For eight years, my mother-in-law has consistently made negative comments about my mother.
I usually politely disagree.
When together, my mother-in-law would only ask my father how he's doing, but converse little with my mother.
My husband only recently tried to talk to her because I've told him it's more diplomatic for the middle person (me) to play referee.
I later discovered that he was only telling her to never ask questions or make comments as it may offend people.
That sounds as if I’m at fault for being easy to offend!
Then, on my birthday, my in-laws yelled at me over the phone, claiming that I’m too sensitive and misinterpret them.
I told them my husband's friend told us that my mother-in-law told him at our wedding reception that her son was too young to get married (at 27).
My mother-in-law denied it. She claimed we disrespected her with our wedding planning.
My husband was shocked because we’d put a lot of care and research into planning a traditional Chinese wedding to please the elders.
My mother-in-law also insisted that I disrespect her whenever I go to her house.
I was speechless.
I've always offered to help out in the kitchen, and when told it's not needed, I stay to chat with my mother-in-law.
I'm confused by her definition of respect because two years ago, she’d ask me in front of my father-in-law and my husband's uncles if I have enough breast milk for my child.
I never want to see my in-laws again and the feeling’s mutual.
However, we have a two-year-old and I believe she’ll tell my child that I’m a disobedient daughter.
It sickens me that she’d have the opportunity to poison my relationship with my child.
It also saddens me that I’ll have to skip dinners with extended family, because of their presence.
If I attend, my in-laws will talk through my husband's aunts and uncles (e.g. using a third party to yell at me).
If I don't, even his cousins will believe whatever they tell them.
My husband agrees that his mother’s wrong, but he’s hurt because I want to prevent his parents from seeing our child.
There are husbands who stand up for their wives if it’s deserved, but my usually-assertive husband is passive in defending me, and at home because we’re both nursing our wounds.
Where do we go from here?
Go straight to marital counselling together and learn what’s at stake here.
Marriages that mix different backgrounds work best when both partners acknowledge the differences in their upbringing, recognize their own family’s prejudices if any, and confront relatives who disrespect their spouse.
Your arguing about small insults (e.g. about your mother) is fruitless. It’s up to the adult child – NOT the spouse in the middle – to draw boundaries about what’s not acceptable.
Your mother-in-law has been out of line, you’ve tried to tolerate it, your husband’s hidden from it.
Now your child’s caught in the middle unless you two handle this better and present a united front.
The child should be able to see his paternal grandparents, but they need to be told that any bad-mouthing of his mother or other grandparents will NOT be tolerated.
Continue to attend family functions. If your MIL disrespects you, walk away.
This is about a son who thinks honouring parents means accepting insults to his wife. He’s wrong, and wise elders would agree.
Get help before your marriage is at greater risk.
FEEDBACK Regarding the “needy friend” with clinging behaviour (Oct 3):
Reader – “Why is it so hard for women to be like they used to be?
“They now need attention whether it’s good or bad, they can't commit to one guy, etc.
“Maybe “needy friend’s” friend actually picked his mate and chose only her. Does she think about his feelings at all?
“She's not good enough for him so she should cut ties altogether. He sounds like a good guy.
“She's going to end up with some loser guy that will choose his friends over her.”
Ellie – I included this feedback because it’s an example of people reading their own fixed ideas into things.
The “Needy Friend” question was written by a young guy in Grade 10, as he stated, not a “woman.”
Yet this feedback says that the situation’s about an attention-driven female who represents neediness in all women: A distortion of facts.
Tip of the day:
Different backgrounds lead to conflicts if a couple doesn’t set boundaries for critical family members.