My partner and my mother are at odds, but I love them both.
My partner of five years and I just had a child. I feel that my partner is the best thing that ever happened to me. I’m an only child after my brother’s death (I was three).
My mother is demanding, always right, overly opinionated about others’ lives, loud and negative. She’d like nothing better than to split us up.
My partner has issues with controlling women, and doesn’t like how I deal with my mother.
My father is completely wrapped by my mother; he’s calm, unemotional, and does most things to please her.
I feel like my partner’s making me choose between them or her. I hate that they can’t all just get along, if even for our daughter.
I do try to stand up for my partner against my mother and vice versa if I feel that my mother may have a point.
But I try to avoid confrontation because I know that cooler heads prevail and I’d probably lose control in a heated argument.
- Between Two Rocks
You’re hiding out in the middle, using non-confrontation as your excuse. That’s not good enough.
This ongoing power struggle between the two women calls for you to face up to a bigger responsibility than just occasionally agreeing with one or the other.
You owe your first allegiance to your partner; but you also owe your parents enough respect to help them accept this.
Negotiate with your partner about your parents, and especially your mother, as to where they DO fit into your life – e.g. their role as grandparents. Decide together how and when to have contact with them.
Then give your mother boundaries on what behaviour you cannot accept. Tell her that you love her, but won’t listen to her negative opinions of your partner.
If she carries on as before, change the subject, leave the room, and/or cancel the next visit, till she realizes she’s the one missing out.
•You can get my personal help with in-law problems through my weekly TV show,
“Outlaw Inlaws” on Slice network. For more information, or to participate, see
hree years ago, I had a very good relationship with my supervisor but we had to keep it secret. We loved each other, but he didn't want to marry me because his last marriage was a disaster. Also, I’m 30 and he’s 55.
I married someone last year that I’d known only two months, because my parents wanted me to have a family.
My ex cried at my wedding.
He has a girlfriend now, and still contacts me...
I told him many times to stop, because it gives me so much pain. He’s messaged me today that his mother died. I know he’s in deep sorrow. But I also know that I’ll suffer the pain again, once I see him at the funeral.
What should I do?
- Distraught in Canberra, Australia
You made the right decision to give up a relationship that was kept secret and couldn’t progress.
Now, don’t let the past shadow your ability to give your marriage a chance. It’s time to stop wrapping yourself in your old disappointment and hurt. Recognize that your ex was the one withholding the happiness, which you sought.
You can pay your respects to his late mother, but don’t get caught up with old ghosts. Express your condolences at the funeral, and go home to work on your marriage.
My close friend, 53, who’s staying with me, is a recovering alcoholic. She relapsed after five months’ sober. (I’ve only known her nine months).
My house was a disaster; she left the stove on, and became physically aggressive with me.
I haven’t thrown her out because she has nowhere to go. Her brother refuses to help her anymore - she’s been in rehab four times, been in jail and lost every job.
How can I help her?
- Sad Situation
Though you’re trying to be a friend, you’ve become an Enabler to a practiced User.
While you’re risking damage to your home and yourself, she desperately needs to start to help herself.
Encourage her to go to an Alcoholics’ Anonymous meeting for peer support, inform her of affordable housing or shelters and accessible rehab programs in your area.
Then give her a deadline – soon – for when she must leave your home.
Tip of the day:
Hiding from in-law problems with your spouse is unfair to everyone involved.