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Newly engaged, yet his family doesn't seem to be happy for him.

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I became engaged this past February to a man that I have been dating a few years. We are both in our mid-60's. He has two grown children. I have one daughter. He lost his wife a few years ago, and I have been divorced for over 25 years. My family was thrilled to hear the news of our engagement, but when my boyfriend announced the news to his family - at a birthday dinner for a family member, you could have heard a pin drop. There were no smiles or words of congratulations. It was an awkward silence. Finally, after a few minutes, his mother- in- law turned to me and said, "Well, I am happy to have a daughter in law again." Nobody asked any follow up questions, they instead just picked up their menus and ordered.  No one even asked to see my engagement ring. I sat there stunned and shocked by their response. After dinner, as we made our way out of the restaurant, my fiancee's son turned to me and casually said, "Congratulations". 

As we got in the car, I turned to my fiancee and said, "Well that didn't go over very well." He told me that it will probably take some time for them to get used to me. 

Moving along, I have been to several family gatherings since our engagement was announced in February and I am treated like an outcast. I am not made to feel welcome at these gatherings, in fact, they barely acknowledge my  existence. I have never been asked questions such as, "How did you meet?" "How many children do you have?" "What do you do for a living?" "Do you have children/grandchildren?" ..........you get the idea.

It's getting harder for me to want to be a part of these family gatherings when I feel like my presence is not wanted there. 

They are not unkind to me, by any means, they just don't seem to be happy with his choice of a future wife - ME!

What I am doing is what my mother always taught me. She always told me that while I have no control over how people react, always make a pass and be kind and polite. 

The last family gathering I brought a casserole that I thought everyone would enjoy. While most of them ate it, nobody said one word to me about it - except my future mother-in-law who stated that she had eaten Pineapple Casserole before and liked it. We all sat at one very large table and they would talk to one another about things I didn't know anything about. I smiled and attempted to make eye contact when I spoke to them. I made attempts to engage with them in conversation. They politely responded, but with just a few words. After lunch, I helped with the kitchen duties and "Jean" (mother-in-law) was very appreciative and told me so. 

Since that time, I have quizzed my fiancee about my feelings and he has assured me that they just need time to adjust to the engagement, and that it's not personal. 

Also, what has prompted me to share this with you is  - I just got off the phone with my fiancee and he shared with me that he had dinner with his son and girlfriend. (They have only been dating a year). This makes at least six to seven dinners that I have been made aware of that the 'three' of them dine out together and I have never received an invite to. I feel a bit slighted and I don't know if I should feel this way or not. 

Help me to understand and what I could do to improve this situation.

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Some people aren’t very demonstrable, runs in families and regions. They may think “well it’s about time he did get engaged.”

Also it being announced at someone else’s party is a bit tacky, so I can see why they probably weren’t very engaging. 

As your bigger issue is your fiancé dining with his son and the GF; it make come down to preference. Maybe it’s a knock on you, maybe they want to go somewhere they know you wouldn’t like? 
At most maybe do something to invite the son and GF to dinner with you and your fiancé. Be proactive about getting to know them, not expecting them to do all the work.

All that really matters is you and your fiancé.

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I dont think its anything you do or dont do. No matter what we do, we cant be liked by all people. For example, his ex wife is, well, dead. So they maybe very much liked her and feel that you are just taking her place. Its probably not "you" thing but general feeling they have about him moving on. 

Also, can you talk with your fiance about the issue? And maybe say that you want to be included in his dinners with his son and gf.

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6 hours ago, Sweet Sue said:

I became engaged this past February to a man that I have been dating a few years.  my boyfriend announced the news to his family - at a birthday dinner for a family member. He told me that it will probably take some time for them to get used to me. 

How many of them have you met before? How often in the years you were dating did you interact with his family? 

He seems quite close to his late wife's family. Were many of them at this birthday gathering? 

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When is the wedding date? How often do  you speak to your future MIL or your future inlaws family? -I mean prior to the engagement? Did she know her son had purchased/obtained a ring? It's ok if you don't really click with them -and was the MIL close to her late DIL? That might be a factor.  

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Batya, we haven't set a date yet. His parents have been dead for many years. His mother in law (his deceased wife's mother), and his deceased wife were very, very close. She depends on him for just about everything. She can't drive, she can barely see anymore and depends on him to get her places. When he told her that we have planned to move away from the area to another city, her reply was, "Oh no you're not." 

The family is close with one another. I was also told that prior to me, he was serious about someone else but they broke up. Everyone really liked her and hoped that they would eventually get married. But, they broke up and he moved on. 

Now, I enter the picture and even though he has wanted to relocate to another area before we even met, I think they feel I may have put pressure on him to move away and they don't like that because - who else is going to help look after his mother in law. Her daughter and son in law live in this area, but aside from participating in family gatherings, she does very little with her mother. She has no other children (mother in law), but 4 grandchildren and another son in law. "Jean" is close to my fiancee and depends on him to help her with whatever she needs .....take her to church, lunch, doctor appointments.etc.....and now, he is making plans to put his home on the market and relocate. 

I am trying to figure out how I can improve my relationship with them. I don't want to be pushy and I try my best to engage in conversations with them, but I get the feeling no matter what I do, it won't be good enough. 

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22 minutes ago, Sweet Sue said:

....and now, he is making plans to put his home on the market and relocate. 

Unfortunately this is what they don't seem thrilled about. Let him manage their expectations.

It doesn't really matter if they don't like the idea that he's moving or remarrying or if they like you. All your BF needs to do is deal with them and you.

Hopefully they will eventually respect his choices however springing this news and especially the news about moving during someone's birthday celebration wasn't the best idea.

It wasn't your engagement party and unfortunately he used this event to spring this news on them. He should have informed them individually privately about the engagement and news about moving rather than spoiling their party.

Sort of poor timing on your BFs part to try to steal the show and make it about your news rather than the intended purpose to honor and focus on the birthday person.

So please don't feel hurt that they didn't fawn over your ring and as so on, because that would be rude to the birthday person whose party it was.

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Wiseman2, let me be clear....the birthday party was for his mother in law and everyone was there. I agree with you, I honestly don't think it was the place or the time to make this kind of announcement. He let them know about plans to move over a year ago.....so this wasn't news to them. 

Let me tell you what else has bothered me......when I have been invited to his home for a 'family' meal (at the time, both his sons were grown and living at home), he would tell me that they would be a the barbeque too, so I would bring a casserole or salad enough to feed everyone. Yet, what happens is the youngest son would never stick around to have a meal with me and the other son would come out of his room, fix a plate and return to his room to dine alone - leaving me and my fiancee' to dine alone. When I asked him about this, he would make excuses for their behavior ....."he is giving us our space"....."he just broke up with his girlfriend"....." he is not feeling well...."

The first time it happened, I gave his son a pass, then it continued to happen and I started thinking that it was personal. When I mentioned this to my boyfriend he told me that they were close to their mother and that could be why they are acting this way and tried to reassure me that "Jean" was 'working' on them.

I sat him down one evening and shared with him my concerns and told him to tell them that I love their dad very much and I am not trying - nor would I ever try to take their mother's place. I also told them to ask them if they would like to see their dad happy? 

He later told me that he the older son told him after the engagement was announced that he was glad to see his dad happy -  yet to this day, I still struggle with this and feel very awkward at family gatherings. It's hard to have a conversation when people barely acknowledge you and don't include you in conversations..... 

My relationship with his mother in law, "Jean" is good, overall. She seems to like me, and speaks to me more than anyone else in the family. 

My side of the family has welcomed him with open arms and have been very gracious to him- including my ex husband! 

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This is not you, it is clearly them.  This is borderline rude behavior.

 Your fiance needs to step up and set them straight as they are HIS family that are treating his future wife as an interloper.  If he doesn't just bide your time until you relocate and you will not have to deal with them any longer except on rare occasions.

 What matters most is your relationship, not the relationship with his family.  It isn't ideal that they are acting this way but you are not marrying his family are you?

 They all could be selfish and only thinking of themselves since the primary care giver for his mother in law is moving away and now they will need to step up and step in.  

 I would definitely ask him straight out why you are excluded from the small father son gf dinners though. That is all him even if his son asked him not to invite you it is all on him.


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I am not trying to be pushy. I have expressed my concerns to my fiancee but nothing has changed. I discuss this with my brother and he told me to focus more on our relationship and less with them. I think they would like to see their dad; son-in-law, brother-in-law, uncle - happy. 

As I stated previously, the girl he dated seriously before me was someone he knew since childhood and she had a good relationship with them. I think when that relationship ended, they were disappointed. Perhaps they thought she was a better fit for him - I'll never know.

I would like to bring up this topic again, but I don't want to make him uncomfortable. I don't feel I have to be included in 'all' the recreational things he chooses to do with his children and their significant other, but I can't help but think there's something else going on that I have not been made aware of......


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I was very adverse to my brother's (now ex) wife because I had very good reasons to be. But with my son's spouse? My only concern is if my son is loved and treated well. My son told me he is loved and treated well so I welcomed his spouse with open arms. I consider his spouse to be another one of my children.

Unfortunately you can't really do much if these people don't want to welcome you to their family.

If your relationship with your fiance is good then I agree, focus on that. I do find it concerning that he makes excuses for his family instead of assuring you that he loves you and will advocate on your behalf.

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1 hour ago, Sweet Sue said:

. I agree with you, I honestly don't think it was the place or the time to make this kind of announcement. He let them know about plans to move over a year ago.....

Exactly. It's not you or anything you might have done. It just seems his family and the setting were more of an issue. Hopefully they'll try to be more respect of his choices.

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Is Jean still in touch with her son’s ex?  My ex’s mom contacted me while her son was dating his future wife. I was able to read between the lines that the future wife was not her cup of tea.  I did not correspond with her - I replied politely but without inviting further contact. 

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As far as I know Batya33, there is no contact, but I can't say for certain. I recall a conversation we had a year ago when she told me that whoever he chooses to marry, she would welcome his girlfriend and treat her like family. Evidently, he had not told her how about how serious our relationship was at that time. When I told him about our conversation, he told me that he doesn't discuss his personal like with her - or, very little. 

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2 minutes ago, Sweet Sue said:

As far as I know Batya33, there is no contact, but I can't say for certain. I recall a conversation we had a year ago when she told me that whoever he chooses to marry, she would welcome his girlfriend and treat her like family. Evidently, he had not told her how about how serious our relationship was at that time. When I told him about our conversation, he told me that he doesn't discuss his personal like with her - or, very little. 

Except he did with his ex. They knew the ex girlfriend and liked her. 

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Unfortunately,  you can't force people to like you.  I'm sorry your fiance's family or future in-laws continue to give you the cold shoulder.  Btw,  no compliments for your cooking or casserole was unkind.  My mother said silence or silent approval is the sincerest form of flattery.  

As for what to do?  Just be peaceful,  calm,  well mannered and respectful.  Either they'll come around one day or you may opt to be in non-attendance at gatherings of your choice.  You don't have to attend all of them. 

They sound arrogant and aloof.  Some people don't care about you.  They couldn't care less. 

Regarding the dinner with his son and girlfriend,  if they don't want to include you,  it's their choice.  You don't want to be there if you'll feel unwelcome. 

The issue is your your fiance and his enabling his family's cold behavior.  He's the one who should speak up,  have your back and defend you yet he does nothing which grants permission for his family to continue acting frosty towards you.  Also, your fiance should support your inclusion to dinners with his son and his fiancee.  He doesn't mind excluding you.  Perhaps he's adverse to standing up to his family which happens. 

If your fiance refuses to by your staunchest ally,  then you need to determine if this is the type of man you wish to marry.  Nothing will change when you're married to him.  Either make changes now or accept the situations as they are. 

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All you can do is lower your expectations about them. Hope that they respect you and your BFs decisions and are civil and polite to you. They don't view you as family, at least not yet, so instead of trying to impress them and hoping they'll be crazy about you, just step back and communicate with your BF about your future. Let him handle his family.

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Some people are concerned about what they will or grudgingly won't inherit, such as a house, when a parent passes. Perhaps they envisioned this happening, but now he's marrying and moving. Just another possible angle to look at as the cause. 

How far away are you two moving? Maybe in moving, the problem will resolve as most of the time, the gatherings won't be as regular. If it were me, I like to read, listen to audio books and podcasts,  and do crossword puzzles, so if I had to attend a gathering where I'm ignored, I would bring my Bluetooth and books, etc., and entertain myself.

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Cherylyn, I don't want to be included if I am not wanted. It's hard enough to attend the holiday gatherings and be ignored. 

I know he appreciates the warm welcome he receives from my family and can see the difference. 

I am not trying to cause a riff or try to make him pick and I get it if he wants some father and son time every once in a while, but since his son has introduced the new girlfriend, she is a constant presence at family gatherings - so I am told. 


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This is something that might not change.

Gives you something to seriously think about moving forward and if you want to deal with it or not.

He can say this and that about space and that's how they are. 

Still makes even being around them tough to do past 10 minutes. 


You should be able to be comfortable, share meals, trips, etc


If you are truly part of the family......

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I think there are just some families like this. My mother in law got married to a guy whose family is like this and we thought she was okay with it because she said her relationship with her new husband was the best relationship. However, when she got sick with covid and had to stay at the ER and at be bedridden at home, none of his family ever asked how she was doing or checked in on her, even though his adult kids lived in the same house! (Her own kids lived out of town). It did make her really emotional and I believe she blew up on her husband and the adult kids. Not sure if they ever resolved anything from that- probably not. They're kind of a weird bunch.

I honestly think you need to step back and re-assess if you can be okay with this type of dynamic. When you marry someone, you marry in to their family.


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Around two years ago, I was invited to his home where he lived with his two grown children. It was for a cookout and with his children. It would be the first time I would be meeting them. 

When I arrived, my boyfriend told me that his youngest son would not be joining us for dinner, because he had made other plans. His oldest son, came out of his room, greeted me, fixed his plate then headed back to his room where he ate his dinner.

Surprised by this, my boyfriend told me that he was 'giving us our space.'

The next three or four times I was invited to dinner, the very same thing happened. The youngest one never shows up and the oldest son will emerge from his room, greet me, fixes his plated before returning to his room to eat. The excuses my boyfriend uses to explain his behavior, "he has not been feeling well....", "he just went through a break up with the girlfriend....." and once again, "he is given us our space...." 

What can I say?

 A little over a year ago, I met his mother in law. We picked her up at her home and we went to dinner together. I found her to be very gracious and polite. We got along very well and I enjoyed her company. My boyfriend told me later, that she liked me very much.

The first time that I met almost all of his family members was last Easter at his mother in laws home. It did not go as well as I expected. They were not very friendly to me and no one spoke to me except for "Jean" and of course, my boyfriend (we were not engaged at that time). It was an odd experience for me and it has been that way the last several times I have joined them in family gatherings. I don't want to say they were rude, with the exception of one family member who remained seated in his chair, watching television. He made no eye contact with me that entire afternoon. They spoke to one another, but for whatever reason, did not engage with me at all. 

As we prepared to leave, I was quite a bit surprised when the youngest son walked over to me and gave me a hug. I thought that was a sweet gesture. 

I have been told that the boys were very close to their mom and her death hit them very hard. I would describe the relationship with their father (my fiancee) as a casual one, but a bit strained. They don't talk to him much unless it's about finances. For all their personal problems, they seek out their grandmother "Jean". 

I'm almost 68 years old and I have been in many relationships. This is the first relationship where I feel like an outcast. 

I know I can't control their behavior, but I can control mine. I will continue to be kind and polite to them with the hopes that one day, they will accept me and welcome me into their lives. 


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