Future Mother-In-Law Difficulties


#1

Hi everyone!
My boyfriend and I are hoping to get engaged in the very near future. I love every part of my relationship, except I get the impression his mom isn't thrilled with me. We are in our late 20's. If this is the man I am going to marry, I want to be close to his family. Family so important to me. I was blessed with a wonderful family and I want to be close to his family as well. But as of now, I don't feel comfortable with them. Any advice?

A few things:

1) His mother has always been kind to me, but I get the impression she is jealous of the time my boyfriend spends with me. He visits his parents at least twice a week and will talk to his mom everyday. She calls him multiple times a day. I have never asked him to stop any of these things. However, she will make comments to him like "Have fun with your new family" if he does something with my family and me or she'll comment "Do you have to spend time with her everyday?" if he tells her he is coming over by me after work.

2) My family invites him to be a part of everything we do and his mother does not extend the same courtesy to me. His father does but not his mother.

3) I get the feeling his mother is worried she is going to be left alone when her son marries. His other siblings aren't very good to her per se, and i get the feeling she is worried she'll lose him too. I think my relationship makes her feel insecure. I try to combat this by encouraging my boyfriend to spend time with her, etc. However, its difficult for me to get closer to his family when she doesn't invite me along. The other part of it is, that since I'm not that comfortable with her, I don't care that I'm not invited to go by her all the time. (if that makes sense).

4) I think I am pretty good at reading people... so, I think I am right. My boyfriend mentions little things that lead me to believe I"m right. He always assures me his parents really like me. However, little things tell me his mother doesn't. However, I am nearly certain it has little to do with me and almost everything to do with the fact that I'm the girl her son is with.

5) Everytime my boyfriend and I discuss something, if he mentions it to his mother she belittles it.

6) I love my boyfriend! I want to make things work with his mother. They're not terrible at the moment -- they are cordial.

I want to clarify that my boyfriend's parents ARE together happily. What I meant was that if his dad calls him to invite him over for dinner or something he also says to invite me along. If his mom does she doesn't do that.

Also, I have spent an okay amount of time with his parents. Apparently his mom has never said anything bad about me. She just gets annoyed that my boyfriend wants to spend time with me.

I also don't think she likes my involvement with the Church. She is Catholic but more of a cafeteria Catholic. My boyfriend has become much more involved with the Church since we've been dating and has been doing tons of reading on the Catholic church on his own as well. Whenever he share his deeper insights iwth his mother she gets defensive. I've never commented AT ALL on his family's different ways of doing things and I would never call her out on anything. Apparently, my boyfriend brought up the Church's stance on birth control to his mom and she got VERY upset and wanted to know if I had "planted" that idea in his head. My boyfriend is a reader and a critical thinker and he explained things very well. This was toward the beginning of our relationship. She hasn't mentioned anything about me before, but she'll kind of laugh to herself if he mentions we are going to confession or anything like that. She attends mass but like I said, is more of a cafeteria catholic. My boyfriend thankfully has a very strong faith and I am not worried about him becoming a cafeteria catholic.

Anyway, sorry this turned into more indepth than I had intended
I want to do what will make everyone happy.


#2

I could have written your post way back when DH and I were first dating and got engaged.

The best piece of advice I could give you is that if this is truly what is going on, do not expect it to improve, not with getting engaged, not with getting married and not when and if you give them grandchildren. I'm not saying it is a hopeless situation, but your future MIL is the one that needs to work on her insecurities, you can not do the work for her. And if you don't think you can handle that the family dynamics may not be as close as you want, you need to decide now if you can accept the situation for what it is presently, not for what you hope for in the future because that may never materialize. Face the situation for what it is right now, right at this moment. You need to really see that the situation may never meet the ideal you have of one big happy family with the inlaws.

Again, I'm not saying it can not be that way someday. But you have to also recognize that this is as good as it gets and can you live with that?


#3

[quote="Cataline, post:1, topic:204369"]
Any advice?

[/quote]

I agree with Patrice. This is a dealbreaker. End the relationship now.

The only thing I would add to Patrice's advice is that you will probably be tempted to think that these problems aren't all that bad. Don't make that mistake. It's not a matter of thinking about whether you will be able to handle all this sort of thing in the future, but a matter of deciding whether you want this to be the story of the rest of your life. These are the red flags you will be regretting not having heeded if you take this relationship any further.


#4

I have been living your reality for 30 years. Has it caused problems between my husband and I??? Yes, but we love each other more and are each others best friends. One postive thing is that he sees his mother's efforts to cause problems over the years and attempts to deal with it the best he can.

The question is, do you love him enough to put up with the battles???


#5

this isnt about close family, this is about unbalanced relationships.

but your future MIL is the one that needs to work on her insecurities, you can not do the work for her.

not really. her imbalanced relationship with her son works very well for her. why would she change?

i have 5 sons, 4 of them are adult. never in any of their whole adult lives did i speak to any of them every single day. (and we are a close family. close, but very respectful of roles.) not in my wildest, weirdest dreams would i call any of my sons several times a day unless he was in the hospital in zambia or somewhere i couldnt get to.

your mother in law isnt going to change.

your future husband is the one who has the changing to do. as an adult man, there will only be room for ONE woman in his life. he will LEAVE his mother and father and CLEAVE to that woman, his wife.

he needs to start demonstrating some real separation now, or he's NOT doing "relationship" right. allowing his mom to call many times a day-- or even every day-- is unbalanced relationship with her. allowing her this much access to his life: multiple phone calls, sharing your conversations with her, allowing her uchecked passive aggressive remarks to slide etc is unbalanced relationship with you.

if your boyfriend isnt prepared to change his relationship with his mother (in significant aqnd LASTING ways), perhaps you are the one who has some changing to do.

btw: if boyfriend does create balance in his relationships, his mother will hate it. she will likely hate you. that he's in his late 20s is a bad sign. he should be sooooo over this.


#6

[quote="monicatholic, post:5, topic:204369"]
her imbalanced relationship with her son works very well for her. why would she change?

[/quote]

Good call, Moni.


#7

Cataline, have you talked to your boyfriend about any of this? Even if you feel uncomfortable about going into specifics, have you talked to him about how much involvement from his family he would feel would be appropriate if you two get married? How does he feel about how close you are to your family? How does he feel about a wife getting along with the MIL? When it comes to having children, what does he expect are the appropriate roles the grandparents should have in the childrens lives? What about the grandparents influencing the parenting decisions? Will these potentially future grandparents fully support you bringing your children up in the Catholic faith, or will they try to undermine your decisions? You have to ask yourself and your boyfriend these hard questions now, before you get any more serious.

The thing is, in a marriage when you have such a strained relationship with an inlaw, the married couple really has to present a united front. Either spouse has to agree whole heartedly to go to bat for their spouse when their parents may be trying to come between the husband and the wife. Do you think your boyfriend would agree to do that, or is he more of wanting to maintain the peace at any cost? You have to ask yourself the really hard questions about what you expect from a husband and a marriage, especially when you have such unhealthy relationships with even the most immediate of family members.

Its better to find out if you two really are on the same page now, then after you're already engaged and are in the midst of planning the wedding.


#8

[quote="monicatholic, post:5, topic:204369"]
he needs to start demonstrating some real separation now, or he's NOT doing "relationship" right. allowing his mom to call many times a day-- or even every day-- is unbalanced relationship with her. allowing her this much access to his life: multiple phone calls, sharing your conversations with her, allowing her uchecked passive aggressive remarks to slide etc is unbalanced relationship with you.

[/quote]

Yes, this. Listen to what monicatholic is saying here.

It is all on your boyfriend to change his ways and the weirdo relationship he has with his mother.

[quote="monicatholic, post:5, topic:204369"]
if your boyfriend isnt prepared to change his relationship with his mother (in significant aqnd LASTING ways), perhaps you are the one who has some changing to do.

[/quote]

Yep. This is all him. If he isn't willing or able to make a stand, right now, he's not future husband material.

[quote="monicatholic, post:5, topic:204369"]
if boyfriend does create balance in his relationships, his mother will hate it. she will likely hate you.

[/quote]

Yep, probability is HIGH on this one.

[quote="monicatholic, post:5, topic:204369"]
that he's in his late 20s is a bad sign. he should be sooooo over this.

[/quote]

You can say that again.


#9

Thank you, thank you, thank you to each and everyone one of you that responded.

I have been thinking things over myself about whether this is something I can live with. I have brought things up with him before and he has told me that I am #1. I need to be upfront I know with specifics, but I also don't want to hurt him. He and I have discussed when we get married and he said that our decisions will be OURS and his mother won't be a part of it.

I like what you said about imbalanced relationships and that it DOES work to his mother's advantage.

Anybody have ideas on how to deal with this appropriately?

You are right. It is HIS job, not his mother's job to change the dynamic of their relationship. How do I do this?

Can someone help "coach" me with dialog of what to say to him and why? I don't want it to look like an attack on his mom. I've read articles where it says that insecure women try to get their husband away from their parents. I don't want that. But, I want the dynamic of this to change.

What do I say? How do I do this? I think we need to have this talk like yesterday because he is planning on proposing soon.

He is truly a wonderful, respectful, good Catholic man that treats me wonderfully. He loves my family and I get the impression that he would prefer the parenting style of my parents to his own.

Please advise me.


#10

One other thing. He is very respectful of his mother, but he does realize she is overbearing. He has made comments that make it seem like he allows her that much access to his life because he feels she is lonely (even though she has friends and a full social calendar) and he feels sorry for her. She also is very good at guilting him into giving her attention.

Here's an example. My family celebrates Easter with a party every year. His family treats it as any other Sunday. He told his mom he was going to go to my family's Easter party and his mom got all huffy about it and how he has to make his own decisions if that's what he want to do, fine then don't spend Easter with his family (even though in the past they never do anything for it). Then on Easter Sunday, she ended up not doing anything and encouraged him to pick up a shift at work!

Then, she'll do something else like buy me a souvenier when she's on vacation.

I really don't get the impression her behaviors have anything to do with ME... truly it seems more like it has to do with the fact I'm dating her son.


#11

I have read your post and the advice given you and I agree with most of it.

It is not my intentention to be cruel or heartless but, making his mother happy is not the responsibility of you or your fiance. I have the feeling that his mother would be acting in the same way, no matter WHO he was engaged to. This poor women needs counseling and I believe your fiance would benefit from the same. My only advice to you would be for YOU to go to your priest and give him a "heads up". You and your fiance will need to get pre-marital counseling anyway and you need to put all your cards on the table. It sounds to me like you haven't been completely honest with your fiance about your feelings. This must change, as things will only get worse as time goes by. My gut feeling is that you shouldn't marry this man. I will pray for you, and if I were you, I'd ask the Holy Spirit for help. God Bless you, whatever you do.:thumbsup:


#12

Thank you. I should add that his father has cancer... which may contribute to why she is so clingy of her "good" son.

I emailed my boyfriend tonight and told him I have some concerns about our relationship with regard to his family. We are going to talk in person about them tomorrow. He told me he wants to work through things with me and wants me to be worry-free and at peace in our relationship.

I am praying for guidance on what to say to him. Thank you all for your advice. I'd appreciate any more advice you have, especially on what specifically to say to broach the subject.

[quote="patsydtr, post:11, topic:204369"]
I have read your post and the advice given you and I agree with most of it.

It is not my intentention to be cruel or heartless but, making his mother happy is not the responsibility of you or your fiance. I have the feeling that his mother would be acting in the same way, no matter WHO he was engaged to. This poor women needs counseling and I believe your fiance would benefit from the same. My only advice to you would be for YOU to go to your priest and give him a "heads up". You and your fiance will need to get pre-marital counseling anyway and you need to put all your cards on the table. It sounds to me like you haven't been completely honest with your fiance about your feelings. This must change, as things will only get worse as time goes by. My gut feeling is that you shouldn't marry this man. I will pray for you, and if I were you, I'd ask the Holy Spirit for help. God Bless you, whatever you do.:thumbsup:

[/quote]


#13

I hate to say this but somewhere in the engagement process you need to find a way to tactfully say - this is my dance space- this is your dance space. No spaghetti arms!! :D It eventually worked for my MIL and with my dh also setting the boundaries that with any disagreement I came first. It sounds like you have a good one - they are few are and far between - like him for him. Maybe when she sees how good relationship is it may deepen her own faith.


#14

My advice to you would be to let your boyfriend do what he needs to do with his family, but when you're around them, I"d just keep it cordial. Don't try to be good friends with his mom-- it will only case you heartbreak later on. She would clearly be jealous of any woman he brought home. Also, you being devoutly Catholic while she is not seems like a recipe for disaster. As long as you keep it cordial, you will be putting up a wall of protection around yourself and your future marriage. Any conflicts come up? Don't say a word, and let your husband handle it. Take it from someone who has been in this situation...


#15

I could have also written your post years ago when DH and I were engaged. I personally don't believe that you marry the family, you marry the man!!! When you marry the son leaves his family and cleaves to his wife. Also you and he will become ONE with GOD (not with MIL).

My MIL tried to talk my DH out of marrying me the night before our wedding. It wasn't me; it was her feeling as if she was losing control of her son.

We still have some issues. For the most part DH handles them and does a great job of it. There have been a couple times I have SNAPPED, when that happens she won't talk to me for a few weeks, then slowly things get back to normal.

I will tell you one thing DH and I agreed on BEFORE we married, I even made him agree to it in front of our priest. We would NEVER involve family in decisions, arguments, disagreements, etc. Prior to our marriage I had heard about every difficult time of BIL and his now ex wife's marriage. I was NOT going to let that happen in our marriage. It frustrates MIL to no end, although DH and I have held to that!!!

Other funny thing, prior to our marriage, then my DH's SIL was the GOLDEN DIL, they talked every day, it was made out to be such a great relationship. Sadly (IMO) BIL and SIL divorced and SIL then became this crazy horrible person. I looked at DH and told him, this is why we keep our marriage between us, not family!!!


#16

[quote="Cataline, post:10, topic:204369"]
One other thing. He is very respectful of his mother, but he does realize she is overbearing. He has made comments that make it seem like he allows her that much access to his life because he feels she is lonely (even though she has friends and a full social calendar) and he feels sorry for her. She also is very good at guilting him into giving her attention.

Here's an example. My family celebrates Easter with a party every year. His family treats it as any other Sunday. He told his mom he was going to go to my family's Easter party and his mom got all huffy about it and how he has to make his own decisions if that's what he want to do, fine then don't spend Easter with his family (even though in the past they never do anything for it). Then on Easter Sunday, she ended up not doing anything and encouraged him to pick up a shift at work!

Then, she'll do something else like buy me a souvenier when she's on vacation.

I really don't get the impression her behaviors have anything to do with ME... truly it seems more like it has to do with the fact I'm dating her son.

[/quote]

I don't think any of this is a dealbreaker but yes, could be a real problem.

I am engaged right now and I had a lot of the same fears you had about the future MIL. Let me say, in my case, most of my fears dissipated. Things so far are going really well and his mom is super respectful. But she does call my fiance a lot.

However... it sounds like your fiance is similar to mine. He sees the issue and is already assuring you that you are #1. My fiance spent a lot of time assuring me the same, and it IS playing out that way. Trust your boyfriend in this process (if you can't trust him, then that's an entirely different red flag that is worse than the current red flag).

It also sounds like you are very thoughtful and already doing many things right... this is important not just for the sake of virtue but helps build confidence in your boyfriend that you are not the problem.

I would keep being cordial and keep talking w/ your boyfriend in a healthy positive way about the issue. Discuss where you'll live after marriage (far away may be good!). Really listen to what's going on in your bf's head and affirm him while sharing your own concerns. It's key that you two continue to build confidence, trust, and intimacy as well as practice making each other a priority.

If I were you, I wouldn't do much directly to try to fix it w/ the mom. As others have pointed out... that's not your issue to fix.


#17

[quote="1ke, post:8, topic:204369"]
Yes, this. Listen to what monicatholic is saying here.

It is all on your boyfriend to change his ways and the weirdo relationship he has with his mother.

Yep. This is all him. If he isn't willing or able to make a stand, right now, he's not future husband material.

Yep, probability is HIGH on this one.

You can say that again.

[/quote]

Just wanted to pipe in here that while I agree the relationship is unbalanced, I wouldn't necessarily say they have a "wierdo" relationship. Some families are very close-knit and talk a lot on the phone. And some moms annoy their sons by calling them a lot but the phone calls are pretty benign. I was once engaged to a man who had boundary issues with his mother. Real issues. She didn;t call every day and he often avoided her calls. I mistook his avoiding her calls as having dealt with the issue. Not so... the issues ran deep and ultimately caused us to break the engagement off. Meanwhile my current fiance receives a lot of phone calls from his mom, but their relationship is WAY healthier and altho he may take one too many calls on occasion, he has set emotional and life boundaries very well with her. My bigger concern would be the OP mentioning her guilt-tripping and snarky comments about the OP - not the frequency of phone calls.

My fiance's mom will often call just to touch base... these aren't deep conversations or guilt-trips. The content is more important than the frequency.


#18

do not be misled by emotion. yes it is an unbalanced weird relationship for any adult child to be talking to their parent multiple times a day on the phone (internet, texting, etc) as the "norm". If I had had this advice 13 yrs ago I would not have gotten married. And I was in my 30's and so was he. It is STILL a problem and has caused me no end of suffering thru the years. Thank the Lord we never had kids together or I would have had to leave them all. I have had to give up my entire personality and every thing I loved and my dreams of a happy marriage because of this. I can't trust him and I absolutely can't trust the inlaws. And there is no therapy on the horizon either, it won't happen. If you can't live with it the way it is now and how it will be worse when you have children then get out now.
Sorry, but listen to the ones who have lived it.

Ravyn


#19

I don't know about a lot of these answers...my MIL didn't care for me that much in the beginning. I tried to show her that I was an important part of the family and that effort just fell flat. What happened was that I began to see her as Christ sees her - a real person who whas insecurity issues for good reasons. It helped me learn to love her and therefore, I began treating her as though I loved her. The more I loved her, the more she responded to me warmly. When she realized that I was never going away and was going to make her son happy as well as show her respect and love, she opened up completely and now is a wonderful part of my life. I couldn't ask for a better grandmother for my children. I trust her completely and she has been a lovely MIL after I changed MY ways and perspectives.


#20

It might be helpful for you to show your boyfriend all the advice you've been getting here - it is very good advice for you both. I think it might be an eye opener for him. Just print it all out and let him read it in his leisure. Ask him to tell you what he thinks about it. That will help you to see if you are both on the same page.

One other piece of advice - put it to prayer, and ask God if he wants you to marry this man. You may have a role to play here in bringing this woman to salvation. I know, the "white Knight" complex is not so healthy. But I do truly believe that marriage isn't just about living happily ever after. The primary purpose of marriage is to help each other (and your children)get to heaven. Sometimes that could include some extended family.

In-Law's are indeed a great stressor on a relationship and not to be taken lightly. But maybe God knows if you have it in you to endure it in a loving, Christian capacity. Don't get too close, just set a good examply and be polite and always willing to serve and assist. But the main question really does involve your boyfriend - is he willing to back you up, and cut off the relationship with his mother if it becomes unhealthy for your marriage or your children. And think carefully about children. How will this affect them?


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