In-law FEEDBACK Regarding the woman whose husband and mother-in-law were keeping score on how much time was spent with his mom vs. her family (December 14):
Reader – “My partner of 20 years never bonded with my family. We always had to bring his mother along when we visited my parents.
“He and his mother were the couple in the corner, absorbed in their own conversation, him tending to her every need.
“But I’ve loved my guy regardless of this mother-son enmeshment issue.
“I mostly visited my family alone, which wasn’t my preference but I accepted it. My family tried to bond with him but he pushed them all away and was critical of them for reasons I didn’t understand then.
“I now know that his mom would’ve considered it disloyalty towards her.
“She’s always been privately - and passive aggressively - pressuring him to turn his attention back towards her, creating this sense of competition for him.
“Even in our home, she spoke privately with him about how she didn’t like me.
“He brought a list to me of behaviours I needed to change to make his mom happy.
“That was nearly the end for me, but I endured.
“After that, I set my own healthy boundaries. She’s no longer a part of my life, or our life, but he still visits with her privately. I believe she played a role in his first marriage failing.
“This woman’s mother-in-law is probably fuelling the feud between her son and his wife (to her, she’s “the other woman”).
“A healthy mother-son relationship wouldn’t be threatened by his bonding with his wife’s family.
“The wife would also enjoy her mother-in-law more if she didn’t feel this sense of competition.
“Extended families need to push couples together to strengthen the new and autonomous family relationship, not tear them apart with keeping score and making their adult children feel guilty for building a life of their own.”
Been There, Learned Better
Ellie – Thanks for these important insights from your experience, which can be helpful to many who get caught up in in-law jealousy and competition.
My best friend and I got into a bad fight. It started when she called my other friend some names, and I got defensive.
I criticized my best friend and she criticized me back, saying she had better friends elsewhere and didn’t need me.
Some more things went down, and we stopped talking.
Recently, I apologized, because I missed her. She continued to blame me. She really annoys me.
Eventually, we started talking again.
But we’ve had many incidents like this in the past.
Should I stay friends, or just cut of all contact?
Too Many Fights
Cutting ties completely is what you do when you’re sure that a former friend is toxic to you and you won’t ever miss her again.
That’s the extreme. Before you go that far, you can try, gently, to say you don’t like fights, and should both accept that you don’t always agree on everything.
If that doesn’t work, slowly distance from her by not responding right away.
She doesn’t sound like she still fits the special label of “best” friend, since she’s outspoken in ways you don’t appreciate.
But she may be fun and good company at other times, as people with opinions are often smart and interesting.
Speak up when she cuts too close by criticizing people she knows you like.
You’ll soon know whether she can control this, or you need a break from her.
Recently, I had strep throat with 102.8 fever. My doctor’s note said I shouldn't return to work until my fever passed.
My boss wanted me there the next morning.
I work for a bank and didn't want to pass my illness to my customers or coworkers.
My fiancé and I considered my quitting and looking for a new job.
I believe my boss hates me. I love my job and my customers, but she’s been against me since I started here last year.
I feel they’ll fire me for not being at work, even though I was sick. Suggestions?
Sick of It
You can present your doctor’s note to the bank’s human resources staff and report that your boss still asked you to work.
Or, if the personality conflict continues, get your local occupational safety and health administration involved.
Moving to another position in the bank or another branch, might resolve this issue.
Tip of the day:
Firm boundaries can counter in-law jealousies.