Annie Lane: Dumbfounded by daughter-in-law
Published 6:08 pm Tuesday, October 4, 2022
Dear Annie: I am a mom of three adult children. The circumstances that I am sharing are regarding my son and his new relationship. He is 27 and in love for the first time in his life. (Yay!) It has been wonderful to witness his newfound happiness.
His now fiancee and I have really bonded and — I had thought — built a fun relationship. She has four children from previous relationships, ranging in age from 10 to 17.
About six weeks ago, she started to write me emails regarding statements that I or other family members had made that she thought were insults. They were comments simply made in jest and were certainly not meant to be hurtful. She sent me a very extensive email outlining multiple conversations over a period of three months. This email was so difficult for me to read that it took me over three hours to get through it!
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I responded by letting her know that I was sorry she felt this way and expressed my deepest apologies. My husband and I have gone out of our way to offer hospitality to her and her children, including hosting them over the holidays for 10 days. We also took over child care for her youngest while they went on two separate trips, and we provided the means for her to move closer to our home. She was previously living about five hours away by car. We have also assisted with planning their upcoming wedding.
A few weeks ago, she stormed out of my birthday party because my niece hugged my son! They had not seen each other for nearly two years and were simply excited to see each other. She texted my son and demanded that he leave immediately as well. She later sent me a text that said to leave her entirely and completely alone.
In the weeks since, it came out that my son had confided in my daughter that they actually are already married! They had a courthouse wedding four months ago on the first trip that they took together. They had met online only four months before that, and they still lived separately until only a month ago.
Over the last four months, they have had an engagement event and have worked hard to hide the fact that they are actually already married.
I am no longer certain I want to pursue a relationship with her. I feel so taken advantage of and hurt and bewildered by her behavior. But this may also mean losing the relationships I have built with her children, and possibly even losing my son.
Any insights you can share on how I might navigate the land mines ahead would be greatly appreciated.
— Bewildered and
Dear Bewildered and Heartbroken: Land mines” is the right term. It seems like everything you do offends her. One positive point about her expressing her unhappiness with your comments is that it’s good she is able to be honest with you and tell you how she feels. It seems that she is a very sensitive person who forces you to think about what you are going to say around her. Or she might be a narcissist who tends to make everything about her. She also might have borderline personality disorder, judging from the extreme change in behavior.
It must have been difficult for them to get married without telling you, or anyone for that matter, but ultimately that is their business and what they wanted to do. If you want a relationship with your son and step-grandchildren, you might have to forgive them for not including you.
Now that your son is married to her and she is part of your life, you have to find the best way to navigate her. One good book to read is, “Stop Walking on Eggshells” by Paul T. Mason and Randi Kreger.
Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.