forward to....

Hugs
Creme

« Last Edit: October 06, 2010, 04:26:16 AM by cremebrulee »

Butterfly Journey

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Re: How to Cope With the Upcoming Holidays?
« Reply #8 on: October 06, 2010, 07:18:16 AM »
My thoughts are with you. I'm not a mother in law but we have a similar situation within my husband's side. He's brother married a couple of months ago and his wife hasn't attempted to socialize with our family for about 3 yrs now. They're wedding day was terrible...story for another time! It's been very hard on my in laws...mostly, my mil. My bil hasn't joined a family holiday for over 2 yrs now! It breaks our hearts but we don't want to rock the boat. It's his choice to attend or not...with or without his wife...and adding pressure makes the situation worse for him at home. My only suggestion is "open invite" with no strings! It's not easy but it keeps you neutral in the situation. In other words...you're not giving your dil reasons to not attend and you're supporting your son in his decisions. My heart is with you!

LaurieS

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Re: How to Cope With the Upcoming Holidays?
« Reply #9 on: October 06, 2010, 07:36:40 AM »
I think a lot of the hurt and frustration over the holidays comes from knowing that DS is spending the time with DIL's FOO. If DS & DIL were on a cruise alone it wouldn't bother me so much, but to know that DIL's FOO always gets first pick is a bit much.

You're correct Pen, that is where the hurt does begin for many.  If the younger married couple chooses to spend time with parents/family over the holidays and there is no physical reason that it can only be with one side then yes  there are liable to be hurt feelings.  At one time my dil tried to tell me that it was her families tradition to spend Christmas and the eve of it together and that she would like to continue (with her family that is).  I asked her if my son ever mentioned any of his Christmases past?  Between you and me it doesn't take that rocket scientist to know that we were probably together as well.  But in her world, it's about her first, and so be it.

I'm not going to refrain from asking my son at appropriate times what their plans are if I need to know in order to complete  my plans.  If he and his wife are there when the question arises, I'll ask both.  I'm not going to play the games with the dil who's first question would be "Are you doing something special?" as in, are you planning a trip? She will suddenly feel that she and dh does need that time with his family after all.  I've never had to 'buy' my kids love while they were growing up and I can't see me doing it now. 

I refuse to be a part of the game.  Matter of fact we did take a New Year's cruise a couple of years ago.  Since it was made perfectly clear that we would not see the kids until the 27th because all the previous holiday days were being reserved for her family traditions.  Then of course they then had to rush back since my ds is in the  military so our time with them would be limited.  I asked DIL what her new year and surrounding plans would be as I needed someone to watch the dogs.  When she realized that  we were taking the cruise she became excited, and well it's a shame that dh couldn't attend but that she loves cruises and this would give her time to catch up with dh's siblings since they did not see them over Christmas.  I believe her feelings were actually hurt upon realizing that she was not being included on the cruise plans.  I probably shouldn't have been but was a little amazed how deeply she valued family, but was willing to even dump her husband to take a cruise and tolerate us in the process. 

So yes Pen, feeling that you're the "other family" does make you hurt and angry at times.  Once again it's the lack of respect.. When my ds asked us to understand we tried, but we aren't trying any longer and now we are  simply stating in words the obvious, our feelings have been hurt .. When ds is beating around the bush about upcoming plans, he's met with a 'whatever' attitude.  When we were invited by them to attend a festival but found out after all plans were made that she had invited her family to join us (yet again) we simply canceled our plans and headed a different direction.   It does not hurt any less but I'm making it perfectly clear that we are not simply pawns in her game of life.

cremebrulee

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Re: How to Cope With the Upcoming Holidays?
« Reply #10 on: October 06, 2010, 08:11:26 AM »
Yanno, last year I had the most awesome Christmas dinner

I had 15 people attend....people who I knew were going to be by themselves and I made a prime rib and turkey....and we had a ball....

one of my Asian girlfriends called me, b/c they always go sking over the Christmas holiday with they're daughter, and they asked me if I was going to be around, they'd like to come for a visit, and I invited them to join us for Christmas dinner....
Yes, it's hard b/c your special someone's can't be there....however, you have the power to still make it a wonderful Holiday if you want....


barelythere

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Re: How to Cope With the Upcoming Holidays?
« Reply #11 on: October 06, 2010, 08:16:58 AM »
Yanno, last year I had the most awesome Christmas dinner

I had 15 people attend....people who I knew were going to be by themselves and I made a prime rib and turkey....and we had a ball....

one of my Asian girlfriends called me, b/c they always go sking over the Christmas holiday with they're daughter, and they asked me if I was going to be around, they'd like to come for a visit, and I invited them to join us for Christmas dinner....
Yes, it's hard b/c your special someone's can't be there....however, you have the power to still make it a wonderful Holiday if you want....

That is wonderful, Creme.  That's turning lemons in the lemonade.  But also, for me, it's like viewing some fabulous treasure and having no one who I loved there with me.  But, you have to do what you have to do for yourself.  Kind of like a facsimile.

Offline luise.volta

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Re: How to Cope With the Upcoming Holidays?
« Reply #12 on: October 06, 2010, 11:00:52 AM »
It often hard to get that they (our adult kids) have created a new family unit and they get to make the rules. We may like them or we may not but it's their right...and they may learn a bit in the process...(or they may not.) Sending love...
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama

erma

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Re: How to Cope With the Upcoming Holidays?
« Reply #13 on: October 06, 2010, 01:06:17 PM »
i like what keysgirl said, "start a new tradition" i think that's what i will do this year. give them a deadline, and then "stick to my guns" so to speak. i will surely miss my GS though, seeing his little face when he runs to my open arms, giggling, saying Nana, Nana!  that's what makes my world go around.  :)
as far as no expectations, well i disagree. i expect my son to treat us with respect and not "turn his back on us". he can be mad, glad, sad, or indifferent, but we treat him and our DIL with the utmost respect, and we in return expect the same. its when we don't get that respect, that we feel hurt. i may not like what their decision is but i will respect it, just as i would expect the same from them. maybe i am outdated, but i will always expect to be treated with respect by my grown children.
hugs

barelythere

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Re: How to Cope With the Upcoming Holidays?
« Reply #14 on: October 06, 2010, 01:22:14 PM »
i like what keysgirl said, "start a new tradition" i think that's what i will do this year. give them a deadline, and then "stick to my guns" so to speak. i will surely miss my GS though, seeing his little face when he runs to my open arms, giggling, saying Nana, Nana!  that's what makes my world go around.  :)
as far as no expectations, well i disagree. i expect my son to treat us with respect and not "turn his back on us". he can be mad, glad, sad, or indifferent, but we treat him and our DIL with the utmost respect, and we in return expect the same. its when we don't get that respect, that we feel hurt. i may not like what their decision is but i will respect it, just as i would expect the same from them. maybe i am outdated, but i will always expect to be treated with respect by my grown children.
hugs

Erma, you're not outdated, you are a nice, kind lady, I can tell.  Bless you.  Hurts like nothing else on earth.  Mine are not out of our lives but honestly because they have married such different people, they are different.  One of our sons seems happy and for that, I'm happy.  The other one, I just don't know what it is.  I think he has bent over backwards for his wife, even to the point of changing jobs a million times to keep from being promoted, which meant moving--  her parents were against that.