Question: Dear Luise: We just got the wedding behind us and everything went well. Actually it was beautiful. My question is, what does a family do when the daughter in law ignores the entire family of our son. We have been around her just a few times due to the fact that our son is in the military. When corresponding with my daughter in law by email prior to the wedding, I would often not get a reply or it would take weeks to hear from her even though her opinion/answer would be needed to plan pre-wedding events. I thought this was possibly some mother in law to be issue. At the wedding our son’s grandparents (82), aunt and uncle, brothers and parents got the cold shoulder. Actually when we told her how beautiful she looked, wished them a happy life, and welcomed her to the family, there was dead silence. She visited laughing and talking with everyone but the groom’s family at the wedding. Each member of our family voiced a concern to each other thinking that they as an individual had done something wrong not realizing that it had happened to us all. What do you make of this and is there any advice you might give? Prior to the wedding my husband seemed to be in her favor but even he got this non-responsiveness. It has thrown him a curve ball and he is not happy. One family member stated that she was like talking to a brick and it seemed that now that our daughter in law had him, she didn’t have to be nice to us. We are Christian people and want to love her. S.
Answer: Dear S. She is cutting him out of the herd…taking “possession,” so to speak. It happens more often than most of us realize. I have never heard of a son-in-law doing the same thing, although it may happen.
There is very little you can do but love her from afar and try to understand her insecurity…a tough assignment. And it’s bound to get even harder when grand children appear on the scene.
Many parents have tried to appeal to their sons in this situation but that is seldom successful. They are usually totally besotted and easily swayed by the new wife’s perceptions.
Her bottom line: all-consuming jealousy. She feels like she can’t compete with history and deep bonds, no matter how much Christian love and understanding she is given and she’s simply using her newfound position to create a vacuum in which to launch her new family unit. She may know this or it may be pretty much on an unconscious level with superficial rationalization holding it together. She is probably confident that your son will bend to her will. She has some very cunning and powerful, manipulative tools, remember…tears, pouting, silence and withholding sex, to name a few. His bottom line: it’s his lesson in divided loyalty. No one can help him with it…not really. Also, she may change but there’s no guarantee she will.
You can pray and you can genuinely love both of them from a distance. Let your son know you support him while letting go of him at the same time. It may be hard to respect his choices but he has stepped into the adult role and is on his own learning curve. Have deep compassion… because he sure picked a tough initial issue!
You can also call a family conference and decide as a group not to pass stories around about her. Don’t feed each other’s pain, sadness and loss. Show her by example that there is another way to live life and that there is no shortage of love, either horizontal or vertical, unless we create that illusion. Blessings, Luise