‘Oldest friend has fallen out with me over my son’s texts’

Dear Coleen

I’m a woman in my 60s and my son got married three years ago to the daughter of some good friends of ours, and we couldn’t have been happier about it. They’d known each other as kids and then reunited after university and fell in love – it was a real fairytale romance and the wedding was fabulous.

But things have been rocky in their marriage and it has been largely down to my son. He hasn’t done anything really awful, but he went through a tough time about a year ago – a friend of his died, his work was going badly and his wife found inappropriate texts to another woman.

He just got a bit lost and, while I’m not condoning the texts, I think he was very stressed at the time.

However, his wife’s mother (my friend) doesn’t see it like that and has been very cold with me. I’ve tried to talk to her, but it’s clear she blames my son for everything and it’s ruined our friendship.

I’m so sad about this because my husband and I have done nothing wrong and we’ve all been friends for more than 30 years.

We’re doing our best to support my son and our daughter-in-law while they work on their marriage, but the in-laws aren’t making it easy.

I’d love your advice.

Dear Coleen

Coleen says

They sound a bit angry and naturally feel protective of their daughter, but I think it’s a shame they’re not communicating with you, so you can support your ­children together.

You do not know what your ­daughter-in-law has been saying to her mum, so there’s a chance you don’t know the full story (I hope it’s not the case). But I think you should try reaching out to your friend again – can you invite her out for a walk, so you can chat face-to-face?

And I think the way to approach it would be to say: “Look, I know my son has made mistakes and I’m heartbroken about that, too, but I don’t think it’ll help them if we’re not getting along”.

Maybe she does want to talk to you and I’m sure she misses your friendship, but she might feel awkward or even disloyal to her daughter. Perhaps she’s just wary of getting involved and making things worse.

The bottom line is, while you can be there to offer support if needed, it’s up to your son and his wife to work through their marriage problems together or with the help of a therapist.

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