It all started when I told my mother that I was getting married. She disapproved of my marriage; but I didn’t listen to her and got married anyway…. From that moment on, my mother has been the cause of my problems because of her attitude, and I had to move away from home to live somewhere else. She told me that she would never accept any child of mine as her grandchild, and that made me feel very badly. I think that she changed so much because I was helping her financially before I got married….
I can’t go on like this, because it is affecting my marriage. I would like for my mother to get along with my wife, and for her to accept the grandchild who is already on the way.
We are sorry to hear about the distress that you are feeling. Your wife, as a pregnant woman, needs to immediately take steps to minimize the stress in her life and the anxiety that this situation is causing you.
People react in different ways when they don’t get what they want. Mature people accept things as they are, and adapt their actions and attitudes accordingly. Immature people, on the other hand, react with manipulation. They try to change the situation and force others to do what they want. They intimidate through rage, stony silence, threats, and insults. And when one of these methods doesn’t seem to work, they try another.
Many manipulators are not even aware of their own manipulative habits. They use these methods on people that they love, without even feeling guilty. Their immaturity, selfishness and lack of wisdom cause them to put their own needs above those of others, so they feel justified in using whatever methods to get their own way. However, the Apostle Paul taught that real love does not insist on getting its own way.1
In the cases that we receive, mothers are the most likely to be the manipulators. I say this carefully, because I am the mother of five adult children. After being totally responsible for their well-being and care for so many years, it is tempting to think that I always know what is best for them. However, if I did my job well while they were growing up, then I can now trust them to make their own decisions. Sometimes they may ask for advice, but it is my responsibility to give them the information that they may lack rather than to tell them what they should do, or expect that they will do it my way.
We have advised many times before that young married couples should not live in the same house with their parents. So you did the right thing by moving out of your mother’s house. It doesn’t matter how small or how humble your new place is, you are better off in your own home.
Make it your practice to end any conversation abruptly when your mother begins to speak cruelly to you about yourself, your wife, or your child. If it is during a visit with her, immediately say: “Mom, I’ve got to go. See you later.” Leave as fast as you can, refusing to hear any more. If it occurs during a phone call, it is easy to say these same words and then hang up the phone. Do not respond to what she says in any way. Do not tell her that she is hurting your feelings or that her words bother you. All of these responses will give her hope that her manipulation is working, whereas when you abruptly end conversations with her, you show her that her methods are not working.
In Case 46, which you can find at www.message2conscience.com, we give advice to a young married woman regarding the cruel things that her mother tells her. We recommend that you read Case 46 to help you identify some of the reasons why your mother is saying hurtful things to you.
We wish you well,
1 1Co 13:5