How do I deal with my boyfriend inappropriately dealing with his mother's passive aggressiveness?


#1

So my boyfriend’s mother (potential in law btw) is extremely passive aggressive to him and is absolutely bordering on emotional abuse at times. She’s particular in her ways and my boyfriend’s method of dealing with it is not something I would do. I get annoyed when I give advice for him to follow through, and he simply says “oh that won’t work, you don’t know what you’re talking about”

Furthermore, he insists on telling me about EVERY single instance he and his mother get in an argument and how she always wins or ignores his methods of dealing with it… its beginning to wear on me. Its honestly driving an emotional wedge between us because I hate the fact he keeps bringing it up and completely ignores my advice AND he keeps getting beaten down by her without properly addressing the problem.

When I told him this he started crying and said that if he can’t get the emotional support from me, where can he get it from? What do i do so I can give him the emotional support he needs but not get so angry at him for constantly bring it up as well as not dealing with the situation correctly?


#2

Your boyfriend can get support in dealing with it from a properly trained therapist, who will open his eyes to how his mother's acts are inappropriate, how his responses are ineffective, and how (if possible) to address it effectively. He needs to address this before you make any commitment to him. It's one thing for you to offer sympathy, quite another for you to get involved in changing a long-standing, unhealthy relationship--and it sounds like he's not ready to hear methodology from you.

I feel his pain--he's really suffering from long-time exposure to this, and is likely quite hurt from it all. Sadly, he likely has also internalized this way of relating to others which could come back to haunt your future relationship. What he has lived, could very well be what he has accepted as normal.

Have you considered the havoc a mother-in-law like that will cause to you when you fail to be perfect, or how her behavior will influence your potential children? Or how further exposure to this could continue to wear on your boyfriend's psyche and the relationship between the two of you? It's taking a toll already. Please encourage him to get some help!

Prayers for you...


#3

I am afraid I have to whole heartedly agree. It also seems to me, from the outside, that he is using emotional blackmail on you when he says if he cant get sympathy from you, who can he get it from. It takes the emphasis off of him & his mother's issue & onto you "not being supportive". The tears are an extra touch to make you back off & he not deal with the painful issue he needs to. One thing I have learned is that you teach people how to treat you by how you allow them to treat you. The only person he can change is himself & how he deals with it. It is hard to recognize that though, because it is his mother. I can relate, my mother has been emotionally stunted at the level of a 15 yr old, very manipulative & passive aggressive. I had to change myself & then how I non-react to provocations. As a result, we dont talk much anymore.But things are more peaceful. Best of luck & I will be praying for you!


#4

how old is this guy? look, your man is demonstrating some significant and alarming unmanly behaviors. in fact, your post made me shudder-- crying over nonsupport?

here's what i told another poster just yesterday. (looks like these pansy boys are all the rage)

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

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 and 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.

now, you will say all the details dont match up. you're right. instead of reporting daily hourly phone calls, you're reporting regular mommy/son spats that require lots of emotion, attention and heck, yes, support from you.

this is nuts. if he's 16 he has an excuse. if he's older, he doesnt. and if you simply learn to play the other side-- the other nasty woman who hurts his head to think about her-- then you dont have any excuses, either. you've been duly warned.

**perhaps you are the one who has some changing to do.*/I

try just walking away from his crying. see what happens. no kidding. tell him, "o get over yourself" and walk away. maybe nobody ever treated him like a man before. maybe that's all he needs. maybe he needs a whole lot more than that and you can't fix him.*


#5

Crying? He has reached chronological adulthood, and he's crying because you're not drinking the tea he's pouring? I don't think this prospective mother-in-law is the only one who has to have things her way, or who is willing to use emotional manipulation to get it.

There is no single correct way to deal with one's relatives. Your way is not the correct way. His way is not the *correct way. His mother's way is not *the correct way. There gets to be a point, though, where someone who keeps doing the same thing and yet expects either a different result or sympathy needs to realize that, as the saying goes, "that dog won't hunt."

You can help another person make their choices by helping them see alternatives or ways of looking at things that they hadn't thought of. You can give encouragement to a person who wants to do something differently, yet doesn't feel capable to make the change. You cannot train an adult who does not want to be trained. Do not allow yourself to get any older before learning this rule.

If you can't live with what he has forged as a relationship with his mother for the rest of your life, fully knowing that it is at least as likely to get worse as to get better, then cut your losses right now. How he deals with her is his decision to make. You cannot make him do it differently.

Some couples can live with "your mother, your way, just leave me out of it entirely." If you can live with that, if only he would agree to handle those things that he wants to handle totally differently than you would without whining to you about his results, then say so. If he wants carte blanche to do things his own way, though, then he is not entitled to emotional support, financial support, or any other kind of support from you. He might get it, if you decide to give him that, but he is not entitled to it.

IMHO, you never just marry the one person. You marry the whole family. I wouldn't marry someone who didn't have a mutual respectful and healthy relationship with his mother. I say that as someone who has had her MIL living in the same house for over ten years. Look for someone who treats his mother as you want your husband to teach your children to treat you. It is well worth the wait. Actually, it is priceless. Resolve to only marry a man whose mother is a gem. You will never regret it.


#6

You cannot train an adult who does not want to be trained. Do not allow yourself to get any older before learning this rule.

yes yes yes.

when the student is ready, the teacher appears.

but if the student **isnt **ready, the teacher is just a babysitter doing saturday detention duty and the student is just a disgruntled, self-involved victim.


#7

[quote="TOB_questions, post:1, topic:204496"]
So my boyfriend's mother (potential in law btw) is extremely passive aggressive to him and is absolutely bordering on emotional abuse at times. She's particular in her ways and my boyfriend's method of dealing with it is not something I would do. I get annoyed when I give advice for him to follow through, and he simply says "oh that won't work, you don't know what you're talking about"

Furthermore, he insists on telling me about EVERY single instance he and his mother get in an argument and how she always wins or ignores his methods of dealing with it... its beginning to wear on me. Its honestly driving an emotional wedge between us because I hate the fact he keeps bringing it up and completely ignores my advice AND he keeps getting beaten down by her without properly addressing the problem.

When I told him this he started crying and said that if he can't get the emotional support from me, where can he get it from? What do i do so I can give him the emotional support he needs but not get so angry at him for constantly bring it up as well as not dealing with the situation correctly?

[/quote]

He needs professional assistance to change his dysfunctional relationship with his mother. He has to WANT to change it. He has to take actions to change it. He has to change his own behavior.

If you do not see him take concrete steps to change things, he is not husband material. If you proceed into a marriage with a man who is cowed by a passive-aggressive mother, you should just copy the above post into a Word document so you can get it out and read it every week. The situation you describe will replay over and over, it will become your one and only episode of "this is your life."


#8

He may be a great guy, but he does not sound like good husband material to me. If you marry him, you will also marry his mother. They both have problems that you did not cause and you cannot fix, they need professional help.


#9

Honestly? Move away. It's worked wonders for my fiance and I's relationship. My parents are on the crazy side, and he couldn't stand the way I dealt with them. It's not much of a problem anymore.

Right now, we both live near his family, which I would say is even crazier, but he deals with them pretty well (years of practice and a certain lack of concern for tact serve him well).


#10

[quote="Catholic1954, post:8, topic:204496"]
He may be a great guy, but he does not sound like good husband material to me. If you marry him, you will also marry his mother. They both have problems that you did not cause and you cannot fix, they need professional help.

[/quote]

I agree. You cannot change her. You cannot change him. But you do not have to join them. That would be a mistake.


#11

I know I am late to the party but as an fyi to all the responders -- you probably did not realize this, but the OP is most likely a gay man trying to enter into a non-sacramental civil marriage with his boyfriend.

I suspect some of you would have answered differently had you known this.

Just read his post history.


#12

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.