Disagreement between husband and mother


Over Christmas, my parents came out to visit my husband and I (they live half-way across the country), and my husband said something that offended my mother. We were playing a silly card game and my husband likes to use “humor” at other people’s expense. During the game, he said to my mother “lame answer from a lame person”. I knew at the time that she wouldn’t appreciate that. My mother is very sensitive and she always taught me never to make jokes at anyone else’s expense. She didn’t say anything at the time, and trying not to ignite anything, I also never said anything.

Well, yesterday, I was on the phone with my mother and was talking about how my husband was having a hard time with someone at work. She was very unsympathetic, which bothered me a lot. Then, a few minutes later, she started going off about how my husband had really hurt her feelings and he was very disrespectful, etc. etc. I didn’t know how to react. I knew what she meant and I wouldn’t have appreciated it either, but that’s a long time to be holding on to something like that. She apparently had been thinking about it a lot and it had grown into some kind of grudge against him. I tried to explain to her that he was just trying to be funny and he didn’t really mean it. I think I made her feel better, but not entirely.

My husband was out at the time, and when he got home, I told him about what happened. I prayed about it before hand and made a real effort to tell him in the kindest way possible. I explained that I understood that to him it was just a joke, and that he jokes that way with his family, but that in my family that just isn’t something that you do. I told him that I explained to my mother that he didn’t mean it, etc… He just got really mad at her and said that the whole thing was ridiculous. I then told him that while I didn’t agree with my mother holding onto it for this long and making such a deal out of it, that I did understand that it wasn’t exactly a kind thing to say and that it made her feel embarrassed in front of the other people who were playing the game with us (my brother-in-law, my husband’s cousin, and another friend). He was completely unsympathetic and got really mad at me for “encouraging her” by taking what she said seriously. I should add that my mom has somewhat of a history of being offended very easily – she’s extremely sensitive – but never before about anything my husband has said.

My husband’s reaction really upset me. I told him that I just didn’t want there to be any problems between him and my family. I didn’t tell him he had to, but I asked him if he’d please call my mom and just say that he meant it as a joke and he was sorry that she didn’t think it was funny. He absolutely refused to do that, which puts me in a very awkward situation trying to defend my mother to him and him to my mother, where they both end up putting some of the blame on me.

I’m really sick over this whole thing. I’m upset that a silly unthoughtful comment could cause so much trouble and that my husband won’t make the effort to address it in order to ease the tension with my family. I don’t know what to do now, and I’m just feeling really sad…

Any advice?


Your Mom is way too old to be so sensitive…Your husband, does not owe her an apology. She need to grow up and get a life …your husband, on the other hand, needs to appreciate the fact he has an overly sensitive and childish woman for a mother in law, and try to make amends without having to bow down to her childishness.

Good Luck! If your Mom’s not got over the small stuff by now, she probably won’t listen anyway.


Your husband put himself in a precarious position. Whatever you do, don’t apologize for him. He’s a big boy. HIS mouth got him where he is.
And perhaps if he were a bit more sensitive, he would realize how your mom feels.
My son has an “offbeat” sense of humor, so I sort of know how you feel. I once told him that he can talk to his friends how he wants. But when it comes to mom, he better be sure it’s always with respect.



While I think your mom is a tad touchy to keep this going to the end of January from Christmas, I think if I was playing cards with somebody old enough to be my son, and he told me, “A lame answer from a lame person,” I might think this person did not at least respect me.

I don’t know. I wasn’t there. I have no idea if he said it in a mocking tone, a playful tone, a nasty tone, etc. This is black on white.

His attitude, on the other hand, well, just plain stinks. And no, you are not “encouraging her”.

But they are both a couple of stubborn cusses who’ve put you in the middle. And that’s what we need to do, extracate you from the middle.

If he is out of self-defense mode, don’t mention it again to him. If he is still defensive, simply remind him that not everybody appreciates what he considers humor.

If your mother brings it up again, tell her you’re sorry, but this is a petty thing, and she should address it to your husband.


You can’t expect your husband to apologise, but I don’t see any harm in you having asked him to do so. You could have said that you don’t expect him to apologise, although you would like it if he would. Don’t let them put you in the middle of this though. Your mom should address the issue with your husband, not with you. That almost always puts family in their place when you tell them to work out thier problems with each other! Give it some time, and things will settle down. Don’t fret yourself about it, that does no good. Just keep it in the back of your mind that before her next visit, tell your husband you need him to be kind to your mom so that she doesn’t cause you any trouble. That’s asking him to be considerate of you more than of your mom, and he may be more willing under those sentiments!


excellent answer!! and the most important thing that both of them need to do is not put you in the middle in this way…
they need to be more sensitive to your feelings too!!!
sorry if i came across a tad selfish but thats just the way i feel… :slight_smile:


Your mom is mad at herself for not correcting him on the spot. She’s also right about not making jokes at someone elses expense.

If your husband really was making an innocent (but completely stupid) joke, he would apologize immediately without being forced into it.


How long have the two of you been married?
If it’s longer than a few years, I’d say both of them should know better.

How frequently are your parents & husband together in the same room with each other?
If it’s only once or twice a year, this is to be expected—you live with your husband 24/7; his sense of humor has become familiar to you & you think nothing of it.

I could totally hear my husband saying something similar, and having my mom be completely perplexed by it. Probably not offended, but just blindsided & confused.

Because I know my husband respects my parents, but has a much different sense of humor than my mom, I am frequently in the role of “sensitivity gauge.” If he had said that to my mom & I could tell that she didn’t get it, I would have laughed uproariously to show that I got it, it was a joke, and funny. (Because it is so *obviously *untrue, that’s what makes it funny–she’s obviously NOT a lame person, get it?:smiley: )

Maybe you need to walk your mom through the mechanics of the joke?

I will always honor my parents. But I am my husband’s wife by choice and vow.


I disagree and I hardly consider myself sensitive. I would die if my husband said that to my mom, and I certainly can’t imagine him doing it. My husband’s family is different and are more laid back I don’t think such a comment wouldn’t really phase them but I can’t see myself saying it anyway.
I don’t think it has anything to do with being childish. In my family people that are your elders, even if you’re 50 and they’re 70, command respect. For example I have an childhood friend that has taken to calling my parents by their first names. It grates on their nerves and they find it tremedously disrespectful.
When a couple marries they have to take into account the differences between the two families and respect that. For the sake of family unity I think he should apologize or at very least make note not to make such comments in the future.


Thanks for all of the feedback so far. It is very helpful to hear the opinions of people who are not wrapped up in the situation.

In case it helps, my husband and I are both 26. We’ve been married 3 years. We don’t have any kids yet (hoping and praying they’ll come soon). We only see my parents about twice a year, and usually for about a week each visit.

I think my husband will think twice before saying anything the next time my mom is around, but he’s not happy that he can’t “just be normal”. I think a quick phone call or even e-mail from him would clear everything up, but he won’t. My mom e-mailed me today and didn’t mention it, but she tends to sit on things for a long time and then bring them up again later, and since there wasn’t a real conclusion, I’m concerned that it isn’t over yet. I really want a conclusion so that my mom doesn’t take the next thoughtless thing my husband says even worse. God willing, we have many more years together and with my mom, and I want so much for the times that we get to see my parents to be pleasant and comfortable.


Not being your “normal” self at all times is life lesson that is better off learned early. We all need to conduct ourselves according to the situation. Your hubby is pouting and that’s ok :slight_smile: , but in the scheme of life this is a small sacrifice that will make life more peaceable for you all.


I think this is an extremely serious issue and not just about a misunderstanding between your husband and mother. Here is why…if this were a simple misunderstanding and your husband said something innocently, I agree with the another poster that he would be more eager to “clear things up”, especially with his wife’s mother. I know you said that your mother was sensitive…but in all fairness calling someone “lame” would not be acceptable by a lot of people (if you took a poll that is…just my opinion).

The fact that he has dug in his heels and refuses to call her is (in my opinion) a possible sign of a more serious issue in your marriage. It is not necessary for him to grovel to her, but a simple I didn’t mean it and I feel bad you were hurt sounds like it would do wonders. What is keeping him from taking such a simple step to make your family life better? Why is he unwilling to reach out an olive branch to his wifes mother?

You mentioned that he is upset that he just “can’t be normal.” But what does that mean?

All of us need to control our tounges. We all need to watch what we say around our superiors, bosses, small children, and people who may be sensitive to certain things. This is a part of life and a way that we show respect for one another. You would not say the same joke to an elderly woman that you might to a college buddy. I believe this is basic manners and a way that we show respect.

I am sure your husband is a wonderful kind man with many wonderful qualities…or you would not have married him! I urge you to please talk about this and clear this up, perhaps you could pray about it together. This just strikes me as something that will keep rearing its ugly head in your marriage and this is not what you need in a healthy Christian household. Hang in there, hope this helps.


I definitely agree that your husband needs to apologize to your mother. He knows she is upset and whether he intended to or not, he caused her to be upset. A caring person apologizes and feels genuine remorse for having (inadvertently or otherwise) hurt someone. Besides which, we are talking about his mother-in-law–someone who he shouldn’t annoy. Like a wife, a mother-in-law is “until death do we part”.

Joking is a very dangerous business because how it is intended is not always how it is perceived. If he is going to joke around, he needs to be sensitive to his audience. Not everybody has the same sense of humor. After his apology, he needs to take this into consideration in his future joking in front of your mother.

If he was insensitive to your mother, is he insensitive to other people in his joking and flippancy? He’s not a teenager anymore and needs to mature in his interpersonal dealings. Ticking off key people in life and not apologizing immediately are not hallmarks of good mature interpersonal skills.


Your husband’s comment is an example of verbal abuse.

Verbal abuse should be dealt with strongly and firmly. Your mother knows what it is, and she now knows you are subjected to it routinely, and so will be her grandchildren, and so will many generations - so many people! . The effects will ripple out, so far.

But you want your husband to cooperate and be gracious with being corrected, and that is too much to expect, so, no wonder you are stressed out.

What he did is called verbal abuse. You can learn how to identify it and how to respond to it. There are lots of books on the subject. Its abusing, with words. Its wrong. And it unchecked, it gets worse.

You should be standing up to it. You can love your husband, but hate his sins. You need to be harsh and strong in the face of sin, while gentle as a dove in loving your husband.


Its not small stuff. She’s the most grown-up one in this situation. And calling her “overly sensitive” is what verbal abusors say - or those who have become accustiomed to accepting and cooperating with verbal abuse…


Eliza, you are saying this without** any** of the context, tone, facial expressions…just the quote? (“A lame answer from a lame person”) :confused:

Holy cow! To me, that’s like seeing an ant in the kitchen and tearing the floor up for termites!:smiley:


Regina, I agree with your post. Even if I didn’t mean to let a door close on the person behind me, it did, and I can still say, “Excuse me.”


How sad.

“Blindsided and confused” is the natural reaction to verbal abuse. This reaction is in fact what the perpetrator is fishing for.

You mean, “Sensitivity Correction Officer”.


sotolov, there is not need to do mental and verbal gymnastics to justify his words. Just call it for what it is. It is that simple.

I don’t think she’ll have any luck with such an attempt to manipulate her mother’s natural reaction to verbal abuse. Her mother is fortuantely not immersed in the confusing environs of verbal abuse, and is able to think and process clearly.

You see, it’s not a joke. Its only a joke if he says so about himself. But you can be sure he doesn’t ever make jokes where he is the butt!

This kind of joke is verbal abuse in every book on the subject. And he is most likely extending the way he talks to his wife onto his wife’s mother. His wife has to stomach it, so she should too. And the kids who come along will be the next victims.

Yet, that should not discount their wisdom.

The truth sets you free.


No, not really. As you see above, I had more to say on the topic. With all respect, I see both you and sotolov as being cooperators and supporters of verbal abuse. With only the best of intentions, I am sure! But while good intentions are something, its the truth that sets you free and I am stating the truth, even though you may not like it.

You have both become insensitive and tolerant and cooperative with something that is wrong. I can only hope your husbands are simply engaging in a little bad behavior - which you should be putting a firm stop to - and not all out given themselves into this sin.

Sometimes love has to be strong.



Thanks, Eliza!
I’ve read threads before where one respondant picks apart another’s earlier post in retaliation for being asked to explain her latest post…but this is the first time it’s happened to me! Always wondered whether I would feel like using my time & typing energy to methodically work through those kinds of posts to defend my post and try not to hijack the thread…guess not. Rats!:stuck_out_tongue:
You have a blessed day.:blessyou: I’ll pray on this a bit more.

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