My mother-in-law hates me. She manipulates my girlfriend, who is her only child. I respect my girlfriend’s mother, but she has offended me many times.

I believe that my girlfriend’s mother is worried that her daughter won’t support her anymore. She wants my girlfriend to give her everything because she doesn’t like to work. Because of this, I don’t see myself as happy by the side of my future wife. I want us to live separately from her mother, but my girlfriend doesn’t want to. I am desperate! I want to leave her, but I love her too much.

Dear Friend,

You have put yourself in a really difficult position. If you are already living with your girlfriend, then you made an unwise decision when you moved in with her and her mother. Living together without being married is a prescription for trouble. That is one reason why God’s law tells us to save sexual relations for after we are married. If you chose to have sexual relations with your girlfriend, and then to move in with her, it was as if you were asking to have trouble from then on. On the other hand, if you have not moved in, then the next steps will be much easier.

If you are convinced that you want a life with a meddlesome and interfering mother-in-law, then ask your girlfriend to marry you. Make sure that your girlfriend understands that after the wedding (but not before) she will live with you and not with her mother, and that you will not have sexual relations with her unless and until you are married.

If your girlfriend is willing to marry you and live with you, then discuss with her how much she will continue to help her mother for the remainder of her mother’s life. As the only child, she is right to honor and care for her mother, but that does not mean she must live with her. Instead, the two of you will have to agree on both financial help and caregiving issues. It would be very reckless to pursue marriage without having this agreement. We suggest that you write down what you decide, that both of you sign the document, and that you keep it in a safe place. Otherwise, it is almost certain that one of you will forget what you both decided.

However, if your girlfriend is not willing to marry you, then it should be clear to her that she can’t expect to live with you, and if you aren’t married, that you won’t be having sexual relations. (This is extremely important because, if she were to get pregnant, all of your options would change and there would be no end to the trouble that you would be in.) If you and your girlfriend can’t work out the details, then the only thing to do is to break up completely, no matter how much you love her. Continuing in any relationship at all will bring you long-lasting trouble.

Do not make the mistake of thinking that your girlfriend’s mother will accept you after you are married, nor delude yourself into believing that she will change. If you go ahead with this relationship, then you will have only yourself to blame for your future unhappiness.

We wish you the best,