She Doesn't Like Her Son's Girlfriend. Knowing Your Place - Relationship Advice
I am writing to you for your incredibly insightful relationship advice but I don’t know if you can help me. You see this isn’t about my relationship, it’s about my sons.
I have a handsome, intelligent, wonderful son. We always had a close relationship. Now he is not the person I raised. He got involved with this woman a couple of years ago and everything changed.
After he graduated college he was having some financial stress but he refused to move back home. He can be so stubborn. Well after a couple of years he had amassed quite a bit of debt and finally began speaking with me about moving back home as soon as his lease came up. It was about this time I first hear about this woman.
When he first brought her around I told him right off the bat I did not like her. She is a little older than he is. She is divorced. She is just not the right kind of woman for my son.
My son’s lease came up and he began to move his things here. He would come over with her and I would try to just be the bigger person but I had to tell him my thoughts. I could see the changes in him, staying out to all hours with her, not answering his phone if I called while he was with her. The way he dressed, the TV Shows he liked, even his eating habits all changed. Things came to a head on Easter two years ago when she asked me if I wanted to come to her house for Easter dinner. You can imagine my surprise. I always have Easter dinner here at my home, and my son is always in attendance. I accused her of doing this on purpose to try to drive a wedge between my son and I. She just lied and insisted that wasn’t the case. She said it was an opportunity for me to meet her parents and to see her home. Needless to say I didn’t go which is what she wanted, and my son and I had a big fight about it which is also what she wanted. Her plan worked. My son decided not to move in here and instead he moved in with her.
That was 2 years ago. They never invite me over not that I would go and I tell him that. He seems to think this is acceptable. She has filled his head with crazy ideas. He’s not the boy I raised at all.
How can I get him to listen to me and realize that woman isn’t right for him?
You didn’t say how old your son is but I can make a guess. You reference his graduating college, 2 years after graduating, and then 2 years after that. Assuming it was a 4 year college, he’s about 26.
Thank the gods he isn’t the boy you raised. He’s not a boy. He’s a 26 year old man.
It sounds to me like you were on the attack against “this woman” from the onset. Telling him you didn’t like her before you even gave her a chance, and feeling it was your place to keep telling him your thoughts about his choices and his girlfriend, all add up to a very poor effort on your part.
Your reference to how you wanted him to move “back” after college tells me he lived on campus. Additionally he lived on his own for 2 years. That means you kinda missed 6 years where he changed from being a kid to being a young adult. You missed a great deal of growth and change. You blame “that woman” for all the changes that occurred in your son like wardrobe, diet, adult behavior and entertainment preferences. Really? You don’t think he had just grown up and changed? You really can’t imagine that would have happened without “this woman?”
The Easter Invitation Incident of 2 years ago is telling. It’s very nice that you always have Easter dinner at your house and that you’ve had the pleasure of your son’s company at this tradition all this time. But to assume as an adult he will attend every Easter at your house because that’s what you want, is wrong.
Children grow up. They become adults. They enter into relationships that take priority over the relationship they have with their parents. These are facts. This is the way it is.
It is perfectly normal, reasonable, and healthy for your son to want to spend a holiday with his partner. Assuming he would choose to spend the day with you especially considering your very vocal disapproval of his partner, was a pretty big crazy leap on your part.
Major Kudos to your son’s lady friend for trying to include you in their lives while you made no effort to do the same. Inviting you to see her home and meet her family was a mature and generous gesture. You not only declined, you accused her of lying and of doing this on purpose to create friction. Wow, you really screwed that up big-time.
The advice you’re asking for is not something I would give. I will however give you the advice you need.
You have a lot of work you need to do on yourself before you are going to be able to repair the damaged relationship with your son and his girlfriend. You have a choice. You can continue to pretend your son is a child, deny the fact that he is a man making his own choices, and go on being excluded from his life. That means, you’ll continue to be bitter and alone. By the way if grandkids come along, you can forget about being a part of that too.
Or, you can work very hard on accepting your son as the man he has grown up to be. You can accept his choices which include everything from his Television preferences, to his living arrangements, and his girlfriend.
I have the feeling you are a widow and that your son is an only child. You speak singularly about your home as if you are not part of a couple. You don’t mention your son’s father. Your comment that his girlfriend is divorced was derogatory thereby leading me to believe you aren’t divorced. Usually when a parent writes about a problem with a child, they include other children if there are any in comparison form. I’m lead to believe you’re alone. And this would make sense as to why you’re clinging so tightly to your son, and with keeping him in your mind’s eye as a child whose priorities are not those of a grown man.
His girlfriend sounds fine. I believe if you had better dirt on her you would have flung it. But Gaye, the truth is, it doesn’t matter if your son’s girlfriend is right or wrong for him. Regardless of how good his decisions are, they are still his decisions. You have no right to make them for him. You have no say over his choices.
The truth is, it’s none of your business.
You do however get to decide to handle this better. You can decide to be a part of his life. But you have to note, it’s HIS life. You have to stop thinking your opinion should matter. You have to stop blaming his girlfriend for everything you don’t like from the fact that he grew up to the fact that he chose her.
You most likely have many years ahead of you. Living them this way is not working out for you, is it. My advice to you is to do what you need to do to be part of your son’s future.
My advice is to send your son’s girlfriend a very nice and heartfelt note. It’s not too late. It’s never really too late. It’s all about how sincerely you want a relationship with your son. It should be in your own words but it should convey something like this:
I am sorry.
I handled many things badly.
I wish I had been more open to getting to know you. I wish I had accepted your invitation to Easter dinner years ago. I don’t know how to fix the past but I hope we can put it behind us and go forward.
Maybe we could just start again? I would like to invite you and my son for dinner on (this) date. If that date doesn’t work for you, please let me know what would work better.”
I can almost guarantee a gesture like that will be honored and accepted. Good luck.