I have one son who is the love of my life. I have poured my heart and soul into his upbringing and have sacrificed many personal items along the way. He is married now and his wife does not like me so she limits our visits. She gets angry with me when I give them suggestions or return a gift that she has given me. My husband suggested that I mention to you that my suggestions are about things that I am an expert at. For example, I will tell them the place they chose to stay on vacation is not good and recommend a better place to stay, or I will suggest she add something like lemon zest to her lemon cake because it adds texture, and I have been baking lemon cake since before she was born. How might I help her understand that I am simply trying to make their lives better?
You sound like a caring mother who values her relationship with her son and his wife. It is always a challenge as a parent to strike a balance between intervening and giving advice and holding back and letting your adult children learn and experience for themselves. It sounds to me like your son’s wife is struggling with your input, and it’s affecting your relationship. While I believe that you mean well, it is never worth harming a relationship over advice on what should go into a lemon cake or where a person should stay on vacation. So when it comes to your motherly suggestions, I would advise you to see if keeping those to yourself improves your relationship with them.
You don’t elaborate about returning the gifts that she has given you, but if she is aware of you returning things she’s chosen, it is probably hurting her feelings and contributing to the distance. I would recommend that you find a way to appreciate whatever it is that she gives you, whether you like it or not.
Lastly, should you confirm that you have hurt either of their feelings (intentional or not), apologize so that you, your son and his wife can have a happier relationship.