I want to start by apologising profusely for the length of this post!
I am a man who has decided to register here because I was googling for forums where I might get some advice about this issue, and this one came up. I really hope that it is okay for me to be here as it would be good to hear the perspective of any mothers in laws.
I am a 39-year-old man who has been married very happily to my wonderful wife for a little over six years. Been together for 9 years. We have a settled and content life together and have never had any major relationship issues, except for very occasional squabbles which are never about anything huge.
The issue is this. For a long time now, I have had a feeling that my parents do not like my wife. And this has recently been confirmed.
My wife, who is the same age as me, is a lovely, kindhearted and very caring woman.
She has a health condition which means that currently she is not in employment, however she spends her time studying distance learning courses and running our home. She worked full time up until around four years ago. Her previous profession was a very demanding one.
She does do the occasional temporary role as and when her health allows but I know that the situation of not being able to work properly bothers her greatly. Not a concern to me either way because we managed perfectly fine on my salary alone but I know that she does want to go back to work when her health improves. We do not have any children, this is partly related to her health.
A bit of a back story which may or may not help... my parents are not the most touchy-feely of people but I always grew up feeling loved and cared for and I know that they would always be there for me if I needed them and vice versa. We speak on the phone once every 10 days or so, they are happy with this and so am I. Sometimes we email. We live many miles apart and have done ever since I left home. unfortunately we only get to see them a couple of times a year due to the distance (quite literally the other end of the country).
My wife’s experience with her own parents is very different - she speaks to them over the phone every day, and video chats a couple of times a week. They are very open emotionally as a family, and my wife can talk to them about any matter which may be bothering her.
She has told me that she has found my parents to be stand offish in the past but I have always reassured her that this is just the way they are. She has asked me quite a number of times over the years about whether they like her, I until recently had always thought that they did. I base this on the fact that when I speak to them the phone, they pretty much always ask how she is. They chat to her absolutely fine whenever we see them. My wife always asks them open ended questions about how things are in their life, what they have been up to, she takes an interest in their hobbies. , and the like.
I have to admit over over the years, though, I have noticed that they very rarely ever ask my wife anything about herself. But this is also the way my parents are as people. They don’t tend to pry into other peoples lives.
However... something happened recently which has sadly made me question whether it is indeed the case that my parents do not like my wife.
We were visiting my wife’s parents last week. Whilst there, we decided to have a video call to my parents. Our parents all get on well and have not seen each other since before Covid. We thought that they could say hello to each other through the video chat. When my mum answered the video call, she was really pleased to see my wife’s mum, and they had a good chat for about 15 minutes. My wife then took over the call and the reception from my mum was distinctly cooler. It was pretty obvious.
So, a few days ago, I decided that I would ask my mum this question directly. My wife was upset, and as I had started to question things myself, I decided that trying to have an open discussion with my mum was the best way forward. I do not have emotionally deep conversations with my parents and so this was difficult for me.
After exchanging the usual pleasantries, I told my mum how I was feeling and asked her how she felt about my wife. I heard my mum sigh down the phone. She paused and then told me, "If you are happy together then what does it matter what anybody thinks about her?” She tried quickly to change the subject but this was not good enough for me. So I took a deep breath and told my mum her outright that my wife felt that they have never accepted her... and her very nonplussed reaction to my wife coming on the video chat the other day had also made me start to feel this way.
Then the truth came out and I was truly shocked and saddened. My mum told me that she “did not know what my wife’s function was”, because she is a childless housewife currently. I told my mum that my wife struggle a lot with her health condition and she is trying her best to seek support for it but it is difficult for her. She has never had a burning desire to be a mum, similarly I have never had a pressing need to be a father neither, and so we are in no desperate rush to try for a baby even if my wife’s health allowed. I also told my mum that before her health went downhill, my wife had a very rewarding and worthwhile career, which she does want to return to eventually. And then said to me that she and my father had always tried to accept the “bad decision” they felt I had made, to get married to my wife.
I have never felt that it was the wrong decision for me, I love her more than words can say and never regret marrying her even with the health issues.
I have two younger brothers and between them they have five children, my parents world revolves around their grandchildren (to the extent that one time I had to have an operation and they could not come and see me afterwards in the weeks that followed when I was laid up at home, recovering... the reason was because they were babysitting, but that is another story...).
I asked my parents if they somehow felt disappointed that we have failed to produce any grandchildren for them so far. My Mum said that she feels disappointed because I would’ve made a good father and that my wife is holding me back! This is not how I feel at all though. My attitude has always been that my relationship with my wife comes first and if children come along at some point then that is great... but if not then we will still have each other and be happy together. My mum then very hurtfully said that it was a good job my other two brothers and their partners had produced grandchildren because they would be “stuffed” if it was just up to my wife. I was greatly hurt by this upsetting comment. I have obviously not relayed this back to my wife.
My wife’s health problem and the medication she takes for it, means she has been quite overweight for a few years now and I get a distinct feeling my mum especially has an issue with this. She has been quite blunt in her delivery with this towards my wife over the years, directly telling her that maybe she should attend slimming world. My wife has politely laughed these comments off, but Afterwards has confided in me that it did upset her.
I truly do not know what else my wife can do to further endear herself to my parents . Yes, she does not currently have paid employment. But she fills her days with as much activity as she can manage. Always has a book on the go, trying to learn things and expand her knowledge. Keeps a good routine, doesn’t lie in bed in the mornings, and gets up early cracks on with whatever she has to do, no matter how unwell she is feeling. She does a fantastic job in keeping our home, cooks lovely meals and takes care of our dog. She is always there for her friends and spends time cultivating those friendships. She checks in regularly with the elderly lady across the road from us. She is a good person, basically. There are occasions when I do have to pitch in with some household chores now and again if she is feeling especially unwell, but I do not mind this.
So what I am just hoping for, is some opinions from people here who have daughters in law, how is that relationship for you? What can my wife and I do about the situation? Surely the most important thing is that I am happy with my wife? Why is this not good enough for my parents? It’s such an upsetting situation for us both and I’m trying to understand it as much as I can. Thank you to anybody who has taken the time to read this.
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