Saturday, February 16, 2008

Your Wife's Mother-in-Law and Your Relationship and Marriage

We’ve talked about handling her mother, but what about yours? She can have a major impact on your relationship, too, if you let her…

We talked yesterday about how to deal with a man’s mother-in-law, but what about a man’s mother? You’re about to see, if you haven’t already, how she can also have a major impact on your relationship, as many of you have found out, sometimes the hard way.

All too often, a tug-of-war between a man’s mother and his wife or girlfriend ends up forming, and while it may not always get as vicious as the situation in
“Monster-In-Law,” it doesn’t have to get real vicious to cause a wife or girlfriend to decide that she doesn’t have to put up with the hassle, deliver you an ultimatum, and leave immediately when you say something lame like, “But Honey, she’s my mother,” as if that gives her license to be nasty to your partner. Here’s one of many letters I’ve received on the subject; I chose it because it sums up a lot of the most common issues. Meet Jean:

Dear David,

I hope this note finds you well and happy since this is supposed to be one of the happiest times of the year for lovers. I know this will be a better day for some than others. What I am writing you about today is not a happy subject but one that I could use your advice on. It has to do with my mother in law, my husband and I are now what they call middle aged and are for the most part happy and still very much in love.

However, there is one very difficult subject we can not get the same decision on and I was hoping you might have some words of wisdom for us. We live a very short distance from my mother in law who still refuses to let us have our own life after 18 years of marriage. Every chance she gets she is always hanging around or calling my husband on his cell phone instead of the home phone so she can talk to him without the possibility of me overhearing what is being said. To be honest with you I could care less what she has to say about me but when she starts problems between me and my husband over nothing I do have a problem.

For instance, if he says he’s taking me out to dinner or shopping or anything else come to think of it she says something like, “But Donnie, I was wanting you to come over here for supper tonight.” If we make plans to go out of town, she either invites herself along or comes up with some dire emergency, like needing us to feed her dog while she is gone for the weekend. Just anything to try to foil our plans. She’s over here almost every day making snide comments about the way I cook, the way we I have differed from her in raising our kids, my housekeeping, and bringing up Don’s highschool sweetheart every chance she gets.

Could you offer some advice as to how I can make my husband see she is just out to cause us to get into a fight or cause a problem without me coming off as the witch? I have never been good enough for her since day one and the truth is when I married her son no other person would even go out with him much less marry him because she was such a witch to everyone and word got around the small town we live in. There is a lot more to the story, but I’m sure you get the idea, since you seem to “get it.” Please help.

Yours truly,
Jean

My reply:

Yikes! Jean, I don’t know how you’ve endured it for 18 years, but Don’s a lucky man, and you should start by telling him so. I notice that you’ve been subscribing for several months, so I’m sure by now you know that you need to be fairly blunt with him, but not accusatory or combative. Tell him that you would never try to come between him and his mother, but she needs to pay you that same respect too, and that either he can have a word with her, or you will.

Give him specific examples of what has happened; he’s already seen them, but you’re telling him to let him know that you know and that it bothers you. Don’t dramatize, and be factual and to the point. If he does wuss out and doesn’t want to talk to his mother, then you need to. Tell her that you have not in any way tried to come between her and her son, and that you demand and expect that she pay you the same respect, because you have been respectful of her and been loving and faithful to her son for 18 years, and it’s high time that she accepted it and started making some effort to try to get along instead of trying to antagonize you.

Take care, and keep in touch,
David Cunningham

Gentlemen, there are a great many mistakes that men make with their wives and girlfriends that involve their mothers. The biggest is in comparing your wife to your mother in any way. Women HATE that! If your wife cooks something that you prefer the way your mother did it, chances are a thousand times better that she’ll do it they way you like it if you said, “I really like it done (however you like it done),” instead of saying, “That’s not how my mother does it,” or “I like it better the way Mom does it.”

That’s not your mother’s house you’re living in; it’s yours and your partners, or at least it better be. If your mother has come to live with you because you don’t want her in an elderly care home, that’s great, as long as you are still leading the household and your wife maintains the respect she should command as your wife and co-owner of the house, but if you and your wife are living in your mother’s house, every goal you have had better take second place to getting a place of your own, because your partner needs a place in which to nest, and you have no idea of the grief you’ll be inviting on yourself if you don’t facilitate one quickly.

As with your wife’s mother, your mother is above all else, a woman, and must be treated as such. If she is too involved in your household, it’s because you let her. You must lead her, gently but firmly, to the level of involvement that you and your partner are comfortable with. You don’t ask her to give you a break, you tell her that you love her as much as you always did, but you are an adult and you need to lead an adult life, which includes making and being responsible for your choices. You tell her that while she has always been and will remain an important part of your life, she must pay you the respect of letting you lead your own household and live your own life with your own family. You tell her that she did a good job raising you, and she needs to accept that and let you rise to the challenges she prepared you for.

She may not like it at first, but she will respect it, and she’ll go along with it in the end. There may be testing from time to time to see if you were serious or just trying to placate your wife, so you must be consistent.

Men, women are not as difficult to talk with, get along with, understand and enjoy as we’ve been led to believe. Indeed, we’ve been programmed to think that it’s hard or impossible, just like they’ve been programmed to think that we’re insensitive jackasses who have no use for them except for sex. Our mothers were primarily the ones who programmed us, and their parents primarily were the ones who programmed them; there’s also been a lot of inappropriate reinforcement heaped on you from Hollywood and the politically correct media. But…

Deprogramming is a painless and fun process, and requires nothing but some good information about what women REALLY want, and what REALLY makes them tick. And contrary to what the world thinks (including Sigmund Freud, the renowned psychiatrist/psychologist, who is famous for saying, “The great question... which I have not been able to answer... is, ‘What does a woman want?’”), that information is available, thanks to some hard work and the input of a few hundred women, and it’s entirely affordable for every man. Indeed, compared to the cost of a divorce, it’s damned-near free!

Luckily for you, it’s in “THE Man’s Guide to Great Relationships and Marriage,” and you can download your copy right now at
http://www.makingherhappy.com. You’ve spent your whole life wishing somebody had written a book to tell you what women want and what makes them tick, and now it’s here, and there you sit, not seeing that what you’ve wished for your whole life is a few mouse-clicks away. Open your eyes and start living a life with your partner that will be even better than either of you have ever dreamed.

In the meantime, live well, be well, and have a wonderful day!
David Cunningham

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