Honoring your father and mother NEVER means accepting abuse or demeaning behavior, verbal or otherwise. A husband's responsibility is first and foremost to his wife. Wow! I saw a red flag right away when the husband was not supportive of his wife's feelings. While I greatly appreciate the wisdom of the counsel given in this article, it sounds to me like this woman isn't emotionally strong enough at this time to carry out all that is suggested. I hope that the husband will step up to the plate and protect his wife's emotional health. He is the one who needs to tell his mother not to come, NOT the wife.
I agree with previous posters and want to add a few 'band-aids" that I found helpful with my mom who could just not stop insulting me! She's dead, now, but it helps in other relationships. For one, talking to toxic people about the problem may not help and may make it worse. If they were mentally well enough to hear and respond, they wouldn't be behaving like that. So here's a few responses I tried:
1) just say "ouch" with a smile (or 'no thank you' - and if they ask for explanation BE careful! - keep smiling, but you don't need to talk more - it could get worse....
2) Once I tried acting like I couldn't hear "what?" - like I really want to know what she said but I was puzzled...., and then again "I don't get it" - - so she had to keep repeating the nasty thing she said - I kept a firm confused look on my face.... She fizzled out - and I felt better.
I thought I had a third, but maybe not :) People are not going to change if mean is their pattern - but those responses may help you feel better and more in control...
Oh, the third: "I'm interested in the content of your message but your harsh delivery makes it hard for me to hear what you really want me to know." However, she probably isn't openly angry, right?
I too was intimidated by a mother-in-law who refused to allow her children to exercise their agency. My husband did believe he was “honoring” his parents. But he dishonored his commitment to me. A wise Stake President told him that he had no right to force me to be abused by his mother and that when he stood before God the one relationship he would be held accountable for was the relationship he had with me.
My husband believed that if I just tried harder things would change. It wasn’t until my husband died that his mother treated me with any respect. I now have to live with the memory of resentment I felt for a husband who allowed and required that I put up with emotional rape. That is what an LDS Social Services Counselor called my “relationship” with my mother-in-law. Some relationships are toxic, stand up for yourself and demand respect from your husband.
R. Lynn Higginson, that would be good advice if the writer was in a healthy and stable frame of mind. She's not. She is dealing with depression and anxiety, which are very draining emotional states. She doesn't have the emotional energy she would need to "kill with kindness". It is a huge emotional investment to show repeated kindness to someone who is emotionally abusive. She needs her husband to be her support and a sustaining force right now. And he might be under the "honour thy mother", but it also states that a "man should leave his father and mother and cleave unto his wife". His wife has to be the first priority.
You can talk to him and if you don’t have any luck I would be telling him he can cook Christmas dinner for her but me and the kids will be going elsewhere for Christmas - he will love that!
I am having this problem with my wife's mother. She has no boundaries. Is into all our business. At my house 6 days a week with her husband, who is also unbearable. My wife allows it. I work hard and come home to "them" at my house. We now have a new baby and it is worse. If my wife doesn't put a stop to this I am getting a divorce. Period.
May I recommend the book How to Hug a Porcupine? I found it helpful in a similar relationship.
It was my mother who would say things about my husband to me and my children. I was in the middle. I finally got the courage and told her that she was talking about the father of my children and my husband who was a good man and provider. And that I never wanted to hear her belittle or berate him again--not to me or to my children. She was peaved and hurt at first, but she never treated him that way again. A situation like this needed me to stand up to my mother and set the boundaries. Spouses need to know that we support them and will take a stand for them in all situations especially with their mother-in-laws or father-in-laws. It will never stop unless the spouse of the offender takes a definite stand. My husband loved me even more for it. We have been married for almost 48 years and still counting. So, husbands or wives, stand up for your spouses that's what being "one" is all about.
I commiserate. Whenever I would visit my husband's parents, about 2 hours away, I felt berated by their passive-aggressive attitude toward me. They would tell my husband lies about me and he believed them until he talked to me about what they said and we had a chance to discuss it.
I finally realized I could go to their home and be demeaned, or I could stay home and be happy. I eventually let my husband take my kids to see them, but I stayed home. If they came, I was cordial, but I knew I could never be close to them as I wanted to be, for my husband and childrens' sakes.
My husband, now my ex, would never stand up for me either. He was afraid of them and their opinions because he felt they would write him out of their will if he did. I felt sorry for him that he thought that was more important than standing up for me. I was very hurt by it.
My father was another example of not putting his spouse first (cleave to her). My grandmother repeatedly treated my mother as portrayed in this story. My mother started out fearful and hurt by her mother-in-law (my grandmother), then later, it turned to anger and resentment. My father would visit his mother, hear all the complaints about my mother, then come home and yell at my mother about all the things my grandmother complained about--causing further hurt to my mother.
It was NOT a good way to grow up either.
I think it's fine if your mother-in-law wants to see her son and her grandchildren. However, you don't need to see her. Let her come the day after Christmas, in which time you can go shopping--or book yourself into a hotel/spa for the day while she visits. She doesn't have to know where you are.
I also don't think it's a good idea for the children to know about this rift. I love my grandmother, although I know she and my mother didn't get along. It was a different relationship. My mother even acknowledges it. But her feelings were hurt, and I understand. I didn't like it as a child, but I now understand as an adult.
My adult children still have no idea about the rift between their grandparents and me and I still bite my tongue when they remember them lovingly. I don't want them to know how they treated me. I think it's important that they love their grandparents.
I also bite my tongue about their father because I feel their relationship with him is important, even though mine has ended with him.
If they are outright abusive, your husband should set up boundaries and tell them he stands by you. In hindsight, I wish this could have happened for me.
Been there done that… my mother came to visit and stayed for 6 months. She is a very sneaky manipulative person who has turned all her children against their father. I had to practically ask her to leave my home… and have told my husband she is no longer welcome here for more than a few days.
Excellent, excellent advise. I am willing to guess that her husband just doesn't understand his wife's feelings -- or, he's afraid of his mother. I suspect that if this wife and her husband really had an open, heart-to-heart discussion they would both gain a friend and a support in facing the Mother-in-Law. I wish them well.
Kill her with kindness. Remember that your husband is under command to honor his mother, and perhaps this command extends to you. Put on a happy face and inoculate yourself from reactive behavior. Your husband will appreciate it so much that he is bound to reward you with lavish gratitude.
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