Dear Annie: Your advice to “Strained Communication” was perfect: “Run, run, as fast as you can.” Our son married a charmer who wanted to get married quickly. She had a great reputation and nice family, but things aren’t always as they seem. Shortly after marriage, we began to see the real person who was extremely controlling, crying uncontrollably, emotional meltdowns/tantrums and vindictive behavior, just to name a few bad behaviors. She ruined every holiday, family get-together and vacation we had as a family. No doubt, she has a mental issue, but she was refusing to try and improve herself, and, instead, blaming everyone else. Please, please don’t marry quickly. In our situation, she had to get married before we saw the real person; otherwise, the marriage never would have happened. Our son and family learned the hard way. They’ve since split up. — Wiser in Tennessee
Dear Wiser: I appreciate your sharing the wisdom, though I’m sorry to hear how it was earned. (c) Annie Lane @ Creators.com
I wouldn’t call this person wise.
She had a great reputation and nice family.
A reputation is good, I guess, but should anyone really be judged as having merit or not having merit on the basis of their family? That rubs me the wrong way. Why don’t we also assume, then, that victims of domestic abuse deserve it, because they chose their abusive spouses? Or why don’t we assume that if someone has an alcoholic parent, then that person must be a future alcoholic? Or we could assume that a teenager whose family seems perfect must be thriving, when in reality he or she’s being abused behind closed doors. In short, what does having a nice family really have to do with anything?
Also, it makes me think of buying livestock or a purebred dog. Does the dog have a successful sire and dam? Good lineage? People are individuals unto themselves!!
[…] but things aren’t always as they seem.
Are they ever? Is this supposed to make the letter writer seem like a genius? She seems smallminded, more likely. People, situations, relationships, and circumstances have depth. It can take a while to dig deep enough to get the whole picture. It’s life. The hostility embedded in this statement is painful. The letter writer’s mad at her ex-daughter-in-law for… being human? I have no clue.
[She] was extremely controlling, crying uncontrollably, emotional meltdowns/tantrums and vindictive behavior, just to name a few bad behaviors.
Okay. Uncontrollable crying isn’t a bad behavior. It’s more of a cry for help. Also, meltdowns and tantrums happen. Raise your hand if you’ve never had one. As for being controlling and vindictive, that’s not good, but if it crossed the line into abusive, then the letter writer’s son was free to leave the relationship (and he ultimately did, so… must we continue to trashtalk his ex?) Sometimes things don’t work out.
She ruined every holiday, family get-together and vacation we had as a family.
It’s very, very hard to join a new family with the in-laws. It’s A LOT to adjust to. I’ve never been married, but I have dated, and it’s just A LOT. It sounds like it was a hard adjustment for the daughter-in-law, and may have been a bad fit for all involved. This is unpleasant but shouldn’t require pointing the finger of blame. It was the ex-daughter-in-law against a large number of people. Not cool.
Also, I don’t really feel good about the concept of marrying into a family where you’re required to do all this social stuff with the in-laws. Holidays, get-togethers, and vacations? Maybe the daughter-in-law felt pressured to attend all this stuff and couldn’t keep it together emotionally. I think in an ideal world, you should only owe your in-laws half of every major holiday, with your spouse being able to see them as often as he or she wants.
No doubt, she has a mental issue, but she was refusing to try and improve herself, and, instead, blaming everyone else.
Grammar police! Grammar police! She was refusing to try TO improve herself. Thank you.
It sounds like it was a bad fit. I’ve been in that situation of trying to improve and also change myself to fit into a boyfriend’s family. If you have to force it, then you should probably step back and rethink it. That’s what I learned. If you’ve got the daughter-in-law here feeling ganged up on, that’s not a recipe for improved mental health. It just isn’t. The only way the daughter-in-law could heal from her issues, I’d wager, would first involve leaving this family unit.
Please, please don’t marry quickly. In our situation, she had to get married before we saw the real person; otherwise, the marriage never would have happened.
So… the lesson here is to not let your adult son get married too quickly? Um… epic fail. He’s an adult. The letter writer can say he wouldn’t have married her if he’d known her true nature, but I’d wager anything he did know it to some extent. Love is blind. People make mistakes in love all the freakin’ time. Been there!
The true lesson here shouldn’t be to control your adult children into not marrying too quickly. It should be one of acceptance, compassion, and trying to help someone get acclimated. Or it could be one of not putting pressure on a daughter-in-law to attend every family gathering if she’d rather do something else and let her husband attend solo. (The horror! The horror!) There are many lessons here, but I’m not onboard with the one about not letting your adult son get married too quickly. And sitting around trashtalking an ex is just… grossly immature. It’s over, move on.
Our son and family learned the hard way. They’ve since split up.
Okay. I hope the ex-daughter-in-law has found some measure of happiness, and I hope she’s surrounded by people who care about her now. While she’s trying to sort out extreme emotions, the letter writer here can crow about the wisdom of not getting married quickly. Sing it, Aesop!
I mean, the letter writer’s being ridiculous. A lot of people get married to the wrong person and have to go through the hassle of divorce and disentangling their possessions, etc. And weddings are expensive. I get it. But get over it. Good grief. Taking a basic lesson from it, like that you shouldn’t get married too soon to someone you don’t know well, is almost… I’d say it’s judgmental toward the ex-daughter-in-law. It’s unduly harsh.
Let’s look at this from the ex-daughter-in-law’s perspective. It sounds like her brief marriage was on display for her husband’s entire family. Every interaction, every conflict, every emotion, every move. Again, I just don’t feel good about being expected to spend loads of time with in-laws (unless you mutually want it). This woman was forced to perform for an audience! And this mother-in-law is a real piece of work!
I hope the ex-daughter-in-law ran screaming into the night and found herself in a better place.