I’m sad about my wonderful life, and it’s because of my mother-in-law.
Even when my mother in law tries to be nice to me I can’t stand her. I have tried to figure this out. It all started when my father-in-law got terminally sick and my husband moved us to my in-law’s house. What I naively thought was for a few days, and until things stabilized, our stay was much much longer.
My husband got so involved with his mother, and it was as if they were a team together. I was left out of that team. They are a very close knit family, so they all teamed together, and I felt out. I used to feel very uncomfortable there, but my husband wanted to stay with them. It brought lots of arguments and disagreements among my husband and me. Finally, when my father-in-law passed I thought things would become normal again. No, now he needed to be with his mom all the time, and I was left at home until the late hours of the night because he couldn’t leave his mom. It was very obsessive.
His mom used to spend every moment of the day with him, and I was left out. She even would go to work with him; he has his own company. We eventually ended up moving to the apartment below her house. I’m glad to say she stays up stairs and hardly comes down, but my husband moved his office to one room in her house, so he is always upstairs.
And, every time I’m not home she climbs in the car with my husband and spends all day driving around with him while he does his errands. It got to the point that one day he tells me that particular day with her had been the best day of his life. Argh!
Our relationship has cooled down. I dislike their togetherness and she is always asking him for advice and direction in her life. She behaves as if my husband is her husband, and, my husband acts like it is his responsibility. His other brother lives in another state and his visits are very short and far in between. I feel we should move far away, but I too feel guilty for feeling bad toward her when she is nice to me. But, I feel she should get a life and cut the umbilical cord and let my husband loose and the same thing with him.
We have a second home and that is where I run away to most of the time. I feel very resentful towards her. I feel she loves it when I go away because she can have my husband all to herself. Neither of them sees what they are doing. My husband doesn’t see anything wrong by being his mother’s son-pseudo-husband.
I get very upset when I hear that she is driving around town with him, or when he calls me and I hear her conversation in the background. She has this irritating acute voice. I have not shared this with my husband. Please help I need your feedback. – Irritated By My Mother-In-Law
Dear Ms. Irritated By My Mother-In-Law,
I don’t know if you read your letter, and reflected on what you said, but what is apparently clear is that you feel left out. You made that statement a number of times in your letter. Honestly, you feel as if your husband has replaced you with his mother, and you have become the outsider. You are not a part of the “team,” and you are wondering how did you end up on the outside looking in. His mother has replaced your role in his life.
Your role as wife, nurturer, lover, partner, supporter, and dependency has been overshadowed by his mother’s need and desire to do what you were doing and providing for him. He has immediately resorted back to the little boy who needs his “mommy,” but even more so, he has become her new caretaker. He feels obligated to care for his mom because her husband died, and he doesn’t want her to be all alone. Also, they have become each other’s grieving partners. They are leaning on one another, grieving together, and enabling one another’s healing, sulking, and at the same time processing the passing of the patriarchal presence of the family.
Yes, there is something oddly strange about a man and his mother who are always together. She is riding around with him all day while he runs errands, and the fact that you live below her, as well as, they spend an enormous amount of time together. That is obsessive behavior, and it is unhealthy. However, neither of them is able to see what they are doing or how they are enabling one another because they are caught up in the grief, the need to be there for each other, and “I don’t want to lose you, too.”
It’s time you spoke up, and shared with your husband how you feel, and what is going on with you. It is going to be a very sensitive and delicate dance to do with him, because like you said they both do not see what is going on between them, and what they are doing. So, if you approach him accusatory, and damning his mother, then he will turn on you, a big fight will ensue, and he will run back and tell her what you said. And, that will exacerbate the issue, and then you and she will end up fighting and it will make your relationship even more hostile. They will side against you, your husband will be caught between you and his mother, and your marriage will suffer, and possibly end.
Therefore, you have to share what’s going on, what has happened, what your expectations were when you initially moved there to help your father-in-law, but how it’s now turned into something that you were not anticipating. Share how you feel left out, and not included. Share how you feel as his wife, partner, lover, and supporter, and that he is not taking care of home. You need your husband, and though you support his relationship with his mother, but there has to be boundaries.
I also recommend that you get into marriage counseling, and, or, speaking with a therapist about the situation. Your feelings toward his mother are displaced. You are irritated that he has shifted his attention toward her, and she has become the focus of his life. Yes, she is partly responsible, and should know that what it feels like when another woman intrudes on another woman’s space. However, she is his mother, therefore, she doesn’t see what she is doing as intruding, but being a mother.
So, your displaced anger and irritation toward her is really an anger that you have for your husband. He uprooted your life to move you in with his parents while he took care of his father. They were a team, helping one another, and you were left out of the mix. Then, after his father died you stayed and he began to spend more time with his mother. Your husband then moved you into an apartment below his mother, and he drives around with her while he runs errands. He also moved his office into her home. I’m sure at no point in all of this did he consult you or ask you how you felt about any of this. He just up and did all of this without taking your feelings into consideration, or even bothered to ask how you felt about any of it. Therefore, you went along, to get along, and as he continued to make decisions for the both of you, he continued to leave out of the mix. And, you felt this being edged to the outside.
Ma’am, your husband has been leaving you out of the equation for a while now. However, because his focus and attention is on his mother, and taking care of her making sure that she is okay, including the fact that they are grieving together, you internalize a hatred and dislike toward her, and this is where you place your anger. She is the culprit in all of this. Had her husband not gotten sick, then none of this would have happened. You can’t stand that she doesn’t have friends of her own, or any place to go, or anything to do. She is taking up your time, your space, and your place with your husband.
Address these issues, and stop sulking and directing your anger toward her. Figure out a way to have an authentic and honest conversation with your husband. Find a way to become part of the team, and also, how to get her to be more independent. But, this issue will not go away, and it will get worse if you don’t speak up and take action. There is a resolution, and you and your husband will have to discuss ways where you don’t feel like an outsider in your own marriage, and that you are included in his life. You don’t like feeling replaced, or displaced in your husband’s life. You don’t appreciate not having a say in any of the decisions he’s made without consulting you. Your voice needs to be heard, and you have a say in all of this. Speak up, or your marriage will end. – Terrance Dean
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