Direct from the mother-in-law.

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.

5 thoughts on “Direct from the mother-in-law.

  1. Again, I wonder why Annie Lane even published this. Because it’s not like this woman is asking for any advice. Yes, she is trying to give people some of her own wisdom, but seriously, who out of all the people who are considering marriage and have stumbled upon this, are even going to consider it? If they love each other madly, as fiancees usually tend to do, then they probably really want to marry and a stranger’s letter isn’t going to change that, and if they already decided to wait with that, they will even without her wisdom. So I feel like the only goal this woman had was just letting out all the crappy venom or whatever it is she’s been having inside of herself since that marriage. It’s sad though she’s been keeping it for so long and didn’t think about improving herself in this department.
    I feel sorry indeed for the ex-daughter-in-law that she was forced into spending so much time with her inlaws. I wonder if her husband spent quite as much time with his. Especially the practice of spending vacations with the inlaws kind of struck me, it’s not something I’d hear a lot about and I think for most people I know the perspective itself would be rather stressful. Holidays and family gatherings are acceptable, if you have such a type of family, and they’re generally meant to be spent in a wider circle at least by most people’s standards, and sadly there are no laws protecting people who have crappy families. But vacations… for vacations you typically go with people you feel really comfy around and really get on well, at least in my understanding. If she didn’t feel as well with her inlaws, it’s perfectly understandable for me that she could get a tantrum or a meltdown having to spend her time that was supposed to be more or less restful with people who made her feel stressed or bad in any major way. It’s sad that the husband (or even his mother if she was so interested in the matter, which is a mother’s right) didn’t take enough initiative of their own to get to know his future wife before marriage, and briefly evaluating her family as nice was just enough. No wonder it didn’t work out, and yes, it makes them sound to me like a very small-minded family.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re so right!! And the vacation issue could be a blog post unto itself!! 😮 I’ve kind of learned just from observation that you’ve got to be careful who you vacay with. Granny Smith, before she died (I guess she was in her late eighties at the time; she died at almost 94), visited my aunt and uncle in Denver. (My aunt is my dad’s older sister and his only sibling.) She apparently overstayed her welcome, heated words were exchanged, and my aunt was disinherited, which is… hilarious. My dad inherited everything.

      That actually worked out pretty well. My dad has always been living with sporadic and often poor income, whereas my aunt is independently wealthy and didn’t begrudge my dad the inheritance anyway. I also think my aunt visited Granny Smith on her deathbed and tried to make things right. But anyway, the point is that one poorly planned vacation can be disastrous. Like, if you can’t live with someone (and so many people can’t live with other people) then visiting them (or going on a joint vacay with them) needs to be carefully planned. So yeah, you and I both feel really sad for the daughter-in-law here in this letter!! Geez!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh my, this is a really good example of why you should chose your vacation people carefully! 😀 I’ve seen a lot of drama happening to people on vacations too, although not as spectacular as this, haha.

        Liked by 1 person

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