Wife / Mother - What to try next - Talk About Marriage
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-01-2016, 03:47 PM Thread Starter
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Wife / Mother - What to try next


My wife and mother used to get on very well until about 3 years ago.

After the birth of the twins (children 2 and 3) my mum and sister were very involved. My mum would be over 6 or 7 days a week and my sister would sometimes share a room with my wife in the week to bring the twins over to her when they needed feeding / burp them / change them.

Over time my wife became frustrated at mainly my mum's continued presence. Sadly the first I knew of this was when she lost her temper with them. She tried to apologise but my mum had a hard time getting over it and that would annoy my wife who would then lose her temper again and so things continued to deteriorate.

I suggested my mum see the children on a couple of fixed slots a week (thinking my wife could use the time to recover / catch up with friends / maybe eventually even improve the relationship. I thought this would stop my mum dropping in and stop my wife stressing about the next visit.

I think it sort of worked ok for my mum. She complained a bit about not seeing the children as much / wife not caring how she felt etc but she started to get used to it and things seemed to be moving along ok.

Then my wife told me she didn't like the fixed slots. Last time the problems started my mum had said that it would have been ok if my wife had talked to her rather than lost her temper, so, my wife suggested they meet for a drink whilst I looked after the (now 4) children.

Next morning on the way into work I had the panicked phone calls from mum (being cut out, etc). I tried to explain / reassure her. The drink came and went and wife seemed to think it had gone ok.

But a couple of days later I came home from work to find them going at it. I said to mum that we had tried it one way for 2 years and now we needed to try a different way. To be honest there was a lot of resistance / heel dragging. That subsequently became tears and a sort of dismal, depressed acceptance.

In an effort to improve things we tried counselling but that only seemed to make things worse so we gave up after 4 sessions.

I can get on board with about 80% of what my wife says. At the beginning it was more but there seems to be a bit of a punishment agenda coming in too now (eg not inviting her to youngest's first birthday, talk of "putting her in her place", she should only be able to see children if it's doing wife a favour / never on her own, not allowed to put dates in diary - has to just wait till wife suggests it).

It seemed like a bit of a break was a good idea so we agreed that the way my mum would see children is if I took them to hers or neutral venue. Obviously this can only be on weekends (as I'm generally working quite long hours during week) and then, only when we don't have other things planned.

Problem is when I try to find out what we're doing a week in advance I get short shrift and told I should just wait and see if a moment that suits her crops up nearer the time.

I think it's made worse by the fact that mum is especially close to the eldest (age 6) who adores her and that is the child my wife finds it hardest to relate to.

I know I'm supposed to support my wife in these situations but it feels that she's making it harder for me than she needs to now.

We've been married 12 years now and, while we've had our ups and downs it's generally been a happy marriage. I don't want this to impact on the children either but increasingly my wife will make comments in front of them / to them.

As I write this I'm in the car, having gone for a drive to get away from the tension (we're at her parents' house for the long weekend). I had to get out last time we were here too (Easter) so it feels like things are getting harder not easier.

Does anyone have any silver bullets?

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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-01-2016, 06:43 PM
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Re: Wife / Mother - What to try next

Wow - full disclosure, I have huge issues with my own MIL, but it sounds to me as though your wife is being completely unreasonable, not to mention ungrateful! Where would she have been without the help she got from your mum and sister? Does she know how many people would gladly swap with her to have some help? Wow.

The only thing I can think of is, how did your mum interact with your wife during this time? Did she ask your wife how she could help or did she simply "take over"? Not saying she did - just asking.

It just seems very odd for your wife to be behaving this way after all they've done for her...and this is coming from someone who can't stand her MIL! Lol!

One thing I will say - do NOT let your wife drag the children into this. That's so unfair. Particularly the oldest, if she is close to your mum.
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-01-2016, 09:50 PM
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Re: Wife / Mother - What to try next

Wasn't sure where this thread was going based only on reading the title, but I'm sure glad the next suggestion wasn't "Grandma".

That would be weird.
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-02-2016, 02:23 AM Thread Starter
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I think mum was very committed to helping initially but then found it very hard to step back. It does feel quite transactional too now and you're right inasmuch as I think that makes it worse...
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-03-2016, 03:37 PM
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Re: Wife / Mother - What to try next

Do you have good boundaries with your mum, so that she is visiting or helping with the kids, and not just taking over? Does she listen to what your wife says in regards to how to do things?

Does your wife see her own mum often? Or do you mostly just see your mum?

Has your wife said anything about why she wants more distance from your mum?

The only good way to move forward is to find out the why of what is going on. It's hard to fix an issue when you aren't to the bottom of it yet.
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-03-2016, 05:17 PM Thread Starter
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I think there is some "wanting to take over" if I'm completely honest, maybe not overtly or even consciously but on some level. It's much worse since the big bust up 3 yrs ago as she prefers to see the children on their own (without my wife) and she's always been determined to try and get them over to her house rather than stay in ours.

She mainly abides by the rules but my wife's strict with routine and my mum will often return child / children later than agreed if she's in charge and will sometimes plead the children's case after they've already been given an answer - she does sometimes negotiate when I don't think it's her place to negotiate.

Seeing my in laws has always been an issue. They lived about 2.5 hrs away and we used to go up about once a month and they used to come down a fair bit too. Since we had more children and the eldest started school it's been harder to get up to her folks as often - probably every six to eight weeks now. They come here less mainly because (I think) my father in law likes to be in his own house. They are both retired and a couple of yrs ago they had decided to move house. My wife was hoping they'd move nearer us but they're still a couple of hours away and I think there is a part of my wife that resents the fact that my mum saw more of the children than her mum.

I feel like I can go along with about 80% of what my wife says but she doesn't like the fact that I try to let my mum down gently (understand where she's coming from but we need to change etc) as she'd rather I was more confrontational and "put her in her place"
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 06-09-2016, 12:54 PM Thread Starter
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So it's settled in an awkward impasse now. Wife won't go to mum's house with or without me and if my mum were to come to our house I think my wife would obviously make herself scarce. Wife would also not agree to mum being alone with any of the children.

I try to take children over for a couple of hours every two or three weeks but it's always a bit awkward.

I understand that wife doesn't want to speak to mum and so don't ever invite her over. But I also feel a bit bad as I know it's hit mum quite hard. My sister called to ask if I could speak to the psychologist mums seeing, which I will but am not sure how much it will help.

Thing is I don't see this ending any time soon and it can't be too long before one of the children notices.
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 06-09-2016, 06:53 PM
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Re: Wife / Mother - What to try next

Why not go to counseling with the wife?? She is the one who is being unreasonable. She could compromise better. What is grandma really guilty of? Loving her grandbabies too much? Can't be alone with the kids????? She hasn't done anything wrong.

Keep doing what you are doing tho...for your mom and the kids. It's great that kids have grandparents who care. Some don't.
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 06-09-2016, 08:37 PM
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Re: Wife / Mother - What to try next

Good God! You've got 4 kids 6 and under and your wife is stupid enough to turn down help. She needs a head check.

You tell your wife that these children are yours, too, and you want them to have a relationship with your mother. Remind her that your family saved the day when the twins came home and she could at least show some goddamn gratitude.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 06-13-2016, 10:07 AM
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Re: Wife / Mother - What to try next

And the "Silver bullet" is......Boundaries!

They are NOT your mom's kids, they're you and your wife's. That she loves them and is particularly close with all of them, especially one, doesn't entitle her to basically have carte blanche access to them.

The therapy here is really with you and your mum. She needs to learn ways to control her urges and respect obvious familial boundaries.

I'm with your wife here..although (and maybe) b/c I think her actions are clearly indicative of her desperation. I think you need to take heed here, this isn't a situation that will improve on it's own, nor do I think it can continue like this, it either needs to get better quickly or it will get much worse, and instead of the animus being primarily with your mum, it will include you.

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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 06-13-2017, 03:00 AM
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Re: Wife / Mother - What to try next

Maybe she should be a businesswoman?
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 06-14-2017, 07:48 AM
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Re: Wife / Mother - What to try next

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