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Should we stand up for ourselves? Family feud

(116 Posts)
margie19 Wed 19-Apr-23 21:53:51

I would greatly appreciate the wise counsel of you lovely gransnet members, on this distressing family situation myself and DH find ourselves in. Some background is necessary, and for this reason I’ll apologise now for the length of the post.

We have two DS. DS1 is in his early 40s and married to a lovely woman of a similar age. They are child-free out of choice.

DS2 is mid 30’s and has 2 DC with his fiancée. Again, a lovely girl, the vast majority of the time. We are very fond of her, she’s a wonderful mum, although we feel she does have a little growing up to do. She’s a fair bit younger than DS - in her mid 20’s. We see the grandchildren multiple times a week and help out a lot, which we are only too happy to do.

Our DS are, in the nicest way, possible, chalk and cheese. DS1 is a very calm, laid back chap, DS2 has always been in the middle of some drama or other and can be argumentative. He gave us many sleepless nights when he was growing up . They rarely talk, have little in common. It’s been this way since they were children It’s not that they don’t get on as such, they just have little to talk to each other about whenever they do speak. And sadly, the family situation I’m about to explain is only serving to push them further apart.

For some unfathomable reason, which we cannot quite understand, our youngest DS’s fiancé detests our elder DS’s wife.

Myself and DH, and other family members feel that this stems from jealousy. Eldest DS and his wife both have good careers and therefore a good standard of living, own house, holidays and the like.
Whereas our younger DS, although a hard worker, it’s in a lower paid job, and I definitely struggle, with him, having to fully support his fiancée and the two DC.
At elder DS’s wedding a few years back, we over, heard some nasty comments made by younger son’s fiancé, about the wedding,, whereas we knew deep down, this is the sort of wedding she would have wanted, so we feel the jealousy started there.
We have noticed that eldest sons wife has always tried her best to be hospitable towards her, despite the tension.

DH and I have tried to stay out of this whole situation because it is between the two girls . Sadly, things have escalated recently. This coincides with our eldest son having not long moved house to a larger property and also his wife having a new car. (I will add, they are not bragging people, very humble and deserve everything they have as they both work hard!)

Unfortunately, we now seem to find ourselves drawn into this, as younger son’s fiance is making some extremely untrue and very cruel remarks - telling elder son’s wife that we hate her. This is absolutely not the case, we love both of the girls very much.

Elder son’s wife seem to have reached the end of her tether recently, and, although a very emotionally mature lady, she phoned us up last week in tears, due to these unkind remarks about her on social media.

She feels that we should be doing something to step in at this point, because the comments have now involved us, and these untrue claims.

However, DH and myself do not want to get involved. If we do, we know exactly what will happen - youngest son and his fiancée will stop us seeing our grandchildren. I can both be immature at times, and this is a threat that has been made to us before. So we do find ourselves placating them a lot of the time.

However, at the same time, we hate the fact that the fiancée is making up a complete lot of rubbish about us. We do not hate our older sons wife, she is part of the family. We feel that all this unnecessary hatred stems from jealousy, from the things our eldest son and his wife have, which the younger ones don’t.

DH had a very long and frank discussion with elder son’s wife and told her honestly that we cannot speak to the younger son and his partner about this because we know what will happen - and we cannot bear to lose contact with our grandchildren. We had longed for grandchildren for years, they are the lights of our lives and we can not imagine our world without them around. Our daughter in law was very upset by this and feels that we should be stepping in and defending ourselves and pointing out that this is unacceptable.

We resent the fact we are being dragged into this, and the lies that are being told!
But at the same time, we know the consequences of speaking up to our youngest son. Are we right to stay out put this, for the sake of not losing contact with our grandkids, or should we speak up?

V3ra Wed 19-Apr-23 22:09:20

You're between the devil and the deep blue sea on this one.

If your daughter-in-law thinks you're favouring the fiancée, she may choose to see less of you.

So... 🤷

Hetty58 Wed 19-Apr-23 22:11:47

One son's wife is very insecure and frequently takes offence, where none is meant, falls out with relatives - gets in a huff, is hostile to my daughters etc. I hug her a lot and shower her with love. I never take sides in their squabbles.

She's young and has a lot of growing up to do. She was spoilt as a child - not her fault of course. I'm just grateful that she's a brilliant mother - and she makes my son happy. I'm very understanding and refuse to fall out with her, instead I sympathise. That way, I continue to see my son and grandchildren.

welbeck Wed 19-Apr-23 22:11:52

what about if elder DIL simply replies to younger DIL, online or wherever, to the statement that she is horrible, you both hate her, she is a snob etc, ...
she just replies online, you are probably right.
so just agree with her, publically, so everyone can see that.
refuse to be drawn in to bickering. it's childish.
elder DIL would then have the moral high ground, if she simply repeats as necessary,
you are probably right.
and say no more.

Enid101 Wed 19-Apr-23 22:12:18

Why can’t your eldest son speak to his brother about the problem?

Oreo Wed 19-Apr-23 22:13:20

Think your doing the right thing tbh as you spoke to her and told her it’s all lies and you get on great with her and explained why you can’t get involved.You could easily lose the DGC if you do and she will have to understand this which may be hard as she doesn’t have kids herself so won’t feel like you do about them.
On the other hand you can’t let the fiancee get away with saying nasty stuff about her when you and your DH are there.
If she does, just say we love both you girls.
Parents can’t be piggy in the middle.

Wyllow3 Wed 19-Apr-23 22:21:00

I think you are doing the right thing, and have seen it clearly.

My sympathies. Oreo is right, you cannot be piggy in the middle. Its so hard to be gaslighted by someone set to cause trouble

VioletSky Wed 19-Apr-23 22:31:16

I think my principles would mean I'd have to say something if untrue things were being said about me


I'd have to see the evidence of this with my own eyes

I wouldn't try to guess why younger DIL was feeling this way

I'd want to make sure I gave younger DIL a good hearing and listened to her reasoning

I would do so and still not take sides, I'd just address the evidence I saw

The trouble is when a person is already making threats about the grandchildren and you are sure that this is not happening because of anything you are doing wrong... then that could happen anyway. Especially because of these disagreements aren't resolved your sons and DILs may estrange from each other anyway and you could be caught in the crossfire

Callistemon21 Wed 19-Apr-23 22:38:06

Your younger son's partner sounds insecure.

Have they discussed marriage at all? Would she feel more secure and happier if they did marry? It wouldn't have to be an over-the-top ostentatious wedding, even less expensive weddings can be lovely.

It sounds as if she's jealous of the material things your older son and DIL can afford, but possessions aren't everything. They have two lovely children whom I'm sure everyone loves.

No, you cannot be piggy-in-the-middle, that way lies trouble. Your older son could ask his brother to stop his fianceé posting nasty remarks on social media and you can assure your younger son that you love them all equally but yes, best to keep out of it.
Least said, soonest mended.

BlueBelle Wed 19-Apr-23 22:46:23

Are they called William and Harry ?

Hetty58 Wed 19-Apr-23 22:58:37

BlueBelle oh, yes grin

(With my DIL, I just can't help thinking it's a deliberate attempt to stir up trouble - so ignoring it all and staying out of it - is, in fact 'winning'. I'm not playing - so I'll act dumb.)

jeanie99 Wed 19-Apr-23 23:06:29

My advice would be to keep out of it, Afterall it as nothing to do with you. If either of them say anything more to you just say I don't want to discuss it.
If one girl wants to spat at another it is for her to get it sorted not drag you into it, that is really unreasonable of her.
Look when I was a young women if someone had said something about me which was totally untrue I would have been round at their house like a shot to get it sorted myself. Wouldn't have even thought about my elderly mother in law getting involved at all.
I think personally she as a cheek even asking you, what a nerve.
Here you are worried sick about this situation.
The younger one sounds as though she needs to grow up and get something into her life to keep her occupied.
What is up with her husband doesn't he have something to say to her.

Foxygloves Wed 19-Apr-23 23:10:23

This sounds so complicated - however sad, I think,the only thing is to keep out of it.

JenniferEccles Wed 19-Apr-23 23:22:27

My first thought is how charitable you are being about the young fiancé whom you describe as ‘a lovely girl’
I’m afraid, from your description of her behaviour, I can see nothing lovely about her at all.

Trying to stir things up with your eldest son and his wife is inexcusable, but I can sort of understand your reluctance to call out the younger girl’s behaviour for fear she would punish you in the best way she knows, by stopping you seeing the grandchildren.

The fact that you seem pretty certain that’s what she would do, is a good indication of the nature of the woman.

Despite the risk involved I think I would have to speak up, to make it clear to the manipulative younger woman that these lies she is spreading about you have to stop.
Why should she be allowed to get away with it?

It sounds as if you help out a lot with the children, several times a week you say. She’s not going to want to lose that support is she?

Hithere Wed 19-Apr-23 23:52:47

You are right to keep out of the issues between a 3rd party, but for the wrong reasons

I understand not wanting to be cut off from the gc
Whether the young couple is right or wrong, that threat is there and the parents are not going to stop using it, for whatever reason they see fit (not saying it is right or wrong behaviour)

If I were your elder dil, I would have issues with your position.
She seems to have your best interest at heart and may be seen as 'selling your soul to the devil '

This may affect your relationship with them knowing you are choosing to ignore the problem and can be seen as "siding on the younger side couples as they have the gc"

Your relationship with both couples has the risk of falling apart and you end up with nothing

Your 2 sons should talk and address it.
However, given the background that they never got along, it may not happen.

I would stop asking both couples to interact and be on the same events together

See them at different times

margie19 Thu 20-Apr-23 09:25:50

Thank you to all who have taken the time to reply so far.
I have suggested to both DS that they have a calm, rational discussion about this. Eldest knows it would be a waste of time, and youngest is in total denial about his fiancées actions.

I will also say - we have seen firm evidence of these comments by his fiancée so we know it is certainly happening.

Such a difficult situation.

Katie59 Thu 20-Apr-23 09:26:37

I’ve known a few relationships like this the only solution is to keep them apart, it is jealousy for sure, all you can do is reassure both that they are equal in your eyes. Getting involved to mediate is going to cause just as much trouble as saying nothing, I’m sure the elder daughter is quite able to defend herself if she wishes.

Yammy Thu 20-Apr-23 09:39:47

My advice would be to keep right out of it.
My Late MIL played myself and my SILoff against each other.
It wasn't hard to do as they lived near us and we were both in the same profession.
She used to say awful things about my SIL to me and I knew she said them about me to her. I'm afraid we both reacted to them.
Luckily the brothers never took any notice and remained friends.
We are now better friends since my MIL passed away and SIL has divorced.
You can't force friendship but you can alienate with the odd slip of a tongue. Just keep your counsel, talk with your DH but never repeat to the others what you have said.

25Avalon Thu 20-Apr-23 09:44:10

I don’t see why you can’t say something to younger son and fiancée. Just very simply that you love both sons and their partners very much and you are upset that they should think or say otherwise. Younger son and fiancée sound like they need reassurance but although older son and wife decided not to have children they could now feel a bit jealous. Best thing is to make it clear to all parties that you don’t want to be involved in arguments between them but you love them all. Maybe it’s how King Charles feels?

Stellaellabella Thu 20-Apr-23 10:44:21

I have huge sympathy for this difficult situation as have experienced it myself but I do disagree with some of the comments about taking sides & that’s it’s between the DILs.

If I’ve understood correctly, your eldest DIL has done nothing wrong, behaved well but it’s being bullied by your younger DIL who is also lying on your behalf ie saying you agree with her?

Younger DIL is also weaponising the grandchildren by implying/saying if you don’t go along with this, you’ll lose contact with the grandchildren?

I do think you need to calmly and quietly call out the lies & emphasis you love all of them as otherwise you are condoning this behaviour & do unintentionally supporting it.

It’ll probably only get worse if you don’t. I say this as this is exactly how my SIL behaved & the response from PIL was the same for the same reasons.

Whilst we sort of understood, it got worse, we then began to wonder if PIL were really agreeing with some of the things she said that she’d named then in.

In the end we distanced ourselves from all, didn’t cut off contact with PIL but the relationship was never the same.

Plus the other thing is grandchildren grow up & whilst many still have close relationships with grandparents, others not so as their lives get busy, they move away to uni etc. Plus you never know what the future holds, unexpected separations do happen which would mean she’d probably behave in an even more many way.

Baggs Thu 20-Apr-23 11:30:49

Since your daughter-in-law seems to know that what your younger son's fiancée is saying about you isn't true, why doesn't she say that to the fiancée?

Also, why doesn't she mute (or even delete) any social media connections with said fiancée? Why would anyone want to listen to or read what they know to be claptrap?

If fiancée's lies are ignored – not even noticed – she might stop. worth a try, I think.

It's a horrible situation for the grandparents to be in.

Forestflame Thu 20-Apr-23 12:30:50

I am in a similar situation with an in-law telling lies about me which another family member bought into.
It has had a very negative effect.
Your son's fiancée need to be called out in this and told to stop causing trouble. As a previous poster has said, she is weaponising your grandchildren. Unfortunately some people do this. Get screenshots of the social media posts in question if you can and tell her to stop lying!!!

Smileless2012 Thu 20-Apr-23 13:32:32

This is a horrible position to be in margie and if it were me, I wouldn't allow this to continue unchallenged.

Of course you don't want to be stopped from seeing your GC but do you want to live with the threat of this happening for years? Where and when will it end? What other unacceptable behaviour will you be forced to endure because you're being emotionally blackmailed? You're already placating them because of this horrible threat.

Your son is just as complicit and both need to be told that the lies about your relationship with your d.i.l. must stop. I'm sorry, but I don't agree your son and his fiance need reassurance, they need to be told that this treatment of your d.i.l. wont be tolerated and neither will their threats to stop you from seeing your GC unless you do what they want, when they want.

Primrose53 Thu 20-Apr-23 16:38:02

Lots of commonsense replies on here Margie. I would also advise older DIL to come off social media then she won’t have to read hurtful lies.

silverlining48 Thu 20-Apr-23 18:25:28

I noticed your comment about how you have to struggle to get your son to support his partner, the mother of his children. Am wondering if that is financial, or emotional or any other way. This might cause some of her resentment.
If you are providing a lot of care to the grandchildren it’s unlikely they will want to lose that benefit.
Ideally you should keep out of things between the two couples if you can.