If you have questions I have answers. When you respond differently, things change in your relationships and life.
Dear Mary Jo,
Do you have any advice on meddling mothers-in-law? My husband constantly backs up her controlling ways, because she constantly manipulates us to get her way.
Mother-in-law issues are a common problem for daughters in marriage. Your mother-in-law has too much power in your marriage. She has become the focus of your arguments, and that means your marriage has somehow gotten off balance.
- Take your marriage back and begin making it about you and your husband and your kids. Changing your reactions to your mother-in-law will change her behavior. She knows how to push your buttons, and this allows her to stay closer to her son, even though it angers you.
- Talk to your hubby and encourage him to spend more one-on-one time with her. Lunch once a month with her will help her not feel as though she has to manipulate to get attention. Also, you may find it helpful if you begin taking her out for “girl’s lunch” once a month. This may sound crazy to you, but it is going to help her let go of her unhealthy ways to manipulate as you are teaching her appropriate ways to get attention.
- Meanwhile, begin date nights with your hubby. Make an effort to tell him things you appreciate about him. Compliment him whenever you can. Marriages that suffer isolation are more susceptible to in-law problems. She saw an opening and you both have to work to patch the hole.
Dear Mary Jo,
How do I win a guy back? I do love him, he has said he misses me, but he wants to be alone right now.
There is no one to win back; he wants out…he wants space. I will tell you what you should do. You should take care of you. Busy yourself with other things so you won’t be checking on him, waiting by your phone or texting him with sweet messages. Work out, take a cooking class, volunteer, go to a lecture, go out with friends or family who support and love you. When a guy wants you, you’ll know it. As a word of caution…when a guy really loves you, they usually don’t ask for a break. IF he really misses you, I am sure he knows where to find you. You deserve the best…make a life you love independent of him.
Dear Mary Jo,
Every time I talk to my husband about feeling hurt by certain actions from him or his family (no support, disrespect from his family) he gets mad at me and stops talking for a week. How should I handle it? I am ready to leave because of this.
A healthy marriage establishes their marriage boundaries within the first two years of marriage. It sounds as though you and your husband have not. He sounds enmeshed with his family and insensitive to your feeling hurt. The part of your question that concerns me the most is the way your husband deals with anger and hurt by giving you the silent treatment for a week. This is an immature method of expressing anger, and you both would find help from couples counseling with conflict resolution.
I would stop giving his family any control over how I felt. You would be wise to instead surround yourself with family and friends who love you, Amber.
Along with couples counseling, it is important that you understand that people who love you don’t hurt you. Emotional abuse is real. If your husband won’t go to couples counseling, you should go alone. Feeling stronger will help you feel more confident. You cannot love someone through abuse. Moving away may help you if he understands and supports the importance for you two in making a life of your own. You cannot escape a toxic family unless the couple wants to rebuild and prioritize their marriage.
Thank you all for trusting me with your questions. –Mary Jo Rapini