Ever since I got married, I have repressed my guilt feelings. Sometimes I’m not sure how to act when I’m with my husband. It seems like my happiness hurts my mom. She always tells me that I made the wrong decision by getting married. She says that she spent her entire life bringing up her children and putting up with my father, a man who has never bothered to share anything with his children…. He neglected us emotionally and never supported us in our educational pursuits.

My mom says that we owe what we are to her, for she gave up her life and youth for us. Although I try to understand her, at times she gets unbearable with her condemnation and criticism, for she thinks that I will not always be as happy as I am now. Please tell me what to do.

Dear Friend,

Congratulations on your happy marriage! You are blessed to have found a great husband and to have made rational decisions in spite of what your mother thinks.

You say that you have been repressing your guilt feelings. That is exactly right; they are only feelings of guilt and not genuine guilt. You have no reason to feel genuine guilt because you have done nothing wrong. But your mother has caused the guilt feelings to plague you as the result of her constant barrage of bitterness and condemnation.

Your mother does love you and she does believe that she is helping you by trying to prevent you from making the same mistakes that she made. She is desperately unhappy, and her life has not turned out the way she planned. However, what she is putting you through is not good for your emotional health or for your marriage.

When women allow their feelings to dictate their actions, they can spew venom on everyone around them. Your mother is not acting upon what her brain tells her is the truth about you and your siblings. Instead, she is acting out her negative emotions. In fact, she is allowing her extreme bitterness and regrets to influence her view of the entire world.

You can’t do anything about your mother. You can only control your own life. So treat her with honor and respect for all that she has done for you, as the fifth of the Ten Commandments teaches, and always keep her in your prayers. Remember that God loves you very much and wants you to communicate with Him on a daily basis through prayer. In addition to praying for your mother, you can also tell God that you want to begin a personal relationship with Him. He will help you get through these difficult times.

Do not listen to your mother’s rants. Change the subject when she begins talking negatively. Walk out of the room if you can. If you are speaking with her by phone, tell her you have to hang up. Do not argue with her or try to reason with her, because nothing will change until she decides to make the best of her circumstances and improve the quality of her life by having a more positive outlook.

Make a list of all the things that you are thankful for, and go over and over the list in your mind if you are in a situation where you are forced to hear your mother speaking negatively to you or anyone else. When the guilt feelings start to rise up, fight them with truth. You have no reason to feel guilty, and every reason to look forward to a happy life.

We wish you well,

Linda and Charles