15 answers

What to Say to Ex Daughter-in-law?

Unfortunately my son's divorce will be final as soon as the judge signs the papers in about a week or so. He thought there was a 90 day wait, but apparently not. I was hoping to have more time to think about what to say to my ex-dil. Somehow it seems that I should say something or write something to her as kind of a good-bye closure. Otherwise I think it would be awkward to run into her somewhere. I'm not good in person or with difficult communications. I don't think I could hold it together. I would like your ideas on if, how, and what to say. (no children involved so we don't have that issue) Responses appreciated. TriciaJ

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I do ot think you need to say anything at all. There are no children, but if you feel you need to just let her know that there is not ill will toward her and that you hope she will get all that she needs out of life.

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Divorce always brings up the ugly side of people. Please don't take things too personally.

If I were your son's ex, what I would appreciate hearing from you is, "I'm sorry that things didn't work our between our son and you." "I wish you the best life to come and hope that you find what you are looking for."

Keep it simple heartfeldt and not detailed.

Best wishes to you.

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I would write a letter, and treat the situation like she is moving away. Tell her what you have been thankful for during the time she was married to your son. Let her know the things you appreciate about her, and that you are sorry it has to end like this and that you wish her the best. Of course if those aren't your true feelings, it may be best to say nothing! But if you have something positive to say, I would say it! I would be good closure for the both of you.

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I'm so sorry! I hope your son's heart recovers and grows from this experience and that he finds a lasting relationship in the future (if that is what he wants).

Two of my brothers have gone through divorces and I remember how difficult they were for my mom. One brother had children, the other didn't. This is what my mom did with the ex-dil with no children:

She wrote a letter - it was very short, about one page - that simply said she was sorry the marriage had come to an end, that she had enjoyed knowing her and that she wished her the best. My mom and the ex shared a love of museums, so my mom mentioned something about how much she had enjoyed going to local museums together. But that was it.

She shared the letter with my brother. He was initially upset about the letter, but he got over it and told my mom he was OK with it. She didn't send it until he OK'd it. I don't know if I would recommend that or not, but I thought I'd mention it.

The ex never wrote her back, which was fine. I think my mom was relieved because she wasn't looking to establish a longterm relationship. My mom did it because she knew they might run into each other some day and she didn't want it to be awkward (just like you).

Take good care of yourself - whether our children are 2 or 42, it hurts to see them in pain and to be unable to fix it.

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Hi T.,

Oftentimes, the desire for closure is about us. We want to forgive someone for their actions or understand why they did something that was hurtful to someone we love.

If it were me, I would try writing a letter to your daughter-in-law. Let her know all of your feelings about the situation: your disappointment, your hurt feelings from the exchange a few months ago, everything. Then, after you are done, don't send it. I'm serious. This is about you moving on, not her. Instead, find some kind of ritual that will help YOU feel better. Many people burn these letters as a symbolic act of letting go of those feelings, or you can figure out something else to do that works for you. It's up to you what feels good, freeing and feels like resolution. Engaging with her may not end the way you expect, esp. since she is already upset that she's been 'inconvenienced'.

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Hi T.,

I can't possibly imagine anything you could say to your soon to be ex-daughter-in-law. The break-up of the relationship really is between her and your son and since there are no children involved I don't see any reason for you to say goodbye to her or become involved in any way.

If I were you I'd simply stay out of it, just like us moms should always stay out of our kids relationship business, and if you should run into her on the street simply smile and be pleasant. Again since there are no children involved there's really not any reason why you should feel attached to your daughter-in-law nor she should feel attached to you once the divorce is final. Even though your last communication with her was unpleasant I hope you will be gracious enough to realize that in a situation like she was in at the time it is perfectly understandable that she may not have been at her best and might have been unpleasant with you. Divorce can tend to bring out the worst in people even when they don't mean it to.

I sincerely hope that you don't hold anything against her for the divorce. It's my experience that we only get one side of the story and that the information we get is always going to be told in such a way so that it doesn't put the person telling us in a bad light. When I divorced my ex-husband many, many years ago it was because he was an emotionally and physically abusive person who had a bad problem with alcohol and drugs. I found out many years later that he had told his family the divorce was all my fault, that I was running around partying, doing drugs and that he hadn't done anything but be a perfect husband to me and father to our children. I'm not saying that your son is lying to you about his part in the divorce but I'm just saying that people rarely tell all of a story when it comes to situations like this and the story they tell is rarely going to put them at fault in any way.


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It sounds like you really need to have closure with this situation to move forward and for that, I respect that about you.

I think you should send her a "Thinking of you" card. Keep the card short, but let her know that you are sorry things didn't work out in the long run between her and your son and that you hope that in the future she finds the happiness that she is seeking. Leave it at that and then if you have to, pray any of the anger out. Don't let it bother you too much that her choices may be leading her down a different path than anyone else had planned for her. She obviously is struggling with other issues and those issues, no matter how much you care for her-are hers.

Many better wishes to you and your son and rest of the family. I'm sorry to hear that the situation had to end in those terms, but some people just need to have space and their plans unfortunately create bad situations.

Keep her in your prayers and hopefully, you can find closure.

Kim B.

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It is always hard when there is a divorce in the family. My thoughts are to always be nice/pleasant. You would probably have an easier time writing something to her. I would kep it short and sweet and just keep it positive. Say nice things about her. You never know how it will have an impact on her and your son.


2 moms found this helpful

I do ot think you need to say anything at all. There are no children, but if you feel you need to just let her know that there is not ill will toward her and that you hope she will get all that she needs out of life.

1 mom found this helpful

You don't say anything. There is no closure to your relationship. The divorce was between your son and her. You may see her somewhere, socially. She may still share friends with your son and you. Be cordial, speak politely. You don't need to re-hash anything with her. Divorce is difficult. You'll never really know what went on between them, you have what he tells you, his version and then there's her version and then what really happened. You don't need to know. Just move on. Don't hold any grudges, it only holds you back in life, keeps you from moving on. They both have a long list of 'what if's' and 'if I'd only done...'. Let go. Ephesians 4:32, and she doesn't need to hear your forgiveness or apologies for you to say I forgive you or I'm sorry.

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1) If it was her idea, she has a lot of nerve complaining that she has to move out! That said, I watched my husband think it was ever so unjust that he was the one who had to move out when he chose to end our relationship--so perhaps she perceives, as he did, that she is ending a relationship in which she suffered at the hands of her spouse and therefore why should 'let him' stay ... (our denounment: I stayed in the house and Ex is a little more balanced in his perceptions of our history now than when he had himself all riled up and left). I am so sorry that phone call happened, but I'm sure she felt justified demanding that at the time.

2) If she hasn't spoken to you, she either still thinks you are horrible for not filling that "need" or she is embarrassed by her behavior ... either way, talking to her is going to be awkward. So,

3) I think you should choose what meets your needs. (You can only control your own actions, yah?) It sounds like a closure would be a good idea. It sounds like a verbal one might not go well. Consider, if writing a closure, once you are done: do you actuyally need to send what you just wrote, or was writing it enough? Or do you want to hold onto it to give her later (eg., if she ever talks to you again)?

4) Ask your son as well ... it is likely he has some strong feelings about whether you contacting her would feel like a betrayal or a support (in my case, especially since we have kids, I asked all relatives to continue to be as friendly to him as they were capable of being ... partly also this was to keep "coming back" an option, but he didn't choose that ... but at the end of some other relationships, certain relatives have chosen to keep relationships that I did NOT want them to keep, and that has been hurtful ... ). Perhaps you just need to ask the general "is it OK if I writer her a letter?" question, perhaps you'll need to show him the actual letter ... but being left by a spouse is (as you see/feel) devastating, and really being concerned with his emotional state should be a strong concern. (And six months from now his answer might change.)

God bless ... I'm sorry.

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It sounds like you desire the closure - she became a member of your family and in a few days she will not be any longer. There is nothing wrong and nothing lost by spending a moment to put your thoughts on paper. Take your time and put together something you feel good about and send it!!

My guess is that it will make you feel a lot better and like I said there is no harm and nothing lost in sharing your feelings.


1 mom found this helpful

Hi, T.-

It may seem like it was your DIL's idea for the divorce, but it is also possible that the circumstances are not known to everyone. Perhaps you could write a note to your DIL and tell her that this whole situation is awkward for you and tell her some positive things about your relationship. (This may be hard right now, but it might be worth it for closure's sake.) Decide what it is you want from her and the closure. Maybe you could let her know that this process has been painful for you as well and then just wish her the best in her future. This may help you put this behind you, too.

Best wishes to you and your family. I know it is difficult. I am going through a divorce right now, too.

Take care.

1 mom found this helpful

I would definitely mail her a letter. That way you can say everything you have to say, without interruption, and she can do the same in return.

Because you are a Christian and study the Bible, your heart is telling you to act toward your DIL how we as Christians are supposed to model Christ's love. Don't ignore your heart strings/women's intuition/God's still small voice. Pray for her (and your son as a failed marriage is deeply painful regardless of the situation and what he might say), forgive her, give it a little time, and God will reveal the correct pathway for you to take with her. We learn as Christians we should always reach out in love, even if its the hardest thing we ever do. We don't do this enough because its scary! But you and I both know that its what we are supposed to do. In addition, I have a very difficult situation with my Mother-In-law and it deeply saddens me. There might be hurt you have caused her you are completely unaware of that could change her heart or her spirit if you were to reach out. It would change my life if my MIL reached out to me in love. I know because i am the "daughter" and she is the "mother" i sometimes feel like its her job to reach out to me so i wait. But then my "inside voice" reminds me as a Christian it is really my job. I know you will make the right choice. Just lean not on your own feelings or understanding but your Bible!

Just a thought - since your ex daughter in law is still the mother of your grandchildren? You might want to think about the continuing relationship, i.e. that you hope it will remain friendly, since this could impact your relationship with your grandchildren. You might tell her that you are sad about the divorce, and that you wish her well (even if you don't, you will be glad later, because you don't want to be on record as having completely severed the relationship, with little ears later on...). Good luck!

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