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Estrangement

Just not interested

(32 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?

Urmstongran Fri 14-Jun-19 18:50:26

Maybe just accept it quietly without making a fuss. Things can change. Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face.

sodapop Fri 14-Jun-19 19:01:45

Urmstongran is right don't make a big issue out of this but don't give up. Small steps may help achieve your goal.

March Fri 14-Jun-19 19:12:38

Personally, I think all this 'Joining the family' is abit Mafia style.
Wanting them to behave or act a way to be accepted is setting up to fail. They are a family and they have lots of other family members.
There's introverts and extroverts too.

Miss matched expectations are the reason there's no many hurt feelings. Just go with the flow smile

Smileless2012 Fri 14-Jun-19 19:35:12

I don't agree that joining a family is necessarily a bit Mafia style. Yes, if the family you're joining expects you to conform to their ways but other wise no.

When 2 people get married, there is a joining of sorts of both families. In addition to p's you have p's.i.l., in addition to brothers and sisters you have b's.i.l and s's.i.l.

If one party isn't interested in a relationship with their partners' family, that in itself isn't insurmountable but it's a different thing all together if they want to take it a step further and interfere in the relationship their partner has with their own family, by either insisting they sever contact, or making life at home so unbearable that they capitulate and walk away from their family.

Our experience of estrangement wasn't like that at all Madgran. We genuinely loved our ES's wife and believed she felt the same way. She would tell me she loved me and wished I'd been her mum!!!

We've learned that the only way of dealing with estrangement is to walk away. The alternative took us to the brink of a physical and emotional breakdown.

Madgran77 Fri 14-Jun-19 20:21:56

March - Miss matched expectations are the reason there's no many hurt feelings. Just go with the flow

And if there is no "flow"? I wasn't asking about hurt feelings ! I was asking if anyone has experienced a complete lack of interest?

The point being that lack of interest could so easily slip into causing problems for a partner when they want to see their own family! So arrangements to meet are scuppered by "a bad day" or "emergency at home" or whatever ….. and there is then a wariness not to put pressure on an AC, because of fear of pushing them towards estrangement to "keep the peace".

Scentia Fri 14-Jun-19 20:31:33

I think you just have to accept that you are not a person they would choose to spend time with, there is nothing wrong in that. My DiL is polite to me but I don’t expect anything more than that, she chose my son not the rest of his family. I don’t make any issue to my son that it is obvious his partner isn’t keen on us, she has every right to like who she wants to. My SiL seems to like us but he just might be better at faking it, who knows and who really cares. Don’t rock any boats as she may really tell you what she thinks, and nobody needs that in their lives.

janeainsworth Fri 14-Jun-19 20:38:19

March I agree. When I got married it never occurred to me that I was ‘joining’ MrA’s family, or he mine.
I thought we were just ourselves.
In nearly 50 years, we’ve never had any conflict or problems with either family.

Starlady Fri 14-Jun-19 20:47:44

IMO, sometimes you (general) have to accept that there just isn't going to be much of a MIL/DIL relationship and just enjoy time spend w/ DS and the GC. Hopefully, DIL is polite and cordial when she does see you. All that is required, in return, I think, is that you be polite and cordial back. A few overtures to be friendlier/closer are fine, IMO, but more than that could be seen as "pushy" or an informal kind of "harassment."

If DIL tried to keep DS and/or the GC from seeing you just b/c she's not interested, IMO, that's wrong. But there, DS needs to stand up for his and/or the kids relationship w/ you if it's important enough to him. Unfortunately, family relations aren't a big deal to some guys, so they might not.

I realize that if DS and family live far from his parents, and traveling is required to see each other, then her lack of interest is likely to affect how much DS and the GC see you, even if that's not DIL's intention.

Also, I realize that everything I'm saying could apply to a DD and SIL, too. And that sometimes these things change over time. In fact, my own SIL didn't seem that interested in DH and me in the early days. He was polite and cordial - and maybe even sometimes friendly - but as DH would say, back then, he maintained "minimal involvement" w/ us. Over time, though, he and DH discovered interests in common, we found his political views are closer to ours than his own parents, etc. and somehow, a closer relationship developed, especially between him and DH. Who knew?

So I think in some cases, it's just a matter of time. But I know that's not true w/ everyone.

Starlady Fri 14-Jun-19 20:51:50

Just want to add, Iv known DILs who started out w/ a negative bias towards PILs, in general. They knew beforehand they were going to keep PILs at arm's length for fear of their interfering in the marriage, childrearing, etc. By the same token, Iv know MILs who started out w/ a negative attitude towards DILs, for fear a DIL would keep DS away.

March Fri 14-Jun-19 22:07:01

Sorry Madgran I don't understand.
Do you mean a partner stopping their spouse seeing their family? Or their spouse just not wanting to do things with their in-laws?

I went to visit my MIL with and without DH and visa versa.

Couldn't they just go on their own?

March Fri 14-Jun-19 22:11:47

Sorry I ment, we both went to visit or he went on his own and visa versa.

FarNorth Fri 14-Jun-19 22:18:00

So arrangements to meet are scuppered by "a bad day" or "emergency at home" or whatever

Do you mean arrangements to meet your AC, or to meet both of them? and DGC?

rosecarmel Fri 14-Jun-19 23:00:00

Madgran77, it sounds like you've grown tired of standing there with your arm extended showing someone the open door and have become disinterested in holding that position-

Perhaps by now the fact that the door is open is understood and you are free to leave it at that and get on with other things-

You didn't indicate if they show up for gatherings or they dont- But if they don't I'd always extend the invite to your daughter or son - I would do that because that's who I am, and it is my responsibility- If they don't come it's their decision, and their responsibility to decline-

One would need a time machine to know if letting go of your position at the door would lead to estrangement- But I don't think that you can be estranged from someone you never formed a relationship to begin with-

Perhaps you could?

crazyH Fri 14-Jun-19 23:13:17

We (grandparents) have to make best of a bad situation, for the sake of the grandchildren. Grit our teeth, bite our tongue, walk on eggshells, swallow our pride, eat humble pie ....I have done all this and more just to see my little girls (by my older antagonistic son). No problem at all seeing the other 4.
Don't walk away, although in some circumstances that's the best and only thing to do.
Madgran is talking in riddles, in the best possible way

Madgran77 Sat 15-Jun-19 10:36:05

Hello all sort if I seemed to be talking in riddles. Was feeling low last night and pondering! Very busy today so wil come back again to this when more time . ...appreciate the replies

Glammy57 Sat 15-Jun-19 12:18:58

Scentia and Janeainsworth, I totally agree. My late mother-in-law was a sweet, kind woman who welcomed me into the family. My husband is one of nine children (devout Catholics). He left home at the age of nineteen to see the world and get away from his conservative, religious family. It took many years for his father and some of his siblings to accept me. Fortunately, my family has adored Mr. G from the first meeting. I keep in touch with two of my sisters-in-law on a regular basis. The others always receive a Christmas card/ brief email. Mr G’s family live thousands of miles away, so physical contact is limited. Also, Mr G feels far more comfortable with my family as they are more accepting of “different”! My ex son-in-law has always been warm towards me and I try to maintain this. Mr G has taken eight years to be cordial following our daughter’s unhappy marriage. I refuse to harbour a grudge as I know how emotionally damaging it can be!

Madgran77 Sat 15-Jun-19 18:48:02

Back again. Thanks for all the replies, giving food for thought.

Scentia "I think you just have to accept that you are not a person they would choose to spend time with, there is nothing wrong in that." - Yes, you are right, I have accepted that

Starlady "IMO, sometimes you (general) have to accept that there just isn't going to be much of a MIL/DIL relationship and just enjoy time spend w/ DS and the GC." - Yup, agree with that too

March "Do you mean a partner stopping their spouse seeing their family? Or their spouse just not wanting to do things with their in-laws?" - not interested in doing things with in-laws! Which is fine until when their spouse arranges to see their parents, and ominously regularly there will be a last minute problem which stops them coming. I am well aware that in the end spouse has to deal with that as they see fiot; it is their life and their relationship. . However quite rightly the partner will be the priority and if the problem is last minute illness/emergency of some sort etc etc then inevitably that will take priority and over time, when that happens regularly then contact with parents get less and less. So be it but it is a shame

RoseCarmel "it sounds like you've grown tired of standing there with your arm extended showing someone the open door and have become disinterested in holding that position- - I think you could be right!

RoseCarmel "One would need a time machine to know if letting go of your position at the door would lead to estrangement- But I don't think that you can be estranged from someone you never formed a relationship to begin with- - I meant the potential for "accidental" estrangement or at the very least, never or rarely seeing ones parents...see above.

Anyway, as I said previously, was feeling low last night and not much point really. Thanks for your comments everyone.

Starlady Sat 15-Jun-19 20:01:16

You're very welcome, Madgran. And thanks for taking time to answer us individually.

You say this is about DIL not wanting to spend time w/ her ILs /you and DH, etc. But it does seem that she often keeps DS away from you, too. It could be coincidence that there so often seems to be a last minute emergency or whatever. But if it has happened 3 times or more, I admit, I would be suspicious that she's making sure it happens, especially if those times were close together. So really, it is, after all, about her trying to stop DS from seeing his FOO (family of origin). Or maybe he doesn't want to come to certain events and doesn't have the heart to tell you.

" I meant the potential for "accidental" estrangement or at the very least, never or rarely seeing ones parents...see above. "

Let me see if I understand this ^^. I think you're concerned that if you stop inviting DS, you and he will end up being estranged. And, by extension, you'll end up being estranged from the GC. Have I got that right?

I know you said there's "not much point" in even discussing this, but Iv been thinking... If Iv got it right , then, hmmm... If you keep in touch in other ways - Skype, etc. - then his not coming to events or for visits won't really cause an estrangement. If you don't keep in touch that way, would it be worth starting?

If Skyping, etc. won't work out, then continuing to invite him to this/that would be a way of keeping the lines of communication open. You'd invite him, knowing he will probably renege, but, at least, you'd be talking w/ each other.

Whether videochats, etc. will work out or not, another option, I think, would be to let him know that you realize it's often hard for him to go through w/ plans w/ you, so you're going to stop asking. But that he should know the door is always open and that he should let you know if he ever truly free to see you and DH, etc. That could be hard to say w/o sounding confrontational, I know. So I would think it over carefully before I said it.

Maybe someone else can come up w/ a better wording or a better idea.

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

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.

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.

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 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?

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.