Question: Dear Luise: This is an embarrassing question, but I feel pretty alone with the problem and would like some help with it. My son has a mate/life-partner that I can’t stand. I think she took a dislike to me before I did to her, but it is clearly mutual. Do you have any words of wisdom about how to keep from losing my relationship with my son? I’m so sad. Mary Z.
Answer: Dear Mary: This is not unusual, since we don’t get to pick our kid’s mates. I have been there and know how awful it can feel.
His choice has been made, the die is cast and you are stuck with her. You need to get that loud and clear. You can’t change her and you can’t change his mind. I spent a lot of useless energy many years ago not really getting that.
I think I would watch to see what, if anything, works and focus on that. By that I mean, are large gatherings better than one-on-ones…does it work at all to be alone with her as opposed to being with both of them…is there some need that you can fill that would make you part of their reality, (like house-sitting while they are away, etc.)?
If it is possible to do so, talk with them separately about this. Ask your son if he can think of any way it would work and then ask her the same thing. It is wise to call it what it is, (well, choose your words carefully, of course), and to let both of them know that you want what will work best for everyone.
Sometimes, as in my case, the daughter-in-law feels so insecure about the old and very strong bond between mother and son, that she declares war, sight unseen. Sometimes the mother-in-law does that because she feels threatened and sometimes, unfortunately, there is just poor chemistry.
Whatever it is, you are a caring person to write to me about it and a great deal can come out of quietly caring…even from a distance. Blessings, Luise