DIL's Family Comes First or Else

lost1of3December 1, 2008

My DIL and ES spend all holidays with her family and fit seeing my ex in whatever time they have left (if any). They do not miss coming to town to celebrate birthdays with her family but always have excuses for missing my son's family events such as his brother's college graduation. I often feel that I was eliminated so that they would not have to try and fit in one more family. My ex and other sons just take it because they have seen how easily I was cut out of their life. DIL and ES have accused me of talking down to my son when they prior told me much worst things that her mother has said like "my son was not good enough, etc." and yet when I told my son I thought he would regret quitting college with only 4 months left to graduate I am so horrible I have to be eliminated (this is the only direct thing they have told me I did to upset them). It just seems like I and my family are being held to a different standard. How can she justify her anti-family treatment of his side and be so family involved on her side?

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What/who is ES?

    Bookmark   December 1, 2008 at 1:30PM
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I used ES for my Estranged Son.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2008 at 2:39PM
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I am sorry for your estrangement.

I admit it, I do that with my dad's family. They (the "other family"(steps) have get togethers which don't include us (the "biologicals") and even plan them right in front of us or discuss the last one we weren't included at sometimes! So I just don't go even when I am invited. I do go if it's dad's get together and we're all invited. Ironically, they'll even bring gifts for all of "them" and none for "us" even if we bring them for them??? Heck, we were sitting at the table last Thursday when dad decided it was a good time to tell the "bios" that he suggested the wife not give us her money as an inheritance at all! WTF? No one was asking. And if I'm supposed to consider and treat her like family, why am I not hers? We were talking about my future finances and how I was considering cashing in my 401 for a downpayment on a house. No death thoughts and I wasn't asking for a handout, just laying out my plans for the next six months. I'll be debt free when I do it. Ground zero for retirement, but debt free. How does that sounds like I want her money?

Some people are just weird. Who knows what's going on in your son's head or how it's being tuned by the DIL. Phooey on them.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2008 at 4:20PM
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'How can she justify her anti-family treatment of his side and be so family involved on her side?'

Because she is a selfish, immature person. It's all about her need for control. She is probably jealous that your son might have a relationship with you. It's probably all about her. I have a friend whose dil treats her almost the same way. They have never had words. Her dil will even hint for my friend to fix dinner, yet she will not lift a finger to help cook, do dishes, etc. The dil will have HER family over for dinners, etc, yet my friend and her husband have never been asked for dinner ever. DIL has even made fun of her husband, in front of his mother, saying 'awwww he has to talk to his mommyyyyyyyy'. Can you believe that? It's not an estrangement, but it wouldn't surprise me if happens some day. I think the dil is working for that.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2008 at 5:10PM
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Maybe they see her family because there's no drama going on with them.

Just a thought....

    Bookmark   December 1, 2008 at 5:19PM
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sniffles: generally I agree that when a DIL only does for her own family, it is because she is selfish. And yet..........obviously there are many situations where there are relatives that create pain. And space is a means of emotional survival.

And do not be so sure that your friends DIL is responsible for the problems. Your friend may be wonderful around you and everyone else you know. She may behave very differently with this DIL, and it may be your friend who created the problems. Always remember that there can often be two sides to a story, and if you knew BOTH sides, your conclusion might be very different.

People can often be wonderful among friends...their social mask firmly in place. But it is family who often see sides of someone even long term friends may not be aware of.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2008 at 11:07AM
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First, I'm sorry for your estrangement. This comment doesn't sound offensive on the face of it "yet when I told my son I thought he would regret quitting college with only 4 months left to graduate..." Sometimes though it is is not what one says, but how they say it--the tone in the voice, whether someone sounds angry or belittling. Also, the history of communication between two people--if there is a history of the person feeling criticized or their feelings dismissed. I'm not saying that you do this...I'm just offering a bigger intrepretation, because it's difficult getting a handle on the situation from what you've written here.

Also, when I was first married we were expected to drive 4 hours to see our respective relatives. His were divorced (angry and bitter) and seeing everyone was emotionally draining and exhausting. I started hating the holidays then, because of feeling so overwhelmed. Also, it was always clear that my in-laws were hostile towards me and viewed me as a threat to their control over their son. They flat out didn't want me around, which was very evident in their behaivors. I'm certain her friends and outsiders were very unaware, because of her social mask being firmly in place. We probably spent more time with my family, because unlike my husband's family they included him and were considerate to him--they just treated me poorly.

I'm not saying that you behave like my in-laws did. I don't know enough about the situation. I used to feel that there was one set of rules for my mother-in-law and in-laws and a different set applied to everyone else. She just could never find it in her heart to accept me. It was all about her.

You are probably right that he will grow to regret quitting college. It sounds like that his choice though, even if you disagree and there is little that you can do about it. You cannot control other people. He will have to live with his choice and bear the responsibility of it and that is NOT about you. That is all about him, despite your desire for him to make a different choice.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2008 at 1:02PM
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Thanks to all the feedback. I would like to fill in some of the missing information. When I told my son that I thought he would regret quitting school, I also told him "but this is your decision and if this is what you really want to do then I will never bring it up again." His response was "Mom I know you just want me to be happy." I thought that was the most grown-up statement he had ever made and I thanked him for understanding. We spent the weekend together after he left school on his way to be with her and had a wonderful visit. I never tried to persuade him not to be with her. At this time, I had only met her a few times and really had no reason to not like her and every reason to like her. Up until this point I had tried to include her and her mother when they came to town so that what little time they had to spend with family she would get to spend even more time with her mom. I was never invited to her mother's home. But again at the time thought nothing of it. They didn't date but just a few months when they first met before they broke up. I knew he was crushed about the break up because this was the first person he had ever dated that I could tell he was truly in love. But over the next 6 months he picked himself up and got himself back in school and was doing great when she showed back up wanting a 2nd chance. I knew from that moment it wouldn't be "if" they got married it was just a matter of "when".

Distance wise - DIL mother lives about 10 minutes from my home. My ex and I have a good relationship, we have even often celebrated things like graduations, and birthdays together. In fact when my ex remarried, one of my sons offered my house to be used for the guys to get ready. I thought it a bit weird, but was glad they felt that comfortable. So DIL had never been around us that much and never around us when there was any drama going on.

She possibly believes that I hold her responsible for my son quitting school and that might be where it is coming from but I never blamed her for that. I can't say that after going on 2 years without talking to him I don't feel she may be contributing to the problem. In the first 4 months of going to be with her he gave up his car, his cell phone, his career, his college, time with his brothers, most of his friends, and me and my whole side of my family. She has her Master's in Psychology and I wonder if she is using it on him to control him or helping him understand the problems we never recognized or addressed before her. Whose to say, I will probably never know or completely understand. Too bad because I would have no problem trying to work it out with them if I was given the chance.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2008 at 2:28PM
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"In the first 4 months of going to be with her he gave up his car, his cell phone, his career, his college, time with his brothers, most of his friends, and me and my whole side of my family."

If she were a man instead of a woman, it would be easy for everyone to see what is going on. Just like any other abusive or controlling person, they must first isolate their new love interest. Then they can start working on them emotionally, before you know it you have a co-dependent situation on your hands.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2008 at 4:22PM
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From what you describe above it does sound like she is controlling--giving up all that he has to be with her and in this case it does sound like she may be contributing to the problem.

My situation was different, although I think to outsiders who did not know his family, or me that they may have construed my behavior as isolating too. They never saw the other side of my husband's family's behavior. I'm better at communication now. We were focusing on our life together, so that we could have a chance and not have others imposing demands on us.

I felt upset when he would get involved with his family because of all the drama involved and the negative outcome and also their rejection of me (they didn't know me and slammed the door in my face). I would not have been so leary or insecure had they treated me better and not been so emotionally abusive.

My situation sounds very different from yours though. From what you say she does sound controlling.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2008 at 5:33PM
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missedd_2008 - I think that would be worst but have to admit is something I worry about.

flowergardenmuse - I am so sorry that you were never given a chance. Your in-laws are truly missing out. I hope things will one day change for you.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2008 at 7:36PM
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lost1of3 - There is always the hope that he will come to his senses and say "WAIT A MINUTE!" and realize what he has given up for her, especially if she just keeps taking and never giving.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2008 at 7:54PM
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MY IL's could easily have said I was keeping their son and grandchildren from them... however DH/their son had no interest in visiting with his family and truthfully I did not feel it was my responsibility to make sure my kids got to see his family if he didn't care about it... now let me also point out that his family lives 16 hours away by car and I have 3 children... so to visit we'd need either 4-5 plane tickets or 4 days of travel time (2 there, 2 back) plus time to be there...

My family lives 8 hours away by car... I would occasionally... NOT routinely... make that trip with my children when they were younger and I was not working and they were not in upper grades of school... now if we get there once a year it is a lot.

His parents have both passed now. I don't believe we will ever travel back to 'home' for a visit with his sister who still lives there... but to be fair she has only once made the trip to us, while we've been there at least a dozen times in the past 17 years...

This is a complaint I personally have about families that live a distance away, especially grandparents who are capable of travel... it is WAY easier for the grandparents to come to the parents and children than it is for the parents to travel with the children to visit... For whatever reasons both his and my parents felt it was their god given right to stay at their houses and expect us to ALWAYS come to them... with all children in tow... hmm let's see... 5 airline tickets for us or 1 or 2 tickets for then (we even offered to pay for them) or 16/32 hours in the car for us round trips... excuse me for asking but why is it so hard for older adults to pack up and visit thier children out of town??? at least in our case this was totally a no go topic with the parents/grandparents...

    Bookmark   December 2, 2008 at 9:16PM
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That really does not sound fair. I'm sorry this is happening.

I'm not on the other end of the relationship yet. That is, I am a DIL, but not a MIL. Kids are young. It seems that every couple I know is closer to one set of parents than the other. It's not always her parents, it's mixed. The reasons vary, the degree varies. But it always seems that the relationship with one side is great with the other is stressful. Still, it's worth the effort. In our case, we have an easier time with my parents. Even DH is less stressed over visits with my parents than with his.

I manage the family relationships in our marriage. That's by default, not b/c I'm controlling. DH just doesn't do it. So if I don't, there would be no relationship. I talk to his mother more often that he does, I plan trips to visit. Probably half the visits the kids have w/DH's parents, I took them without DH. It's possible that in the first couple years it looked like it was my fault. We all lived in Ohio, us and all our parents, and I am close to my aunts and cousins, too, while DH barely knows his. So I took the first grandchild to visit my family a lot more often than DH's. If DH was busy on a Saturday, I went to my family to visit.

DH grew up rarely seeing his grandparents or extended family. Theirs was not a close family. It seems like that's how he thought it was "supposed" to be. On his mother's birthday when I say "Did you call your mom?" He seriously asks "Why?" It does not enter his mind that she might expect/like a call from him to say happy birthday. I pick out Mother's Day cards and make sure he signs them, then I write a nice long letter and mail it. Sometimes I wonder why I do it, it should not be my responsibility. And a different wife might not do it, especially in this generation when it's not seen as the woman's job. But I can't leave it, make her wonder why her son doesn't communicate with her. It's not that he doesn't want to communicate with her, he just doesn't want to communicate. Period.

At the same time, they don't come visit us. They are retired and even drive from FL to OH every fall, and back in the spring. They have to drive past us to get there, and usually stop for the night, never longer, not once. And sometimes they don't stop at all. When MIL calls, half the time she only gets me. She does not ask how the kids are doing, she goes on and on about other people I dont know. She does not ask to talk to the kids.

My parents come and stay with us at least once/year, go places, see the kids play their sports. They call and talk to the kids. The relationship is reciprocal, I guess. With DH's parents, it just is not. I can see a look on MIL's face when I mention visits we've had with my family, resentment or at least annoyance. But what can I do? I cannot build that kind of relationship with her if I wanted to, she does not make herself available to it. DH does not value the extended family relationships.

Anyhow. That is not your case, I can see that. I kinda whined my own whine there. Sorry. I just wanted to share my experiences, maybe something there gave you some insight, a thought you had not heard before, something. And to say it seems to be the case for every couple we know, that it is not balanced between the sets of parents. Not that it's right, but you are not alone, others struggle to work this out, too.

I'm sorry they do not see how they are hurting you. It is not fair.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2008 at 10:56PM
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Thank you for your kind words. I don't have hope that it will ever change. My mother-in-law died, she was a very rageful alcoholic. She blamed everyone and never took responsibility. Her second husband died too. He was also an alcoholic, but he worked the AA program and became sober. She refused. She was self-absorbed and oblivous and created pain for everyone that she came in contact with. They were both high functioning alcoholics and their associations, work and otherwise would never had guessed about how destructive and cruel their behaviors were. Even though they are deceased one still struggles with the behaviors....I'm probably not expressing this adequately today...

The others are still alive and continuing with their destructive family legacy. It feels good to have a forum to talk about it though, especially with people who may understand the complexity.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2008 at 2:12PM
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My SIL is the same way. Her family comes first and when my parents were alive she seldom came along for family dinners. They have been married for 20 years and I have been in their home twice. I quite doing holidays at my house because my pain levels get quite high with all of the extra work. I did do it last year and they came but didn't do it this year. They don't even call me. Ever. My only niece ended up in the hospital with such severe anorexia that the doctors told her that her heart could stop at anytime. My SIL is was a nurse by the way. My niece was an inpatient for 5 weeks. My SIL stayed near the Hospital (an hour away from the town that we all live in).
I found out by way of my DD and My Space. They never called me. This was last May. I haven't spoken to them since I had Thanksgiving at my home in 2007.

I am disappointed that my brother has chosen to be this way. I was devastated when my parents would cry over it. SIL's family rules everything and is full of drama. I told my brother that I wanted to see them more and he said that they were pretty busy with her family.

Granted this is not my child but non the less very difficult to understand. I have accepted it. However sad it makes me.

I believe that most things said or done should be forgiven. Unless a parent is mean, controlling, unstable or dangerous I can't see not seeing them. I had issues with my mom and dad but I wanted them in my life and would not have kept their grandchildren from them. I forgave A LOT. I was the target for most of my mothers rage and when she died my brother told me that he couldn't believe how forgiving I had been to her. For Heaven's sake...she was my mother. Imperfect, hard to deal with, judgemental but she was my mom. I only had one and now that she is gone I miss her so much. I hope that your son will come to his senses and include you in his life. You just never know how long you have. I knew I couldn't live with regrets. I hope your son doesn't have to.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2008 at 3:44PM
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Believer - How true. You know I think it is probably really normal for people to have issues with their parents. I do as well, but like you, I have no desire to break all communication because I don't agree with them. That's like throwing out the baby with the bath water. My parents made big mistakes in parenting, but considering the parents they had, and their parents had, they actually did well. Yes they did things that I would never do (but I'm sure I did things my kids will never do as parents) but I always knew my parents loved me and for that I would never purposely hurt them. I guess that is another reason this whole ordeal is so pathetic. I know my son knows I loved him and still do and yet he allows me to continue to hurt. I hope he reaps better than he sows.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2008 at 7:14PM
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