Dear Carolyn: We have two sons. We have an excellent relationship with our older son and his wife, but our younger son’s wife refuses to communicate with me. The first few years I chalked it up to her very shy, private personality. The pandemic seems to have exaggerated her silence.

They live 2,800 miles away. Our son calls by FaceTime so we can see their two adorable sons, but usually she doesn't appear at all or says, “Hello,” and then disappears. When I call or text she either doesn't reply or replies that she will have her husband reply, so if I make contact with her, then I am putting pressure on my son.

Our son says all his friends are saying the same — she doesn't respond to them either. Recently my son urged her to get some counseling and she agreed.

How do I keep an encouraging relationship with my son and eventually build a connection with his wife?

— Anonymous

Anonymous: My main thought is that you go back to your first paragraph and first few years, and chalk it up anew to her “very shy, private personality.”

Why did you decide to abandon such a logical (and forgiving) conclusion?

In your description, I see someone who avoids FaceTime, delegates calls and texts to your son, behaves the same way with his friends as she does with you, doesn’t stand in the way of your son’s FaceTime calls between you and the kids, and didn’t fight him on the idea of counseling. For someone wondering, “Is it me?” that’s about as good an outcome as I’ve ever seen:

· All indications point to its being about her, not you.

· She and your son are communicating with each other about this.

· He is in touch and confiding in you.

· She is open to the idea that her reticence has slipped out of the range of normal.

This is hard news, but good news. It’s a relief to see a silence that appears not to have a sinister edge. It’s not about you! Yay!

Isn’t that always good news?

So accept it as such. Remain in touch with your son for your own reasons, staying close and attentive but out of his marital business unless he explicitly asks what you think. Even then, tread gently, be generous and forgive liberally, speaking toward their best interests vs. from your own pain or confusion.

And remain in touch with your daughter-in-law, too — but on her terms from now on, or your best guess thereof. FaceTime is a no, calls and texts are a no, but you can send her … a card or chatty letter (no veiled comments, expectations or pressures), a book she might like, an article that made you think of her, with discreet mention of your not needing reciprocation. She is who she is.

And they are who they are: a couple who need their people to root for them, embrace them without conditions, respect them and, until further notice, trust them to figure out whatever needs figuring out. That’s pretty much a how-to for an in-law who’s easy to love.