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Dear Coleen: Son’s wife is so cold and doesn’t want to be part of our family

Dear Coleen

My son has been with his wife nearly 10 years and they’re both in their mid-30s. They don’t have children and don’t want them – her decision I think – which is hugely disappointing for my husband and me, as he’s our only child.

I’ve tried so hard with her over the years, but from the start she’s been cold, distant and unwilling to have any kind of relationship with us. She’s polite, but that’s it.

My son says she had a difficult time with her own family (she’s never met her dad and her mum passed away). She has one sister she never sees.

I thought this alone would make her keen to be a part of our family, but it seems I was wrong.

All she seems interested in is her job, their dog and local friends – she’s never once suggested anything social involving us and attends family events grudgingly. It makes me so sad when I see all my friends have such great ­relationships with their children’s ­partners and families, and enjoy being grandparents. It breaks my heart that I can’t connect with the person who’s most important to my son.

Their relationship has always seemed good – they’re close and enjoy the same things and love going on adventurous holidays.

It’s just a shame she’s not interested in being part of our family.

Coleen says

Sadly, it’s not a given that we’re going to get on with – or even like – our child’s choice of partner. I can tell this is upsetting for you, but I wonder if you’re also grieving over not becoming a grandparent, and I totally get that.

When we have kids, we have certain expectations of what the future will hold, rightly or wrongly, and it’s hard to accept you won’t be a ­grandparent if that’s something you hoped for.

It’s especially difficult if you’re seeing all your mates enjoying their ­grandkids. Perhaps your son and his wife will change their minds on becoming parents but, if not, you have to accept it’s their decision.

As far as getting on with your daughter-in-law, as long as you still have a good relationship with your son and she makes him happy, then maybe that will have to be enough.

Perhaps she finds it hard to relate to you and your husband because she has nothing to go on – her own upbringing sounds so fragmented she’s ­probably still working through all of that.

But she has found love and formed a great relationship with your son, which is wonderful. And they sound happy. I think as long as she knows she’s welcome in your home and she knows you’re there for her if she ever wants a deeper relationship, that’s all you can do.

And of course, you can remind your son of this, too.

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