Dear Carolyn: Both of our sons came home for Thanksgiving with their families. We put up our older son and his family in a hotel and had our younger son, his new (second) wife and their 5-month-old baby stay in our basement guest room.
How I wish I had switched! On Friday morning, the new wife said she had bug bites. I said that twice in the past I had bites also, and thought they were from bed bugs. We had done some Internet searching and discovered bed bugs are not medically dangerous. That evening, they moved into the hotel. Our son said his wife was adamant that they get out of our home as soon as possible. She has the reputation of being a “strong” woman, and she earns a very high income, so she is able always to get her way.
My husband and I felt embarrassed, but we are aware that a first-time, 45-year-old mother probably had mother-bear hormones at play, and we don’t blame our son too much for giving in to her demands.
I think she overreacted. – Anonymous
Expect more trouble, but not just because of your daughter-in-law.
Your contempt for her is breathtaking. Look at your modifiers: “new (second)” wife, “absolutely” adamant, “very” high income, “always” gets her way, “first-time, 45-year-old” mother.
Maybe you preferred Wife 1, or someone 29 and “traditional.” But, oh well! You got a bride with money, mileage and professional chops. Unless she’s oblivious, your contempt registered – and no doubt escalated the bug drama. Either find a way to like her, find a way to respect her, or get used to serious tension.
And, while you’re at it, summon a little respect for the position you put this family in. Bed bugs may not be “medically dangerous,” but they’re a nuisance.
Call your son; admit you were cavalier about the possible infestation; apologize for exposing them to a headache they don’t need, especially not with a baby; offer to pay for any treatment their home may need; and get your home inspected by a reputable specialist. You can’t expect his wife to drop her dukes until you drop your own.
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