Whether you are a married couple, partnered, gay or straight, similar in-law or parent issues seem to come up for many couples.
Does this sounds familiar?
- You fight about not feeling like a priority over his or her mother or parents
- You feel like your spouse or partner has not been able to cut the chord (and was/is not encouraged to)
- You fight about an over involved mother or parents interfering with your relationship
- You fight about how frequently your mother or parents (or your partner’s parents) expect visits
- You spouse or partner’s mother or family is disrespectful to you and your don’t feel protected
- You partner or spouse does not stand up and set limits with a controlling and demanding mother or parent
- You feel torn and pulled between your spouse (or partner) and mother/parents and don’t know what to do
If you grew up in a family where you were loved, but strong expectations that you should always put your mother or parents first, it would invariable cause painful fights in your relationship. As therapists we study and learn about healthy development and there is a difference between a parent loving their adult child and needing the adult child to fill some kind of void. Healthy parenting will encourage autonomy and wanting and understanding (as hard as it is to let go sometimes) your adult child will develop close a relationship with another man or woman. True love of a mother or parents is really encouraging and allowing that relationship to grow without feeling slighted or angry at your child for not making you feel like the most important person – more important that the partner or spouse.
If you are on the receiving end of a spouse or partner who struggles with an overbearing and controlling mother, know that it will take time to make very important and necessary changes in the relationship so it can survive. If you have a difficult mother, know there are ways to move in the direction of more autonomy and independence. Guilt about not doing and taking care of your mother or parent the way she expects will arise, but it will be well worth the work to make those important changes. Otherwise, you will continue to have constant relationship fights and your marriage or relationship may not survive.
If you and your spouse or partner need a therapist to help with an issues regarding a mother or parents, feel free to call 973-902-8700.