Dear Barb—My Husband’s Keeper

Dear Barb:

My husband and I have been married for ten years and we have three young children.  We live fairly close to my husband’s parents, so they have been quite involved with our family life.  My problem is with my mother-in-law.  I have always struggled to get along with her, but as she’s getting older she is becoming more intrusive in our lives and I am fed up with it.  My husband and I are arguing all the time about her.  He needs to tell her to stay out of our lives but he says if I feel that way then I should tell her.  Even the kids are complaining about her as she is always asking them where they are going and what they are doing.  If she doesn’t think they should go somewhere she will tell me or my husband that we should not allow them to go to such and such a place.  I feel she is undermining us as parents.  Through the years she has helped out a lot with the kids and I really do appreciate that, but now they are more independent, and it almost seems like she is trying to keep them from growing up.  I feel so alone in this situation, as my husband is not supporting me at all.  Do you have any advice or suggestions on how I can deal with this, or get my husband more involved? Thanks, Sara.

Hi Sara:

Thanks for writing.  I’m sure there are many daughters-in-law who are going through similar scenarios to what you are experiencing.  Mothers-in-law can be difficult and often believe no one is good enough for their son.  Frequently mothers do not want to relinquish control of their sons to another woman.  Their attempts to control their daughters-in-law are an indirect way of maintaining some level of control over their sons.  As well, it is common for mothers-in-law to meddle in the way couples parent their children—another way to maintain a place in their son’s lives.  There are ways you and your husband can prevent this from causing problems in your marriage.  First, you and your husband need to set boundaries and follow through on these boundaries.  Your husband seems to feel caught in the middle, but he needs to support you, rather than side with his mother.  You are a family unit and you both have to agree on how you are going to raise your children and take care of your household.  Your mother-in-law is the grandmother and should not be deciding how you will raise your children.  Your mother-in-law’s role should be as a supportive, loving grandmother to your children.  I hope this information was helpful.  Good Luck Sara.