Wife and mother-in-law


Eh…I’m sorry but I think the other advice you are getting is just wrong. They want to to play a game and play your cards right. Basically, be a doormat and weasel your way into their affections. Don’t rock the boat, and don’t expect your wife to choose you over them.


At your marriage SACRAMENT, your wife did choose you over all others.
Unfortunatly, from your own descriptions it looks like she unhealthly dependant on her mother’s apron strings and her mother is using that to manipulate both of you.

Go to a counselor, you have a right to have issues with this and want to work it out.

All the time I see young couples ask for advice on this board and the resounding suggestions are always; if you aren’t mentally and financially capable of leaving your parents and the mommy/daddy-baby role, then you aren’t mature enough to get married and have kids of your own. Usually this advice is mostly about financial reasons but it also involves the emotional maturity.

I’m not going to discount your worries out of hand because of any of my own personal issues and I’m not going to refuse to use the dreaded ‘labels’ to describe what your descriptions look like.

Both you and your wife need to be on the same page and if you can’t honestly and forthrightly talk to her about it then honey, this isn’t a healthy marriage. If she isn’t concerned about your exclusion from the family on *her own, *because she loves you and is concerned for the marriages well-being…well that’s a problem.

Just because she grew up pacifying mommy and/or daddy does not mean that you are to be forced to endure playing games or dysfunctional relations with the family.

Think about the future, what if she became pregnant right now? Your wife is already running to mama every chance she gets, a new mother-to-be is already scared and unexperianced…she’ll more than likely be more entrenched in letting her mommy take care of her instead of standing on her own two adult feet (as people who are ready for marriage better darn well be prepared for before they are ready for marriage) and work on her own new family which right now is YOU.

Don’t ‘play the game’, don’t try to weasel more affection from your wife than she gives them. Don’t don’t don’t. Ugh.

Go to a counselor, go to your priest and have your wife go to. All marriages, even healthy ones need accessability in good counseling and communication. This is a definite candidate for that.

And yes, mommie’s can be way too needy of thier adult children and put the burden on them to continue the role of emotional boyfriend or girlfriend. It cripples them.

Her parents, ALL parent’s are supposed to raise their kid’s to stand on their own two feet and have healthy adult relationships. If they didn’t, they don’t have the right to try to continue that sort of cr*p and whine and moan because other people (future and new spouses) won’t buy into that.

Don’t be convinced by all the excuses in the world as to why you should just accept this.

I go to a mother-in-laws support forum for all the daughter-in-laws that have to endure years upon years of ‘playing the game’ in order to be accepted and STILL their husbands choose their mommies over their wives, even at the expense of their own children. For me, if the roles are switched, it’s still just as unfair and cruel to the spouse.

Go to counseling. Your wife seems like she’s still in the ‘baby’ mode with her mom and if she wanted to stay in that role she should have never gotten married in the first place. I’m not trying to attack your marriage, I’m just trying to show that this just isn’t acceptable to endure. Your wife’s relationship with her mom isn’t going to change if your the ‘nicer’ guy, you’ll just get run over. It will only change if your wife is willing to go to counseling with you and open her eyes to her own enabling.

This advice of course is NOT talking about healthy female bonds of mother/daughter/sister/aunt/cousen.

Mother’s can be greatly bonded to their adult children, but when it impinges on the adult daughter ability to function as a normal adult spouse, then it’s just not righ.




I know you’ve gotten a lot of opinions here…all sort of based on the poster’s personal experiences. However, I don’t think it would hurt to talk to your wife about it a little. Don’t disrespect her mother or nag or speak angrily about the situation. Just let her know that you are not very trusting of MIL due to past experience, and you’re a little worried about her speaking and visiting with her mother so much. Ask her if everything is okay with her mother. Let her know that you’re there for her, etc. From your posts, it doesn’t sound like your so much “resentful” as you are “cautious” about getting too close with MIL. I don’t think it’s abnormal at all to feel a little protective of your wife under the circumstances.



We all give advice based on our experience. And it’s a very different emotional situation of a daughter and her mother than a son who runs to his mother over his wife. Totally different dynamic at work there. And most in-law problems I see are mothers who won’t let go of their sons. I have a friend whose mother used to pick her husband’s girlfriends up from the airport. But I digress. This is NOT about whether someone was mature enough to handle a marriage yet. This is about adjusting to married life as a newlywed over a few months and changing roles that one has learned over a lifetime. It’s like a car. The way you drive it the first 500 miles will affect how it runs for the life of the car.

It’s not about playing games or being a doormat. It’s about recognizing that if he wanted someone who was more emotionally detached from her family he should have married someone who had been away from home as long as he was. But the same personality traits that make her a loyal and close daughter are also the ones, I would bet my bottom dollar, that attracted him to her as a wife. She is probably very traditional, very loyal and very trustworthy and loving, and bonds deeply with the people around her.

So he can’t pick and choose what benefits him and tell her to cut the rest out of her life because he doesn’t like it. She is a whole human being and it’s not time for her to start cutting off parts that don’t fit in his box. That is what abusers do.

There is no cut-off date to maturity. It’s an evolving process. She isn’t mature the day she turns 23 and able to kick her family to the curb. They BOTH will be very different people when they are 30, 40and so on.

The OP was given advice. How he treats his wife through this test is going to determine a lot of things for years to come. I gave my advice based on what would or wouldn’t have worked with me.

We are also only hearing one side of the story. I can imagine what my xh would have written if he were posting here and how he would have made it sound. And he would have ignored my advice and found someone like MCGar and printed that advice out and waved it under my nose as proof he was right and that I needed to grow up and separate from my family though I moved to other continents with him instead of staying with them. (Full disclosure: For all his ranting, after he abandoned me and my three children, his sick old mommy moved down and has taken care of him for the last 10 years and he is abusive to her too, but she takes it because she has nowhere else to go. I don’t live with my parents. HE really was the enmeshed one.)

He would and did drag me to priests, psychiatrists and counselors to find someone who would agree that I was the problem. But they didn’t. So he’d find someone who would tell him what he wanted to hear. But it didn’t save his marriage, because the issue wasn’t my family. Or my relationship with them. To this day he tells the world my mother broke up our marriage. But she didn’t. She wasn’t the one who left me alone, cheated and abandoned me and stole money and battered me.

But he would have printed out MCGar’s advice as gospel. And it would have made him feel good. But it wouldn’t have fixed anything. Because he only saw me as property and I was a possession, not a human being with feelings. And he ended up not allowing my family into my home, or letting them come to our last child’s baptism. He didn’t go to my siblings’ weddings. And if I wanted to talk to them on the phone I had to sneak downstairs and hope he didn’t pick up the extension. And when I called my mom on Thanksgiving 10 years ago for a recipe, he beat me up for the fact he figured I’d prefer to be there than with him. Go figure!

He wasn’t scared of using labels to describe people. He used all kinds of them to describe my family and me. So that’s where I’m coming from. Because if you declare this a war and demand that this is a sacrament and she better choose you, by God, then you aren’t viewing her as a wife. You are viewing her as property. And maybe YOU aren’t ready for a sacrament.




My advice was geared to letting him see how to nudge mom out of the way and become the person she could depend on. By being loving and trustful. A lesson my ex never learned. I would have preferred to have him take care of me, but guess what? He left and my family stepped in to clean up the mess. There is a mature way to handle this without shredding the wife, insulting her dignity, insulting her loyalty to her parents. (That is really pounded into our heads all our lives as good Catholic children… Honor your father and your mother. All our lives. Don’t expect her to break that habit just because she walked down an aisle. One person’s honoring is another person’s disfunction and it can be culturally or ethnically based also.)

Language like “mommy/daddy/baby role” is not helpful here. It’s insulting and doesn’t give the woman credit for much. No one said to weasel more affection! That makes marriage a game. Be loving so that she doesn’t wake up and look at you and wonder what kind of mistake she made. Been there, done that.

Calling MIL names and being harsh with the wife will permanently damage her opinion of you. When I had my first child, I needed his help. He didn’t. When it was delivery time, my mother flew halfway around the world to be there and to help and he sat around with his feet up. And he picked fights with her and added to my stress. All I saw was him criticizing the one person who was doing any work to help me. That was just the beginning of a pattern.

The fact daughter left home and married is an indication they did something right. She’s not 40, living in their basement. But it’s an incomplete process. Again, OP has been gone from home for years. He’s far down the field from her. He cannot expect her to run catch up in a few months and do the emotional work it took him years to accomplish. If he doesn’t have the patience for that, he doesn’t have the patience for children either.

I believe the wife’s relationship with her mother will change. She will mature. Now it can change as she grows closer to her husband, or it can change as she goes through a harrowing divorce that makes her question her trust of everyone in her life. The choice is up to the OP.

He never said it impinged on her ability to function as a spouse. He just said he was resentful about her calling her mom and going to her family’s to socialize. We all suggested he not leave her lonely and isolated so that is what she did to fill the void. He hasn’t told us what she feels about this. Maybe he needs to find out. I bet her mother knows how she feels. He needs to be at least as interested in his wife as her mother is. Or mom will stay her best friend.

If you’re a nicer guy, I don’t believe you will get run over. But if you are a caveman and start ranting and becoming angry, that will not work. My advice is as someone who was the rope in the middle.
My xh wasn’t treated badly. He just FELT he was treated badly. He projected a lot of his feelings onto other people. Then again when we had our first child he was angry I paid so much attention to it also. He yelled at me for looking at the baby and smiling at it while he was talking to me. :frowning:

I just want to be sure that isn’t the OP’s issue. That he isn’t being “one of those” kinds of men. So there’s my advice and why I gave it. Take it or leave it. But dragging her all over to counselors to “fix her” when she thinks she is being a good daughter is not helpful. It’s not a game. It’s a marriage. Treat it like a game, and even if you win, you might lose. Divorce is really REALLY heartbreaking.

This is not a battle of the advice columnists. OP has been given to polar opposite viewpoints on the subject. One is about laying down the law, and the other is about people’s feelings and how to guide a situation smartly to a better outcome. He’s the one with more experience in the world. He’s the man. He can shoulder some of the emotional burden for a while if he cares. Or he can refuse to and rage and rant and throw a tantrum about being Number one. And as another poster pointed out, at some point she may look at them both and not want either of them in her life.

So it’s the OP’s choice. I just pointed out what DID NOT work in a very similar circumstance.


closed #26

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