Mother-in-law from Hell
Q: My partner and I have been fighting a lot because of his mother. What a nightmare this lady is! She constantly criticizes what I do around here. She thinks that a woman should do everything for the man, and I agree up to a point. I'm at the point of moving out, though he asked me not to go. I don't feel the same way for him as I did before. All I know is that I lost once again in this game of love and it really stinks. What else can I do, or how should I tell his mom to back off? -- Barbara, 23
Dr. Susan: If you two were thoroughly committed for the long haul, I don't think his mother's annoying behavior would drive you away so readily. The issue here is that your partner is apparently taking her side when his loyalty should be to you.
I'm not sure what you mean when you say "a woman should do everything for the man." You mean like picking up his dirty laundry? Keeping a clean house? Making a living for him or putting up with whatever he feels like doing and not complaining? If your partner feels you should be doing "more," he should be talking with you about this directly. Sounds like he's using his mother to get his points across. He's too wimpy to talk to you directly and when his mother picks on you, he's basically chiming in with, "Yeah, I was going to say that anyway." He needs to grow up and speak for himself.
Please don't feel you've already lost in the game of love. Love is a game that regularly goes to overtime. Why be a premature quitter? Talk to your partner about how his mother is getting in the way of your good feelings toward him. Maybe she should visit less often, and when she does, he needs to remember that she'll always be his mom but if he doesn't stand up for you, you'll be out of there for keeps. Plus, of course, you can always tell mom-in-law that you and he are happy the way you are and you'd really appreciate it if she'd stop being so critical. It may do no good, but you'll feel better for stating your case and setting your own boundaries.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.