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Handling a Controlling Mother as a Team

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From a wife who is learning so very much from God.  I love the way this wife is seeking her husband’s counsel and advice and taking it.  I love how she is placing herself under his covering, leadership and protection.  This is a much healthier way for her to handle situations with her husband, her mother and her daughter.  I believe this will bless you, ladies!
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I’ve always suspected my 8 year old girl was ADHD, and after a referral by the school, she got tested by a psychologist and it was confirmed.   They referred us to a doctor to start medical treatment.  I phoned my mom to inform her (asking my husband if its ok first, due to her controlling nature and her history with interfering with my marriage), and told her about the situation.  She immediately offered to pay for her treatment, which he at first approved.  Until my mom started, in no uncertain terms, telling me how she would be able to care for my girl much better than us!   She started telling me I MUST bring my girl to live with her!
The audacity!
Before I would’ve tried feebly defending myself, and then cry and be frustrated afterwards, taking it out on my husband.  Her controlling always triggered me criticizing my husband a (heck) of a lot!  This time I told her
  • to back off
  • it’s my child and she was given (to me and my husband) as our responsibility
  • I appreciate her offer for help, but we will manage.

Instead of sulking on it, or having a whole-day discussion about my mom with my husband again, I approached him and told him what she said, and how I reacted.  

He immediately supported me, and asked that I let her know that we will pay for her treatment ourselves.

(From Peacefulwife – Great job to both this husband and wife.  It is fine to express love to a mom in this situation, and then also express healthy boundaries.  That is VERY necessary in order to change the relationship to be a functional relationship instead of a destructive one.)

I was worried since we are already struggling financially, but kept my tongue and let my mom know,  “Thanks, we’ll manage ourselves.”  The very next day she started nagging me
  • when are we taking my girl to fetch medications?
  • we should treat her ASAP!
  • its sooo important and we simply MUST take her.

So I told her as politely as possible:

  • I appreciate her concern
  • I  am concerned too
  • it is not a serious life-threatening disease
  • she won’t die if we wait a week or two (as my husband and I discussed).
  • During the whole exercise with my girl, it was also confirmed that I might have been (and might still be) ADD as well.  So when my mom kept insisting, I told her she never took me for treatment, and I still didn’t die, so I’m pretty sure my girl will be ok if she waits a week or two for her meds.
(From Peacefulwife – BEAUTIFUL way to handle this situation! )
The moment I stood up to my mom’s pushing, she acted severely offended and started sulking herself.  
(From Peacefulwife – this is an attempt on the mom’s part to control with guilt and manipulation.  But this is not her child.  She is no longer the authority over her daughter.  Her daughter is grown and married.  The husband is the God-given authority in this family, not the wife’s mom.  God has not given her authority to make decisions and lead in her children’s lives once they are grown adults.  This wife does not owe obedience to her mother now that she is an adult.  God commands us to honor our parents as adults.  But this wife answers to God and to her husband, not to her mother at this time in her life.  This mom appears not to have healthy boundaries.  It is up to this wife and husband to set healthy boundaries with her in order to properly  protect and care for their family.)

It felt good, but scary too, so I asked my husband what I should do.  He was proud of me for not letting my mom manipulate me, and said he will firmly back me up if she starts again.

(From Peacefulwife- EXCELLENT teamwork between this husband and wife.)

My husband and I ended up talking about respect and love, and we both realized that my mom never knew what respect really meant.  She often criticized my dad towards me (no they aren’t divorced) and would often hide shopping from him, until he discovered it months later, then she could say that she’s had it for ages.   I always experienced my dad as very unemotional, aloof, and not available to us at all.  It felt like I grew up much of my life without a dad, even though he was at home.  I’ve started to realise that he pulled away from my mom and us emotionally due to her constant need to be in control, to correct everyone (including him) and overall disrespect.
(From PW – They are approaching this in a very mature, loving, godly way – with grace, compassion, understanding, love and firm, healthy boundaries.)

We were both able to forgive my dad for a lot of wrong, as well as my mom, and decided to start loving her, but to seriously keep her at a distance since she still tries to exert her control on us in any way she can.

She’d often talk to me about
  • what she thinks my husband should be doing
  • criticizing him
  • influencing me to look down on my husband.
  • the lack of order (in my home)
  • the dirty hand marks against the wall
  • how I’m doing my ironing.

A visit from my mother, even a very brief one, used to leave me completely insecure.

She would immediately grab a brush and proceed to retie my girl’s hair, because it wasn’t to her standard.
My girl isn’t good with personal hygiene, or order (being ADHD), and combined with that, she’s extremely sensitive to criticism, and I used to be very criticizing and condescending to her.  It seemed like the only way to get her to improve, was strict control, like my mom controlled me.

Learning about respect towards my husband, and putting it into practice, also helped me see that I don’t HAVE to be in control of everything, micro managing my children’s lives, and that its ok for them to make mistakes, too.

So I started leaving her to brush her own hair, after a gentle reminder, and she doesn’t do it perfectly.  But she starts doing it more often on her own than when I yelled at her.  And then my mom came and redid her hair her way…

I immediately saw and felt what the impact of that was on myself, how it made me feel completely incompetent, and realized how incompetent and disempowered my little girl probably felt many times.  I thought being more strict, controlling more, I would get her to do more, but the exact opposite happened.  And just as I had to cut off from my mom to protect myself, my little girl had to start cutting off from me emotionally too.

(From PW – BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!!!!  LOVE IT!)

When I fully realized that I’m NOT responsible FOR my husband, but TO him, that I have to respect him to make his own decisions and to lead us, and acting it, I felt much more calm, and less stressed.  It had an impact on the way I treat my children as well.  I would ask my girl if she’d like help with her hair, and she immediately softens towards me and accepts my help, where before it would’ve been quite a fight just to get her to brush her hair…
I feel so sad for the time I’ve lost with my children because of my bad attitude, and the 11 years I’ve missed out on the wonderful human being that my husband was in his own right, but I’ve also forgiven myself for it, and am already much more at peace.

Our home is more at peace.

  • My husband now takes charge of the children’s homework and organizes them to do chores in the afternoons, so when I get home, its not nearly as bad as it used to be anymore, plus I have less chores to do myself.
  • I don’t get impatient with him anymore when he doesn’t do what I need immediately, and he actually started helping me with requests more eagerly, giving us more time to chat (while cooking or folding laundry).  He started opening up to me about how my words have hurt him in the past, and most times I’m careful to watch my approach to him now.
  • I don’t criticize him for adding more tomato sauce to his food or “my cooking!” (Yes, I did that a lot!) and leave him to enjoy his meal the way he prefers.
  • Before, if i asked him what he thinks we should cook for dinner, he’d impatiently say he doesn’t care.  I realized I often criticized his ideas, and that’s why he stopped caring.
  • Now, I respectfully ask him if he has a preference, and if he suggested burgers in the middle of the week, I calmly oblige, or would tell him I would like to, but don’t have buns or patties in the home, or that dinner might be late, and he will immediately jump in to assist as far as he can, or offer to go to the shop for me.  Before, it felt like I had to move a mountain to get him to assist me!
April,  it’s a long road ahead of us still, there are still so many bad habits and bad ways of doing things I need to unlearn.

In her own way, my mom is a very good mom, but she doesn’t know and respect God, and I’ve learned all her ways.  Its not easy, but my husband is supporting me a lot in my effort, and God has brought so many teachings and people across our path, and He is slowly but surely conforming us more to His will.

By the way, I realized why I struggled with prayer so much.  I used to love praying, singing and worshiping before I got married.  Just before I got married, I fell into sexual sin, and felt condemned for it.  My church rejected me, and I felt rejected by God too.  I felt so imperfect.  Its been 11 long years since then, and

Only recently God showed me through Biblical preaching that NO SIN is EVER too big for His Grace!  He showed me that NO MATTER WHAT I DID, He’s completely forgiven me and I needed not keep chastising myself for a mistake 11 years ago.  I did not need to keep fretting about all the wrong I’ve done towards my children and husband, since that is forgiven too!  So yes, I MAY ABSOLUTELY approach His throne with boldness! and a new-found humility and joy.

I’ve asked Him to help me with this, and I have a sneaky suspicion that the way I viewed my dad growing up, has to do a lot with it as well.  But just as He is teaching me to trust Him more, to be a respectful wife, I’m pretty sure He’s capable of teaching me how He wants me to serve Him.
(God is working so powerfully in this wife’s soul.  It is the most beautiful thing to watch her blossom and grow in Him!)
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RELATED – DEALING WITH CONTROLLING FAMILY MEMBERS:
RESOURCE for toxic relationships – www.leslievernick.com

47 thoughts on “Handling a Controlling Mother as a Team

  1. Great post! Handling a controlling Mother depends on how good a father the husband is and, I just wrote an article of What makes a good father for possible children; In addition, I also wrote another negativity of other woman but, I was focusing on the parental upbringing aspect for, what we see in the world is that there are a lot of children being raised in Permissive and Neglectful parenting, which is leading to low moral values.

    There are some few that raised their children in an Authoritative and Authoritarian style of parenting but, the larger percentage is that of Permissive and/or Neglectful. This is also in the Christian Kingdom which is even worse and there are scriptures in the bible for both mother and father to abide by yet, they refuse because they think there is nothing wrong with it because that is the way they were raised.

    These so called mothers and father should read some of these scriptures: Hebrews 12:7, 2 Timothy 3:1, Genesis 8:21, 1 Peter 5:8, Ephesians 6:4, Hebrews 5:14, Proverbs 13:1; 22:15,Proverbs 22:6, Proverbs 4:13, Hebrews 12:7-10, Deuteronomy 32:4; Matthew 7:11; Ephesians 5:1., 1 John 4:8; Proverbs 3:11, 12,Isaiah 30:20; 48:17.Deuteronomy 32:9, 11, 12,Psalm 78:5-7,Deuteronomy 6:4-9, Numbers 25:1-18; Ezra 10:10-14,1 Corinthians 15:33, 1 Chronicles 28:9, 2 Chronicles 17:7-9; Psalm 65:2; Isaiah 1:1-3, 18-20; Jeremiah 25:4; Galatians 3:22-24, Proverbs 12:18, Psalm 91:15; Jeremiah 29:12; Luke 11:9-13, Psalm 103:8, Psalm 103:13; Malachi 3:17, James 3:17, Philippians 4:5, Psalm 10:17, Genesis 19:16-21, 30, Isaiah 28:24, 25., 2 Samuel 12:1-14., Isaiah 28:26-29, Ephesians 5:15-17, Nehemiah 8:8, Psalm 127:3, Ephesians 6:4

    It doesn’t make sense that children are so ignorant today and running out on the streets wild.

  2. Oh, I just had to comment. Thanks so much for this wife for sharing her story! While reading it I felt like it was my mother and my feelings being described.
    In our family so much trouble has come because of my mother disapproving and criticizing my husband and my inability to deal with it appropriately. But this testimony is so encouraging and a great example of dealing with a controlling mother.
    Thank you, April, for sharing it!

    1. Maarja,

      I know there are MANY, MANY wives who relate to a similar situation with their mothers or mothers-in-law.

      I am so glad that this was helpful. Let me know if you want to talk any more about your situation. I’ll do my best to seek to point you toward Christ and His Word. 🙂

  3. hi April, thank you for the post. in my case my mother in-law is controlling, she feels entitled to get what she asks from my husband because he is her son. recently her husband left her and she does not work, she asked a huge amount from us so she can start up a small business to help herself. my husband told her that we can only give her a certain amount of what she asked so she can start low on her business as we have many expenses (we have sent her money in the past for groceries and we took in one of her daughters to live with us). she refused to take that amount and she keeps texting my husband saying he does not care for her and she told him already not to marry early as he would not help her etc etc…i am glad my husband always makes the right choice and is not really moved by her manipulating ways, he would call her in my presence and i get to hear the conversations. last time it got really bad that she ended up saying “when you were young i took care of you, paid for you school and now everything you have to do must involve your wife as if she was there from the beginning, i suffered for you alone”. i felt so bad that day, i do not even know how to relate to her anymore, i am trying my best to love and respect her but i do not know how. how would you handle such a situation? i am a christian and i love my husband, our marriage is great except that when i think about my mother in-law i wish she was more like my mom. thank you

    1. Lenny,

      It sounds like your husband is doing a good job loving her and setting boundaries. MIL relationships can get VERY dicey, especially for wives and their mother-in-laws sometimes. I personally vote to allow your husband to handle most of the conversations with her – especially if she is asking for things.

      A woman who is very controlling is usually extremely miserable. I know I was when I was controlling! It is a prison. I personally trusted myself more than I trusted God in reality. I thought I was “sovereign” and everything was totally up to me to make it work out right. That is a LOT of weight and pressure. Unfortunately, not only did I get really stressed and feel very worried and afraid all the time, I also got pretty lonely because my pride and control repelled other people.

      It will take God’s Spirit working in her to open her eyes if this is what is going on in her life. But – your husband may help that process a bit by setting healthy boundaries and not allowing her to control him. He is to honor her, but she is no longer a God-given authority in his life now that he is an adult.

      She certainly needs prayer. Another thing that helps me is to realize that if someone was able to be spiritually mature and have healthy boundaries and love without strings attached – they would! If they can’t, it is because they are not to that place of being able to understand these things yet. If she knew what she was doing and how to behave in a godly way and had God’s Spirit in her to do that, she would do it. She probably doesn’t realize what she is doing is wrong at this point.

      It is very freeing to realize that when we are adults, we answer to God, and to the GOd-given authorities that are over us – bosses, government, church leaders, husbands (for wives) – but we no longer answer to our parents. We are to love and honor them, but we do not answer to them. One of the best things I ever realized was that I am not accountable to most people. I don’t have to have their approval. My job is to love and respect them. But it is not my job to obey them or please them or do whatever they want me to. My job is to please Christ.

      Parents have a duty and obligation to take care of their children. Children often can and do help their parents when they are older. But when we marry, we leave our parents and cleave to our spouse. That is God’s design.

      Many marriage problems exist today because we are not properly leaving our parents and/or not properly cleaving to our spouses.

      Thanks for the comment!

  4. Great post. We all have controlling people in our lives and we all have the desire to control the people around us. This story reminds us of the unintended harm controlling behavior can be. I appreciate the great examples of how to deal with controlling loved ones and how to be a parent with controlling every little detail of our children’s lives. As a parent, it’s hard to find the balance between nurturing and controlling.

    1. Rick,
      It can be a tricky balance between being strict enough and lenient enough. I know I look to my husband a lot to help me see if I am in the right place with that. I’m glad this was helpful! I think this couple did a fantastic job handling these difficult situations.

  5. Asking your spouse for their perspective on parenting issues is always a great approach. I just want to point out that balancing being strict enough and lenient enough is different from balancing nurturing from controlling. As our children grow being strict or lenient becomes moot, but nurturing and controlling is for life.

  6. I also would insert Mother-in-law in place of Mother. She says she is a Christian as does her son, but I’m not seeing much of the evidence in the way they act. My DH seems to take after her in some aspects mixed with the passiveness of his father. The roles are definitely switched in the family he grew up with, so that has been a struggle in our marriage because he probably think that I should be like his mother. She was so ticked that when I had our first baby instead of living with her, I lived with my family which is just a neighborhood over from her (while my husband and his dad were trying to fix our home to make it safe and healthy to live in ). She expected me to take my newborn back and forth to spend the night constantly and at times I did, but at one point I knew it wasn’t right to do that to my baby and she needed a stable environment. Whenever I do bring my baby over there she blames all of the baby’s crying on me, takes her from me and never gives her back, feeds her things and lets her drink all kinds of stuff without me asking which in turn led to my baby girl getting diaper rash because of diarrhea. Constantly stepping over boundaries in regards to my baby and my marriage to her son. I feel like when I’m over there, that I’m not even the mom of my own baby. She did the “my baby” thing, too. My own mother has never acted this way and definitely doesn’t tell my husband what she thinks of him or what he needs to do for me. (Seriously, right now though—my DH kinda needs to hear some of it because he is not of sound mind and it’s really bad—my mom’s on the verge of saying things she shouldn’t that he does well deserve, but she won’t) My Mother-in-law has brought me so much pain, tears, hurt, and created anger in me toward her with her actions and words and I just keep thinking about how she didn’t teach her son how to love a wife, apologize, or feel remorse. I’m working on giving it up to God because the anger and resentment in my heart for her is sooooo icky feeling. Yuck! I’ve never been around people that could say and do things so hurtful with no remorse or apology. I do know that they all battle depression and I’m learning more about it, so it could be from that, but I also know that you can try to take responsibility for your actions, too. It’s been tough, but I’ve got prayer warriors praying for healing from depression for my husband first and foremost, so that our life and marriage can be healed. I’m working on myself and surrounding me with people that will support me through this pain. Even though my eyes can’t see, I will praise Him for the victory!!! 🙂

  7. Oh ButterflyDove, i completely understand as i have and still am struggling with a similar situation with my MIL. The problem is that she has manipulated and guilt-tripped my husband for years and he feels obligated to do as she says as he says he must respect her as his mother because the bible says so. She has caused many family members much pain and always played the victim. It has been extremely hard as i have tried to submit to my husband in all things and have struggled when he was listening to his mother because the more i submitted the more she would take over and just push me out. She has done many hurtful things to me behind his back and even to my own mother as she was jealous of her seeing the baby. When my husband confronts her about issues she just lies and cries her way out of things and then i look like the trouble-maker. It has caused me so much frustration and despair as our marriage has been rocky from the beginning. I knew when she organized our wedding with my husband that it was going to be a struggle and i almost didn’t marry him for this reason. My husband does know she is a very controlling person but always makes excuses or just ignores it. Even his sisters have controlled out household at times and being totally disrespectful toward me and yet he has said nothing. I would love some advice and often wanted to email you April regarding this issue of how to keep respecting your husband if he is letting his parents or family interfere and control things. I had read love and respect just before we got married and thought wow im glad ive read this book prior to marriage, however i had struggled to put it into practice when i felt like i was submitting to his mother instead of him. (Sorry for the long-winded post).
    Megan

    1. I can also relate to the above post and I’m doing the same thing with my 8 year old daughter, what my mother did with me.I would like to know when caring can become controlling…?

  8. Hello April,

    Hoping this is the right spot to post this message and hoping you’d like to impart some insight on my situation or point me towards the appropriate resource(s).

    I’ve been working on becoming a sweet and gentle wife since Jan 2014 and, boy, have I already seen the differences it makes in my marriage! God is amazing!!

    Now, that I have been enlightened, I can see more clearly how the relationship between my husband and my Mom is strained. Well…. it has been for several years now (we’ve been married for 9.5 years), I’m just now able to put a finger on it.

    A little background on my other: She is saved, but doesn’t live out her life for Jesus. The “God-stuff” is something that I do and her son-in-law, but not necessarily her.

    My Mom’s thinking goes from one extreme to another. There is no “grey” area, so to speak. All her life she has viewed things in the extremes. When she was married to my Dad, she went to and from from each extreme (negative, naggy and building up resentment to “quiet” on the outside, but festering on the inside). She tells me the stories about how my Dad and her interacted with one another and I see the disrespect so clearly now..

    Currently, she is having trouble finding the “good” in her daughter-in-law (my brothers wife) and her son-in-law (my husband). She looks at the actions of her kids spouse and immediately assigns negative motives to them. She isn’t wired up, or geared to find any good. Her focus is on the “bad” or the not-so-pleasant, in her opinion. And she doesn’t hold a mirror up to herself either. Oh, just like I did before starting this journey!…She doesn’t even see negative in her kids (me), either. We can “do no wrong” in her eyes.

    I wish I could help her with what I’m learning on this respect journey. She’s not married (to my husband) so how can I share this info to her so that it applies to her relationships? She’s not looking to please the Lord in the way she lives out her life, so, again, how can I apply this info to her?

    Especially in how she judges and interprets soooo much of what my husband does in negative light. She hasn’t said these exact words, but I can tell that she is so afraid of being a doormat, someone that is trampled on and that can’t say what is on her mind. She believes that if my husband can give his opinion on something (which when he does he is taking about something else, not her) then she can give him (or us) her two sense/opinion. It’s “not fair” to her for my husband to get mad when she says something about him (disrespectfully) and he gets hurt, and then he opinionates about a restaurant or office chair, or a food she’s eating, and she gets offended and has to remain quiet. We’re not even talking about the same thing here. She directly stabbed him and he said something about what she eating. Oh my!

    It is hard to explain to her that she is not comparing apples to apples many times. She doesn’t understand. She doesn’t see it. She strongly dislikes that she has to remain quiet when she has an issue and he doesn’t. She has said negatively many times that she feels she has to “lower” herself when interacting with authority figures at her work. She doesn’t want to “lower” herself with other people, especially not my husband since he’s a “kid” in her eyes. He’s a lot younger than her and he needs to respect her (is how she feels). I believe she has an issue with authority figures being “above you” making her feel like she is being brought down. She has been discriminated against and oppressed for many years at her work. She brings that wiring to all her relationships.

    So, in her mind, my husband has become this monster. The interactions between my husband, my Mom and I have become very difficult.

    At times they are loose and fancy free, other times it’s tense and stressful and causes me tons of anxiety. I feel like I want to control my husband to do what my Mom would want him to do in a given situation. Sometimes I catch myself trying to control how they will interact with each other by prepping them with little comments here and there. I know my Mom well and I can kind of predict how she’ll react to something so I try to make something positive happen. It’s like he has to do perfectly, exactly what is in her mind of what to do in a situation or she places a tally mark of disapproval on him. “Eeeeh! He-didn’t- do- it- like- I- believe-it- should-be- done- in- my- world.”

    Yuck!! I do not like to control anymore! Definitely after being set free from that bondage in the last several months!

    Walking on eggshells around her is not fun either, as well as being the person in the middle. Stressful!

    Any thoughts?

    Continued blessings to you and yours!

    1. I have a very similar situation. I believe that like your mother, my mother in very insecure. She has always been controlling with me and my dad. But I never noticed until it started to destroy my marriage. I could not stand up to her. She believes she is better than anyone else. She used to work in hospitality, no longer, and would be offended when her bosses talked down to her and treated her like an employee. She takes it out on my husband, who has never been controlled by anyone. I;m tired of being in the middle myself and am trying to be a loving, respectful and warm wife, which I have not been since getting married 12 years ago. What else can I do to be more loving and respectful?

      1. Erin,

        My heart breaks for you and for many wives whose extended family members try to destroy their marriages. 🙁

        I invite you to search my home page for:

        – Control and Boundaries
        – The Snare of People Pleasing
        – Manipulating with Guilt
        – Why Playing the Martyr Repels Those We Love

        What does your husband want to do about your mom? Is your husband willing to stand up to her and are you willing to support him?

        Much love!
        April

        1. that’s where all the problems started… my husband is from Toronto.. I’m from LA, where my parents also live. My parents and I were always very close, even too close. We immigrated from Russia when I was 6 and they have struggled to survive. Dad and I catered to my mom, and never talked about problems. Dad did not like to argue and simple wanted peace in his house. I moved to texas for a job and then decided to move to Toronto with him a year later. We traveled, vacationed, went on shopping sprees, dinners, etc. When we got engaged, I made it clear to him I did not want to live in Canada and wanted to move back to LA. Because I didn’t have anyone there and he was at odds with his own family and I was beginning to get depressed. It was cold, dark, and I wasn’t working. At the time, he ran a very successful business and owned two properties that he bought right. I thought I would be happy as long as I was with my family (my parents). We got married and he said we would move to LA, but that we were risking our safety and security. We visited parents in LA and showed my engagement ring, which, trying to be funny, they looked at it with a magnifying glass. Husband was appalled..another fight ensued where I protected my parents.
          Later, we enlisted my father, who was a fairly inexperienced real estate agent at best, to help us find a house. Big mistake. Meanwhile the market in LA was beginning to heat up. My dad brought along my mother when looking at houses and she called one day and tried to wield her power by telling my fiance she found the perfect kitchen that I would love! My fiance just lost a HUGE client and was upset, told her, in a bit of an abrupt manner and knowing she would not understand, that he wants to wait to see what the fed would do with interest rates. My dad called us later screaming in her defense that no one talks to his wife like that. Then they decided they were not coming to the wedding, which was in Toronto. But they did end up coming reluctantly and fiance paid for the trip including hotel stay. Dad stopped looking at houses and gave us his code to search the listings ourselves. He told me husband was not serious so he did not want to waste time. Two years past and I got pregnant and still no house. My father never called or spoke to husband, only through me. He told husband “why don’t you buy a condo?” thinking it would be less expensive. Husband, who was searching listings on his code while dad watched TV, snapped and said “I don;t want a condo.” Dad got offended and stormed off. We ended up buying a house at the height of the market. Husband told me it was a mistake, but I didn;t want to hear it. Husband has been unhappy ever since and has wanted to move because house was overpriced and bad schools. Parents never very helpful or supportive, both worked full time and didn’t help much, though they think they have done so much. Mom never liked husband, said he’s a user and liar, arrogant, conceited, full of himself, and mistreats them. Also, she feels he has disrespected her and because we borrowed some money for down payment, because husband was already spending more than he wanted, (plus lost money with canadian conversion). We did pay back the money, but parents never give of themselves and I always used to say “they do the best they can.” I feel like its a power struggle between them over my attention. The last few years have been tough because we finally moved to a good school district and bought a good house (that needs work) at the right time. But we lost money on first house and paid two mortgages for months and wiped out nearly all his saved money. His busineess is not what it used to be and he is distraught over the life he had and lost. I have had trouble standing up to parents and that has caused my husband to feel alienated, unappreciated, taken for granted, especially that he gave up everything( his business, career, retirement) so my parents and I could be closer. I got into a horrible car accident when he was out of town, was in ICU. My parents never kept him updated, like he didn;t exist. Husband missed last flight to LA and had to sleep at airport all night for next flight. He was a mess and livid no one called him. My mother was in my hospital room and when he came with my daughter, she didn;t feel the need to give us any privacy, becuase I’m HER “daughter” and not his wife. Husband snapped and told her to take our 3-year daughter for a walk outside. Another huge fight, “how dare he kick me out of your room?!” When we were going thru our time with 2 mortgages, parents disappeared and never called with concern… they could only blame him for putting me through all of this pain, when he was trying to get us back to financial health. Invited them for daughter’s bday at bowling alley, they showed up first and then husband. They ignored him like he wasn’t even there, my mom though ran over and hugged a friend of mine. Husband again was livid over the disrespect and I didnt; say anything.
          Have been in therapy for several months, haven’t spoken with my parents. Last message my mom left was “please change your situation. You’re life is ruined, think of your daughter, don’t ruin her life too, get out of this situation.” He feels I don’t put him first, not loving or caring. My mom has been sick for years, but no one can diagnose anything. They only have bad things to say about him because I don’t have a fairlytale life like they thought I would. They have refused to follow any boundaries that I have tried to set up in the past and mom hasn;t been to my new house in two years. Dad came once in secret. Despite, husband tried to call dad to have lunch and figure out how he could spend more time with granddaughter. Dad said, “At 70 years old, I’m not going to be lectured about how to run my life. I don’t want any more stress.” They never did have lunch and my husband was very hurt. His parents have contributed a lot financially over the years, and when it was really bad last year, he asked me to ask my parents if we could take an equity line of credit on their condo. I was sick to my stomach at the thought of asking. But I did, despite my feelings that they don;t have money and condo is the only thing they have. I asked my dad and he freaked out! Mom called later and accused me saying, “what did you do to your father? You are 42 years old, these are your problems. Figure them out yourself.” I felt like I was punched in the gut. Husband can;t interact with people who are fake and pretend to like him when he knows they don;t. I just want to know how to move forward lovingly and be caring towards him and not get defensive.

          1. Erin,

            Whew! That is a big painful mess!

            Are your parents believers in Christ? What is your relationship with Jesus? And what about your husband?

            The wisdom I have to offer you is from God’s Word. Your parents are completely trampling on your marriage covenant. You have a sacred covenant with your husband “till death do us part.” Your parents were your God-given authorities until you got married. But now your husband is your God-given authority. What they are doing is not ok. And, it sounds like, you tried to force your husband into a lot of things that he did not want to do and it did not go well at all.

            Are you now willing to put your husband squarely first, even if your parents get upset? Are you able to apologize to him for not protecting him and your marriage enough against your parents’ overstepping their boundaries? Are you willing to allow him to be the leader in the marriage now – you can share what you want and think, but if you disagree, are you willing to allow him to make the final call about what would be best for you, the marriage and your daughter?

            Are you able to let your husband handle your parents now? Or let him decide what approach to take with them now? And are you willing to allow your husband to make the ultimate choice about where he wants to try to operate his business and where would be best for you and your family to live?

            I would personally love to see y’all not attempt to borrow money from parents that are this dysfunctional. That complicates things A LOT.

            Are you able to say to your parents something like, “I love you. You are precious to me. I want you in my life and in the life of our daughter. But, I have been wrong to allow you to act like me being your daughter is more important than my marriage covenant before God with my husband. I have to put my husband first from now on. I was wrong in the sight of God to put you above my husband. I can’t do that anymore. I love you and want you in my life. But if you cannot support my husband and honor him and our marriage, I am not sure how we can go on having a relationship. I want my marriage to be healthy and my relationship with you to be healthy.”

            Matthew 19
            Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”

            4“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’a 5and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’b ? 6So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

            7“Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”

            8Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. 9I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

            I would encourage you to read the posts at the top of my home page about respect and biblical submission, as well as the post about “Respecting Our Husbands Around Extended Family.

            I’m right here if you want to talk some more! I am praying for you all! This is not healthy for anyone! I think you may find those other posts I mentioned very helpful, as well.

            Much love to you!

          2. thank you so much! I have tears in my eyes because you have helped me. I really would love to have a family that includes my parents, but I want to focus on my marriage. I will read those links you suggested. thank you!

          3. Erin,

            It can be confusing, if you don’t have a source of authority higher than yourself – to figure out where the proper boundaries for marriage and parents are. That is why the Bible is SO HELPFUL – among many other reasons, too, of course!

            If you can see God’s design for marriage – for a man and woman to LEAVE their parents and CLEAVE to each other. And your parents are interfering in your ability to live out God’s design for marriage, it makes it so much easier to see where the problem really is.

            If they are believers, I hope they will respect God’s Word and understand when you establish firm boundaries for your marriage. But some believers don’t understand this – they weren’t raised with God’s design being exalted. They think the bond between parents and children should precede the marriage bond. And some parents are happy to destroy their children’s marriages, even though this greatly grieves the heart of God. God hates divorce!

            Malachi 2:13-16

            Another thing you do: You flood the Lord’s altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer looks with favor on your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands. 14You ask, “Why?” It is because the Lord is the witness between you and the wife of your youth. You have been unfaithful to her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant.

            15Has not the one God made you? You belong to him in body and spirit. And what does the one God seek? Godly offspring.d So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth.

            16“The man who hates and divorces his wife,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “does violence to the one he should protect,”e says the Lord Almighty.

            So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful.

            I would love to see you prayerfully consider saying something to your husband like:

            “Honey,
            I see now that I have not protected our marriage like I should have. I should NEVER allow my parents or anyone to come between us or to try to tear us apart. Please forgive me for not being respectful enough of you and our marriage. Please forgive me for trying to make you do things my way, even when you didn’t agree with me. I can see now that I should not have tried to force my way. You had a lot of wisdom that I wish I had listened to. How can I make things right with you now? How can I show you that I am on your team and make our marriage the priority it should be? How can I support your leadership from this point on? I want to become the wife God wants me to be and the wife you need me to be. I want to set a godly example of marriage for our daughter. I want to show her how a wife is supposed to respect her husband and honor his God-given leadership. I know I don’t understand much about these things yet and I have so much to learn. I hope you can be patient with me as I wrestle with this and seek to learn to become a godly wife. You are so important to me! I love you and I am so proud of the man, the husband and the father you are. Thank you for being my husband. When I figure this stuff out, I want you to feel like the most respected husband on the planet!”

            Of course, if you believe God is speaking to you to say things differently, that is fine, too. The main thing is to be fairly brief. And to NOT justify your disrespect or control in the past. Your husband may say nothing. That is ok! He may express anger at how he has been feeling in the marriage and in this situation with his in-laws for so long. That is ok. Just listen and let him know you hear him. He may break down and tell you how sad and hurt he has been. That is ok, too. He may be skeptical that you could really change. That’s ok! This is a long journey, but an exciting one. I can’t wait to see all that God has in store for you and your family!

          4. thanks for your feedback… but there is so much more..my husband feels that my parents let us down as grandparents and as in-laws…( and he has shown anger towards them because he has sacrificed his livelihood, future and security to make me happy by moving to LA and they can barely bring themselves to lift a finger to help. They think they have done so much, (dad painted a room, tried fixing sprinklers, looked after the baby, barely). they don’t feel he has done anything special by moving here and starting his business all over again…It’s what a husband should do for a wife. They have never reached out to him because they say he has been angry and not kind to them. He did blame them for a while because of the botched real estate fiasco with my dad. But dad says he didn’t force us to buy the house. Then husband was mad at me cuz he realized it was my fault for not doing what was right for our family and trying to please my parents. But my parents say he’s insecure and seeks approval and recognition from them, which they have never given to me much less plan to give to him. Parents are mad at me and say we should be ashamed by our behavior towards and that I should never have allowed him to speak like that towards them. They say he’s not GOD and everything that has happened to us is not their fault. Meanwhile, we hosted dozens of bday and holiday parties at our old house, and they never hosted one thing at their place because mom hates to cook and entertain. My parent’s behavior never bothered me, it is who they are and I accepted it. Parents are not willing to clear the air because they hate confrontation and truly believe they did nothing wrong. I told dad that I feel they never accepted him and he says he did cuz he took him to the doctor once… they have never done anything just for him… but that’s not who they are.. they do stuff, even though very little, (for our daughter) and believe that they are doing it for me and my husband, that they don’t need to do anything just for him. Another example: I was in the hospital room and husband said mom blocked the door so he could not get into my room to see his wife. Parents will never see their own faults, they believe they;ve done the best they could with helping and when I say they don;t like him, they say it’s because husband hasn’t been kind to them. In the past, he may not have been because of all of these issues. For example, he flew 12 hours and got home late and mom was holding sleeping baby and he snatched the baby from her arms without even saying thank you. Parents are very sensitive and get hurt very easily and also want appreciation for the little they have done. They don’t want to come around because they feel unwelcome and that he is condescending towards them. Any communication with him has been through me and I’m tired. How do I move forward? When I say they never accepted him, they blame the reason on him… so If I say “please respect my marriage and husband” they will just say they always have and he has to earn their respect. I’ve tried to set boundaries but they blow them off.

          5. am I supposed to ignore their feelings? or are they using husband as scapegoat to deal with their own issues and insecurities and the fact that I am finally cutting the cord at 42? even though they think they have acted perfectly through all of this… but I believe this is how they truly feel…

          6. Erin,

            Your parents’ feelings are important. But they are not as important as your marriage covenant and your obedience to God about honoring your husband’s God-given authority and respecting your husband. Ideally, you could all patch everything up and all get along beautifully together. But if they force you to choose your husband or them, you have to choose your husband. If they treat your husband very poorly, and your husband wants to cut contact or limit contact, honor your husband’s decision and trust God to work in their hearts and your husband’s heart for His ultimate glory.

            Honor your parents and be respectful. Love them. But do not allow them to destroy your marriage!

          7. Both parents and husband feel disrespected and mistreated by each other. I feel both have valid points. Husband has said many mean things about parents, some true, some not true. He says I become a different person when I speak or are around parents… He says I become a submissive child that is afraid to say anything that will hurt their feelings and or disrespect them. He is correct to some degree. After 8 months of therapy, his go forward plan is to see me interact with them and finally lay all of this to rest and tell them he and my marriage come first and please respect that. I just have to find the courage to say that. I have never stood up to them and I feel they will think I am being manipulated and brainwashed by him. Even if I say that, they will not respect it. I’ve tried setting boundaries, like “please speak English when leaving a message or just speak English when he’s around” and they fight me tooth and nail, saying ‘If we want to speak our native tongue with our daughter then we will.! They don’t understand boundaries much less follow them. They blame him for destroying my relationship with them. Parents will never forgive him for his words and actions towards them… they hold grudges. My daughter has not spoken or seen them in a year and of course that is my fault because I haven;t brought her to visit. They are the only grandparents she has that are physically close. Husband does not want me to bring her there unless I set boundaries and they treat him with respect. Another issue is that when they are together, husband knows they don’t like him and can’t tolerate their fake “nice” behavior towards him. He wants a genuine relationship and wants to clear the air, but they never will.

          8. Erin,

            I agree with and support your husband’s plan. It is your parents who are overstepping their boundaries and are attempting to destroy your marriage. That is not right. They are no longer your God-given authorities and you have no covenant with them! even though they don’t understand God’s design. You are an adult and your husband is your God-given authority now.

            It is your parents who want to control and brainwash you, sadly. And it will take God working in their hearts to open their eyes to their sin against you for them to be convicted and to repent.

            You cannot control them. But you can do what is right in God’s sight for your marriage. And you can honor your husband’s God-given leadership. I Corinthians 11:3, Ephesians 5:22-33, Titus 2:3-5, Colossians 3:18.

            It will be painful. They will not understand. They will resent you. They will probably refuse to respect your husband. That is their choice, you cannot mark them choose to respect your marriage and your husband. But you can ask them to, and tell them what the consequences will be if they cannot honor and respect your husband and your marriage. Or, your husband can tell them and you can back him up.

            It may be that God uses this to convict them of their sin and to force them to see that they need Jesus and to see they are being controlling and destructive. I don’t know. But I do know that as you seek to obey God, God will bless your marriage and family. You can speak with respect but also with firmness to your parents. You can separate yourself from their response and realize that their anger is not about you. It is about their lack of understanding of God’s design for authority in families and marriage and their lack of understanding of healthy boundaries.

            I pray you might apologize to your husband for not putting him first and ask him to help you do what he has suggested. You are only responsible for your part. You can love and honor your parents but you also are called and commanded by God to foremost love, honor, respect and submit to your husband. Your days of submitting to your parents ended when you became an adult and got married. They are wrong to demand you submit to them now.

            I am praying for you all!!!! For God’s greatest glory in all of your lives!!!

            Sending you a huge hug!

          9. Hi… I been struggling lately because I miss my parents. I know it sounds silly but it’s true. I’m trying to be strong and figure out exactly what it is I miss about them because honestly, they’ve never been there for me in times of trouble or supported me or really ever asked me how I am doing. In our relationship, it’s always been me asking how THEY are, especially my mom. It’s always been a one way street I feel. Though they don’t think so and feel they’ve done so much for me. Also, when I do tell them my husband and I are a team, and that he is my family now and to please respect that, they will think I’m crazy because in their minds, they have always respected him and our marriage, though they’ve said really nasty things about him. I think they think of him as a stranger and never took the opportunity to get to know him. But that is who they are. They did the same thing with my x-husband too. They are not very emotional towards others, esp. my mother, if she feels she is being threatened in some way. My parents have never been mean to husband per say, mom just never asked about him or how he was doing… my dad either, come to think of it. Though my dad has tried to get along and be nice, though husband feels that’s him being a hypocrite and that dad really agrees with mom. I feel that husband is very sensitive and has overreacted to their behavior. I feel Husband has blown things out of proportion and misinterpreted many situations. For instance, when I was in the hospital, husband claims that my mom, trying to fight for control, literally stood by the door in order to block him from coming into my room… also, when she called our house once, it rang, husband picked up and he claims she hung up on him. Mom said, ‘Why would I ever hang up on him? he’s crazy!’ I could see my mom doing these things, but I can also see that husband is blowing these things out of proportion, perhaps because he feels hurt by them for not accepting him into our family. He always says they treat him like shit. I guess in a way they do by not acknowledging him or doing anything special just for him. Should they be doing special things just for him.? I have many friends whose parents don’t do for husband and he doesn’t complain about their behavior. Another example, it was husband’s bday and parents never called. I confronted my mother and she said, “where were we? we were at the doctors office.” Like that is a good excuse. What can I say to that? She believes that is a valid excuse not to stop for one minute to make a bday phone call. She and my dad have been full of excuses since I married husband…. mom is sick, dad is working, etc… and never giving anything back… that is what my husband resents. I do feel in a certain way that husband has made things more difficult than they have to be. He had expectations of them as in-laws and grandparents and they never followed through… husband got mad and showed it to them. they didn’t understand where the anger was coming from or why it was directed at them… esp. because they feel they did the best they could to help us. And that’s just who they are. So they stay away and haven’t seen granddaughter in over a year now. I never had expectations of parents.. whatever they could do I was grateful. Parents will never understand or even make an effort to try to understand. I’m reminded everyday what husband lost and the lifestyle we had and lost because of this move to be near my parents. Now I have to work nights and weekends to pay bills and not be with my daughter. This is not the life he envisioned… at 55 he did not plan to be struggling financially with no retirement. All of this because we moved to LA.

          10. Erin,
            It sounds like a bunch of different expectations mostly. And you are left feeling torn in the middle. 🙁

            If they don’t understand what respect means to your husband, you may need to spell it out. Many of us don’t know what respect really means these days. And your husband will have certain things that mean respect to him.

            My parents don’t call my husband on his birthday. They take us out to eat sometimes. They often give him a card. But they are not big phone people. They hardly ever call me, even.

            Every family has it’s own culture and expectation. That is not wrong. But when expectations are very different, it leads to misunderstandings and hurt feelings.

            Praying for wisdom for you and healing for your family but especially for your marriage.

          11. Erin,

            Relationships between sinners get very complicated. But – God’s priorities for you as a wife, thankfully, are not complicated.

            What does your husband want to do at this point? What approach does he want you to take? I would love for you to talk with him and ask him – without defending your parents, without defending yourself. What does he think is best right now for y’all to do about your parents.

            Pray before you talk with him. Give him time to think if he needs it. And trust God to lead you through your husband, my precious girl!

            Let me know what he says!

            Much love,
            April

          12. Also, mom feels husband and I have already deeply disrespected her… because I told her she needs to clear the air with husband. (and that night she ended up in emergency room).
            She told me I should be ashamed of my behavior. She also told me she no longer has a daughter and that in 20 years when she runs into my daughter, she will tell her how cruel I was to her. The most recent message she left went something like this.. “please change your situation… if not for you then your daughter. He has already ruined your life… don’t let him ruin your daughter’s too. change your situation before its too late, please I beg you.” I was literally shaking after listening to that message and my therapist told me to erase it so as not to have any evidence. Dad called few weeks later to tell me he has shingles. (guilt trip I know) and then he asked how I was. I said not great… that we were talking of possible divorce and he said, ‘you won’t be the first or the last.’ then I said that I felt he never accepted husband. He said husband is insecure and needs to be validated by them. He also told me ‘the relationship (between him and husband) is just not working. So how am I supposed to react to that?
            Honestly, I’ve never seen my parents as mean people, but mom will certainly show it if she doesn;t like someone. Is it possible that they are mean? They say its him and he’s not welcoming or respectful to parents because he’s never been respectful to his own.

          13. Erin,
            There is plenty of guilt to go around in this situation. But it is not appropriate at all for them to tell you to leave your husband or change your situation. Focus on your walk with God and obedience to Him and pleasing Him, and loving and respecting your husband and protecting your marriage and honoring your husband’s leadership. And love and honor your parents, but not at the expense of your husband or marriage.

            Sending you a big hug!!!!!

          14. that’s the thing. we are so different and my family dynamic is completely different from his. that’s why I feel husband has blown many things out of proportion and in my heart I feel that he is partly to blame but he feels he has been an angel through all of this considering what he sacrificed and gave up financially. Parents feel they haven’t done anything wrong.. they are just who they have always been.. I don’t know how to move past all of this…

          15. Erin,
            There is blame to be had by everyone. Yes. Everyone involved is a sinner. Everyone in the family has sinned and been sinned against.

            I’d love for you to read Grace Filled Marriage – I think it may help you with approaching your husband and your parents. 🙂

            How is your walk with Christ going, my precious sister?

            Much love!

  9. Reading this post has struck something within me so overwhelmingly.

    It’s like it was written about me and my own situation with my mother, only I never understood boundaries and control issues until now. I realize now in reading this how this affected my marriage from day one. My mother was the same or worse in a lot of ways, she was quite obsessed with trying to control every aspect of my life and after I married, our lives. She was very manipulative her whole life and very controlling, yet her love for us I have no doubt was completely without limits.

    I never understood the difference, however, between “honour” and “submit”. My husband put up with me feeling obligated to put my parents before him for 15 years or more, and I am only just beginning to realize as I read this, the hurt that this has caused him. Unfortunately my mother passed away which left a huge sorrow and obstacle that took me years to get through. As much as she controlled, she was also so close, and it was hard to deal with the pain of losing her.

    After her passing my obligation to submit in my own mind, continued to cause problems. I took total control of our home and took in my father and everything he owned, all against my husbands wishes. Oh the pain I must have caused him in his heart that I just could not acknowledge until now! I thank God that he has shown me this and opened my eyes! I am so convicted and guilty and ashamed of how I handled my relationship with my parents! My father has since moved on and we have a very rocky relationship as he also has never respected me or I him, what a mess that has been made, all because of not understanding boundaries and my own desire for control which obviously I learned from my parents at such a young age.

    I thank God as I read this post, He has shown me another area of our marriage that I really feel the need to apologize for.

    Thanks again for sharing this post!

    1. Melanie,

      I’m so sorry for the pain you have all experienced – and for your mother’s passing. 🙁 Our original family relationships are often where we learn unhealthy ways of relating. They seem normal because that is how things always were in our families. I think our parents all do the best they know how to do. But sometimes they just don’t know things yet. I’m so thankful that God is willing to open our eyes and can help us discover what are healthy ways of relating and what are unhealthy ways so that we can unlearn things, even as adults, and seek to set them right.

      Here is another post that may be a blessing:

      Healthy VS Unhealthy Relationships

      1. Thanks I read this post and I do believe that much of the way I had been treating my husband is a result of not being able to have healthy boundaries in my original family. . Oh how I wish I had such valuable insight back so many years ago! How could I have read everything God wanted for me to be yet ignored it for so long?! This blog has shed so much light and also given me hope that I can turn things around.

        1. Melanie,

          Most of us have missed this stuff, even in the church. I missed it, too, until God opened my eyes 7 years ago. I am so excited that He is showing you these treasures now. What a blessing and a gift! It takes some time to tear out all of the old, messed up thinking that seems right, and replace it and retrain yourself (with God’s Spirit’s constant help, of course) to think rightly and to speak and act rightly. This blog is about total heart change as we allow God’s truth, love, and power to flood our lives. 🙂

          1. April,

            I just wanted to share how God blessed me with such hope last night. I decided to wait on God to show me the right time and the right words to approach the subject of how I recognize now the lack of boundaries I had with my family and how I disrespected my husband in so many ways for so many years, always feeling like I had to submit to my parents first, over my relationship with my husband. Well last night God gave me that opportunity right away and I am so thankful as it really needed to just come out and I needed to apologize to take another step forward on this journey.

            I brought it up when we were on a walk/run together (started doing this in the last while as a way to get some time away from the kids and talk and try and connect). I told him how I recognize now and can see how much hurt I caused him for almost our whole marriage, by not putting his needs and wishes above that of my parents. How I had not learned how to let go and I just expected him to see it my way all those years, and how I felt it was so wrong of me to have done that. He was very forgiving, praise God! He said how a lot of that was in the past, yet he definitely acknowledged how yes it did cause much resentment and distance a lot of the time over the years. He then went on to say that he probably could have done more as well to handle things better, how not to blame it all on myself.

            Now the old me would have jumped on that and started to point out “in agreement” how that was right, how he too had a part in it. But not this time. This time I kept my focus on what God would have me say, and I was able to keep my focus in the right place, telling him that I appreciated him acknowledging he also could have handled some things differently, but that I wasn’t going to make it into how HE failed ME, that I just wanted to acknowledge and ask for forgiveness for MY part in what has gone on to bring us to this low point in our marriage. Well I have to give thanks to God for giving me that strength to keep my perspective in check, and what a difference in made!

            Right away I felt like there was this relief, like I could see some of the weight lifting off. As hard as it was to admit my failures, it was one of the greatest blessings I have had in a while, to be able to see the impact of shifting my focus from me, to God.

            Thanks again for all your wonderful advice and inspiration, God is doing amazing things through your ministry!

          2. Melanie,

            This brings such joy to my heart. I can see God working powerfully in you. The spirit of humility, the desire to make things right with God and your husband, the focus on your end of things and taking responsibility for your sins and misunderstandings… WOOHOO!!!!!! SOOO BEAUTIFUL!

            Thank you so much for sharing. This is the path to peace and joy in Christ!

  10. Hi Melanie,

    I have the same experience. For many years, I’ve put my parents’ interests before my husband’s, even though I didn;t realize I was doing it. It just felt natural and right for me to always be there for them. Then when he pointed this out to me, I thought he was crazy… because these were in fact my PARENTS! Because of this and because of their failures to be there as parents and grandparents to our young daughter, he grew resentful and took it out on them …and on me… making me think he was even more crazy. It was a vicious cycle, especially because he sacrificed so much, his future, his successful business, his retirement to move to another country so that I could be close to them. This also drew a wedge between him and them and eventually me as well because they feel hurt, mistreated and disrespected by the both of us. My husband feels the same about them. I made a choice to focus on our marriage and try to see how I was wrong in all of this. I haven’t spoken or seen my parents in almost 3 years. My daughter is growing up fast and it feels like we have no family. I so relate to the previous post about changing my perspective about how this all happened, how my behavior was wrong…. I see how my actions led to his resentment, but I still feel sick to my stomache about it and still partly blame my husband for his behavior towards my parents, though I don;t say that to him. I just say what I need to not to get into a fight, but my heart feels otherwise and I don’t know how to get over it. I’d like to rebuild my fragile relationship with my parents, but I want to do it with my husband and daughter. But my husband says he’s going to call them out and not hold his tongue anymore either about their inappropriate behavior or idiotic comments that have no truth in reality. He says he’s held his tongue long enough. This makes me anxious. I know my parents will get offended and retreat once again. They can’t handle this kind of direct and blunt reaction, they’ll just go away…AGAIN. No one has ever talked to them in this way before, expect for maybe their employers. For me, I just ignore what they’re saying and don;t let their behavior bother be. I guess it’s different for my husband who just can’t take it anymore. He says “I’ve have enough of them.” I realize I need to set boundaries and intervene, I’m just afraid I won’t see it or recognize it when it happens to put up a boundary and that will result in a blow up.

    1. Erin,

      This is going to require great strength and wisdom from God in such a difficult, tense situation. Would you be interested in doing a spiritual check up with me? As you are stronger in Christ and closer and closer to Him, He can give you wisdom and discernment you need.

      Do your parents or your husband know Christ?

      You are welcome to search my home page for:

      – healthy vs unhealthy relationships
      – people pleasing
      – guilt manipulation
      – husband extended family
      – control
      – fear
      – how to stay filled with the Holy Spirit

      And, Dr Cloud and Townsend’s book Boundaries may be helfpul. As well as http://www.lealievernick.com for dealing with toxic relationships.

      Praying for God’s healing and wisdom for you and your family!

My grandmother is on hospice and won't be with us much longer (11-30-16). I will get to comments when I am able to but I need to be with family right now. Thanks for understanding.

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