Thursday, 22 March 2001

My Mother-In-Law Is Destroying My Marriage

Written by  Michael Tobin

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QDear WholeFamily,

My husband and I have been married for a little over 8 years. We have three children and are usually happy. We fight most of the time over his mother. She is widowed and lives just down the street. She comes over 4 to 5 times a day which started right after we got married. Five minutes after he got home she would be at the door. Several years ago I found out she made her own key to our house WITHOUT our knowledge from a set that was accidentally left at her house. She has no problem using it and just walking in when she feel like it. One weekend we sent the kids away to my mother's and she used her key and came in and found us making love! She stood there watching for God knows how long before we noticed her. She tells lies around town about me and when confronted denies it. I have caught her myself. My husband refuses to believe the incident saying it was taken out of context. She has input on everything from the TV we watch when she is here to telling my children how to behave. I feel that I am the outsider in "their" marriage and am about at the end of my rope. I am considering a divorce, but would like to save my marriage. I can't do it alone. I need help from someone.

Suffering from Mother in-law Blues

ADear Suffering,

If anything is going to change with your mother-in-law, you and your husband need to be on the same team. Where is he in all of this? He may not believe that his mother told lies about you, but how does he feel about the amount of intrusion that you experience from his mother? What was his response to her letting herself in to your house and watching you make love? If there is any agreement between you about the inappropriateness of her behavior, you may be able to work together to set some boundaries. Perhaps your mother-in-law would be open to some gentle help from her son to "getting a life of her own." If your husband doesn't understand your distress and his role in it, you may have to force him to choose who he wants to be married to - you or his mother. Let me know how things go.

Last modified on Tuesday, 15 March 2011 17:52
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Michael Tobin

Michael Tobin

Dr. Michael Tobin has been a psychologist since 1974, specializing in marital and family therapy. He is the author of numerous articles on marriage and family relationships and is the founder of He's  been married to Deborah for 38 years and is the father of four children and grandfather to five.

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