Gransnet forums

Estrangement

Just not interested

(45 Posts)
Madgran77 Fri 14-Jun-19 18:33:09

I wonder if anyone has experienced estrangement which they feel has basically been caused by the fact that one party quite simply has no real interest in building a relationship? There have been references on threads on this site, to SiLs/DiLs not actually being interested in joining the family of their spouse or even in building any sort of relationship.

In that position, how long does the other party try to break down barriers or is it better to just give up and walk away, despite a son or daughter being involved, and the potential risk of losing contact with them as well?

Madgran77 Sun 28-Jul-19 17:37:12

Starlady yes you may be right.

Starlady Sun 28-Jul-19 14:08:58

Just a random thought - I know that, as the GC get older, there will be less need for childcare, as you say, Madgran, but as they become more independent, there may be fewer "emergencies" DIL can come up with - and more chance of the kids telling DS the truth if she is lying or exaggerating. So contact w/ him might actually increase as time goes on. Maybe not. Just a thought, as I said.

Madgran77 Sat 27-Jul-19 17:28:47

Smileless thankyou. I have made myself rather less available for childcare...a while ago ....the reciprocal arrangement does not seem to have dawned yet!! I try to keep a balance as we do enjoy our GC ...just wish it was balanced with some other time together too! Ah well confused

Smileless2012 Sat 27-Jul-19 12:52:03

A difficult, frustrating and hurtful situation to be in Madgransad. I don't understand why some can't see that relationships are a two way street, and that in order to receive you need to be prepared to give a little.

Of course it's great that you see your son and GC but having in the background that fear that eventually this could be affected if your d.i.l. doesn't want to engage, becomes a permanent cloud on an otherwise sunny horizon.

We did experience our ES's wife gradually withdrawing prior to our estrangement, and as she did so, so did our son.

There's no point in my telling you not to worry, because you will and as a regular contributor too, and supporter of those of us who have no contact with an AC and GC, it goes without saying that you appreciate the time you get to spend with your son and GC.

Might it be an idea to not be quite so available every time you're asked to provide child care? That may help your d.i.l. to see the importance of a reciprocal relationship.

Madgran77 Sat 27-Jul-19 08:53:19

Paeonyrose you didnt offend me, I do appreciate your thoughtful responses. Yes I have to accept the reality, and I suppose I am going through a process of getting there ...and yes saying anything isn't an option really is it when in this position...so we dont! 😏

Peonyrose Sat 27-Jul-19 07:23:43

Made gran, so sorry if the way I worded my previous post offended, it was not meant to, I am totally sympathetic to your position as explained in my previous post. I was hamfistingly trying to say that you see him and grandchildren now even if it's not often, no one knows how things will end up with our families, they can change in an instant. If your Dil has an ulterior motive to alienate, your son will make his own mind up and there is nothing you can do to prevent it. Hopefully that bond you have will keep him visiting. One of my children seems to think that four short visits of a couple of hours a year is enough and I have had to accept it, because if I said anything it would be taken as criticism.

Madgran77 Sat 27-Jul-19 07:01:04

I am well aware that many on this site dont see their family. I have expressed that awareness I think, and that we are lucky having time with our GC. My original post asked if anyone else had experienced this particular scenario and if it had caused estrangement. I have done all the things suggested over helpful posts and I think been clear that in the end it is their choice/my dils choice/my sons choice etc. I do arrange times to see my son; I dont think they should be joined at the hip; I said originally those meetings /visits with son/family or whatever frequently get cancelled because of "emergencies" or whatever ...in the end, as that seems to be happening increasingly which was partly why I felt down when I posted originally, my son has to decide what to do about that! I know that in the end I have to get over the sadness and in the end what will be will be as my son and dil will do as they see fit which is their right. I really do appreciate the thoughtful replies. A few posters have described similar scenarios so at least I know others have experienced similar, and have to deal with an on going fear of the potential end outcome. Thanks again

paddyann Fri 26-Jul-19 22:21:04

Try to look at this a different way .I love my MIL have always visited with OH and the children.Now she's older and widowed sometimes I dont go..I send OH on his own.Not because I dont want to see her but because if she visits us he beggers off to do stuff with his pals and I entertain her and sometimes..just sometimes she'd like to spend quality time with her son.If I send him the 45 miles to see her he'll take her for lunch or fix things in her house or just sit and chat .HE's your son ,she doesn't have to be joined at the hip with him .If he wants to spend time with you arrange it a time just for you and him

Peonyrose Fri 26-Jul-19 20:53:56

Mad gran, think of all the positives,you see your son and grandchildren, just not your Dil. So many people on this site don't see theirs. Every family has their problems, some air them, others keep it private.

Madgran77 Fri 26-Jul-19 20:21:21

Thank you for your thoughtful comments and for taking the time to make them. My DIL is not introverted! She has never been interested in our family really since she and our son got together. We have always been friendly, welcoming and helpful when asked, if we can. To be honest I think that our fairly accepting and tolerant approach now means that she feels she can bother even less, and is taking the regular childcare etc for granted..therefore she is making even less effort than she used to, and that wasn't much. I actually dont feel animosity, just sadness because I thought we would have happy family times altogether, maybe be friends and have nice little outings and so on. But she doesn't want that so so be it. So now my only concern is to ensure that estrangement or very low contact doesn't happen with my son, particularly as the children grow up and childcare is no longer needed. Ofcourse it is for my son to make decisions on that within his relationship and Ginny42 comments about how hard that is are very pertinent!! Anyway, I will continue to invite everyone, accept that invitations to them wont happen, family outings and so on aren't going to happen, be helpful with childcare when I can, whilst it is needed and generally try to get rid of the sadness in having to accept that things are different to what we thought they were.

Starlady Fri 26-Jul-19 07:49:46

IMO, Peony's post is spot on. It's possible that DIL is a little introverted or just not into widening her circle of friends and relatives. Chances are, it has nothing to do w/ you personally, Madgran.

I get the idea that simply slipping away can become a CO after a while. But it could also mean that DIL is leaving the door open, if only b/c she might see MIL at larger family events and doesn't want things to be awkward.

Peonyrose Wed 24-Jul-19 06:25:12

Madgran, it must be so hurtful that your Dil, despite being invited, doesn't show up. However, your son does, much to his credit. It perhaps shows that he has accepted the fact that his wife doesn't want to mix and accepts it. Perhaps she is very accepting about him seeing you, just doesn't like mixing and it's not just with you, I am not in your position, but I would always keep inviting, not make any comments when she doesn't come, you know your son must love you very much as he so spends time with you.
It is usually our expectation of others that cause us grief.

Madgran77 Sun 14-Jul-19 22:56:04

Namsnanny Thankyou. You understand the nuances

Namsnanny Sun 14-Jul-19 21:12:40

For what its worth Madgran, I see it as a passive aggressive deliberate action (to show no interest I mean).
Especially if as you suspect that more and more incidents of 'surprise' events stop your son in his tracks.

I think for someone to not 'try' to have a civil relationship with someone as important as the parent of your loved one is a controlling act.
Its bound to have an impact on the partners relationship. Both with their parents and the partner.

Madgran77 Sun 14-Jul-19 18:58:24

Notanan I see what you mean. But I also think that the drifting can become more a decision to cut off because if there is a deliberate effort to reduce contact by various means and those efforts are "successful" then there is motivation to take it to the next level, creating further "issues" or whatever, eventually resulting in reasons to estrange. Potentially a slippery slope and difficult to deal with/face/accept.

notanan2 Sun 14-Jul-19 13:04:27

I think it has the potential to drift into losing contact completely, which still isnt "estrangement". Contact isnt "banned" it just doesnt happen IYKWIM

Madgran77 Sun 14-Jul-19 11:13:28

notanan I agree what you describe is not estrangement. I think it has the potential to be the cause of it though over time and in particular circumstances.

I used to try , I have now given up and it makes me feel sad sometimes that that is the position. Longer term not sure of the wider impact bit just have to wait and see

Smileless yes, exactly!!

notanan2 Sat 13-Jul-19 10:21:51

We have this in our family but I dont consider it "estrangement". Estrangement is active and they are just passive towards us. They make small talk if we happen to be in the same place at the same time but they just have no interest in us.

We used to try, we gave up. Thats not the same as the "cutting off" in estrangement. We dont upset them, they just have no feelings towards us.

We've let it go.

Smileless2012 Sat 13-Jul-19 10:17:53

I couldn't agree more Ginny. It does take a strong character to not allow a disinterested partner to have a negative affect on their relationship with their parents and wider family.

Sadly, even with a strong family bond these ties can be and are broken.

In our case to begin with, our ES was more than a little skeptical of his wife's 'reasons' for opting out of family gatherings. Eventually he went from seeing us on his own to cutting us out all together.

Why having a relationship with his own parents and allowing them to be GP's to their GC was a threat to his marriage, heaven knows, but I suppose it must have been.

Ginny42 Sat 13-Jul-19 07:07:32

I had to re-read some of the OP's posts to check whether she could be my sister! She has this exact situation with her DS. Her DiL only very rarely comes to family events, there's always an emergency with her family.

Yesterday my DSis gave a family party and when I asked was DiL coming, she said, 'I don't know, but do I ever know?' She didn't come, but DS and adult sons did. This has been 24 years of this treatment, so it's not going to change now. Her DS has always visited most weeks and without fail on birthdays and special days. Credit to him. A very pleasant man and fun to be with. Such a shame that she won't visit his family.

This kind of behaviour puts the DS or DD in a very difficult position, and it takes great strength of character and a strong family bond to want to continue to have a relationship in spite of a spouse not wishing to visit.

Starlady Sat 13-Jul-19 06:32:17

But I always wonder when I hear stories like this - does DS realize that there is always an "emergency" just when he is supposed to visit his parents? Does he think it's just coincidence or does he suspect it's manipulation? Can a DIL really come up w/ that many emergencies or are some of them real? Is there anything DS could do to put a stop to this pattern w/o hurting his marriage?

BradfordLass72 Sat 13-Jul-19 01:40:20

Madgran77 I could be wrong but what I think you are really worried about is potential manipulation which you see as bad for your son.

I can quite see how this would cause anxiety. But you seem to have a good relationship with him, so why not have a quiet talk, just the two of you and tell him you fear he will eventually stop visiting.

He is probably trying to juggle everything: keep his wife happy and yet not hurt you either.

If you know for sure he will never completely cut himself off from you, you will relax a little.

It's hard for a son with a demanding wife, a full life and the desire to please everyone smile

Starlady Fri 12-Jul-19 01:03:52

"I’d assume he’ll say yes and not come. Then be pleasantly surprised if he does show up."

This^^^^. Totally agree.

But if you'd really rather not bother inviting him anymore, IMO, you won't be "causing" an estrangement. It's already there, even if he doesn't really want it to be.

So many "emergencies!" Yes, it really does sound suspicious. But, IMO, DS will reach out to you and DH if/whenever he's ready to take a stand for his own wishes.

OutsideDave Fri 12-Jul-19 00:48:26

I suppose it depends on the sorts of reasons he can’t come last minute. Do they have kids? Like many of my peers having children essentially forces all of my plans to be tentative. Kids get sick. Pets get loose. Work emergencies take place. Does he still call you to talk? I know it’s frustrating to be told someone will attend but then they fail to show (my PGma and Aunt we’re notorious for this, they weren’t much endeared to anyone in the family for this habit). I’d assume he’ll say yes and not come. Then be pleasantly surprised if he does show up.

Madgran77 Sat 15-Jun-19 20:09:10

Starlady The whole family is invited. DIL frequently has something else on (fine, if that is her preference, although I feel sad that it is not otherwise, but so be it). Son accepts, ...then last minute events stop him coming. It is definitely not him not having the heart to tell me; if he cant come when invited he just says, and that is fine. I just think that as the "events" that stop him coming are increasing, the likely outcome is hardly seeing him. And he has to decide what to do about that in the end. Just makes me sad and I don't get why it has to be a problem really! Thanks for thinking about my meanderings, much appreciated