Murphy’s Love: Advice on Intimacy and Relationships October 23,2013


My relationship with my daughter-in-law is very difficult. She lost her own mother at a young age and never really warmed up to me. I went into their marriage (7 years ago) fully aware that there’s a cliché about the mother-in-law being hard to handle, and because of that, I have worked quite hard not to be too presumptuous about our relationship. The current issue is that she does not let me see the grandkids unless I plan several weeks in advance. We live in the same town and there is no “stopping by” just to say hello. I am never invited to their sporting events and when I show up, she acts coldly toward me. This behavior makes no sense to me and I have no idea how to move forward. My son stays out of it, even when I asked him specifically why I have to ask permission so far in advance to spend time with my own family. I think he scared of her too. What can I do?

– Mother-in-Law


I truly appreciate how hard you are working to keep in mind those MIL clichés. But one thing to be mindful of is that DIL has her own, very personal view of this. You may be onto something regarding the loss of her own mother, but try not to psychoanalyze too much. The story I’m telling myself about this (and let’s be honest, we all tell stories to ourselves about why others do the things they do) is that she has worked out a solution to calm any anxiety she has about being watched by you as a mother. The advanced scheduling approach may be a coping mechanism for something that has nothing to do with you, although you may be the trigger. If it works for her, can’t it also work for you? I understand that you are hurt. But at the end of the day, if you really want to see your grandkids, she has given you a method. My advice? Respect her boundaries and follow the guidelines to get on her calendar early and often – and be enthusiastic when you do.


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