My stepson will be getting married in the coming year. His father and his mother embraced our future daughter in law and were excited to meet her family. I started contacting her mother and expressed my interest in flying to meet them. My stepson disapproved of this and said that they would soon be visiting our region. But we weren’t introduced to them when they came. Later, I received a call from his fiancée’s mother, who clearly mistook me for my husband’s ex-wife. She said she loved meeting me and referred to “the new wife” — me! — as “not blood.” At Thanksgiving, my stepson and his mother flew to visit his fiancée’s family and made lots of wedding plans, including for a rehearsal dinner for which we will pay half. How can we work around all these negative exclusions? (I note: My husband’s relationship with his ex-wife is frosty.)
I understand how you feel. That phone call on which you were mistaken for your husband’s ex-wife sounds awful! I suspect the explanation lies largely in that “frosty” relationship between your husband and his former wife. Visits seem to have been organized to keep them apart and to prioritize your stepson’s mother. (I get that: I happen to be a mama’s boy myself.)
Your stepson could have handled introductions better. But ceremonial occasions — like “meet the parents” — can be tough for children of divorce if their parents are antagonistic. So, unless I am misreading this situation, try to forgive your stepson and take the long view: Life won’t end at the wedding! Getting to know your stepson’s in-laws may simply take longer than you expected.
As for splitting the costs of the rehearsal dinner — which I assume was acceptable until you were treated unkindly — I would stick with that plan. Let me know if my assumptions are wrong or if your budget is exceeded by the cost of the rehearsal dinner. But don’t make a fuss on principle. It is wise to let the little things go in order to build better relationships. It will work for you and your spouse, I hope.
Snipes: More than Mess
My wife is a self-confessed neat freak. My children and I do our best to maintain a tidy home, but we always fall short. She reacts by saying: “Why doesn’t anyone care?” But we absolutely care! She is hurtful because she seldom acknowledges a job well accomplished. How can I help her understand how hard we’re all trying and how upsetting her statement is?
I’m glad you wrote. I think this problem could be very serious. It can be very damaging for a mother or spouse to only bring down family members and not lift them up. I interpret the meaning of “Why doesn’t anyone care?” as a shorthand for “Why doesn’t anyone care about me?” — a harsh rebuke by a mother to her child.
Talk to your wife alone about her expectations and hurtful behavior. If she refuses to work on this (alone or with a counselor), you need to explore ways to protect your children’s emotional well-being.
Fish Prices: Friendship at Fish Prices Steal!
My husband, son and I moved to a new community where we don’t know many people. We invited a coworker and his wife to dinner at our house recently. It was a casual invitation: “Do you want to come over for takeout?” When they accepted, we sent them a menu. They made their choices, including a costly seafood dish. We called and picked it up, then paid for it. We had a lot of fun! But when they left, they didn’t offer to contribute to the large dinner bill, nor did they mention reciprocating. This is a very rude and confusing behavior. My husband would like to give them another chance. Are you open to it?
It’s almost as if you have lost the lead. Congratulations for making new friends in your new city! That’s the significant takeaway (for me). It would be shame to spoil this for the cost of a seafood meal.
Many readers have split the cost of takeout, while others pay in turn. I’ve heard this from many people over the years. It doesn’t sound as if you mentioned payment, so your guests may have thought they were following your lead. You could give them time to reciprocate. You can even be cheeky with your new pals: “So, when is takeout night at your place?”
I live in a mediocre rental building. Some of my neighbors have worn-out doormats. So, to make things nicer, I went out and bought new, matching doormats for everyone — at my own expense. One of my neighbors took the mats down and gave me her old one. How should I handle it?
Your domineering behaviour should be resented. Although you may have intended to be kind, your actions might be interpreted as disrespectful and entitled by them. Common spaces can be best managed in a group.
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