Question: Dear Luise: How do I ever forgive or deal with a daughter-in-law that has repeatedly cheated on my son and stayed out all night while he was taking care of their two very young children. She does no housework at all. He works full time, plus does all the housework and cooking. He has left her twice now and is considering going back. She has hurt him so much and I feel that the pattern will never change. I don’t want to lose my son but I can’t stomach looking at her. I truly want her to disappear. She was low enough to carry on her affair when we had opened our home to them to help them get back on their feet financially. I feel such contempt for her. Help! R.
Answer: Dear R.: The situation you describe is a really tough one, as you well know. You want to help but then you end up enabling. On the other hand, there are two little kids who deserve a lot better.
Your son has his lessons to learn and the most painful thing of all is that you can’t help him much with that. He has to see through his wife if and when he does and he has to be the one to break away and stay away…if and when he can. It’s his life and they are his lessons.
The only thing I know of that you can do is to love him and your grandchildren and keep as much distance as you possibly can between you and his wife. Hoping she will disappear and hating her doesn’t help but/and there is absolutely no need for you to forgive her. It isn’t about you and your daughter-in-law. Getting that you can’t solve this, he has to…is all that will help. And if he doesn’t, then that’s his choice.
We have kids and then we let go of them…or we try to. Yes, we step in now and again and try to help under adverse circumstances, but we can’t call the shots. If asked, we can counsel, and then our grown children must still make their own choices. Sometimes it may look to them, (and to us), like they have no choice. That’s never true. When people say that…it’s because they can’t bear the consequences of some of the choices available to them.
Your son knows how you feel about his wife. He also knows what she’s been up to. He was once drawn to her and he once loved her. He has to work his way through this in his own time and in his own way.
Continue to let him know that you are in his corner. You have no way of knowing how much that may mean to him. He may not even know it, yet. Blessings, Luise