Mother-in-Law Dragged for Reaction to Grandchild's Fiancé: 'Means Nothing'

A "toxic" mother-in-law who has been critical of her granddaughter's engagement to a man nearly 10 years older than her has received a storm of backlash on Mumsnet, the U.K.-based internet forum.

In a post shared in the online forum, Mumsnet user Wisteriabloom said her 20-year-old daughter has been with her 28-year-old fiancé for around 18 months, noting they're "very happy and we like him."

But her mother-in-law "really upset" her daughter with several comments she's made to her, such as "You're just a kid, getting engaged means nothing these days! He's just as likely to meet someone else in Manchester," as he'll be going on a week-long course for work soon, "and that will be the end of it!"

A mother and daughter quarrelling.
An older woman seen during an argument younger woman. A mother-in-law who is disapproving of her granddaughter's engagement to a man nearly 10 years older has received backlash on Mumsnet. iStock/Getty Images Plus

In a later post, the user said the aforementioned comment about the man "meeting someone else" was "most hurtful" to her daughter, who "was in tears."

The comment left her feeling that "not only does her nan [grandmother] want him to leave her for someone else," but "she couldn't care less" about how upset the daughter would be in those circumstances, "as if her nan sees her as 'just nothing,'" the user said.

A Pew Research Center analysis of census and survey data from 2010 to 2018 found that on average, women are younger than their husbands or male cohabiting partners in each of the 130 countries and territories analyzed in the study.

A July 2017 study published in the Journal of Population Economics found that men tend to be more satisfied with younger wives and less satisfied with older wives," and "women likewise tend to be more satisfied with younger husbands and less satisfied with older husbands."

The research found that in the first six to 10 years of marriage, both men and women are "most satisfied with younger partners and least satisfied with older partners."

The study suggested that compared to couples who are of a similar age, marital satisfaction for both men and women "declines more rapidly over time" in differently-aged couples.

In a March 2021 article for Psychology Today, Wendy L. Patrick, a career trial attorney and behavioral analyst who is the author of Red Flags and co-author of Reading People, said: "Many age-gap couples vehemently disagree with negative predictions and defy the statistics. Many people know age-mismatched couples who have enjoyed a great marriage for decades.

"But as a practical matter, later in life, the older partner is likely to face health-related challenges before the younger partner—which may be stressful for both."

The user in the latest Mumsnet post said her mother-in-law told the daughter that "it won't last, you're two totally impractical people, I can't imagine you running a home together" and that "he's likely to walk all over her in years to come, as he's a stronger personality," in her view.

The user explained: "He comes over [very] confident, but so is dd [dear daughter] in her quiet way. She's got an 'inner strength,' her own views and won't be bossed around by anyone! He respects that, and is too nice a guy to be dominant, anyway!"

The original poster said "the MIL [mother-in-law] has totally put the dampener on everything...she was out of order, massively!," and asked "should I let MIL know she's upset dd?"

Several users shared support for the user and her daughter, accusing the "toxic" and "rude" grandmother of "bullying" her grandchild.

DenholmElliot1 said: "I'd give her a right mouthful if that was my MIL saying that to my dd," while user3346315 shared: "The older generation can be very rude, opinionated and WRONG."

AtrociousCircumstance noted: "Your MIL sounds like a toxic b******. Utterly aggressive critical bulls***. Someone needs to step in and stop that kind of bullying if your DD doesn't feel able to."

Trulyweird1 said: "I don't agree that she is entitled to voice her opinion by virtue of being a grandmother, unless it is asked for...likewise, IF your MIL asks, then tell her she upset DD, but otherwise, just stay out of it."

Others also said the user should not get involved in the conflict, noting that her daughter is an adult and can defend herself.

Lolliepoppie said: "Your DD is an adult, let her fight her own battles," and Whataretheodds agreed, stating: "If she's mature enough to marry someone she's been with for 18 months, and is as assertive as you say she is, then she can communicate with her grandmother herself."

MissyB1 also said if the daughter is planning to get married, "Well she's old enough to speak up for herself then...?"

User AussieMozzieMagnet said: "As the grandmother, she has the right to state her opinion. As an older woman she most likely sees things younger ones don't. If it didn't hit close to home (which I'm thinking it did and that's why you're upset), just tell your daughter to brush it off."

CapitanSandy agreed, saying: "I wouldn't get involved."

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