Wedding Woes

Oh, you've done enough LW. Stop.

Dear Prudence,

My fiancé “John” has struggled with alcohol abuse since we’ve met, and over the past few years it has only gotten worse. Recently, John’s father passed away, and he hit his rock bottom.
He finally checked his pride at the door and realized that he needed to stop drinking, which was a complete about-face for him, and he has really dedicated himself to making a change. Of course, I notified his mother of the “rock bottom event,” and she was extremely concerned yet still overwhelmed by grief in the loss of her husband. But glad that I didn’t keep it a secret. When we saw her after the “event,” she berated him with questions on how he was going to stay sober and told him what he should and shouldn’t do, though ultimately it came from a place of love and that she just wanted him to get better. During this, she had also stated that she was “at the edge of [her] cliff” and needed her son to help her through her grief.

Since John needs to focus on himself and prioritize his sobriety, I asked if she would consider talking to a professional (i.e. therapist) to help her process her grief, adding that I had done so after my dad passed away and that it helped me immensely. But she was vehemently opposed to it and didn’t want to talk about it again. I tried to be compassionate in understanding generational differences about mental health and that talking to a therapist can be scary for some. But I was pretty livid: My fiancé has already humbled himself and is embarking on a new and scary sobriety journey of his own; why can’t she do the same FOR HER SON? It makes me feel like she can tell everyone else what’s best for them and what to do, yet isn’t willing to embrace change for herself, especially for something that can only help her mental health. Grief aside, she also has incredibly high anxiety and suffers from regular panic attacks, so I also just want her to know that she doesn’t have to live like this and that there are professionals who can help her lead a panic-free (or panic-reduced) life. Should I revisit this conversation and encourage her to seek help or leave it be?

— Concerned and Angry

Re: Oh, you've done enough LW. Stop.

  • Stop. The problem is your husbands addiction. 
  • Ever think that John is someone who is seeing a family history of mental health issues? 

    LW: Leave it alone and instead focus on your FI's sobriety and the therapy he needs.  Consult with a therapist on HIS needs.

    The biggest issue IMO is that a therapist will likely need to advise John about boundaries needed with his mother.  The only other thing I'd consider ever speaking up about is if the FI was in such a state that he couldn't be counted on for anything then I'd be consulting a therapist about whether or not they should run interference. 
  • The LW already said their piece.  The FMIL is admittedly against therapy and, while that is too bad because it sounds like she needs it, she's also a grown adult who make her own choices.

    Don't try and fight a losing battle, LW.  Especially on something that isn't really your business.

    But what the LW can do is emotionally support their BF.  Remind him, as needed, that his own mental health and work to combat addiction is paramount and he isn't responsible for his mother's mental health.  That it's okay to draw boundaries if she is doing damage to him.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
  • Her grief is her own and you can’t tell her how to deal with that, so please stop trying. Focus on John and his recovery, but also seek individual therapy because living and loving and addict is hard and you will need your own support. 
  • Maybe take yourself to therapy and leave everyone else alone. FMIL can do what she wants. But also, blabbing to her about John's rock bottom and recovery is kind of fucked up. It sounds like John already knew she was a pain and didn't tell her or ask for help as a way of putting up his own boundaries. 
  • LW, that really wasn't your story to tell anyone, periodt.

    Focus on your support role for your husband's sobriety.  Also, maybe seek some therapy yourself, b/c that was way out of your lane and you need to learn boundaries, for yourself and others.  Leave FMIL alone too.
  • mrsconn23mrsconn23 member
    Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    edited May 2022
    "Of course I notified his mother of the rock bottom event..."

    What in the ever-loving?  That was not your information to share.  Also, way to heap trauma on a person who's already experiencing trauma and acute grief. And now you're judging her. 

    LW you need to find out why you need to fix and control everyone around you.  It's not healthy for you or them.  You need just as much help/therapy/Al-Anon/etc. as your partner and FMIL. 
  • Back off and leave it be. Yes, she'd probably benefit from therapy, but you can't control another adult's actions. When someone is that adamant the first time you make a suggestion, they're probably not going to change their mind by your saying it 10 more times. Don't waste your time and energy on that fight.

    I agree that she shouldn't be leaning so much on John right now, but it's on him to set those limits, not you. Let him decide, as he works through his sobriety and any other issues, how and if he wants to set boundaries with his mother. You can't do that for him.
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