I am married to a good, hard-working man. We have a son, and four years ago we decided to live close to my husband’s mother. But now, for education and work reasons, we decided to move to another location in the city, and my husband’s mother and his sister tell him that I’m taking him away so that he won’t help them financially. I feel very badly about this situation, and I’d like his mother to understand that I’m not taking him away, but rather simply that we make decisions together as a family.

My mother-in-law is a woman who has never liked me. Out of respect for my husband, I’ve tried to keep quiet and not say anything, but what she’s doing now doesn’t seem fair. I ask God to help me and give me wisdom so I’ll never resent her in my heart, but honestly I’m not sure if it might not be best to stop talking to her and avoid any kind of relationship.

Dear Friend,

We are sorry to hear of the problem with your in-laws. Unfortunately, what you describe is very common. Mothers, especially, seem to have a problem understanding that they should not interfere in their adult children’s lives. Many mothers have expectations that are not reasonable and not biblical.

Jesus Christ taught, “’For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”(1) Jesus was quoting from the creation story found at the beginning of the Bible.(2) From the time of creation, the marriage relationship was designed to supersede the parent-child relationship. Jesus didn’t just say that the two would become one flesh; He also said that the man would leave his father and his mother.

Mothers who don’t accept that their children are going to leave them are miserable mothers. They struggle and manipulate and even deceive in order to get their children to do as they wish. They make their children feel guilty, threaten to harm themselves, and resort to any other tactic to get their own way.

So what can you do? It is unrealistic to think that you can completely break off the relationship with your in-laws. In most cases, to do so would be to cause your husband to be a mediator between them and you. Therefore it is better to let your husband work out his own issues with his mother, with you not getting involved. If he chooses to stay away from her, then your problem will be partially resolved, but be careful not to try to influence him.

When you must be in the company of your mother-in-law and your sister-in-law, the best thing you can do is to be quiet and let others have the conflicts with them. What they say about you doesn’t matter if it’s not true. And it doesn’t matter that they try to deceive and manipulate you; just rise above it and ignore it. Stay near your husband so that he can answer if they begin to accuse you or speak rudely to you. If he refuses to take up for you, then he will have to understand that you will not accompany him again when he visits his mother.

We wish you the best,

1 Mt 19:5; Mk 10:7,8; Eph 5:31
2 Ge 2:24