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Hoping for advice from those with married kids


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2 hours ago, Ausmumof3 said:

I think in part because it’s not clear from the original post that this is verbal abuse and not a playful dynamic that the OP feels uncomfortable with

I don't think of it as verbal abuse, but the posters who have pointed out that things can progress from bad to worse do strike a chord.  That's why I said that it may be me that not seeing it throughout Covid makes it seem worse, but it might just actually be worse.

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16 minutes ago, Harpymom said:

I don't think of it as verbal abuse, but the posters who have pointed out that things can progress from bad to worse do strike a chord.  That's why I said that it may be me that not seeing it throughout Covid makes it seem worse, but it might just actually be worse.

Are you close enough to your son that you could talk to him about it in confidence, and let him know that you and his siblings are concerned? 

He might have a simple explanation, or he might think you’re wrong, or he might be relieved that someone else noticed it because it has been bothering him, too. 

You won’t know if you don’t ask. You don’t have to make it sound like you think she’s a terrible person and that you think she is secretly a serial killer; you can just be honest about what you and the family have noticed, without making any strong judgments against her. (Focus on her comments, not on her as a person or her character — and if DIL treats the rest of the family very well, you could even point that out, and say it’s one of the reasons why her sniping comments to him stand out so much.)

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, Scarlett said:

But what if it helps them?

 And if a relationship is so fragile it can’t take a loving word of advise I think there are bigger problems. 

There is no such thing as a relationship that isn’t fragile. Even extremely fragile I’d say. There are always bigger problems that everyone is dealing with or in denial about not dealing with. Relationships are delicate precious entities always on a crossroads of possible change. It’s so easy to take a relationship for granted as a given it will always be. But really. All relationships are so very tender and fragile.

Edited by Murphy101
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7 minutes ago, Murphy101 said:

There is no such thing as a relationship that isn’t fragile. Even extremely fragile I’d say. There are always bigger problems that everyone is dealing with or in denial about not dealing with. Relationships are delicate precious entities always on a crossroads of possible change. It’s so easy to take a relationship for granted as a given it will always be. But really. All relationships are so very tender and fragile.

Well that doesn’t really make me feel any better! Lol

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At this point, you don't really know if your ds is feeling verbally abused or maybe just unsure of how to deal with it all, or maybe nothing.  And perhaps he does deal with it in private, but doesn't like to in front of his parents.  You don't have the whole picture.  That being said, I would speak with both of them, separately.  

I wouldn't accuse anyone of anything.  But I'd pull my ds aside, and let him know that I imagine these might be stressful times -- losing two pregnancies so far and trying to conceive.  I would let him know that I'm there for him if he ever needs to talk, and assure him that he can trust me and I won't judge him.

With my dil, I'd say something similar.  I'd tell her how sorry I am about such a difficult time starting their family, and that I hope she knows that I'm always available for her to talk to if she needs an ear.  If I shared any common experience/struggles, I might bring it up as a way of bonding and sharing something personal.  

So while I wouldn't bring up the specific things that worry you, I'd let them both know you're there for them, they can feel safe talking to you, and work toward building up that trust in little ways.

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, Catwoman said:

 

Our family discusses just about everything and we are very open and blunt, so maybe that’s why I don’t understand why a mom would tiptoe around something like this (or say nothing at all) to their own adult child if the mom felt the kid’s spouse was being too nasty. People don’t generally get nicer over time if they tend toward being critical and belittling, so why not mention something to your child early on, so they don’t start believing that maybe they deserve to be treated badly? 

 

 

Respectfully, I hesitate to say this but I think it’s a part of the conversation… Cat, I apologize for using your post, but it is a good example of something I noticed in the two mindsets within this post.

 

”adult child” “kid’s spouse” “your child”

And maybe this is why some with already fully adult children see this differently… Kids don’t have spouses. There is no such thing as an adult child. I know many were speaking off the cuff, but the truth is that we feel protective of these people we raised.

 

ETA: We all use these terms. I’m sure I have! But I wanted to point out the (natural) bias we have to assume a situation must be handled by us or that we have the right to insert ourselves on the basis this has been our role or we have the right to make a proclamation/judgement… because few would preface their advice with… May I give you advice.” And genuinely be asking permission.

I noticed many said, “I wish someone had said something to my… spouse, mother, father, etc.” As though someone chiding an adult, or a light conversational comment, or even a sincerely voiced concern, was going to make a miraculous turnabout in an adult? I grew up in a pretty “sharp” home and I would tell you a person who “corrected” my parent would neither have been received nor considered.

These are adults. I presume they know what a healthy relationship looks like… as it has been modeled, most likely by concerned parties. One is willing to act out. The other is willing to put up with. Thus chastising an adult or offering unsolicited advice in what I believe is a new marriage is a difficult buyin to getting close so you can have real impact. Real impact is bought through genuine closeness. Foster that… the loving concern for the INDIVIDUAL to the point where she genuinely believes you have HER best interest at heart (woman to woman) and hear what is stressing her out rather than seeking to just “drop” advice. Because, circling back to the beginning, we need to hear who our children say they are, “meet” them as adults, realize they aren’t adult versions of the kids we raised… Because doesn’t that exist in any difficult family relationship - the idea that folks drop advice or comments like they have that right, as though they know us well, as though they’ve invested heavily as adults? And perhaps you have this close and invested bond with HER (because your son has no power to affect change upon another) but in my experience, that is very rare.

Edited by BlsdMama
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If it was your son speaking unkindly to his wife, I’d say it was acceptable to talk to him about it. But addressing your perception of his wife’s shortcomings is very very very unlikely to go well. 

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Can you give an example? Some relationships have a sarcastic/bantering sort of dynamic that really freaks out other people. Either way, I don’t see a scenario where saying something is a good thing. Other that a general chat with my child, checking in, etc alone with no names etc mentioned, I would not touch it. I also would not discuss it much with the siblings. It feels a bit like gossiping and the dynamic might make it to how they/you relate to DIL, even if you haven’t said a thing to either of those two. 

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I would always try to keep in mind that daughters-in-law are generally the gatekeepers to grandkids. I would mightily try to keep that gate open and unlocked. 

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, BlsdMama said:

Respectfully, I hesitate to say this but I think it’s a part of the conversation… Cat, I apologize for using your post, but it is a good example of something I noticed in the two mindsets within this post.

 

”adult child” “kid’s spouse” “your child”

And maybe this is why some with already fully adult children see this differently… Kids don’t have spouses. There is no such thing as an adult child. I know many were speaking off the cuff, but the truth is that we feel protective of these people we raised.

 

ETA: We all use these terms. I’m sure I have! But I wanted to point out the (natural) bias we have to assume a situation must be handled by us or that we have the right to insert ourselves on the basis this has been our role or we have the right to make a proclamation/judgement… because few would preface their advice with… May I give you advice.” And genuinely be asking permission.

I am genuinely confused.

What terms should I have used? If I’m trying to speak generally, “adult child” or “kid” is just a way to refer to our own son or the OP’s son, and DIL is a way to refer to the daughter-in-law. 

And we will have to agree to disagree. I am not someone whose oldest child is still a young teen. I do have an adult child, and if I ever believed that my ds was being verbally abused by a girlfriend or spouse, I would most certainly “insert myself” and ask him if he is ok. He is my son, and he will always be my son no matter how old he is, and if I feel he is being mistreated, I will not just stand by silently and watch him be hurt, and potentially see the situation escalate without discussing it with him. And I would, in fact, genuinely be asking permission when I asked him if he wanted to talk about it — but I would absolutely bring it up, and he would expect nothing less from me, because that is the kind of relationship we have.

If others are fine with watching their own son or daughter “take it” while their spouse is “acting out,” (as you described it in your post,) they can go ahead and do that. As for me, I didn’t raise my son to roll over and accept abusive treatment from anyone, so if he ever seemed to be doing that,  I would most certainly want to discuss it with him before the situation went from bad to worse. Sometimes people can get stuck in an unhealthy pattern and not realize how bad things are getting, until someone points it out. You can’t try to fix a problem until you identify that one exists, and if I saw unhealthy patterns developing, I would hope the couple would identify them and solve them well before grandchildren came into the picture. People keep talking about not saying anything because they might not get to see the grandkids — my feeling is that I would hate to see any couple having children together if one spouse is being abusive to the other. That’s not a healthy environment for kids to grow up in.

Obviously, I would be trying my best to develop a strong relationship with my DIL, as well, but I would go to my son first if I felt the DIL was treating him poorly, because I would want to hear his side of the story, and be there with advice if he needed it. 

I think @Harpymom should do whatever she thinks is best, based on her own relationship with her son. I don’t think this is the kind of decision any of us can make for another person. All we can do is offer our own perspectives and see if harpymom finds it helpful. If my advice won’t work for her, that’s absolutely fine! She is being incredibly open to different ideas and suggestions, and I admire her for thinking this through before she decides what (if any) action to take. I know she will make a wise decision and do what is best for her own family.

Edited by Catwoman
Forgot something
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43 minutes ago, Quill said:

I would always try to keep in mind that daughters-in-law are generally the gatekeepers to grandkids. I would mightily try to keep that gate open and unlocked. 

I guess I just view this differently. 

I would hate to see my son have children with a woman who verbally abused him. That’s no life for him, and would be terrible for the children, as well.

And realistically, if the DIL was abusive to my son, chances are pretty good that she wouldn’t want me to have any influence over her kids, either, so I probably wouldn’t be seeing much of the grandkids anyway. (And if she was mean to her husband, would DIL be a kind and loving mother to the kids?)

I would hope that by mentioning something early on, my son would recognize that the dynamic was unhealthy, and he and his wife could work together to change their behavior patterns and develop a more equal and respectful relationship, before they even thought about having kids together. And if my son didn’t want to talk about it or was fine with the way things were, there would obviously be nothing I could do about it other than to let him know that I would always be there for him if he needed to talk. But at least he would know that I was concerned, and I would know that I had done everything I could.

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1 hour ago, Catwoman said:

would hate to see my son have children with a woman who verbally abused him. That’s no life for him, and would be terrible for the children, as well.

Of course, we would all hate to see that. Yet our “adult kids” are *ADULTS*. I think that is the point Blessd Mom was making. Our adult kids have to right and responsibility to choose the mate and relationship dynamic they want in their lives, same as they get to decide to work as a diner wait staff or a CFO, based on the amount of effort they want to put into their occupation and the lifestyle they choose. 
 

My adult son and daughter are not married yet but my policy is not to comment on what may be trouble spots* in the future. I’ve raised them already. Now I have to butt out unless asked for advice directly. 

*caveat being, if something illegal was going on. 

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21 hours ago, BlsdMama said:

I’m WAY sassier than my MIL was used to when DH and I got married. Honestly? I was sometimes super sharp with him at their house but I felt he reverted to being their son (rather than my strong and capable husband) whenever we were there for years. It drove me NUTS. Obviously this wasn’t something they could see because, in their minds, he was the same kid who has grown up there. (Reversion.) But in our “real” life, He was a very different man/husband/father, and one I respected. I hated the reversion and it made me very snappy. In his defense, I fought off the same urge when I’m at my parents even to this day. So, some of what you’re seeing really might be her being on edge around your family rather than representative of their life together. 

Oh yes yes yes!!! I found dh's hometown very depressing, in part because of this. I was so thankful that we lived far away, and that his personality and character were more free to develop along different lines. He was also the "baby" of the family, which made things worse. It really had nothing to do with my in-laws (who were fine people), but more to do with the reversion. I'm really glad you brought this up, because I think it is something many do not realize or think about.

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20 hours ago, sassenach said:

I will say that I think it's different before marriage. I definitely pointed out flaws in my kids' relationships (in a tactful, relationship preserving way) before marriage. 

Me too, though I know that is not a popular approach on this board. But I feel that marriage is too important to risk one of my kids later coming back and saying, "Well, why didn't you say something then, if you saw that?"

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2 hours ago, Catwoman said:

I guess I just view this differently. 

I would hate to see my son have children with a woman who verbally abused him. That’s no life for him, and would be terrible for the children, as well.

And realistically, if the DIL was abusive to my son, chances are pretty good that she wouldn’t want me to have any influence over her kids, either, so I probably wouldn’t be seeing much of the grandkids anyway. (And if she was mean to her husband, would DIL be a kind and loving mother to the kids?)

I would hope that by mentioning something early on, my son would recognize that the dynamic was unhealthy, and he and his wife could work together to change their behavior patterns and develop a more equal and respectful relationship, before they even thought about having kids together. And if my son didn’t want to talk about it or was fine with the way things were, there would obviously be nothing I could do about it other than to let him know that I would always be there for him if he needed to talk. But at least he would know that I was concerned, and I would know that I had done everything I could.

Considering the rates of partner and spousal abuse, odds are that some of our adult children will run into an abuser while dating and may end up married to one. Sometimes abuse can be brought on by stress and circumstances, sometimes it can gradually build from inappropriate behavior to abuse. And sometimes an abuser is an abuser from the jump. 

Not you, Catwoman, but I see a lot of tiptoeing around and excuse making in this thread for people treating other people badly. 

I think you make a good point for potentially stopping the type of abuse that builds from inappropriate to abuse, and maybe perhaps the abuse brought on by stress and circumstances. 

 

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1 minute ago, Jaybee said:

Me too, though I know that is not a popular approach on this board. But I feel that marriage is too important to risk one of my kids later coming back and saying, "Well, why didn't you say something then, if you saw that?"

I wished that my parents had said something to me before I married my first husband. I only found out after the divorce that there had been any concerns. 

On the other hand, I have a relative who married an abusive man, and who was questioned and warned about him before the marriage (he was just not nice at all and clearly had anger issues). The relative blew off the concerns, and married the guy. Family relationships were strained because he was so awful to be around. It was only after that divorce that the relative admitted people had been right all along and said she wished she had listened to us. 

Point is, it can go either way if something is said before the marriage.

After the marriage, parents should only be ready to listen, unless, as others have said, there is clear evidence of abuse.  And I would only talk to my own child, not the spouse unless I had a clear opening and confidence my comments would be well-received. 

I remain pretty silent at my in-law's home. They are polite on the surface, but are pretty judgmental and even nasty beneath that thin veneer. They must see me as a dull little mouse because I am so quiet around them. People don't always act like themselves around their in-laws for a variety of reasons. (OP I am NOT saying you are like my in-laws, just that in-law relationships can be fraught with danger for everyone.)

 

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Y'all wouldn't say *anything* to a good friend, another adult, in the same situation? ( I'm not suggesting anything dramatic and alarmist.)

Adults should look out for each other, imo.  

There's ways to check-in without burning bridges.

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6 minutes ago, happi duck said:

Y'all wouldn't say *anything* to a good friend, another adult, in the same situation? ( I'm not suggesting anything dramatic and alarmist.)

Adults should look out for each other, imo.  

There's ways to check-in without burning bridges.

Exactly. My best friend----for 45 years now----was  married to a major cheater.  I told her a bunch of stuff she did not want to hear.  She and I had a very strained relationship for a year or so until everything blew up between them and she finally left him.  I don't have to live knowing I did not do my best to protect her.  Around that same time several people saw him out with the girlfriend and her kids playing daddy to them etc.  NONE of those people told my friend!  So weird to me!  

You can be a friend and a friend of marriage and still be honest about concerning things.  

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Posted (edited)
24 minutes ago, marbel said:

I wished that my parents had said something to me before I married my first husband. I only found out after the divorce that there had been any concerns. 

On the other hand, I have a relative who married an abusive man, and who was questioned and warned about him before the marriage (he was just not nice at all and clearly had anger issues). The relative blew off the concerns, and married the guy. Family relationships were strained because he was so awful to be around. It was only after that divorce that the relative admitted people had been right all along and said she wished she had listened to us. 

Point is, it can go either way if something is said before the marriage.

After the marriage, parents should only be ready to listen, unless, as others have said, there is clear evidence of abuse.  And I would only talk to my own child, not the spouse unless I had a clear opening and confidence my comments would be well-received. 

I remain pretty silent at my in-law's home. They are polite on the surface, but are pretty judgmental and even nasty beneath that thin veneer. They must see me as a dull little mouse because I am so quiet around them. People don't always act like themselves around their in-laws for a variety of reasons. (OP I am NOT saying you are like my in-laws, just that in-law relationships can be fraught with danger for everyone.)

 

We knew with our ds that it was very risky to say something, sharing our concerns (before marriage). And it was sticky there for awhile. Dh and I had talked about it a lot before we brought it up with the couple together (more differing life goals, belief systems, etc., not that she wasn't nice--because she was). Interestingly, after they broke it off, ds told us that he was so frustrated with friends who had been encouraging the relationship, but told him after they broke up that they had had concerns. He wasn't asking them what they thought just to be encouraged in the relationship. He really wanted to get their feedback. So with ds, in particular, I'm very glad we were straightforward with them.

In another vein, I'm so thankful for this thread. It is making me realize that I do not need to approach a situation the way I was thinking of with one of our married kids and spouse (quite different from the OP's situation, but I was still wondering if I should say anything). I like the comments above about making sure individually that they are okay, in situations that anybody from the outside could see would be challenging, rather than focusing in on the behavior. That way, each feels the love and concern in a nonjudgmental way, and feels cared for in their individual struggles. I especially like what @J-rap says above. Empathizing with them individually as to the stresses and pain of wanting a family and miscarriages, just checking in to make sure they are okay, etc., seems like a loving way to look at what might be the roots rather than the symptoms of a problem.

 

Edited by Jaybee
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Do not say anything. 

Did you raise your son to be a sensible man? Then let him be that on his own. 

Also, keep in mind that you are seeing a snapshot of their relationship. Perhaps she is on edge around in-laws, afraid they are judging her every word. Maybe he knows that is her reaction to stress and doesn't take it personally. Maybe she is nothing but complimentary when they are alone together. 

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I'm also confused about why there's no such thing as an "adult child." Child has two meanings. One is person who is young, generally under 18. But another meaning is offspring. It's useful in a conversation like this because it clarifies that the offspring in question is grown and it keeps it gender neutral because people aren't necessarily discussing sons or daughters specifically. It's a lot shorter than "adult son or daughter." 

Of course some people have trouble letting their children grow up and gain the sort of autonomy that's appropriate, but unless you go with the more awkward and clinical sounding "offspring" or something like the more scifi sounding "progeny" or something... then "my children" and "my child" is fine to refer to the people you raised to adulthood and doesn't have to indicate anything infantilizing about your approach to them.

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58 minutes ago, OH_Homeschooler said:

Do not say anything. 

Did you raise your son to be a sensible man? Then let him be that on his own. 

Also, keep in mind that you are seeing a snapshot of their relationship. Perhaps she is on edge around in-laws, afraid they are judging her every word. Maybe he knows that is her reaction to stress and doesn't take it personally. Maybe she is nothing but complimentary when they are alone together. 

That could be true, but the flip side is that... maybe she’s a lot worse.

People hide a lot of things, and it can be especially difficult and embarrassing for a man to admit that his wife is verbally or physically abusive, but if he has always had a close relationship with his parents, he might very well be open about it with his mom... if she asks him about it.  And the time to ask is sooner rather than later. 

Hasn't anyone ever known someone who stayed in an abusive marriage for the sole reason of trying to protect their children from an abusive spouse, and who didn’t have the nerve to ask for help because nobody seemed to notice that anything was wrong? Hasn’t anyone known someone who said they wished people had told them — before the wedding — about the red flags they saw in a future spouse who turned out to be a terrible choice? 

I guess I just don’t understand the concept of a person reaching a certain magical age and suddenly nobody — not even their parents — should offer them any advice or tell them they are worried about them any more. Because they are adults. That seems so bizarre to me. My parents were my parents until the day they died, and I wish they (and my sweet MIL) were still here to offer me advice about things. 

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1 minute ago, Catwoman said:

That could be true, but the flip side is that... maybe she’s a lot worse.

People hide a lot of things, and it can be especially difficult and embarrassing for a man to admit that his wife is verbally or physically abusive, but if he has always had a close relationship with his parents, he might very well be open about it with his mom... if she asks him about it.  And the time to ask is sooner rather than later. 

Hasn't anyone ever known someone who stayed in an abusive marriage for the sole reason of trying to protect their children from an abusive spouse, and who didn’t have the nerve to ask for help because nobody seemed to notice that anything was wrong? Hasn’t anyone known someone who said they wished people had told them — before the wedding — about the red flags they saw in a future spouse who turned out to be a terrible choice? 

I guess I just don’t understand the concept of a person reaching a certain magical age and suddenly nobody — not even their parents — should offer them any advice or tell them they are worried about them any more. Because they are adults. That seems so bizarre to me. My parents were my parents until the day they died, and I wish they (and my sweet MIL) were still here to offer me advice about things. 

Yes, this. My best friend and I were discussing this recently. Her husband tends to walk on eggshells around his adult married daughter. He never calls her out on some really crappy, mean and immature behavior.  He has no problem calling out their adult married son on his issues.  He even says about their son, 'kids sometimes need parenting even when they are grown.'  He just doesn't see how he is different with his daughter. And if anyone needs someone to step up and stand up to her--it is her.

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On 7/5/2021 at 5:11 AM, Harpymom said:

 I'll be honest - daughter in law snipes at ds.  He kind of laughs it off or changes the subject but occasionally engages.  It's sort of funny tone but mean content. 

 


So I think the potential hot button with the OP's post is that this was the context and it quickly jumped to a topic of abuse.  "funny tone but mean content," smacks of sarcasm IMO, but, to the credit, that can also be passive agressive as in, "What?!" (Shocked tones.) "I was JUST kidding...." Sigh.  I'm going to choose to not make the leap to abuse here and I'm going to assume that a MIL cannot possibly:

A. Clearly discern a husband/wife relationship especially over a new/short marriage.
B. Being supportive and letting someone know you love and support them is very different than saying, "Girl! You shouldn't speak to your DH like that," and, alternatively, "DS, I love and support you."  The first? No.  The second? Always.  ❤️ 
 

13 hours ago, Harpymom said:

I don't think of it as verbal abuse, but the posters who have pointed out that things can progress from bad to worse do strike a chord.  That's why I said that it may be me that not seeing it throughout Covid makes it seem worse, but it might just actually be worse.

Likewise, things can progress to better.  It's a leap and I honestly do not believe "addressing" it can change an abuser.  Nope.  Now, if I thought this was about abuse (see above) I'd have a different opinion.  Truth? I'm way more on edge around my MIL than pretty much ANY other time of my entire life / marriage and we have a "good" but guarded relationship.

 

8 hours ago, madteaparty said:

Can you give an example? Some relationships have a sarcastic/bantering sort of dynamic that really freaks out other people. Either way, I don’t see a scenario where saying something is a good thing. 

An example is good, but tone and body language is so key too so if she gives an example, it could be utterly benign but also very passive agressive and/or rude.

5 hours ago, Quill said:

I would always try to keep in mind that daughters-in-law are generally the gatekeepers to grandkids. I would mightily try to keep that gate open and unlocked. 

Truth.  Not to the point of accepting valid abuse, obviously, but this is so important.  My brother's sister is a sarcastic and often snappy person.  It's just her style.  I don't think it would work at my house - DH and I couldn't deal with the aggressiveness, but she is wildly protective about her kids and a good mom.  I'd never worry about her kids and my brother really likes her "matter of factness" even if her words bite him sometimes too.  BUT, had my mom or dad tried to "correct" an adult that strong willed? And legitimately, it really has been called for a few times because my mother would have absolutely corrected me if I'd ever been that rude/tactless, my SIL would have cut her off from kiddos.  I have zero doubt.  Beware.

4 hours ago, Catwoman said:

 

If others are fine with watching their own son or daughter “take it” while their spouse is “acting out,” (as you described it in your post,) they can go ahead and do that. As for me, I didn’t raise my son to roll over and accept abusive treatment from anyone, so if he ever seemed to be doing that,  I would most certainly want to discuss it with him before the situation went from bad to worse. Sometimes people can get stuck in an unhealthy pattern and not realize how bad things are getting, until someone points it out. You can’t try to fix a problem until you identify that one exists, and if I saw unhealthy patterns developing, I would hope the couple would identify them and solve them well before grandchildren came into the picture. People keep talking about not saying anything because they might not get to see the grandkids — my feeling is that I would hate to see any couple having children together if one spouse is being abusive to the other. That’s not a healthy environment for kids to grow up in.

Obviously, I would be trying my best to develop a strong relationship with my DIL, as well, but I would go to my son first if I felt the DIL was treating him poorly, because I would want to hear his side of the story, and be there with advice if he needed it. 

I think @Harpymom should do whatever she thinks is best, based on her own relationship with her son. I don’t think this is the kind of decision any of us can make for another person. All we can do is offer our own perspectives and see if harpymom finds it helpful. If my advice won’t work for her, that’s absolutely fine! She is being incredibly open to different ideas and suggestions, and I admire her for thinking this through before she decides what (if any) action to take. I know she will make a wise decision and do what is best for her own family.

I agree with you more than not, but unless I was genuinely concerned about ABUSE (and OP is NOT according to the first post I quoted) it is not appropriate.  "As for me, I didn't raise my son to roll over and accept abusive treatment..." and to this I add that if our kids are adults, raised in this manner, then I trust them until there are greater warning signs than she uses a funny tone to get a jab in at my house.  And, I'll admit, I really do wonder how much I'm justifying... Early in our marriage, I caught a fair bit of flack about every (every) decision - why move there, have we considered this, did I really want to go to school, of course I didn't need/want a second child.. My mom really didn't engage with our choices (press for reasons) on a level that asked, "But WHY?" and, now that I know his family much better, I realize this is how MIL makes conversation.  I still hate it because I know that if I give too much information it is discussed, misconstrued, etc., behind my back to other siblings just like all their discussions are to me, but at least now I know how to handle the conversations rather than getting frustrated that DH isn't answering or is giving too much info, etc.  He didn't know how/why it put me on edge.  A new marriage is learning why his family is SO different than your own and how to deal with the discomfort while learning where I fit in that family.  I *really* think that dynamic can REALLY not be discounted here.  And I say this ESPECIALLY because it's a new marriage.  You want to see me happy and relaxed? Anywhere but there, even 25 years later and I can honestly say they work really hard at it.  But MIL and I are SUCH different people that it can be a challenge and I know it is for her too and it is obvious we both really try.  But DH has learned to read my cues too and to NOT wander off and watch a show and leave me in an uncomfortable situation... like discussing homeschooling (even after 21 years of it........)  Pass the bean dip is a learned art form and until some people learn it, they need others to run interference.  I think each of us lends our own experiences to this conversation for sure! I hear a few saying, "Abuse!" but I don't have experience there so I have NO alarm bells that something more nefarious is ongoing and I think that's a big leap and very inconsiderate to a new bride, TBH?  

2 hours ago, Quill said:

Of course, we would all hate to see that. Yet our “adult kids” are *ADULTS*. I think that is the point Blessd Mom was making. Our adult kids have to right and responsibility to choose the mate and relationship dynamic they want in their lives, same as they get to decide to work as a diner wait staff or a CFO, based on the amount of effort they want to put into their occupation and the lifestyle they choose. 
 

My adult son and daughter are not married yet but my policy is not to comment on what may be trouble spots* in the future. I’ve raised them already. Now I have to butt out unless asked for advice directly. 

*caveat being, if something illegal was going on. 

Precissely. ❤️ 

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4 minutes ago, Catwoman said:

That could be true, but the flip side is that... maybe she’s a lot worse.

People hide a lot of things, and it can be especially difficult and embarrassing for a man to admit that his wife is verbally or physically abusive, but if he has always had a close relationship with his parents, he might very well be open about it with his mom... if she asks him about it.  And the time to ask is sooner rather than later. 

Hasn't anyone ever known someone who stayed in an abusive marriage for the sole reason of trying to protect their children from an abusive spouse, and who didn’t have the nerve to ask for help because nobody seemed to notice that anything was wrong? Hasn’t anyone known someone who said they wished people had told them — before the wedding — about the red flags they saw in a future spouse who turned out to be a terrible choice? 

I guess I just don’t understand the concept of a person reaching a certain magical age and suddenly nobody — not even their parents — should offer them any advice or tell them they are worried about them any more. Because they are adults. That seems so bizarre to me. My parents were my parents until the day they died, and I wish they (and my sweet MIL) were still here to offer me advice about things. 

I think the difference here is that some of us think abuse is SUCH a leap from what has been stated by the OP.  I suspect none of us disagree with being supportive, encouraging, close, respectful.  I think none of us would ever encourage submission to spousal abuse.  I

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12 minutes ago, Farrar said:

I'm also confused about why there's no such thing as an "adult child." Child has two meanings. One is person who is young, generally under 18. But another meaning is offspring. It's useful in a conversation like this because it clarifies that the offspring in question is grown and it keeps it gender neutral because people aren't necessarily discussing sons or daughters specifically. It's a lot shorter than "adult son or daughter." 

Of course some people have trouble letting their children grow up and gain the sort of autonomy that's appropriate, but unless you go with the more awkward and clinical sounding "offspring" or something like the more scifi sounding "progeny" or something... then "my children" and "my child" is fine to refer to the people you raised to adulthood and doesn't have to indicate anything infantilizing about your approach to them.

I agree. I didn’t want to keep typing “adult son or daughter” or “former child who is now an adult” over and over again, so I thought “adult child” was a decent option.

I don’t think anyone is saying that we view our adult children as still being little kids in our minds. And I don’t think we are treating our adult children like little kids if we offer them advice or ask them if they are ok because we have seen some red flags and we are worried about them. I think of my ds21 as my son, because he will always be my son, but we are also incredibly close as friends, and if I was concerned about  a close friend, I would certainly say something to them about it, so why wouldn’t I do the same for my own son?  

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6 minutes ago, BlsdMama said:

I think the difference here is that some of us think abuse is SUCH a leap from what has been stated by the OP.  I suspect none of us disagree with being supportive, encouraging, close, respectful.  I think none of us would ever encourage submission to spousal abuse.  I

Yes, but at what point do you say something? Would you wait until you were absolutely positive that your adult child was being abused by their spouse? How would you know if you never asked? 

My feeling is that in a new marriage, people are often still on pretty good behavior, so if red flags are already popping up, it’s not a bad idea to point them out before things get worse, because once a bad behavior becomes “normal” and ingrained, it’s probably not going to stop, and it may get much worse. If harpymom’s son is made aware of what’s going on and how it looks to other people, hopefully he and his wife can work things out between themselves, before it becomes a serious, chronic problem.

I would much rather err on the side of saying something and having my kid tell me it’s nothing, than to not say anything and find out that it was the start of an abusive relationship. Most abusers don’t start out with physical violence and they often test the people around them to see how much they can get away with. And if everyone politely turns a blind eye to belittling and insults, it’s the perfect environment for an abuser.

I have no idea whether or not this is the situation with @Harpymom‘s son. I hope it’s not! But I also don’t think her son should think he has to put up with a lifetime of noticeable (and humiliating) sniping from his wife  — and if his siblings are very concerned, this is more than just a little joking around. I knew a guy whose wife was always picking on him, and it turned out that she actually was violent in private. So you just never know. And you won’t know if you don’t express your concerns to your kid when you see red flags. You would say it to a close friend. Why wouldn’t you say it to your own child?

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2 hours ago, Scarlett said:

Exactly. My best friend----for 45 years now----was  married to a major cheater.  I told her a bunch of stuff she did not want to hear.  She and I had a very strained relationship for a year or so until everything blew up between them and she finally left him.  I don't have to live knowing I did not do my best to protect her.  Around that same time several people saw him out with the girlfriend and her kids playing daddy to them etc.  NONE of those people told my friend!  So weird to me!  

You can be a friend and a friend of marriage and still be honest about concerning things.  

Absolutely! 

And if you would tell a friend, why wouldn’t you do the same for your own adult child? That’s the part I don’t understand. My child is more important to me than any friend, but for some reason, it sounds like I’m supposed to politely turn a blind eye to any red flags I see, because he is an adult, and I would be overstepping my boundaries if I talked to him about my concerns.

That makes no sense to me.

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2 hours ago, happi duck said:

Y'all wouldn't say *anything* to a good friend, another adult, in the same situation? ( I'm not suggesting anything dramatic and alarmist.)

Adults should look out for each other, imo.  

There's ways to check-in without burning bridges.

This is exactly what I keep thinking.  EXACTLY!!!

 

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This thread is interesting. I think boundaries are really tough, especially with adult children. I've only been on the child side as yet - my boys are getting close so I'm definitely looking ahead to this phrase in my nearish future.

I genuinely don't know the right thing. I don't think it's right for people to ignore someone close in their lives who is being mistreated or seems to need support in a rough relationship. But, when parents give advice, it's inevitably going to hit on a bad vibe for a lot of adult children. Are there times when they should say something anyway? Probably. But when that is... that's so hard.

I wonder if this thread is really a reminder for all of us to have good relationships with our siblings and cousins and friends - relationships where we can be honest about these sorts of issues with our close peers since hearing it from our parents is too fraught. And relationships with aunts, uncles, and older mentors who can give that sort of experienced advice that isn't quite so close.

When dh and I were first married, he fell off the wagon and drank again. It was catastrophic. And I spent a very, very intense day dealing with it that involved a hospital psychiatric stay and some police and... let's just say that it was a LOT for a 21 yo who had been married for less than two months. We had not even gone on our delayed honeymoon yet. I did NOT call my mother. I called my college roommate. She was wonderfully supportive. My mother found out before I could talk to her. She called me the next day at about a million on the 1-10 scale of anxiety. I had been barely holding it together. I could not manage her as well. And we had a great relationship. But there was no way. I had to calmly tell her that I could not talk to her about it and I hung up the phone. She clearly was not happy, but my step-father spent a week or so of playing go between and calming her down and thank goodness. Thank goodness I got that space as a young adult. And it all worked out fine in the end. But my point is just... my mother was the exact wrong person to help. And she was a mostly wonderful, supportive mom who was usually very respecting of my independence and boundaries and this was a time when crazy things were going down and I really did need support.

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Posted (edited)
6 minutes ago, Farrar said:

This thread is interesting. I think boundaries are really tough, especially with adult children. I've only been on the child side as yet - my boys are getting close so I'm definitely looking ahead to this phrase in my nearish future.

I genuinely don't know the right thing. I don't think it's right for people to ignore someone close in their lives who is being mistreated or seems to need support in a rough relationship. But, when parents give advice, it's inevitably going to hit on a bad vibe for a lot of adult children. Are there times when they should say something anyway? Probably. But when that is... that's so hard.

I wonder if this thread is really a reminder for all of us to have good relationships with our siblings and cousins and friends - relationships where we can be honest about these sorts of issues with our close peers since hearing it from our parents is too fraught. And relationships with aunts, uncles, and older mentors who can give that sort of experienced advice that isn't quite so close.

When dh and I were first married, he fell off the wagon and drank again. It was catastrophic. And I spent a very, very intense day dealing with it that involved a hospital psychiatric stay and some police and... let's just say that it was a LOT for a 21 yo who had been married for less than two months. We had not even gone on our delayed honeymoon yet. I did NOT call my mother. I called my college roommate. She was wonderfully supportive. My mother found out before I could talk to her. She called me the next day at about a million on the 1-10 scale of anxiety. I had been barely holding it together. I could not manage her as well. And we had a great relationship. But there was no way. I had to calmly tell her that I could not talk to her about it and I hung up the phone. She clearly was not happy, but my step-father spent a week or so of playing go between and calming her down and thank goodness. Thank goodness I got that space as a young adult. And it all worked out fine in the end. But my point is just... my mother was the exact wrong person to help. And she was a mostly wonderful, supportive mom who was usually very respecting of my independence and boundaries and this was a time when crazy things were going down and I really did need support.

Your mom was probably in full-on panic mode, and I can understand why it was too much for you in the middle of a crisis.

Do you think it would have been different if she had called and been calm about it, and offered her support without letting you know how panicked she was? 

I think, at least for myself, it’s helpful if someone is calm and reassuring, but if they are in panic mode, I don’t want them near me because it makes things worse.

Edited to add — I agree that close relationships with other trustworthy, caring, and sensible people can be so important and helpful! And the fact that they can offer different perspectives can be very useful, too.

Edited by Catwoman
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On 7/5/2021 at 5:11 AM, Harpymom said:

Ds and dd-in-law have been here for the fourth.  It's so nice to have all my kids home and we've had fun adventures.  But.  The two of them snipe at each other a lot, and have a dynamic that I can only describe as exhausting.  I'll be honest - daughter in law snipes at ds.  He kind of laughs it off or changes the subject but occasionally engages.  It's sort of funny tone but mean content.  She's an only child and has always been pretty high maintenance, but it's really getting to me this time.  We haven't had them here since before Covid so it's possible I'm just more sensitive to it after not seeing it for a while.  My other kids are blown away and are very concerned for their oldest brother.  We are very different from dd-i-l but have taken an unconditional love approach that has allowed us to bond with her over the years.  She also snaps his first and middle name out sometimes as if she's his mother and is reprimanding him which I find creepy but is just her way.

I have compassion for people who suffer, and perhaps she suffers and takes it out on him?  But her life looks pretty good from here.  They both have jobs they love though his is quite stressful, they have a sweet house sold to them by her parents, he does all the cooking and most of the cleaning.  She and her parents are very close and loving, they live near to them and see them all the time.  They do and buy whatever they want.  So I'm having a hard time mustering compassion.  One exception is that they want children and have been trying, they've lost two so far and are starting to investigate - I have huge compassion for that part.  

So here's my ask of the hive: say something to ds?  Our relationship is very solid and loving, but he is tight with his emotions and could easily take offense.  If I did, what would it even be?  "do you feel happy?" "are you guys ok?"  "does she ever stop hassling you?"  Just kidding, would not ask that last, but you get the idea.  Or not say something and just wait for him? He once said one thing about how it was hard; they've been married for 7 years. Have any of you suggested marriage counseling to dc?  Why or why not?  How?  They live near her parents who maybe are just like her - her mom at least.  I've seen her dad back up my son in a male-bonding kind of way which fully cements the sniping behavior because it gets trivialized.

Thank you for any advice. 

 

I would not say anything. All you are seeing is how they are in front of you. You never know how they are behind closed doors. Besides, what would you expect to accomplish by saying something? That he stands up to her in front of you? That he leaves her? No good can come from speaking up. The most likely outcome is that DIL decides not to come around anymore, which would likely mean your son does not either. It will create a wedge you can never fix.

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🍿 Me, thinking back on the fight we had that my ILs walked in on.  It was embarrassing.   I'm so glad they didn't butt in.  I'm pretty sure they did ask DH if I was okay.  They also tried to help us out (4 kids, 4 and under- it was rough).   I wonder what they said to each other when they left, lol!  We've been married over 20 years and generally are very happy.   

 

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1 hour ago, Catwoman said:

I guess I just don’t understand the concept of a person reaching a certain magical age and suddenly nobody — not even their parents — should offer them any advice or tell them they are worried about them any more. Because they are adults. That seems so bizarre to me. My parents were my parents until the day they died, and I wish they (and my sweet MIL) were still here to offer me advice about things. 

My feeling is that if you start checking on minor things that could only be your perception, you soon become the meddling MIL and when your kids really need you, they are afraid to go to you because you'll just advise them on what they *should* do or *should have* done. And when a person is hurting, they don't want to hear "I told you so." They usually don't want to hear anything at all, they just want to know they are cared for.

I should know, my mother is a habitual advice giver, even after I calmly asked her to stop. Even after I couldn't take it anymore and screamed. It is hurtful that she offers these pieces of advice that are so extremely trivial, I wouldn't share them with my actual child because I recognize they know better. She must think I'm a moron to tell me the things she feels are valuable for me to know. And guess who hasn't been told about any of the three hospitalizations one of my children experienced this year? I really wish I could have turned to her in my time of crisis but I felt she'd only find a way to make it worse. That's what constantly advising your adult children gets you.

If your gut is telling you there is true abuse going on then of course, say something. But if you think a little private bickering between two people always means abuse, you're going to be the boy who cried wolf and no one is going to care what you have to say when it really matters. 

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22 minutes ago, OH_Homeschooler said:

My feeling is that if you start checking on minor things that could only be your perception, you soon become the meddling MIL and when your kids really need you, they are afraid to go to you because you'll just advise them on what they *should* do or *should have* done. And when a person is hurting, they don't want to hear "I told you so." They usually don't want to hear anything at all, they just want to know they are cared for.

I should know, my mother is a habitual advice giver, even after I calmly asked her to stop. Even after I couldn't take it anymore and screamed. It is hurtful that she offers these pieces of advice that are so extremely trivial, I wouldn't share them with my actual child because I recognize they know better. She must think I'm a moron to tell me the things she feels are valuable for me to know. And guess who hasn't been told about any of the three hospitalizations one of my children experienced this year? I really wish I could have turned to her in my time of crisis but I felt she'd only find a way to make it worse. That's what constantly advising your adult children gets you.

If your gut is telling you there is true abuse going on then of course, say something. But if you think a little private bickering between two people always means abuse, you're going to be the boy who cried wolf and no one is going to care what you have to say when it really matters. 

A little private bickering? 

If it was private, how would the OP know? She said they are at their house and snipe at each other, playful tone but “mean content.”

she also said their dynamic was exhausting, which I would guess that most rational people would agree that hearing 2 people snipe at each other with mean content is!

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3 minutes ago, pinball said:

A little private bickering? 

If it was private, how would the OP know? She said they are at their house and snipe at each other, playful tone but “mean content.”

she also said their dynamic was exhausting, which I would guess that most rational people would agree that hearing 2 people snipe at each other with mean content is!

Yes, and she also said her other children were “very concerned” about their brother. I think that’s important.

And I’m not sure how we arrived at a mom being “the boy who cried wolf” if she talks to her son about this one particular situation. No one is suggesting that the mom start pointing out every little flaw or commenting on every little thing. 

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Posted (edited)
12 minutes ago, pinball said:

A little private bickering? 

If it was private, how would the OP know? She said they are at their house and snipe at each other, playful tone but “mean content.”

she also said their dynamic was exhausting, which I would guess that most rational people would agree that hearing 2 people snipe at each other with mean content is!

Two people can have what is meant to be a private conversation that just happens to be in the presence of others. 

Unless all those people are with the couple all the time, no one really knows what it's like when they are at home. My own sister honestly thought my my ex-boyfriend and I, who were both introverts, never actually talked to EACH OTHER. She was basing it on our behavior at one gathering where neither of us knew a lot of the people. So she just assumed we had an unhealthy relationship with no communication based on what she saw at a party one time. In fact, we had extremely deep conversations all the time, but she could never imagine that.  

And OP didn't say they snipe at each other. She said her DIL snipes at her son. She may be a little biased.

 

Edited by OH_Homeschooler
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3 minutes ago, Catwoman said:

Yes, and she also said her other children were “very concerned” about their brother. I think that’s important.

And I’m not sure how we arrived at a mom being “the boy who cried wolf” if she talks to her son about this one particular situation. No one is suggesting that the mom start pointing out every little flaw or commenting on every little thing. 

And I'm not sure how we got from a MIL not liking the way her DIL talks to her son being a sign of abuse, but here we are. 

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1 minute ago, OH_Homeschooler said:

And I'm not sure how we got from a MIL not liking the way her DIL talks to her son being a sign of abuse, but here we are. 

We got to it because the mom and her other children are all concerned about the way her son’s wife is speaking to him. If it’s raising red flags for them, I think it would be a good idea to check and make sure her son is ok, and hopefully help him realize that it is not acceptable for his wife to humiliate him at family functions with very noticeable sniping comments. And if she is behaving this way in front of his own family, there should be at least some concern about whether she is even meaner in private.

If you would stay quiet under those circumstances, that’s certainly your prerogative, but many of us would choose to talk to him about it.

 

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On 7/5/2021 at 6:11 AM, Harpymom said:

Ds and dd-in-law have been here for the fourth.  It's so nice to have all my kids home and we've had fun adventures.  But.  The two of them snipe at each other a lot, and have a dynamic that I can only describe as exhausting.  I'll be honest - daughter in law snipes at ds.  He kind of laughs it off or changes the subject but occasionally engages.  It's sort of funny tone but mean content.  She's an only child and has always been pretty high maintenance, but it's really getting to me this time.  We haven't had them here since before Covid so it's possible I'm just more sensitive to it after not seeing it for a while.  My other kids are blown away and are very concerned for their oldest brother.  We are very different from dd-i-l but have taken an unconditional love approach that has allowed us to bond with her over the years.  She also snaps his first and middle name out sometimes as if she's his mother and is reprimanding him which I find creepy but is just her way.

I have compassion for people who suffer, and perhaps she suffers and takes it out on him?  But her life looks pretty good from here.  They both have jobs they love though his is quite stressful, they have a sweet house sold to them by her parents, he does all the cooking and most of the cleaning.  She and her parents are very close and loving, they live near to them and see them all the time.  They do and buy whatever they want.  So I'm having a hard time mustering compassion.  One exception is that they want children and have been trying, they've lost two so far and are starting to investigate - I have huge compassion for that part.  

So here's my ask of the hive: say something to ds?  Our relationship is very solid and loving, but he is tight with his emotions and could easily take offense.  If I did, what would it even be?  "do you feel happy?" "are you guys ok?"  "does she ever stop hassling you?"  Just kidding, would not ask that last, but you get the idea.  Or not say something and just wait for him? He once said one thing about how it was hard; they've been married for 7 years. Have any of you suggested marriage counseling to dc?  Why or why not?  How?  They live near her parents who maybe are just like her - her mom at least.  I've seen her dad back up my son in a male-bonding kind of way which fully cements the sniping behavior because it gets trivialized.

Thank you for any advice. 

 

 

31 minutes ago, OH_Homeschooler said:

Two people can have what is meant to be a private conversation that just happens to be in the presence of others. 

Unless all those people are with the couple all the time, no one really knows what it's like when they are at home. My own sister honestly thought my my ex-boyfriend and I, who were both introverts, never actually talked to EACH OTHER. She was basing it on our behavior at one gathering where neither of us knew a lot of the people. So she just assumed we had an unhealthy relationship with no communication based on what she saw at a party one time. In fact, we had extremely deep conversations all the time, but she could never imagine that.  

And OP didn't say they snipe at each other. She said her DIL snipes at her son. She may be a little biased.

 

Ummm...about the bolded in your post...look at what I bolded in Harpymom’s post...

she DID indeed say they snipe at each other a lot.

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Look, y’all: I had absolutely crap-tastic communication skills when I was a young married person. I used sarcasm and hyperbole a lot and I had a really hard time accepting that someone’s ways could be different without being wrong. So I’m sure I was many times a naggety-nag. I was also over-reacting to my mom’s doormatishness; “Well *I’m* not going to do *that!*” 

 

Thing is, if my MIL had tried to correct me, that would have gone over like a hair in the macaroni salad and I would have seen her as a meddler, not unlike the thousands of stories I’ve seen in this site from posters whose MIL’s question them about how and what and why they do everything. 
 

Someone who has crap skillz is not automatically abusive. 

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Posted (edited)

I already responded with more specific thoughts, but wanted to add that I'm surprised at the number of people who said no, never.  I think you can respond in a way that isn't blaming or pointing fingers at anyone, but reminding both that you're someone they can trust and talk to if they ever need to.  I did that for my own ds, and it started us on a path of very close communication that he desperately needed.  Some people need to have someone else make the first move to pull feelings out of them. 

Edited by J-rap
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Well, as a very young adult I married a 'flaggy' also very young adult. One person carefully asked me if all was well and loved me anyway. One person gave me an ultimatum. One person mostly stayed out of it but gave me encouragement and titbits of wisdom from her own life/examples. One of those persons is no longer a part of my life, and I'm still married to the still-somewhat-flaggy-but-never-abusive guy, nearly 20 years on. 

I also agree that young newly-weds are often not the best communicators. 

I think there is a path between not saying anything or not wanting to meddle, and all out your spouse is an abusive a-hole. We value honesty so I might well say something, I don't know exactly what though, that's too situation/relationship specific.

Hugs!

 

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