Home > From the Heart > Signed, “Concerned Daughter-in-law”

Signed, “Concerned Daughter-in-law”

I shouldn’t be awake right now. But I am.

I shouldn’t have a raging headache right now. But I do.

I shouldn’t have to write a letter like this. But I did.

I shouldn’t have to give my Husband an ultimatum – talk to your mother, or I send this letter. But I will. And it will break my heart.


*names have been omitted for their protection

Dear [Mother-in-law],

I am writing to let you know that we are declining the invitation to attend the family gathering on the 23rd.  The reason that I’m writing, instead of calling or telling you in person, is because writing allows me the opportunity to choose my words carefully, and not say something out of frustration that I might later regret. Please let me explain.

You have raised such a wonderful son. He is willing to go out of his way to please everyone that he cares about. He will go without food, without sleep, and without any other basic need, just to make someone else happy. He cares deeply for his family. He would do anything that any of us ask, if it is within his means – and sometimes even when it’s not within his means.

In the 5 years that he and I have been together, I have watched him become upset and resentful towards his family. He will never come right out and say what’s bothering him in a direct way. Instead, he’ll make light of the situation, hoping that someone will see past the jokes and sarcasm, and understand the hurt he feels in his heart.

It breaks my heart to watch and hear these frequent exchanges, and know that nothing will change unless he stands up for himself. I know he feels that if he is direct with his feelings, he’ll become the family outcast again, and will lose the love and support of the people he cares most about. I think he’s also afraid of his own temper, and of saying something he might regret (something we have in common).

I’ve tried to explain to him that he needs to have a heart-to-heart conversation with you, because I know that you care as much about him as he does you, and it would make your relationship stronger.  I’m convinced that you have no idea the hurt he’s been carrying inside; that he feels he’s the least important member of the family.

What this all boils down to – and the reason I chose to speak up on his behalf – is the scheduling of family get-togethers. Not once in 5 years have I ever known Bill’s schedule to be considered when planning a family gathering. In fact, he is usually the last to know the date and time of a gathering, almost as an afterthought. Usually, things are scheduled around [Sister]’s work schedule, or [Brother]’s availability, while Bill’s obligations and needs are ignored.

I have heard Bill bring this to your attention on more than one occasion. The last time, regarding Thanksgiving dinner, he told you more directly than I’ve ever known him to, that he was frustrated that he was always the one to “get the short end of the stick”. I heard you respond to him that you were sorry, and then joked around that “maybe next year” you’ll work around his schedule. I wish you could have seen the hurt on his face.

Two weeks later, he’s once again informed of a gathering that will take place during a time that would require him to give up the sleep that he will be in desperate need of, so that he can fulfill a family obligation. The night of the 23rd is the busiest night of the year for him, and he will be stressed to the limit at work that night. He would of course accept the invitation, just to keep things peaceful.

However, my priority is making sure that he gets the sleep he needs during such a stressful time, so that he does not have another breakthrough seizure. If that means not fulfilling a family obligation, then so be it. I have given up plenty of my own family’s gatherings, just to make sure that he remains healthy, so I may selfishly enjoy many more years married to the wonderful man that he is. The wonderful man that you raised.

Please take into consideration what I’ve written, and include him in the decision making process in the future, so that he feels like less of an outsider in his own family.

  1. December 14, 2009 at 10:22 am

    Dear Shelli, This was tender and thoughtful. I hope his mother can understand. I had many of the same problems with my mother. Finally on her deathbed she told me I was right. I told her that I accepted then apology and was pleased that she was able to tell me. She replied it wasn’t an apology just a statement of fact.

    Peace, howie

    • December 14, 2009 at 6:57 pm

      Oh Howie, I’m so sorry to hear that about your mother. That sounded almost callous. 😦 I hope I can get Bill’s mother to at least think about things in the future. I showed him what I’d written, and told him I was sending it if he didn’t talk to her. He’s too afraid of “rocking the boat”, and insists that he’ll be just fine, and in 6 years we won’t have to worry about it anymore, because we’ll be in Florida. I reminded him that it’s only been 5 years for us, and if I’m this upset for him after 5, imagine what another 6 years will do. I will most likely end up mailing the letter to her on Wednesday. I wish I didn’t have to be such a bitch, but sometimes it’s necessary. *sigh*

  2. December 14, 2009 at 9:25 pm

    Shelli – I want to commend you for a very thoughtful yet direct letter. Obviously we don’t have even an inkling into the “entire” backstory but it’s obvious that Bill is hurting. He is very lucky to have such a strong support system in you! Men have a way of shouldering pain and sometimes need a reminder that it’s not acceptable to be dumped on. Your letter will hopefully reach his mother in the way you intended!
    Good luck!

    • December 15, 2009 at 1:51 am

      Thank you Mindy, I certainly hope so! He’s still afraid that if he (or I) say anything, that it will just piss people off. Then again, he’s been afraid to tell his mother other things, fearing that she’d react badly, and she didn’t (in fact, she’s reacted just the opposite!). I don’t know where his fear stems from, in all reality. He’s just terrified of his mother for some reason, but she was a great mother to him, so it’s baffling to me.

  3. December 16, 2009 at 7:43 am

    Sometimes the only way to work through something like this is to *be* the catalyst. It’s not an easy position to be in but it can end up being what brings everyone together in the end. 🙂

    • December 16, 2009 at 7:46 pm

      Yes, I have a feeling, after all is said and done,we’re either gonna be alot closer with alot more understanding, or uncomfortable around each other. Things have taken an interesting turn today, more later when I have a moment to blog about it. Thank you so much for your reply! 🙂

  1. February 1, 2010 at 5:58 pm

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