For those who regularly look for my Monday update, please accept my apologies. I’m on vacation and don’t have easy access to a wireless system to update my blog. Today was my earliest opportunity.
Q. My daughter-in-law was offended by something I did (I’m not even sure what it was) while she was dating my son. They have now been married for 10 years and have 3 beautiful girls. But she still will not have anything to do with me. She will bring the girls over to visit, but won’t speak to me. Holiday’s are terrible because I can’t have my son’s family over because she won’t come. I have tried to speak with my son but he defends his wife. What can I do? Kathi in FL
A. Family strife and relationship turmoil is one of the leading contributors to feeling unhappy. It is so painful to have ongoing tension within one’s family with no resolution in sight. With that said, let me give you a few things to think about and to try.
First pray about the situation, as I’m sure you have done already. Ask God specifically to soften your daughter-in-law’s heart so that she would be willing to forgive. Also pray and ask God to show you specifically your sin against her. Perhaps you didn’t think you did anything wrong at the time or you didn’t see it as a big deal but apparently she has taken great offense to what you did and is not able to let it go.
Instead of putting your son in the middle of things, you need to talk directly to your daughter-in-law. For 10 years she has harbored this hurt and it has turned to bitterness. Unfortunately a lot of time has passed by. During all these years has she ever heard directly from you, “How can I make this better between us?” or “I’m sorry, will you forgive me?”
Often what is needed for someone to let go of an offense is a sincere, heart-felt apology. Your daughter-in-law may believe that you love your son and your granddaughters, but that you have not shown much care for her as a person. Whether or not that’s true isn’t the issue. Right now you’re dealing with her feelings, not actual facts. If you argue with her, defend yourself, or dispute the past, you will continue more turmoil and conflict. What you want to change is how she feels about you. You will not do that by proving you’re right and she’s wrong, or that she’s crazy or too sensitive or overreacting. You will have the best shot at a change in your relationship with her by demonstrating faithfulness, humility and love.
Next time she drops off the children, smile at her and say, “Thank you for allowing me to spend time with the children. I really appreciate it.” Say good things to your grandchildren about their mother. Perhaps make a meal with the grandchildren and send it home with them for their family to enjoy later. Don’t forget your daughter-in-law’s birthday, their anniversary, and other special occasions. Be sincere and continue to invite her into a dialogue and into a relationship.
God calls us to be ministers of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18) and peacemakers. He tells us that as much as it depends on us, to be at peace with everyone (Romans 12:18). That doesn’t mean we can have peace with everyone all the time, but it is our privilege and responsibility to initiate it as much and as often as we can.
Don’t lose heart and keep your own spirit free from bitterness if she doesn’t respond right away. Love is a powerful force and if you can continue to love her without expectations or demands, hopefully she will see your remorse over hurting her in the past and be willing to forgive and reconcile.