Dear Annie: My husband and I have been married for 33 years. His parents disliked me from our first date. I have no idea why. I was only 16. We married two years later, and his parents didn’t come to the wedding and stopped speaking to my husband for the next 23 years. They missed knowing our oldest son. When our second child was born, I wanted him to have grandparents, so I called them the day we came home from the hospital. They stopped by for a visit, and things seemed to improve. Well, that truce lasted 10 years, and now my mother-in-law is not speaking to us again.
My in-laws spread terrible rumors about us. We live in a small town, and even the store clerks tell us the awful things my in-laws say. Annie, my son loves his grandparents and calls to talk to them, but they never pick up the phone. He leaves voicemail messages telling them he loves and misses them. They never call back.
This is heartbreaking. What do I say to a 10-year-old to help him understand why his Grandma and Grandpa won’t speak to him? My hope is that they see this letter and realize they have a loving family who wants them in their lives. We are not likely to have another 23 years to fix this. — Hurting Daughter-in-Law
Dear Hurting: We do not understand parents who deliberately stop contact with children and grandchildren who love them and want to be close. Even if your in-laws had some reason for excluding you, it is reprehensible that they think nothing of hurting the grandchildren in the process. Could your husband speak to his parents about this? Would they agree to joint counseling to work on whatever issues are bothering them?
If they refuse to address this and continue the silent treatment, we suggest telling your son that Grandma and Grandpa have difficulty dealing with others and that sometimes such people need to be left alone. Reassure him that it has nothing to do with him, and that you hope someday his grandparents will be able to cope better.
Dear Annie: I recently was invited to a bridal shower for my niece. A month ago, I was told that my husband and I would definitely not be invited to the wedding. They said they wish to keep the ceremony small and are including only close friends and relatives (which I thought I was). The shower invitation specifically states that it is being held for the guests who are not invited to the wedding.
I’ve never heard of such a thing. I thought inviting people to a shower and not the wedding was extremely inappropriate. These people are all quite wealthy, so having a small wedding has nothing to do with money. I may not make it to the bridal shower because it’s 300 miles away, but should I send a gift? Is it appropriate to ask why I’m not invited to the wedding? — Left-Out Aunt
Dear Aunt: Yes, it is rude to invite people to a shower but not to the wedding (except when co-workers decide to give a shower). Under the pretense of including more people in their celebration, they simply are obligating folks to give presents. The size of their guest list is not your business. But it would be extremely classy of you to send a shower gift.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Evil Stepmother,” whose husband’s daughter doesn’t want him to walk her down the aisle. When my daughter married, she asked her stepfather to walk her halfway down, and her father met her there and walked her to her soon-to-be-husband. Everyone was happy. — C.
Dear C.: Several readers wrote with some variation of that suggestion, which is a lovely idea, and we hope the husband’s daughter will consider it.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to [email protected], or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 Third St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.