My wife and her mother are very close and I sometimes wonder which one’s idea I’m really hearing.
Is it normal for women to share so much information with their mother about their marriages? When is it too much?
Hearing Two Voices
Some married women remain very close and confidential with their mothers, and they think it’s normal.
But it’s too much when the couple’s issues are decided with the force of two-against-one.
It’s also too much when very personal matters are revealed.
A wise mother-in-law would recommend getting a medical opinion when appropriate for the topic, or counselling on serious conflicts.
Tell your wife that you feel their closeness shuts you out of having equal say with her. Then show her you’re ready and willing to communicate just with her.
FEEDBACK Regarding a woman’s hard-to-believe story and your reply (Dec 20):
Reader – “You’re asking readers to believe that a woman, 24, a wife and mother, is unable to recognize a significant ex-boyfriend’s name, and gives him a false identify.
“And that her “boss” is willfully ignorant or falsely believes that his company’s Code of Conduct doesn’t apply to him.
“Also, it seems that you don’t feel that an employee should report workplace abuse.
“If this IS a true story, she’s perhaps making a plea for help and needs immediate intervention and therapy for a dangerous mental state which enables her to manipulate and lie.
“You also missed identifying/naming the Code of Conduct violations as serious breaches by both parties, and also that this boss is guilty of workplace abuse.”
Ellie – I believed her story because years of receiving tens of thousands of submissions have shown me that anything’s possible in human relationships.
But I’m taking the feedback very seriously as I value the integrity of this column and appreciate this writer’s view on workplace abuse.
The young woman had written that she discovered only after starting her job that the boss was her ex-boyfriend from university with whom she’d been intimate, and who then had cheated on and dumped her.
Again, readers have shown me that rejection can create powerful after-effects that cause people to react in strange, foolish, even dangerous ways.
I wasn’t surprised that she didn’t reveal to him that she was married and had children. If he wasn’t the top boss, it also wasn’t surprising that he didn’t know those facts.
She wrote, that she “fell in love with him again,” I then saw their affair as consensual rather than coercive.
However, when she later said she had sex “in order to get that raise (and not get fired if I refused)” I wrongly overlooked his abuse of power.
Perhaps it was because she said, “I wanted to do it again and again.”
I was remiss in not telling her she’d been sexually abused and should report this man.
However, I was clear that he was “manipulating you as an employee for sex, not love. He’ll drop you for another when he chooses.”
I told her to stop the affair, tell the man she has a husband and kids, quit the job, and insist he owes her a substantial reference for another.
Why not report his behaviour higher up?
I was admittedly focused on her fears regarding her husband’s suspicions, and recommended she confess the affair to him before it becomes known.
But unfortunately for many women, it likely wasn’t an easy case to make that she only complied to keep the job.
All workplace abuse should be reported.
I recently came home early and surprised the woman who cleans weekly, when she was trying on my new sweater.
She hadn’t heard me arrive.
I was shocked, but simply said that I don’t want her trying on my clothes.
I do understand that she’s a single mom who works hard to support her kids and can’t afford luxury items. I also have liked and trusted her.
But I’m now uncomfortable. How should I handle this?
Since you like her and have compassion for her, give her a second chance. It’s unlikely it’ll happen again, if you’ve never seen a sign of this behaviour before or found anything missing.
She’s likely mortified and worried about her job, and may even feel that she has to leave your employ.
But if time passes with both of you comfortable not needing to speak of this again, accept that she made a mistake she won’t repeat.
Tip of the day:
In-law opinions on marital issues shouldn’t unbalance the equality of both spouses.