Wedding Woes

Yes, your MIL is awful, but you have a husband problem.

Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
edited December 2017 in Wedding Woes
Dear Prudence, 

I just married my husband this summer after five years together. I had noticed that his relationship with his mother was not healthy. She consistently makes poor decisions, then expects both of her sons to swoop in and fix things. Two days after our wedding, she had a full-on breakdown. She threatened suicide if we left the city (we live across the country from her). We took her to the hospital, and she was put on suicide watch for three days. Since then, she’s gone to therapy but doesn’t seem to be changing her behavior or really giving the process a shot. She badgers my husband and his brother every day and is unable to make any significant decision without spending hours on the phone with one of them first.

She now has to move out of her current housing but refuses to live anywhere that is “below her,” and she changes her mind about where she wants to live more than once a day. She texts or calls her sons incessantly. My husband is at his wit’s end. But he refuses to seek out counseling for himself because he “doesn’t have the time right now.” I have offered to research options, and he says I should focus my energy on helping him with his mother instead. I am exhausted, and I can’t stand watching him let her walk all over him. I don’t know how to move forward, or how to get him to set real boundaries. He has tried, but she eventually wears him down, and he is so afraid she will end up homeless or dead if he doesn’t help her, he won’t listen to reason. Our first year of marriage has turned into a nightmare, and I just don’t know how much longer we can take this. Should I intervene with his mother? Are there resources for how to help family members stuck in these situations? She is more than just depressed—I think she has some kind of social disorder—but I can’t get my husband to accept the facts.

—Distressed Daughter-in-Law

Re: Yes, your MIL is awful, but you have a husband problem.

  • It's not like she started acting this way since the summer. LW has known this was a problem and it sounds like she thought marriage would change something? Maybe the marriage did amplify things since MIL now sees her son with a woman (idk some moms are weird about this). 

    All she can do is remove herself from the drama and continue to encourage her husband to seek therapy. He will probably hit a wall with this whole thing and figure out on his own it's not sustainable to keep this up.

  • I'm wondering the same as all of you.  Did things get worse after the LW and H got married?  Or was the MIL always like this?

    If the MIL was always like this, how could anyone have put up with 5 years of that.  And, I hate to say it, but why would it be such a "surprise" or cross to bear now.

    I can understand why the son wants to help his mother and, to an extent, that's fine.  Even if she is ridiculously needy for a grown adult.  But there need to be hard and fast limits.  I'm guessing this woman is a guilt-tripper and manipulator of the highest order, so her sons need to keep that in mind at all times.

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  • It is intervention time, but not with your MIL, with your husband. If he wont go to a counselor, you should. Or meet with a social worker-- the hospital she stayed at would have recommendations. If he's not willing to find options, you should. But then draw some boundaries and stick to them. 
  • edited December 2017
    This is going to sound heartless at first, but bare with me.

    Is it possible MIL didn't show these issues before because it's more a cry for attention?
    LW mentions they live across country. The wedding may have made her realize "oh fuck, my son is married!" and zero mention if BIL lives nearby.

    Where is FIL? Has he passed away or have they separated? If he passed away, she could be missing his help {he could have done a lot for her} OR she's playing victim card "poor me, I'm alone" etc etc.

    This isn't to say she doesn't have serious mental health issues, but it's another possibility.
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  • MesmrEweMesmrEwe
    Knottie Warrior 2500 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    edited December 2017
    The MIL didn't change just because they got married.  

    Silly as it sounds, LW needs a trip to a Tony Robbins Relationship class with her H...  Or just go get the papers started because unless she rights the ship and sets HER boundaries, it'll drive her nuts instead.  It may come down to he needs to go on a cross-country trip to attend to matters with getting MIL's "feet to the fire" and stabilized.  This is the core of mental illness and the H can't just wave a magic fairy wand, and it's his Mom, he loves her, he also needs to learn to set boundaries (like a "therapist" would do) on the length of phone conversations, not difficult (the wife can use "wifely persuasion" and I can guarantee he'll be off the phone...  just takes a few times and setting a "look" and those long phone conversations will shrink!) just boundaries!
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  • I'm just going to speak to her being unable to make decisions without her kids.

    It doesn't sound like the FIL is in the picture. When my grandpa got Alzheimer's, he was obviously unable to help make decisions. Since then, she talks to mostly her son (my dad, whom they live with now) and her other kids about all the significant decisions. I'm sure if I'd been married to someone and made decisions jointly for decades and suddenly had to do it alone, I'd be worried I'd be making the wrong decisions with no one to seriously discuss it with. 

    The rest might be things to take issue with, but not that. 

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