Doing Life Together

pair-707502_1920Family conflict: Rob was caught between his  mother and his wife.

” I know your mom thinks she is helping, but if she tells me one more time how to parent our children, I’m leaving. Talk to her! I am tired of her negative comments to me.”

Rob wasn’t sure what to do. Should he confront his mom and deal with her anger towards him or should he support his wife? He felt caught in the middle and didn’t want to let either woman down. Whatever he decides, someone will be upset!

No matter how heavy a guilt trip mom might put on Rob, his allegiance is to his wife. The two are a couple and need to support each other.  But Rob had a different idea. He felt his wife was strong and could handle his mom’s criticisms and didn’t want to deal with his mom’s wrath. This only made his wife even madder.

Sorry Rob, but you need to honor your wife, stand by her side and calmly confront your mom on her words and interference. Validate your wife’s feelings. Let her know you have her back. Then, talk to your mom.

Take your mom aside to a private area and tell her that you would like her to stop criticizing your wife’s parenting. Maybe she means well, but this is not helping. Her criticism isn’t changing anything, only alienating her with his wife- not an outcome anyone wants.

Let mom know that you are loyal to your wife, will listen to her feelings and support her when she feels attacked. The goal is help everyone develop more positive relationships.

The way Rob does this is important. He needs to stay calm, point out the behavior, not argue, but make the request for the behavior to stop. If mom refuses, Rob needs to tell mom he will not allow her to be disrespectful to his wife and they will leave if this continues to happen. This is setting a boundary.

Rob can say, “I love you but this is my family and I love my wife. Don’t make me choose between the two of you because she will win. I want to have you both in my life, but I will support her first.”

Rob’s mom may get upset, but Rob must hold firm. She may try guilt him in order to get Rob to back off. If so, Rob should simply say, “Mom, I mean this. It needs to stop.”

If she doesn’t, Rob must follow his words with actions–pack up the family and leave. “We’d love to keep seeing you, but you know the terms. I hope you can make a change.” This would be difficult but it would change the toxic pattern.


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