Question: Dear Luise: I stumbled upon your website so I thought I would ask for your advice regarding my struggles and see if you can shed some light for me. Some background: My mother/father in law are wonderful people (to myself and everyone they come in contact with). They have been nothing but nice, generous and loving towards me. I developed a very close relationship with my MIL as soon as my husband and I were engaged—started calling her mom, hung out with her a lot, talked to her everyday. Sidenote: my own mother and I have a very strained relationship (she is not a loving or affectionate person and we aren’t close and never have been). I think I placed all my focus and energy on my MIL and replacing my mom with my MIL that it has hurt me now (a couple years after marriage). My MIL has a 20 year old god-daughter whose mother passed away several years ago. She is also very close to my MIL—calling her on the phone everyday, etc. I feel like I’m in a competition with this girl. My MIL is just so loving, warm and friendly towards everyone and it really has started to bother me, especially her relationship with the god-daughter. Whenever the 3 of us are together, I feel like a 3rd wheel and it seems like my MIL’s attention is focused solely on the girl. I guess my expectations of my MIL were that she would treat me like her very own daughter (she has only 2 sons) and since this god-daughter is in the picture and always invited to family events, I really am having a hard time “sharing” my MIL with her. I don’t think she realizes it, but she tends to show her “favoritism” towards certain people and I feel like she favors her god-daughter. I spent 2 years kind of trying to become the “favorite” of my MIL but am now realizing how it’s not the case and I’m just tired of the subtle competition. I have recently started to distance myself from her. I figured that being so close with her isn’t helping me get over this jealousy. She has not once asked me what is wrong and why I’ve distanced myself. If she really cared for me, wouldn’t she have asked me what’s going on? Also, she seems very indifferent towards me now even though I did share with her that I am going through a lot right now (it’s been a crazy emotional year for me with a few deaths in my family). She said she understood I have a lot on my plate but I don’t know what to do since she has stopped asking me to hang out with her or calling me if she doesn’t hear from me or trying to at least be “motherly” like she used to be. I feel that her not doing so shows that maybe I valued our relationship a lot more than she did. I guess since she has her god-daughter, she isn’t needy for a relationship with me. My question is, should I have coffee with her and share all this with her? I don’t want to appear jealous or possessive so I hesitate to disclose my feelings. I just don’t want to bottle up and explode on her in the future–I also get such anxiety at family events thinking that the god-daughter is going to be there and that I’ll have to deal with MIL giving her more attention than me. Also, what is a healthy mother in law/daughter in law relationship? Is talking to each other everyday and being really close a bad thing?M.
Answer: Dear M.: Please bring your question over to my Web-forum where you will not only get my answer but also many responses from other MILs and DILs as well. I look forward to seeing you there. You will find us at: www.WiseWomenUnite.com Blessings, Luise