My Daughter-in-law is Causing Serious Problems

Question: Dear Luise: I have a very big problem that disturbs my life. My son is married to a 29 year-old lady. She lost her mother when she was 5 years old. When my son told me that about her, I decided to be a mother to both of them. I treat her very kindly…even more than my son and his sister. I never hurt her feelings. I always encourage her and respect her and stand by her side. My son spends all his day at work and I cheerfully do all the cooking, cleaning and laundry alone. I never complain even when I am very fatigued. I never ask her to help. When she offers her help, I say “no, no, no, just rest and take care of your baby.” The PROBLEM is her hatred towards me. She always complains to my son that she thinks I am not happy with their living with me and that is not true. She always invents something bad to tell to my son to make him angry with me. My daughter-in-law and I are together during the day. We have breakfast and lunch together and watch TV and talk to each other. When it is time for my son to come back, she goes to her room and makes an angry face. And when my son comes, she starts complaining about me. Then, my son, too, makes an angry face and deals with me very badly. Every time this happens, I give the excuse that it may be because she lost her mother when she was so young and it made her aggressive toward me. However, what made this problem very dangerous is that she has planted hatred between my son and his sister, just as she doing with me. She gets mad when my son kisses his sister or me. Also, she gets angry when she sees me kissing or playing with my grandson but she encourages my husband to kiss him and play with him. M.

Answer: Dear M. Have you heard the saying…”You’ve got a bear by the tail?” That pretty much sums it up. No matter how much you want to make your daughter-in-law’s life better, things will probably continue to get worse. It’s time to stop making excuses for her, she’s almost 30 year’s old and she sits around doing nothing most of the day…making trouble for those who are productive.

It doesn’t look like you can help her with the damage that was done when she lost her own mother. She is too jealous of your position in the family. When no one is around, she has nothing going on with you. But when there is anyone home, she treats you like the enemy and tries to undermine both you and your daughter. She doesn’t want to share her family with either of you, that’s obvious. But, apparently your husband is no threat to her. It’s a “woman-thing.”

Some people fit into a live-in arrangement like you describe but many don’t. The more people that are involved, the more complicated it can get for someone who is deeply insecure like your daughter-in-law. She accuses you of wanting them to leave but that’s probably just a projection of her desire to have her own home and to be the one in charge. She may know on some level that’s the solution.

It may be a mistake to tell her “no” when she offers to help around the house. Your refusal may not be seen as a kindness. It may be taken as a sign that you think she isn’t capable of performing in an adequate, useful way. She may see it as a statement from you that you run things best your own way. If she is offering to help, that may be a good sign. Try taking her up on it.

It’s time for them to move out so they can and take responsibility for their little family no matter what kind of hardship that imposes. Early marriage is often hard. She needs her own domain to rule over. Until that happens, she will probably continue to cause friction and continue to try to alienate your son. “Tough Love” is needed here. Help them find their own place. Blessings, Luise

38 Responses to My Daughter-in-law is Causing Serious Problems

  1. T. September 21, 2008 at 7:56 am #

    My daughter in law is possessive of my son and jealous and outright rude to my husband, myself, and our daughter and her 2 boys. She doesn’t like it if our son spends time with any of us, or even his 2 nephews. Now she is having her first child and I know I will not get to be close to this grandchild. How do I get in? I miss my son and do not see him much…every 2 years of so for a hour maybe. I want to be as close to my granddaughter as I am with my 2 grandsons. My son cant even spend time with his sister or her children. I try to talk to my daughter-in-law and she treats me like I am stupid. She is a veterinarian. So is my son. If we make plans, she sabotages them saying she is sick or tired and needs to leave early or cancel. Willing to try anything to make it work. T.

  2. Luise September 21, 2008 at 8:15 am #

    Dear T. I don’t know of anything that will work. Our kids grow up and make their own choices regarding life-partners and life-styles. Your son chose this woman and they are creating a new family unit. If they want to include you, that’s great but/and if they decide not to include you, it is their decision. There is no way to become part of their lives because they have deliberately closed the door. They have that right, no matter how stupid it is to do such a thing (because they are obviously the stupid ones, not you) and no matter how many people they hurt in the process. Focus on what works in your family, you have a lot to be thankful for and do your best to let go of what isn’t working. Blessings, Luise

  3. S. September 23, 2008 at 3:38 pm #

    Hello, I don’t have a daughter in law yet but my son’s girlfriend is already causing problems. She gets into fights with both my other two sons and their girlfriends. She has told my son things that I have said but never did say them. I just don’t know what to do. They are talking about getting married. I have tried several times to get to know her but she won’t let me. S.

  4. Luise September 23, 2008 at 3:54 pm #

    Dear S. You can to talk with your son about the falsehoods and the fights…if he is willing to hear you. A big “if”, I know. Blinders often come with love. If he won’t listen, there is nothing I know of that you can do. The other side of the coin is that if you talk with him, it may do more harm than good. He will probably tell her and then things could get worse. You are between a rock and a hard place, even if you do nothing. He is making choices that are going to change the family dynamics radically. Blessings, Luise

  5. S. September 29, 2008 at 11:35 am #

    Desperate! My son and daughter-in law have been married for 5 years .They have two lovely daughters.My daughter-in laws mother chooses to interfere all the time, and making my son miseralbe. He will not divorse her, because he loves her. She takes her children to her Moms or her Mom gets the girls everyday. My son works shift work and very rarely sees his girls. She doesnt want him to have a relationship with his children . the oldest tells her dad she hates him, which makes my daughter-in laws mother very happy. When its my turn to have the girls they are either sick or at her moms. I hardly ever see the girls. Myself and my daughter-in laws mother do not get along. She treats my son terrible. My son wont leave the relationship because of his love for his children. The youngest loves her dad.My daughter-in law and I have had words and I don’t speak to her for what she is doing to my son and my grandkids. Any advice would be greatly appreciated! S.

  6. Luise September 29, 2008 at 5:06 pm #

    Dear S.: What is so hard is such circumstances is the fact that your son is the one calling the shots. He is staying and he is putting up with what’s going on. You have no authority to intervene or interfere. By staying, he is condoning his wife’s actions as well as his mother-in-law’s. His non-action has taken you out of the equation. His attitude is about his love for his children and the rest just follows. Blessings, Luise

  7. Luise October 2, 2008 at 9:21 am #

    Here is a new comment: This isn’t so much a question as a comment; this is to the grandmother who is afraid she won’t be able to see her grandchildren.

    While I understand letting the son and daughter in law become their own family, she DOES have options. Most states have ‘grandparent’ rules, and she may want to check with an attorney to see about the rules in her state. D.

  8. T. February 15, 2009 at 12:03 am #

    Dear Luise: My oldest son is in the Air Force and in Iraq now fighting. I tried to keep a good relationship with my daughter-in-law by not getting involved of their everyday life and their personal problems. If they had problems and my son came home, I would send him back and deal with the problems and take care of it. I would never have an input as long, no one was getting phycally hurt. My daugter-in-law always would interfer when I wanted to spend time with my son. She would have an argument with me or say something mean to my son about me and I couldn’t spend time with him. My son got stationed in Alaska and they invited my youngest daughter to stay with them while he went to Iraq. I knew it was a bad decision because I belive no to woman could live together and my daughter would feel she would be a babysitter and a maid all the time. Well, it came down that my daughter-in-law kicked my daughert out and my daughter luckily had someone to go stay with until we could get her a plane ticket. My daughter-in-law started talking to me online and she started talking about my daughter, I tried to change the subject and talk about something else because I knew all about it and I did not want to get involved. My daughter-in-law started talking real bad about my daughter. I told her I did not want to hear it and we need to change the subject. My daugher-in-law started fussing at me and started calling me names so, I lost my cool and gave her a few choice names in return. I made a copy of the messages and sent it to my son. I told him to read it so, he will know both sides of the story. My son did not read it and My daughter-in-law from hell is showing her tush by, deleting my screename “jacksonsgrandma” on myspace and removing my grandson’s pictures. She said I am not alowed to talk to my grandson or see my son or grandson, that I am no granmother to him anymore. She has threaten me, called and left mean messages and my son is not doing anything to stop her. She has even blocked my youngest son and my daughter in contacting their brother. She keeps on saying mean things that if my son dies in Iraq that we are not allowed to go to the funeral. She knows those comments hurts me more than anything because I don’t want anything happen to my son. I feel my heart has been pulled out and stopped. I cry every night because I don’t know how my son and grandson is doing and if they are safe and taken care of. I know I said some mean things but, I can’t apologize because she so evil by doing all the things she has done. I can’t stand to look at her webpage because she has a song that plays about a husband dying in the war. I can’t help but to think she is thinking only mean things about my son. I don’t know what to do. Do you have any suggestions?Sincerely, T.

    • Luise February 24, 2009 at 2:14 pm #

      Answer: Dear T. I looks to me like anything you do or say is misunderstood and then used against you. The only thing I know of is to back away and pray for all of them. I know it sounds fruitless but prayer can be a very strong antidote to hate. Blessings, Luise

  9. E. July 2, 2009 at 10:05 am #

    What common problems we all have. I recommend reading Nancy Wilson’s Daughter-in-Law, an article I found on-line. I just put daughter-in-law issues in my search and found that and this site. As long as we respect boundaries, treat our children and their significant others with respect and politeness, give our time and help when we can, then we should expect the same in return. I have tried for four years to be a friend to my daughter-in-law but it hasn’t made any difference. I am okay to babysit in my home for my grandson, cook dinner in my home for everyone, but have never been invited to my son’s home. And they live only two blocks away. I have reached the point that if my daughter-in-law wants me to be part of my grandson’s life, then she needs to make me part of it and that means inviting me to her home to see him there as well as asking me to babysit for him, which I love to do. This generation is the “selfish” generation in all areas. And I am tired of hoping she likes me and trying to be part of her life. At this point, I don’t care if she does or not!!! E.

    • Luise July 3, 2009 at 9:09 pm #

      Dear E.: I would suggest you copy and paste this question to my other website: http://www.motherinlawsunite.com It’s a forum and you will get the benefit of a support group there. Your DIL is certainly self-absorbed and rude, from my point of view. Still, it feels to me like you might want to be careful in giving her an ultimatum. She might use it to make a permanent break and separate you from your grandchildren. Blessings, Luise

  10. C. July 20, 2009 at 4:03 pm #

    I don’t understand why my daughter in law doesn’to communicate with me …my son got married a yr ago and I was the perfect mother in law to be for 3 yrs. It seemed everything was ok.. they came over I know more than 50 times to eat meals …big dinners I made myself .. all big holiday meals and meals in between holidays…they came to watch local college games … swim in the pool , etc. We seemed to get along ok talking then since my son got married everything has changed. My daughter in law was asked to come to my daughters 18th birthday party and her Sr. graduation ..she didnt come to either. She came over the other evening at my son s doing…my son wanted to come over to pick up something here. That’s maybe only the second time she has come over in a year since they have been married. She was stoned face the whole time and didn’t talk much. She hardly looked at me when I was trying to talk to her … it was obvious she didn’t want to be in my home. I have only treated her with decency and respect and have been sweet and kind to her. She has yet to have me to her home but its ok for my family to have her to ours ..eat our food.. take our gifts..give her things etc. To not want to even communicate with me is a little hard for me to handle…what do u think is wrong? C.

  11. M. September 3, 2009 at 11:26 pm #

    Dear Luise: You once asked to have input from someone who had “therapy” over the DIL issue. I have for a short while (a few months.) I can tell you I think it helps. At least it gives you someone to dump on when all your friends and family are long tired of listening to you. It also gives some insight and direction into your own reasons for continuing to grieve. I do recommend it if you can. M.

  12. K. February 9, 2010 at 4:25 pm #

    The worst thing is when my daughter in law is jealous. Ii do nothing. i don’t interfere in their lives. When my son came see me she is not happy and every 6months she starts a problem of some kind. She picks on anything ,to see that my son keeps away from me. He has all ways told me, Mum, you not the problem,” but this time i went to visit and she was so angry. She told me I love my 2 girls more than I love my son. This is not true. And she threw me out of the house Before I left, I told to my son to work things out. She is your wife. i am your Mum, and all i want is for you to let me know that you are OK. It’s been 6 weeks and I have not see him. i am so hurt. He is a good man and I know he is only staying with her for his 2 boys. This has been going for more then 10 years. I have always shut my mouth but this time she is out of my life. Sad. K.

  13. T. March 31, 2010 at 11:58 pm #

    my daughter 5 years old dont speak what can i do ? T.

    • Luise April 4, 2010 at 10:07 pm #

      Ask a doctor where to take here…or the person who is the head of your church or someone at your local school. You need to get outside help from a person who knows how to work with her problem.

  14. K. April 26, 2010 at 8:27 am #

    I need to talk to anyone this happened to to ask how did the get over losing their son and grandchildren because the son’s wife is mean & sick in the head…(for real.) K.

    • Luise April 26, 2010 at 11:58 am #

      K.: Please, come over to my Web-forum with this issue. It is the primary question dealt with there. Blessings, Luise

  15. A. November 11, 2010 at 6:45 pm #

    I’ve noticed you side on the mother or in law side frequently. Is there a reason? Often the young ladies or daughter in laws have sides too with in laws who feel slighted by their presence and try and squash out marriage just as fast as it starts. Playing the saintly mother goes as far as playing the saintly daughter and your advice is not fair or seeing both sides (but maybe that’s because none of these questions seem honest about both sides) A.

  16. K. February 3, 2011 at 6:31 am #

    Dear Luise,
    My daughter in law is loud and obnoxious and very disrespectful and my son goes along with every thing she says. My companion and I decided against driving an hour away for Christmas because we had 8 inches of snow the night before and I woke up at 6am and read that we were expecting more which didn’t happen. So now she thinks I lied to get out of seeing my Grand kids whom I love very much. I talked to a police officer friend and he said some bridges and over passes were still icy. I called my son Christmas morning and asked if we could come by new years day so we could spend some time with the boys and he said that was fine. Well she blew up and told my daughter that she had plans. I tried calling like four or five times and now my son won’t talk to me. My 49th B-day was Feb 1rst and I got an e-mail from her saying that I am never going to see my Grand sons ages 1 and 3 ever again and to never call or write and good bye for ever. That was what I got for my B-day, nice huh? K.

    • Luise February 6, 2011 at 9:02 am #

      Please consider coming on over to my Web-forum http://www.WiseWomenUnite.com where we help each other work through this kind of thing as much as possible. It is amazingly prevalent these days and totally devastating. Blessings, Luise

  17. C. March 13, 2011 at 1:00 am #

    hi, my son has a girlfriend that he is surpose to marry august 7th and at first everythibg was fine, now 6 months later … o my she has a very bad attuide and is rude, and notonly that i try so hard to get a lond with her, bit we did and then she told a lie on me to my son and u heard her telling him he should stand up to me for her since she was going to be his wife, tou can not say nothing to her, she takes everything wrong, i love my son he is 23 and has a good job and his own house, but i can’t see him without her, if i tell him i need to talk to him alone she come right in and say i;m going to be noise and i don’t say a word ..,my problem is now me and him are fighting alot, please help i feel like i need help bsd, thank you. C.

    • Luise March 13, 2011 at 11:35 am #

      Unfortunately, sons often pick women who don’t fit into the family. We have no say in it. They start a new family unit and make up their own rules. We have to live by the rules they set up…because it is their right, as young adults to do that. Do your very best. That’s all any of us can do. Please come over to the Web-forum I created for women who are facing issues with adult children and extended families. There is a lot of support available for those who are facing what you are and can’t really do anything about it without being completely rejected in the process. Blessings, Luise

  18. R. July 4, 2011 at 6:07 am #

    Well I’m at the other end of this issue…being as I’m a daughter-in-law living with my husband’s family, and I can tell you that the things you as a mother-in-law don’t see as an issue…really are. Louise stated that the fact that since you’re sons are married they (wives) would like them to be on their own and independent. This is really true. I hate it when my MIL does too much for my husband, because he immediately reverts to being HER child instead of my husband. I’ve actually initiated this living arrangement with my inlaws because I felt that I really want my daughter to know her family, what I wasn’t betting on was my husband WANTING to live with his parents indefinitely, he just thinks it’s so much easier for him (and for me) having someone ‘help’ so much with day to day things AND our daughter. I on the other hand feel that he uses his mother like a crutch so that he can be more free…and personally I LIKE to do everything for my husband, it’s something that I can feel proud about. But what REALLY REALLY REALLY irks me is the fact that ALL of my ‘power’ has been taken away, and she just ‘naturally’ treats me as her CHILD. I’m not a child. I like to decide what we’re going to eat for dinner, I like to decide what kind of laundry detergent to use, I like to wake up early to get my daughter breakfast…but it’s a million little things like those that she’s taken from me. We can’t even make love when the mood strikes, we have to wait until the whole house is asleep and then we have to be VERY quiet…how romantic is that? What makes it even worse is that HIS MOTHER HAD THE SAME COMPLAINTS about her husband’s mother, and yet she turns around and does the same thing to me. And my husband is just as much to blame as his mother because he’ll listen to her over me…yeah it’s his mother but that part of his life should be over, he married me. R.

    • C. February 11, 2012 at 6:00 pm #

      You’re living in her house, what would you expect? Both you and your husband need to grow up and get your own place, then you’ll have the maturity and freedom to be responsible and make your own rules. You can’t have your cake and eat it too! C.

      • P. September 24, 2012 at 4:35 pm #

        You made this decision and it was your choice. I would think you are old enough to have known the position you would be in with this living arrangement. Helloooo! This is your mother-in-law’s home and even more than one woman in the kitchen only is too many let alone in the whole house.

  19. J. December 28, 2011 at 12:58 am #

    I have 2 daughter in laws who hate each other . over the past few years there have been many arguements . my husband and i have refused to take sides but have had to endure watching this erode the once very close relationship between our two sons,
    we have always been a close family and finally today my husband lost control and snapped saying and almost coming to fists with our youngest and then driving to our eldest sons and doing the same with him and his wife and telling them to sort it out. we were all in tears by the end and i feel this may have caused irrepairable damage to my husband and sons relationships Whrer do we go from here? J.

    • Luise Volta January 14, 2012 at 1:26 pm #

      J. Please bring your issue over to my Web-forum at http://www.WiseWomenUnite.com where you will have the benefit of a community of caring women to help you sort it out. From what you say, I don’t blame your husband…he’s just done with it. Yes, damaage was done but he didn’t cause it…it was already there and just not faced.

  20. R. October 26, 2012 at 10:56 pm #

    my doghter in law she make my son send money to her family she make hem not give me nothen and she make hem buy places not tell me she told every one only me no R.

    • Luise Volta October 31, 2012 at 7:59 am #

      R – This kind of thing is miserable to put up with and very hard to understand but it is between your son and daughter in law. It’s totally his choice, as an adult, regarding how it is resolved. Once our kids move out on their own, we don’t get to vote. Blessings, Luise

  21. L. December 1, 2012 at 2:09 pm #

    Dil confided my son could not afford to pay for the wedding invitations she wanted and ask me to pay for them. I put them on my visa. Printed wedding invitation arrived in mail with only her parents name. DIL said printer did not make a mistake—she told him to leave my name off the invitation so people would think her parents were paying. Wow! the first deception. .

    At the wedding reception, her grandfather threatened to shoot her mother with a gun from his car. Her uncles surrounded my son and wanted to beat him up as welcome to the family. I panicked and called the police who came to the church and told all guests to go home the wedding was over. Humiliated, you betcha! My church.

    DIL is either sugary sweet, a pure angel who can’t do enough for you or she is just plain evil and cant do enough harm to you. She always invents something bad to tell to my son to make him angry with me. Now, he deals with me very badly when she tells him things and tells me he has already heard her side of story and does not want to hear mine–it is my job to work it out with her–don’t make him choose between us.

    My son is a different person. Gone the happy person he was, he’s under stress, makes horrible financial decisions and has changed personalities, and now has nothing good to say about women.

    She hides his prescription medications from him. When I confronted her she admitted to doing so, and I told her I was going to talk to him about better control of his meds. Well she lied on me again and said I made it up the pills were just misplaced—everything is misunderstanding —I’m always confused—-making trouble—and she is convinced that I am jealous of her. DIL is would make 2 of me—I sometimes pity her.

    2 children (boy 14, girl 10). Granddaughter is very codependent upon the Mother. At my house, she want eat without calling her Mom to see if she wants her to eat a hamburger or a hot dog for lunch. This is fact. The grandson is pretty much ignored—-told he just a boy and boys don’t need things—little girls do. It’s sad.

    Recently, she invited me to her home to spend the night and I did and she told me her home was only big enough for one queen bee and she and my son agreed that she was that queen bee. She treated me like trash under her feet and my granddaughter refused so speak to me the next morning at the breakfast table. My son made her speak to her me. Her mother said she was a little 10 year old having a bad morning and I should be more understanding. Dissention starts all over again, I’m the bad guy and don’t even know that I did.

    I have helped them both financially over and over, cleaned her house, kept her children for days at a time with no thank you from her. I left their home near tears. I
    ‘m not going back. I don’t feel like family. I miss my grandchildren and I miss my son but I don’t miss my dil.

    This is just a drop in the bucket. Her lies and dissention are unbelievable. I ask them to get professional help for the entire family, but they told me it was me, not them. L.

  22. E. February 1, 2013 at 9:28 am #

    Hi, Luise.
    pls email me only…I want to keep it private for this. thanks very appreciated your cooments here. E.

    • Luise Volta February 8, 2013 at 6:24 pm #

      E – I can understand your need for privacy but I don’t do private emails. Blessings, Luise

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