Wife on mother-in-law: "She invited my husband and kids to a family dinner; she told me not to come"

Amy Christie

*This article is a work of nonfiction based on actual events recounted to me by a friend who witnessed them firsthand; used with permission

Getting along with your spouse's parents will need plenty of patience and time, and many partners decide to simply avoid them because they can't find a way to have everyone friendly and nice, even though they're a part of the same family.

What should you do if your spouse's mom constantly excludes you from every family occasion and even takes the trouble to let you know you need to stay away? Should you ask your spouse and kids not to go either, or can you just stay home and do something else?

My friend Nora has been married to her husband Matt for 12 years. They have two sons together, and he's always supported her so she could keep working.

"I didn't want to give up on my career, and he understood that. I love him and our kids, but I need to go to work too. That's just a part of me, and I wouldn't feel happy just staying home, cooking, and looking after our sons. That doesn't mean I don't care about them. Having a babysitter was the right solution for us, daycare too," Nora said.

The mom always checked in with the babysitters to be certain her kids were well looked after, and she also asked her mom to stay with them some afternoons.

Her in-laws weren't pleased with her avoiding being a stay-at-home mom, though.

"Matt's mom always held that against me. She's been a housewife all her life and keeps criticizing me for not being attentive to my family and for not loving them enough because I didn't end my career when I became a mom. I tried to explain it to her many times, but it was always the same. In the end, she concludes I must be very confused, and she says I have no idea what life is about and that I'll be sorry when I'm older, and the kids drift away from us. That won't happen," the mom added.

Disagreeing with her daughter-in-law's parenting choices also created a distance between Matt's mom and Nora. They've never been close, and as time went by and she saw he daughter-in-law kept working, Diane, Matt's mom, started excluding her from various family occasions.

"She didn't ask me to go for birthdays, lunches, or brunches. She avoided sending a family invitation for any of her parties and simply called Matt and told him to come with the kids as a way to avoid me," Nora said.

The mom thought being patient might improve things, but nothing's changed so far. Instead, her mother-in-law doesn't even bother apologizing now and simply asks her son to bring her grandkids over like Nora isn't even there.

The latest family dinner followed the same pattern. But Nora is starting to get tired of her behavior.

"She invited my husband and kids to a family dinner; she told me not to come, just in passing. She didn't wait for me to reply and hung up. And it's been so long since it keeps happening; I think it's enough," Nora said.

She talked to her husband about what his mom was doing, and he noticed the way his mom kept avoiding having his wife in her home. He doesn't think it's such a big deal, though, because they don't get along.

"Why would she want to come? She doesn't like my mom, and apparently, it's mutual. Not such a huge problem unless she thinks about it too much. The point is for our kids to have grandparents. Nora can do something else while I'm over there, and there's no need to focus on it and feel excluded," Matt said.

However, Nora feels disrespected and wants things to improve or have her whole family away from her in-laws.

"No, it's not ok to behave that way. And I'm not having it anymore. I went along with it for years, and I gave her so many chances. My kids won't be going there until she apologizes, and that's it," Nora said.

She argued with her husband about it because he still wanted to take his kids to see his mom, but for now, visits are at an end. Nora's in-laws haven't called at all, and there's no telling what her mother-in-law's reaction was.

How do you think this should be handled? Is it ok to let Matt's mom exclude Nora from family occasions and just have her sons visit? Would it be fair to avoid all visits until apologies have been exchanged and Matt's mom appreciates her daughter-in-law more?

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Amy Christie is a passionate writer and journalist, always striving to bring out the positive and create meaningful connections.

Dallas, TX

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