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to ask advice from any mothers in law

(70 Posts)
Sadson Sat 22-May-21 02:45:14

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.

Susysue Sun 23-May-21 01:18:47

Outside Dave, I think that is a little harsh. At the end of the day, sadson's parents still deserve to see their son and have a relationship with him as they sound like they have been good parents. I think there is something which has been possibly said or done in the past by perhaps sadson's wife which has hurt his mum greatly. Maybe I am wrong, but most mums who love their sons are hoping to get on with their DIL. Or maybe it is the case that blood is thicker than water and the MIL will always make judgments which are unfair. There is normally two sides to every story. But sadson, please don't turn your back on your parents either. Before you know it, they may not be here. As someone else suggested, go and visit them on your own and sit down and chat about things. Otherwise things will fester and never come to a compromise or improvement. I agree with someone else who said that the parents of sons are unfortunately left out compared to the DIL parents. This can be hurtful. Hope things improve

Summerlove Sun 23-May-21 01:23:01

theworriedwell

Summerlove

Aren't most people more open and lovely and chatty with people they gel with?

Sure. But you think you’d try to fake it.

A DIL acting lovely and chatty with a friend and then shutting down for a MIL seconds later would be slated and put down endlessly.

If someone is important to someone you love, surely you try your best?

It sounds like they did try to fake it, OP has said they were never nasty, always asked about her and chatted to her, the OP never thought it was anything other than just how they are.

Pushing people for an answer isn't always very wise.

Doesn’t sound like they faked it well, DIL knew she wasn’t liked.

Sometimes it takes something extremely blatant to get people to see how their own family reacts

Summerlove Sun 23-May-21 01:26:15

* OP has said they were never nasty, always asked about her*

They ask a third party about her. They never actually ask the wife anything about herself.

That’s not actually very nice. It’s barely civil.

OutsideDave Sun 23-May-21 02:40:56

Susysue

Outside Dave, I think that is a little harsh. At the end of the day, sadson's parents still deserve to see their son and have a relationship with him as they sound like they have been good parents. I think there is something which has been possibly said or done in the past by perhaps sadson's wife which has hurt his mum greatly. Maybe I am wrong, but most mums who love their sons are hoping to get on with their DIL. Or maybe it is the case that blood is thicker than water and the MIL will always make judgments which are unfair. There is normally two sides to every story. But sadson, please don't turn your back on your parents either. Before you know it, they may not be here. As someone else suggested, go and visit them on your own and sit down and chat about things. Otherwise things will fester and never come to a compromise or improvement. I agree with someone else who said that the parents of sons are unfortunately left out compared to the DIL parents. This can be hurtful. Hope things improve

There’s no evidence that DIL has done anything ‘wrong’ besides being ill, childless; and fat. Good parents would place their sons happiness above their preferences for their children in law. The fact that they won’t; that they care more about their expectations than recognizing that their son is in a loving, happy, supportive marriage with someone he clearly adores- and they can’t even be bothered to attempt to get over their ableist and condescending ‘disappointment’ and create a loving respectful relationship with this woman- means that they do NOT ‘deserve’ anything from their son. Let them play happy families with their other sons and let those DILs pray they are never injured, take ill, get fat, or become redundant and see their ILs opinions of them sink as they did for the SIL. Husbands should stand by and support their wives- sadson I hope you’ll apologize for not believing your wife all these years and probably making her feel gaslight. I hope you realize what a huge apology she’s owed for that, and if you do retain a relationship with your parents you do so while prioritizing her feelings and needs.

lemsip Sun 23-May-21 03:09:06

as you only see them a couple of times a year I don't know why it's a problem. The video idea was not a good one under the circumstances. You and your wife are fortunite to have a sound marriage.

Daisymae Sun 23-May-21 09:37:36

Well now you know. There's no putting the cat back in the bag. I would think that the only way forward is to minimise contact. Every time you meet up you will know that any display of affection towards your wife is a facade. Your wife has been a caring daughter in law and it's really counted for nothing with your parents. If this is what your mother said to your face you can only imagine what is said in the car on the way home. You have a strong marriage and obviously care for each other which is more than a lot of people have.

Smileless2012 Sun 23-May-21 12:50:39

I've sent you a private message RAJONESsmile.

Lovely post KarenR

I agree Suseysue it's disturbing to see a poster being encouraged to estrange their parents when there are other avenues available to be explored.

To say that the parents of an AC who although not "touchy-feely" as he described them, have been throughout his life both loving and supportive and gave him by his own account, a good childhood, "do NOT 'deserve' anything from their son" is IMO reprehensible, unhelpful and cruel and unfortunately an all too familiar response, which thankfully are in the minority.

I hope Sadson that you will find the more balanced and sensible responses helpful and will go forward protecting your wife from any unpleasantness while retaining the relationship you have with your parents.

I wish you well.

BlueberryPie Sun 23-May-21 13:05:36

This thread has got me thinking. I like my son's girlfriend but what if I didn't like her or more accurately, as seems to be the case here, did not think she was good for him or did not think that she added more to his life than she took from it?

I don't think that would make me a demon. It seems the parents have tried to be polite, no doubt bitten their tongues many times, and did not even state their feelings until pressed by their son, years into his marriage.

Even their not liking that she was overweight, well, if she is clinically obese, that can definitely make someone likely to get a number of illnesses and can only be fixed by that person. Therefore, overeating to an extreme can be every bit as much an addiction and destructive force to a marriage as alcoholism, can it not? If it causes her to need caretaking from their son rather than contributing to their marriage, I could see caring parents not approving.

I have to say, I would not like my son to have a wife who I felt took a lot more from him than she gave. I would probably try to keep my mouth shut but if he pressed me for my opinion as the OP did...

OutsideDave Sun 23-May-21 13:09:22

No one suggested he estrange himself- if you’d actually read and processed what was said was that if he did retain a relationship his wife’s feelings and needs should be considered first and that they didn’t ‘deserve’ anything. He can do what he likes, but they don’t ‘deserve’ it- it would be a gift, so to speak. What’s cruel and reprehensible is a husband being Cosy with people who despise his wife for her disabilities. I feel bad for women whose spouses miss the whole leave and cleave, forsaking all other parts of their wedding vows. They do deserve better.

Smileless2012 Sun 23-May-21 14:37:29

You posted OutideDave that the OP's parents "do not 'deserve' anything from their son". His parents haven't said they "despise his wife for disabilities".

Once again your post is reprehensible, unhelpful and cruel.

I feel sorry for the parents of any AC who take the "whole leave and cleave" to the extreme and estrange their parents when as I've already posted, there are other avenues to explore.

FarNorth Sun 23-May-21 14:46:09

I would probably try to keep my mouth shut but if he pressed me for my opinion as the OP did...

Because his mum had made it obvious that something was wrong by her attitude and her comments.

silverlining48 Sun 23-May-21 14:55:46

Generally speaking, hard though it might be for some, it is not up to us to decide who is or is not ‘suitable’ for our adult children. Or if we do have negative thoughts we make a special effort keep them to ourselves. It’s really not our business.
It’s for those in a relationship to know if it’s working or not and if it is, should we not be happy that our children are happy?

theworriedwell Sun 23-May-21 15:38:38

silverlining48

Generally speaking, hard though it might be for some, it is not up to us to decide who is or is not ‘suitable’ for our adult children. Or if we do have negative thoughts we make a special effort keep them to ourselves. It’s really not our business.
It’s for those in a relationship to know if it’s working or not and if it is, should we not be happy that our children are happy?

His mother told him that the main thing is that he is happy but that wasn't good enough for him.

I have a DIL who has an issue with spending, twice my son has found out that they are in many thousands of pounds of debt. I only know as I have had to lend them money to give them time to sort things out. I never say anything negative, if he pushed me to be totally honest about how I feel about the stress she has caused him they probably wouldn't like the answer. Thankfully he has enough sense not to ask.

Smileless2012 Sun 23-May-21 15:45:56

"Thankfully he has enough sense not to ask" smile it's a pity that the OP didn't leave this particular sleeping dog alone isn't it and TBF to his mother, as you've reminded us theworriedwell, her initial response was that the main thing was that he was happy.

alchemilla Tue 08-Jun-21 18:25:14

@Blueberry Pie
What extraordinary conclusions to come to. You know nothing about the poster's wife's illness yet conclude her fatness (he didn't say obesity) may have caused them.

What about the other way around? I have several friends with auto immune diseases including polymyalgia. The pain is alleviated by steroids. Unfortunately that causes the majority of people to put on weight, along with the reduction in exercise due to the pain.

On top of which they clearly didnt appear welcoming to their DiL since she was able to intuit correctly they didn't like her and were recently impolite enough to change their tone between talking with her mother and then to her. And while she politely asks about them they haven't extended the same courtesy to her. And make brutal remarks to her loving DH about how lucky they were to have other DS whose wives have produced children. And suggesting she goes to Weightwatchers.

Those are not the sort of parents or parents in law I would want to have much to do with.

Nansnet Wed 09-Jun-21 05:47:55

I could be barking up the wrong tree, so I apologies if I am wrong, but I just wondered if your family are by any chance from another culture? The only reason I ask is because I have friends from different cultures, and they have completely different views on their family, and what they expect when a son/daughter marries. Some parents from other cultures, for example, see a son as the most important thing in the world, and the wife they choose is never going to be good enough, especially if they don't produce a child. And, with reference to both mothers seeming very chatty and friendly together, this also follows what I've been told, as the mothers like to put on their airs and graces for show, not to let the family down, so to speak.

As I said, I'm probably wrong. But, regardless of the situation, I think your mother's behaviour towards your wife is unacceptable, but what has already been said can't be taken back. You will have to find a way to deal with it, unless you choose to become estranged from your parents, but that would seem rather drastic. Not everyone gets along with everyone, and you may just have to accept that your mother isn't so keen on your choice of wife. As long as you are happy within your marriage is all that's important.

Chardy Wed 09-Jun-21 07:29:21

You have something very special with this marriage - protect it at all costs.

mumofmadboys Wed 09-Jun-21 09:31:15

I suppose your mum had certain expectations of what your wife would be like and what she would do. I am sure she loves you and wants you to be happy. Perhaps she thinks your ideals would match up with her own. She is now having to get her head around a different scenario. She is disappointed. Perhaps she doesnt realise how content you are. Be patient with her and hopefully she will learn to love your wife over time and recognise all her good points. I sincerely hope things improve.

luluaugust Wed 09-Jun-21 10:04:51

You have certainly talked yourself into a corner, such a pity as your mum was making it clear that she knew you had to make your own life choices. I guess watching her grandchildren she might well feel you are missing out. You have told her you don't feel the same and presumably she accepted that. Just because she is not wildly outgoing and demonstrative and can't love your wife as much as you do doesn't make her a bad mother. Most mothers don't want their children to have harder lives than they have to. I am a mil and try to treat my DIL much as I do my daughters what else can you do.