Dear Barb—Angry Bitters

Dear Barb:

My parents divorced when I was ten.  My dad remarried but my mom never did.  It was a nasty divorce, and my parents remained enemies throughout my life. 

My mother has become extremely bitter and angry towards men in general.  She had a few relationships but nothing lasting.  Now she is just a lonely, bitter woman.  She hangs out with a few girlfriends, who are also angry and bitter.  I understand that my dad was not a good husband, but why hang onto that anger and bitterness? All she has done is made her own life miserable.  I can understand her not being able to find a partner, no one can deal with her attitude.  Mom is in her sixties now, so I am wondering if there is any hope for her to ever find happiness.  I have suggested counseling, but she is not interested. 

This is affecting my marriage too, now, since my mom seems to find fault with all men and she often points out flaws in my husband’s character as well.  I love my mom, but this behavior must stop, or I will have to limit my visits to her.  Do you have any ideas on how I can get my mom to stop this unhealthy behavior?

Thanks, Christine. 

Hi Christine:

Sorry that your family had to experience this trauma.  Divorce is difficult to get over, but not impossible.  Your mother is stuck in the angry, bitter stage.  It does not just disappear; your mother has to work through it and let it go.  The fact that she is spending time with girlfriends who are also stuck is only making things worse.  Your mother needs to spend time with people who have moved on from a bitter divorce, and many people have moved on and found happiness.  I found an online site that may assist your mom and her friends to develop a more positive outlook on their situation at The Chick Chain.

Also, your mom needs to make a conscious shift to move from victim to survivor.  It will not be easy, but it is necessary to start on the road to healing.  Your mother has been in the victim role for many years, so the transition will be difficult, and she will likely not be able to do it herself, but that is her journey, not yours.  As far as her pointing out issues with your husband, you must take control and be firm with her.  Let her know that you are an adult and are perfectly capable of managing your marriage.  Tell her that her behavior is causing problems and if she does not stop you will limit your visits.  I suspect your mother will stop this behavior and if she doesn’t, you know where you stand.  I hope your mother gets the help she needs before she loses you.  Best of luck Christine.

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