Dilemma: I don't want to lose my daughter-in-law

Jo Brand / 12 June 2018

A reader does not want to lose touch with her daughter-in-law after her son's divorce.

Dilemma: I don't want to lose touch with my daughter-in-law

My son is splitting up with his wife in slightly acrimonious circumstances.

However, I really like my daughter-in-law and don’t want to lose touch with her after they separate.

I am trying to tread very carefully not to add to their upset at this sensitive and stressful time. What should I do? 

Jo Brand's advice

This is a very common problem. Today’s mothers-in-law are no longer wielding rolling pins, making sour faces, criticising every aspect of child care, looking like Les Dawson in drag and generally being over-demanding.

Lots of mothers actually like their daughters- or sons-in-law and are very sad when that relationship has to end. In many cases, they may have known this person for years and, despite the myths, become very fond of them.

You’re in a very difficult position because you probably feel your loyalty should be with your son first. 

I am also intrigued by the ‘slightly acrimonious’ break-up... (that’s like being ‘marginally homicidal’) and I hope it’s more ‘slightly’ than ‘acrimonious.’

For starters, I don’t think you can justify going behind your son’s back to meet your erstwhile daughter-in-law, so you must discuss it with him.

If they have children, obviously maintaining a relationship with the grandchildren is a good way in. If he disagrees, you must adhere to that and perhaps try again later when more time has elapsed.

If you have a good relationship with your son, hopefully he will agree to you keeping in touch with his ex-wife. He may not mind if you don’t report back in minute detail about her new life. 

However, if there is a new man in her life (or a new person in his, for that matter!), perhaps keep your powder dry until high emotion has ebbed somewhat.

Saga readers' advice

'I don't know how old the reader is but as we get older I think we want to hold on more to good people in our lives. The daughter-in-law is possibly a good friend and someone the writer can rely on - all things we value more and more as we get older. As we age I think people become less dispensable.' Soraya, via Facebook

'When my marriage ended after 18 years, my then father-in-law said ‘I hope we don’t lose touch with you’. This showed what wonderful in-laws I had. I saw them both every week until my father-in-law died, then my mother-in-law every week until she sadly died. They were wonderful friends and grandparents to my children. Still miss them.' Margaret, via Facebook

Read more of Jo Brand's down-to-earth advice

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