Gransnet forums


I’m heartbroken - Any advice please.

(56 Posts)
Annealise Sat 14-Jan-23 00:42:53

I am really desperate for some advice please and could only think of here to post as I just don’t know what to do about my situation and am so distraught. I apologise for the length but needed to explain all the facts.

I am divorced and have one son. I am from a small family and they don’t live locally. My son unfortunately married a very self entitled career woman five years ago. They married in Hong Kong where they were living at the time and invited no one to their wedding, which devastated me. Her true colours didn’t come out until later in the marriage. Whenever I went to visit them in London the atmosphere was tense and I felt in the way and not welcome but ignored it. My son began to feel controlled and he wanted to leave but they sought professional counselling and I supported them throughout - always remaining neutral and giving them good advice, albeit knowing his wife was to blame. They came through it for the better and then my son wanted to better his career by doing a Masters Degree.

My son has never asked me for anything and has made his own way through life successfully. He did however ask me if I could help them out financially to pay towards some of his course fees, because they were struggling on one wage. I gave them my savings, despite not being in too good a financial situation myself. He now has a very good job but I felt robbed of another special occasion (other one was his wedding) in his life when they failed to get me a ticket in time for the Graduation day. They are both very busy people and I always felt they just squeeze me in around their plans, changing the goalposts to suit them etc...

We haven’t spent Christmas together for years due to them previously living abroad before their marriage, then Covid lock downs and last year they went away for Christmas. This year I was really looking forward to spending Christmas with my son and checked in advance if they were free. He told me ‘yes we’ll have a nice Christmas this year’. In mid November however, he told me they were now going abroad on Boxing Day morning to his wife’s friends wedding. They then bought a puppy and my daughter in law asked me to look after it for a week while they were going to away for a week. Previous to this, I had not heard from her since the Graduation day plans fell through for me, in July. I have a very stressy cat who has never met a dog , yet alone had one in the house. I was shocked at the lack of the consideration towards me of how they expected me to cope. Then a big bombshell dropped - she asked me what my Christmas plans were. She told me her young cousin from abroad would be staying with them and would be there Christmas Day.

I felt so upset and angry as I felt so let down and that they just take from me without giving all the time. She said I come down Christmas Eve but would have to sleep in the living room with her cousin ( they are in a one bedroom flat). I didn’t feel comfortable with this as I have never met her and have some health issues. Also who would look after my cat… She then offered me alternative suggestive like bringing her cousin to my house and then I could drive them all back to London Christmas night. A round trip of 200miles. I didn’t want to this either. For once in my life I put my foot down. I felt second best, as a mother, over the cousin and also felt used re being asked to look after their dog. Plus I knew from experience I would have to all the cooking/ washing up whilst they all do nothing if they came to mine. It would have been an exhausting day for me.

Needless to say it was an impossible situation for me re the dog. They then asked my ex husband go down to look after it. They never even got provisions in for him for the holiday period There were no Christmas cards or presents for either of us from them in the flat. I texted her 5 days before Christmas to ask if we were meeting up to exchange presents in London as I was a bit disappointed that I hadn’t hear from them in 6 weeks. Her response was , that they had stood on their heads to please me but I had refused any Christmas suggestions and to not turn things around. I asked when my money would be paid back that I had loaned them as I haven’t had any income for two months and am struggling to get by. It was meant to be paid back in December. She said that I was informed it would be the end of December - and there was no offer of anything at all to help me. They were going away on an expensive trip and are high earners!

I am afraid after five years of staying silent over everything, that I lost it and said that the selfish attitude is exasperating and to have a nice Christmas with her cousin. To cover myself with my son, I texted him( they are never available to take my calls) and told him I feel very hurt that he chose his wife’s cousin over his mother for Christmas Day. I took the opportunity to say that I find his wife’s high expectations of people too much to cope with and there is no consideration for me. He replied saying ‘ we found you very unreasonable regarding our alternative plans’ - and that was that. It’s now been two months since I spoke to them.

It’s a special Birthday for me in a couple of weeks and they never remember Mother’s Day or my Birthday due to their hectic lifestyle. I just feel so worthless, unwanted and sad.I had to lie to friends and say I spent Christmas with my son, to save embarrassment which is really upsetting too.. It’s just finally ‘the last straw’ really for me. My ex has advised me to start afresh when I eventually hear from them and not mention anything/ or how I have been feeling, because they won’t change.. I feel if I don’t address issues nothing will change and I will end up more resentful and end up cutting them both off. I know I would be used if they have children in the future.

V3ra Sat 14-Jan-23 01:10:10

Annealise how hurtful their treatment of you has been. What an ungrateful, inconsiderate pair they are.

Please if you can, don't put on a show to your friends. Is there one you could confide in to start with? You really need people on your side with your best interests at heart.

Try and arrange something nice for your special birthday with your friends and don't hold your breath waiting for your son to bother.
I hope you do get your money back very soon.

Hithere Sat 14-Jan-23 01:41:02

Please do not give any money to anybody unless you can go without.
You expressed your financial situation was not great to start with, so why give your son all your savings?

It seems to me that you have not had a close relationship with your son for years.
Why do you expect it to get closer now?

I agree they tried several alternatives for spending Xmas together - what would have been the perfect plan for you?

Expressing your dislike about his wife to your son was a disaster waiting to happen - given the background

Concentrate on yourself, do what makes you happy and do not rely on them to fill that gap.

Annealise Sat 14-Jan-23 01:47:13

Thanks V3ra - I’ve been blaming myself for being ‘unreasonable’, for weeks. A close friend who knows my son is aware of events and says whilst he is with the wife things won’t change.

Yes, I’m going to do that with the friend for my Birthday.

Annealise Sat 14-Jan-23 02:09:28

Hithere the money I loaned them was sort of for ‘a rainy day’ for me and although I live frugally I wasn’t in a rush for it back until my son finished his studies and started the job. It’s now a ‘ rainy day’, as my financial circumstances have changed recently. To not offer any of it back at all to help me get over a bad patch was selfish.

My son has mentioned to me in the past that his wife has high expectations of everyone. If she can do something, she thinks everyone else should be able to - I was just reiterating it and that I’m worn down by it.

Spending Christmas at their flat with both of them for one day and evening is what I thought was going to happen. I feel at my age you have to know what you are doing in advance and that people are going to stick to it.

FarNorth Sat 14-Jan-23 02:26:34

Was it arranged that you would be at their flat for Xmas day & evening, although they'd be leaving on Boxing Day ?
Then the cousin being there was brought into it?

Really, though, I don't think it matters what the arrangements and suggestions actually were.
It does seem that they are not prioritising you at all.

I think your ex is right.
Say nothing and don't expect much from them.
And have a lovely birthday with your friend.

Hithere Sat 14-Jan-23 02:34:00

"Spending Christmas at their flat with both of them for one day and evening is what I thought was going to happen"

Is this something that your son and wife also agreed to?

Hithere Sat 14-Jan-23 02:59:49

1. You admit they have hectic lives and barely don't have time for you- how often would you wish to see them?

2. Being high earners - what does it mean?
High earner is relative depending who you ask - one person can say $100,000 and another $500,000 - wide range of numbers

The key here is how many expenses they have.
You lent money to your son but did it cover it all?
Masters degrees are very expensive, generally speaking
Sadly in this competitive labour market, higher degrees are needed to go up the ladder or you get stuck in your career
A promotion doesn't always mean you get a significant raise

4. Your son doesn't congratulate important dates, this is a long term habit, not new
Why should it change now?

The issue I see is that now your son lives closer to you, you hoped to see him more often?

You can always say no to dogsitting - known your limits
You are only used by people if you agree to their unreasonable demands

Summerlove Sat 14-Jan-23 04:07:10

I’m so sorry you feel hurt and let down.

Based on what you’ve written, I do think you need to place more blame on your son and less on his wife though.

Had Christmas plans ever been mailed down officially? Or just loose plans and expectations?

DiamondLily Sat 14-Jan-23 04:37:56

To be honest, they both sound incredibly self-centered and selfish.

There like a shot when they want money, but not at other times.

Christmas can be fraught, but usually adults can sort out firm plans and stick to them. If you want to see them next year, and they will be home, I would book into a hotel, local to them, and just see them during the day/s. Then, it won't matter who else they have staying with them.

Meanwhile, hopefully you'll get back the money they owe you. After that, I'd tell them they need to book their dog into kennels if they are going away, and not get involved with looking after it.

Previous posters are right, in that it's best to build up your friendship group, make your own plans, and just see them when it's convenient to you and them.

You cannot make people prioritise you, but don't be too available to them either.

Having a career, and we've all had careers, shouldn't mean you haven't got time to show some consideration to family members.🙄

Best wishes.💐

Dibbydod Sat 14-Jan-23 04:54:54

I think I would have gone along with the Christmas plans with the cousin staying , after all , Christmas is for families and the cousin is family , you may have found that you had a lovely time rather than stay behind on your own, more the merrier and all that . , after all , they were happy to include you with their celebrations . As for the puppy staying with you , that were easy to reply in saying that as you’ve got the cat that it wouldn’t work , so, for that reason you’ll have to decline ?
Regarding the money , if they can’t afford to pay you back in one go , can’t you all come to some agreement that they pay you back in instalments.?
The ‘ wife ‘ situation is something that’s not uncommon, you hear about it all the time , thing is some men will hang on to their wife's every word , just look at the H&M situation! In that situation, whatever you say you’ll never win over the wife , so, best to take a back seat and let them get on with it . Best to make a life of your own with your own friends , get involved in groups or even volunteering , then , when an invitation comes around to spend time with your son , you’ll be in a much better place to accept and enjoy .
Must say though , that I do find them both very thoughtless & selfish in what they did with lack of wedding and graduation invitation. I often find that some people are happy in their own little bubble and don’t care who they tread on or hurt . Maybe a heart to heart with your son be a good idea , that’s only if you already have a good relationship with him and you think that would work , otherwise, do as your ex husband suggests and say nothing.

nanna8 Sat 14-Jan-23 05:22:06

Whilst they are together I don’t think anything will change and it is very hurtful and very unreasonable . I would concentrate on building up your own friendships and making a life without consideration of them. If they decide they want to be more a part of your life, good, but really you have to take care of yourself first. Next Christmas arrange something else, maybe with single friends. Go on a cruise or just spend a day with someone you know and trust. Don’t be afraid to admit you are on your own , plenty of others are, too. I think, by the sound of it, your son will always support his wife who sounds a right madam if I can put it that way!

Grams2five Sat 14-Jan-23 06:35:47

While they do sound very self focused and I would for sure have said no to dog sitting, you’ve got a cat and it won’t work and all - I do think you were wrong about Christmas. I don’t think they tried to slight you one bit. They offered to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas with you either at their place or at yours when you pitched a fit - and you refused either option because you wanted them to
Only spend Christmas with yourself and exclude her cousin. I’d have said well enjoy your day alone then myself. I also think that you’re perhaps guilty of unrealistic expectations. You aren’t close with your son and his wife and haven’t been it seems
For years. While I do understand wishing to change this you seem to just expected the change to happen - and blaming his wife and saying things such as “well as long as they’re together …”. Isn’t going to help. Because surely we hope they’re always together no?

BigBertha1 Sat 14-Jan-23 06:46:14

Sommelier In so sorry this situation is horrible for you and you deserve better. I wouldn't confront them as they won't change. I would definitely insist on the loan being repaid and emphasise how much you need it. I would concentrate on your friends now. Sadly this selfishness in adult children is all too common.

CocoPops Sat 14-Jan-23 06:47:54

If I felt I was an unwelcome guest I would not visit their flat while the relationship is frosty.
Your son said "we found you very unreasonable regarding our alternative plans". I don't think you were unreasonable but try and put it behind you.
I agree with your ex husband to say nothing and start afresh when you hear from them.
You want to see your son occasionally so how about suggesting you meet for a nice pub lunch half-way between your 2 homes next time?
Meantime as others have said I would concentrate on forging friendships closer to home and enjoying your birthday flowers

BlueBelle Sat 14-Jan-23 07:14:33

I feel for you I really do but I think your expectations are way way too high unfortunately having only one son you ve put all your whole being into him and him alone
It is a natural progression for (especially) sons to move away from their Mums he has found a woman he wants to be with and they both sound professional high powdered people and been together 5 years I can understand you were hurt by him getting married and no invite but no one was invited it wasn’t just you
They ve had a blip in their marriage which they ve got over you say you stayed neutral and gave advice albeit knowing his wife was to blame Really ?
The Christmas debacle whilst disappointing to you could have been avoided by you being a little more flexible ( for ONE. day) you wanted your son and by default your daughter in law to yourself and were very disappointed when a young cousin entered the picture They gave you a number of different options for Christmas Day but you didn’t like any of them you could have probably had a lovely time but you cut your nose off because it wasn’t what you expected
You didn’t have the dog (I don’t blame you) and that’s fair enough but the ex did so all was well nothing to worry about there
I think your ex has a much more healthy outlook on this situation and you need to follow his advice Build up your own life enjoy time with friends, groups or hobbies and have absolutely NO expectations

Your son has moved on (it’s natural) he has another woman in his life as his first priority and what sounds like a successful high powered career Be happy for him he’s made his choice and although it may all be wrong in your eyes it’s for him to sort out and live with
Hopefully you have your money back by now

I truly wish you good luck and peace in this nasty situation but you have been your own worst enemy
instead of pretending to the world you had a great Christmas find someone sensible (sounds as if you have a good relationship with your ex so maybe him ) and chew it all over but looking at it from your sons eyes instead of what you dreamed of

I know you ll class this post as harsh but it’s not meant to be it’s really about being totally unbiased and seeing it from the other side as well as yours
Please be happy

Juliet27 Sat 14-Jan-23 07:25:31

I agree with BigBertha. Get the loan repaid then just accept that you’ll get little communication from them unless they want something. It’s a sad situation but very common in families it seems. Christmas certainly didn’t turn out as you hoped. I would have been happier on my own rather than having to share a room with a stranger and I think the alternative of you having to drive 200 miles was almost sarcasm. It would have been difficult not to have sounded put out by their change in arrangements but they’ve reacted rather than been understanding. I’m glad you were unable to accommodate their dog and I’d just make more of an enjoyable life for yourself and not look for or expect much from them. flowers

Tommo Sat 14-Jan-23 07:34:54

What a mess?
And to think it’s just two people getting on with the life they want.
Same as you really. Seems like this might apply.

“Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.”
― Alexander Pope

The first thing that came to mind is a few things I learned while studying child psychology back in the old days.
‘Parents are the biggest influencers of the character of their children’
There’s no blame attached. It’s just the way us humans are.
This doesn’t mean your son would be like you are his father but you sons behaviour and beliefs would be deeply rooted in that of his parents.
Unfortunately for him and you, it’s hard to decipher which and whether it was a positive or negative influence.
Some blokes marry women like their mothers. Some find the complete opposite. Most find something in between. Nevertheless, there will always be an element of their childhood in their current behaviour, with a few new ones and a heap of hormones running the show.
You might need to bite the bullet and expect less. He doesn’t owe you anything. Not really, he didn’t know he was going to be your son. Pot lipids really. He just attached himself to the first thing he saw that could provide food and comfort. You’ve always been a giver. Now he’s found another one. He might not need you so much, or, frightening as it might seem, at all.

My dad once told me: never lend money to a good friend or relative, unless your content to never see it again.

On the expectations of you by them, it seems you’re there for them so they sue that to their advantage. They don’t know you’re resentful when you offer or say yes. “Mum will do it. She’s done it before”. Can you imaging them saying this?

This issue needs some counselling if you want it different. But that takes change and commitment by all stakeholders, even the dog.
I’m afraid all you’ll get here is agreement with your stress and disappointment, which, by the way, is real enough.
My question would be: why would you do this to yourself?

Smileless2012 Sat 14-Jan-23 09:29:00

It is the 14th of January and you say the money was to be repaid by the end of December Annealise so this is what I would be focusing on.

I agree with you that at the very least, some of this should have been repaid when you needed it. As this should now have been repaid in full, I suggest that you send your son regular text messages asking when this is going to happen, with a suggestion that the repayment can be made on a monthly basis, rather than the in one lump sum.

I don't agree that money should only be loaned if there's no expectation that it will be repaid, especially when the loan is to your own child. That is not what a loan is; a loan isn't a gift, and had you had any concerns that repayment wouldn't be forthcoming and felt unable to make the loan, what would your son have done then?

As for your understandable disappointment about Christmas, and the other issues there's nothing you can do and your ex is right. You need to build your own life so that seeing your son and his wife is a welcomed event and not a necessity for your happiness flowers.

LRavenscroft Sat 14-Jan-23 09:34:49

You are indeed well within your rights to set very strong boundaries. It sounds as if your son is in his wife's thrall and as long as she holds sway over him there will be no leverage. You need to form your own life, get some hobbies, friends, seek legal advice re any property/items of value you own and perhaps talk to trusted members of your wider family/a counseller/old friend to re-establish your self confidence. On this board we are all of an age where we must look after ourselves and our health both physical and mental to ensure that our days are peaceful. You sound like a very lovely lady so please treat yourself as such and tell these two to do one.

Greta8 Sat 14-Jan-23 09:43:22

I'm so sorry for your hurt and disappointment. I can understand why you told a few home truths here.

I think you'll have to leave things as they are for now and try and get on with your life. Easier said than done I know. Hopefully your son will do the right thing and repay the money you lent him but I wouldn't bank on it.

Next time you have contact with them, I would bite my tongue and try and be pleasant, no matter what the provocation. You won't ever win against his difficult wife unfortunately.

DiamondLily Sat 14-Jan-23 09:56:16

I don't think the wife can take all the blame though with these dust-ups.

The OPs son is an adult, and he doesn't need to do as he's told!

If DIL is treating OP unreasonably then he needs to make a stand.

They both sound very self absorbed though.

Smileless2012 Sat 14-Jan-23 10:42:31

If only some of these sons would make a stand DL. It's not a case of putting mum first, it's about behaving appropriately and if a d.i.l. isn't doing so, there's no reason why a son can't.

paddyann54 Sat 14-Jan-23 13:08:45

Surely none of us raise our children with the expectation we can make them do what WE want when they're adults?
I think you're being very unreasonable or would you have jumped through hoops for your mother or MIL even if your husband had other plans .
Our kids leave us to make their own lives ,in their own way.Many people on here blame D'sIL for breakdowns in communications or worse ,look to your own child .If there was a strong bond it will always be there BUT his wife must take priority .I know I will be there for my kids but have no issues with them putting their partners first ,hopefully they'll stay together happily for a long time ,or would you prefer them to split so he can prioritise you?

Theexwife Sat 14-Jan-23 13:19:31

It is a sad situation for you to be in, maybe they pick up on the fact that you blame your daughter in law for your sons distancing of you.

Most people will choose their partner over their mother, as it should be if given the choice.