Need suggestions on how to proceed with MIL - FamilyEducation
Need suggestions on how to proceed with MIL
01/13/2011 at 15:06 PM

A little background....we've had a rocky relationship with my MIL off and on for 10 years. She lives 10 hours away and has only seen our middle child twice and our youngest once. About 6 years ago we stopped talking altogether because of an argument with hurt feelings on both sides. DH had a lot of hurt from her recent divorce from FIL who was abusive in every way to him and his sister as children (step-dad who adopted DH and his sister). She had told him about the divorce literally as we sat down to his grandmother's funeral (when she had talked to him the night before on the phone). Her reason was because of the past and that she waited until all her kids were grown up and out of the house(they all had been out of the house for 8 years at that point). It brought up a LOT of past hurt, not to mention the way DH was told. Needless to say that the argument brought up a lot of raw feelings on both sides. DH and I (mostly me because I had a closer relationship with her) apologized numerous times over the years for our part of the argument through email. I still continued to send pictures of our kids and updates, only to be ignored and she never reciprocated an apology. About 4 years ago, we emailed her that our son was diagnosed with autism and that we would like to try to better our relationship. I said that DH could really, really use her support while we dealt with our son's diagnosis...again she said she wasn't interested in anything other than an email relationship (which consisted of me emailing updates and pictures that she would never respond to). We haven't talked at all since and DH told me to stop sending her pictures and updates.

About 2 years ago for unrelated reasons (being overwhelmed having a child with autism and anxiety issues on my part) DH and I sought out counseling (individual). We both ended up talking and working through our feelings about what had happened with MIL.

MIL joined Facebook a year ago and through family members we could see her comments, which admittedly hurt. It was only because of the counseling and lots of praying that in September DH and I again emailed saying that we felt that she was too important a person to let go, that we wanted our children to know her, we wanted to work on our relationship, and wanted to start fresh, leaving the past where it was. She agreed to friending us on Facebook (though she rarely posts and only plays the games) and said that she wanted to work on our relationship. She can see all the pictures of our boys and hears all my daily quirks about what is going on with us. Besides Facebook, DH and I have emailed her a couple of times which she will respond to with a couple of sentences. I've also sent just because cards with pictures of the boys, a Christmas card and a birthday card.

It's hard because I used to have a very close relationship with her when they were still living in our area. I really miss that and wish we had that again. I feel horrible for my DH because he really has no family that he talks to. He has us and my family, but I realize it's not the same and can't replace your own. It's hard for him to know that she still has relationships with his sister and brother, and doesn't try with him. I know it hurts him that she seems to not care that she doesn't know our children. And because of the hurt DH feels, it takes a LOT of praying for me to not de-friend her and get past the feelings that she gets a free window into our lives while she's not attempting in any way to make things better (if for no other reason than to get to know her grandkids). I know I have to suck it up and continue to have her as a friend because it's the right thing to do to hopefully have a better relationship *someday*. It just stinks. I'm just really at a loss as to where to proceed from here.

You said you were a praying person, so I hope it will be OK to put this in religious terms. I see forgiveness as the mirror of repentance. If someone repented, but continued the sinful behavior, would that count as repentance? I don't think it would. If someone forgives someone else, but the sinful behavior still continues, I don't count that as forgiving. Think about that for a while.

Here's a question that seems irrelevant. If I wrote you a check for $50, how much money would you give me? This is not a trick question--you'd give me fifty dollars. That is called honoring a check. Is it honoring a check to give me fifty dollars if I write the check for $2? Of course not.

So here is the relevant scripture. Exodus 20:12. Honor thy father and thy mother. Your mother-in-law gave life to your husband. That's significant. To honor his mother, your husband needs to be sure that she has the basic necessities of life. He does not have to provide them himself. If she were destitute, he could help her find resources, perhaps from the community, to provide for her. That is all he need do to honor her. She wrote him a $2 check. She did not protect him, nurture him, love him. Neither he nor you is obligated to a relationship.

Let me know if this made any sense to you

I tend to take people for who they are. I do not place much value on the family hierarchy. I will not chase after people in order to maintain a relationship. If grandma does not wish to be a part of her grandkids lives, so be it. I wouldn’t try to force the relationship because the kids are the ones that will be hurt. Let her know that the door is always open when she chooses to act like a mother and a grandmother, but until then have a nice life.

SnglDad's advice is echoed in Luke 17:3, Matthew 18:17. If you offer to reconcile and the other person does not take the opportunity, it is correct to treat that person like a stranger.

Thank you for your replies. They've given me a lot of insight. I know that we've gone above and beyond to try to make it work with him mom and she's not reciprocating for whatever reason. She will give excuses of being busy with her farm or with work, but we all have busy lives and manage to make time for what is important in life. I remember our counseler suggesting that she stays away because we brought the past issues to the forefront (whereas his sister never, ever, ever mentions what happened) and she probably feels guilt now when she thinks of DH so it's easier to stay away.

Hello Mommie of all boys, First I want to say we have something in common. I to am a Mother to all Son's. And it has been the ride of my life! LOL They are all grown Men now of whom we are very proud! We have 1 Grandson and 2 Grand Daughters and 2 Wonderful Daughter In Laws we are grateful and blessed! Reading your story one thought kept coming into my mind. Your M.I.L. sounds like she is feeling guilty of how she has treated her children. I have read 100's of stories online from M.I.L's who would give their right arm for just a chance of being around their grandchildren.

Cont. So as much as this hurts you and your husband and I'm sure it does. You may have to accept that you've done all humanly possible to reach her. You have done your part and the ball is in her court. And learn from her! Do not repeat her mistakes with your own. Your children have wonderful Parents who love them and sounds like they have your Parents and family also. They will be okay. You can't make her do anything. Just back off and Pray. If the Lord wants this to happen right it will. God Bless you and your Family!