My daughter-in-law is a lovely 35-year-old woman, who’s being disrespected by my son through his recent cheating on her. They’ve been married for nine years and have a son, seven, and daughter, five.
My son’s behaving very badly and I don’t know how to talk to my daughter-in-law about it, and about our relationship going forward. My husband passed away several years ago, so I’m on my own trying to deal with this.
My son had previously seemed to follow in his father’s character type - faithful, responsible, a cut well above common. His wife had worked in a demanding field so changed to part-time when the children were born. She’s been a full partner to him, an excellent mother and my late husband and I loved her.
Something changed over 18 months ago and slowly we saw changes in our son... restless, hurried visits with us, and then, an admission that he was involved with another woman. We heard nothing else until recently when he said he’s already been living with that woman for several months.
I immediately called my daughter-in-law and she confirmed the news, saying she’d wondered what we knew or didn’t know but didn’t want to hurt us... that was up to him.
She has close family and strong friendships, so she’s getting good support. Divorce discussions between the couple began those few months ago.
Do I keep in steady touch and support her as well? Is it really possible for a mother-in-law to maintain a good relationship with a divorced daughter-in-law? Will I lose my son through this?
Son’s Cheating Affects Everyone
The grandchildren are your ongoing link which is bolstered by the good relationship you and their mother have had through the years. There’s no reason why you can’t continue to share the same mutual respect.
Offer to spend some time with the children and/or have them visit at your place so their mother can be free, if she wishes.
Give your son the opportunity to tell you what prompted this major change in his life. Your maternal interest should include caring about his well-being even if you disagree with his choice.
Tell him you intend to stay connected to your grandchildren and their mother, as well as to him. And that you’d also like to meet his new partner, in time.
FEEDBACK Regarding the angry, uncommunicative and unmotivated husband who turned out to be suffering from low testosterone (March 24):
Reader – “A dear friend could’ve written that letter. They read your column but have no idea how to present this positive information about turning around a health problem to their similarly affected, pandemic-cloistered, and long-term devotee of alcohol and cigarettes, who’s also a much-loved spouse.
“Your input would help.”
Ellie - That letter-writing spouse did some research and so can the person who needs similar information. So, I’ll repeat it:
A simple search on www.healthline.com yields this:
Both males and females produce the hormone testosterone, but much more in men. Because it affects many functions (including sex drive and sperm production) its decrease can cause significant physical and emotional changes.
Physical changes include decreased sex drive, fewer erections, less muscle strength and increased fatigue. Emotional changes can cause sadness or depression, trouble with memory and concentration, lowered motivation, and self-confidence.
Next step: Get the person to a doctor. The previous letter-writer’s husband is now seeing a men's health specialist, getting vitamin D and testosterone supplements. And she got her husband back.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding the first-time expectant mother who’s upset that many joys of her pregnancy and childbirth are restricted due to the pandemic (April 1):
“Gratitude goes a long way during these troubling times.
“Be grateful that you’re expecting a baby when one in six couples is unable to conceive. Be grateful for ultrasounds. Many of us were pregnant when they weren't done unless it was a high-risk pregnancy. Some of us were pregnant when prenatal classes didn't exist.
“Be grateful that with approved vaccines we’re going to get out of this pandemic. Be grateful that you’re healthy and haven’t lost loved ones to Covid. Be grateful that you’re not in a war zone nor a refugee camp, that you have a home, food and medical services, while many in this world have none of those things.
“Focus on what you do have and your life will be much more meaningful.”
Tip of the day:
A mother-in-law’s good relationship with a son’s ex-wife maintains essential ties to grandchildren as well.