My wife and I have been happily married 40 years. Our adult son is married to an ambitious, smart, very pretty, hard working woman. We have always been close with our son. The woman's family is lovely and welcoming toward us. She is indifferent, except when she is correcting or criticizing my wife. My wife is charming and funny, albeit strong minded, as is the daughter-in-law. I am more politic, but do have opinions. All of us are professionals. I bite my tongue more than I would like to in order not to make conflicts or make my son unhappy. I don't know how we can break through to the daughter-in-law. When we make inquiries about her work, she acts as though it is a state secret. They ask that we consult with them about our visits as they live in another major city. When we visit, we realize that they have work, but we are capable of taking care of ourselves with museums and such. I appreciate that there need to be boundaries, but I am concerned that these are becoming unapproachable borders. Help!
As the post title says, boundaries go both ways. As our children get older and bring new people into the family, we often have to readjust to new personalities and new ways of doing things. It may be that your daughter-in-law is insecure and that manifests itself as criticism, especially toward your wife. Daughter-in-laws often feel that they have a lot to live up to in their mothers-in-law.
That being said, you and your wife need to have boundaries as well and one of those boundaries should involve what kind of language (i.e. criticism) is acceptable in your relationship. If positive productive criticism is part of your lives, so be it. But if that criticism is a one way street, it needs to be addressed.
Given the tension that appears to be present in your relationship with you daughter-in-law, it's not surprising that the boundaries they've set about visiting are starting to feel like razor wire. That being said, asking you to consult them before visiting is a reasonable boundary UNLESS it starts impacting your ability to communicate with your son (though I will add here that marriage changes the dynamics of all family relationships so you may have to decide where you're willing to compromise).
OK, but back to the indifference and criticism. My suggestion is that you talk to your son. You frame your feelings in "when she does XYZ, it makes your mom and I feel XYZ." Stress how important it is to you that the lines of communication remain open. Reinforce the idea that you want them both to be part of your lives, but also that you need to make sure that everyone is being treated respectfully. You may suggest a get-together where you can talk (calmly and maturely) about issues that have arisen on both sides. If everyone can work together, you might be able to uncover the source of your daughter-in-law's behavior and take action on improving your relationship with her.
If either your son or his wife seem resistant to hearing your feelings, there may be a deeper issue. In that case, you might need to seek out a family counselor who can work with you and your wife (and possibly your son and his wife) on resolving those issues. But it sounds like you have a good relationship with your son and I expect he will be willing to work with you if you can lay out some parameters without letting too much anger or frustration seep into the conversation.
I hope this helps. The key here is mutual respect.
I very recently became a Godmother to an amazing baby girl who already has my Husband (her Godfather) wrapped around her little bitty pinky, I'll refer to her as "A" from now on. We are over the moon to have been chosen as A's Godparents, but becoming Godparents has introduced a challenge we never saw coming. My Mother has decided that she wants to not only meet A, whose Parents don't much care for her, she wants A to call her Nana (aka, Grandmother).
Now, there is a precedent in my family of more or less adopting nonrelated Grandchildren under certain circumstances. After my Uncle married my Aunt, her Nieces' circumstances took a dramatic turn for the worse and it looked like my Uncle and Aunt might have had to adopt her. This unfortunate period in her life lasted long enough that my Grandparents sort of adopted her as their Grandchild and she calls them Grandmommy and Granddaddy to this day many years later. However, A's circumstances could not be more opposite. A has wonderful biological Grandparents, her Parents are stable/loving and everything else you could want for her.
As I previously mentioned, A's Parents don't much care for my Mother and have said point blank they don't want my Mother making A call her Nana or any other form of Grandmother. I am 100% onboard with their wishes as is my Husband. The only person not on board, is my Mother.
My Mother and I have a somewhat rocky relationship as it is and when I tried to broach this topic the first time she dissolved into tears, demanded to know why I was denying her a Granddaughter, and said a slew of other things not worth repeating. When it comes right down to it, I will adhere to A's Parents wishes without fail as I feel A is more important in this situation than my Mother's disappointment. What I need advice on is how to approach this with my Mother again to make A's Parents wishes clear, as well as my commitment to honoring them, without the conversation resulting in tears and shouting again.
Cornered by a Manipulator
I'm sorry that you're having to go through this. Agreeing to be godparents to little A is a big responsibility and an honor. Your friends clearly see you and your husband as the kind of people they would want their daughter raised by if anything ever happened to them. Good job and what a joy for you!
Now, regarding your mother. The truth of the matter is that this isn't about her. Or even about you, really. This is about A and A's parents, who are making an important decision about their child's future. It is wonderful that they are thinking hard about who should be responsible for A if they weren't around, and I know that the decision to name godparents also gives you a special relationship with A. That relationship does not extend to your mother. A is not part of your family. You and your husband will have a wonderful, joyful tie to A her whole life, but that has nothing whatsoever to do with your mother, regardless of anything else that may have happened in the past. This situation is unique.
Kudos to you for realizing that you need to abide by A's parents wishes 100%. Now comes the hard part. Setting boundaries with your mother. When your mother breaks down into tears and calls you every name in the book because she doesn't get her way, she is being manipulative and emotionally abusive. That kind of behavior does not make a strong relationship. If you want to be close with your mother, or even maintain the status quo, you'll need to have strong boundaries and stick to them. Tell your mother, KINDLY, that these are A's parents wishes and you will be following those wishes to the letter. Let her know that you love her and you see that she's upset by this news, but that the subject is non-negotiable and you won't be discussing it further. Period.
Sound harsh? I know it does. And I don't mean to sound patronizing when I say this, but you have to treat you mother's behavior like you would a child - be clear and be consistent. You can apply this lesson to any other area of your relationship with your mother because this kind of behavior is inappropriate. Believe me, from one who has had to work hard on boundaries in my life, the exercise may seem hard, but it's totally worth it. Again, I'm not advocating being mean to your mother. But you need to draw a line in the sand about this issue and be willing to stick to it. And if you use this approach with other tough interactions with your mom, she'll start to understand what you are and are not wiling to put up with in your relationship with her.
I hope this helps, and I wish you luck. Please let me know if you need any further advice.
I recently opened up a college saving's account for our 2 year old son and emailed all three sets (yes, divorce) of grandparents his college savings account info and let them know that if they ever wanted to give to his 529 account in lieu of a birthday or Christmas gift to feel free. They could even claim it on their taxes!
I put no pressure to do so, just let them know. My in-laws pulled my husband aside and let him know how rude they thought my email was.
I didn't think it was rude. My mom has since given 529 money instead of gifts and thinks it's a great idea.
Do you think it was rude?
Dear Fantastic Mother!
NO, I unequivocally DO NOT think it was rude :)
I’m sorry that happened to you. In this day and age, saving for college is the mark of responsible parenting and it’s a shame that your in-laws took offense. That being said, I’d suggest two things. 1) Either you or your husband let them know that you did not intend to offend them, but that your child’s education is important to you and you wanted to give them another option for meaningful giving. And 2) own your decision and your communication. You can’t always keep people from taking offense at the things you do and say, but in this case, I don’t believe you’ve done anything wrong. Bravo to you and your husband for being proactive about your children’s education. Give your in-laws lots of love and it’ll blow over before you know.
I have been dating a man for over a year now and we are definitely in love! He is such a great and loving guy! He adores my daughter and she loves him as well! But our relationship is currently at a stand still! Here's the thing, we live 1,000 miles apart! We met online but we instantly hit it off! We've only visited each other a total of 6 times but we speak via text phone and FaceTime everyday! We both know that the other is who we want! We also both know that in order for this to work someone has to make the big move! He has asked me to move to where he is because he has received a great career opportunity, but I just can't bring myself to do it while my left ring finger is still bare! I have so much to leave behind, and I'm definitely worried about how my 4 year old would respond to a new environment! He's stated that he would not have me move there if he wasn't planning to marry me! Am I crazy for wanting this man to propose to me first? Should I make the move first then wait for the ring to follow, as he assures it will? I love him and I cannot imagine life without him, but I also can't see myself making that big of a move without at least being engaged! Am I being unreasonable?
I can completely relate to your situation. I went through something very similar last year. Choosing to move away from your support system is always hard and I think we find ourselves looking for a guarantee. But there isn’t one. Whether he puts the ring on your finger now or later, there’s no guarantee that things will work out. And there’s no reason to think that they won’t. Life is about making the best decisions we can with the information we’ve got. If you move, you and your daughter will both go through a period of adjustment and it may not always be easy. Sometimes we take risks and bad things happen. But if you aren’t willing to take any risks, nothing happens.
Here’s what I would suggest. If the financial situation is better where he lives, start planning a move. But make sure that your plans are not contingent on the relationship. As a mother, no matter who is in your life, your focus will always be on taking care of your daughter. There’s no reason this decision has to be any different. Take your time. Research the new town, the schools, the playgrounds. Use Meetup.com or Facebook groups to reach out and start making friends early. Move over but not necessarily in. It’s not unreasonable to move to town but keep your own apartment until you’re sure things are going to work out. Figure out how you’ll stay connected with your support system back home.
This doesn’t have to be scary and you don’t need a ring to make a decision that will be good for you, your daughter and your fellow. Just make this move about YOU and not about the relationship. That way, no matter what happens, you’ll feel secure in the decisions you’ve made.
Me and my ex broke up way back in February. But ever since we've found it hard to stay away from each other. We talked about getting back together but never did because he said "oh schools ending" but yet on the last day he’s all over me saying he'll call me during summer and putting his arm around me. He never called. Now we're back…he said hi and I just smiled…we still haven’t talked more than two words to each other and its killing me...sometimes I think I’m over him but I just cant move on after all this time. I mean getting back together would be great but at the least I want to be friends. Is he over me? Does he even care? I always catch him staring and making faces when I talk to guys. But he’s with this girl a lot and walking her to class which is what he did to me before we dated...I really don’t know what to do...everyone tells me to just get over him but i really can’t.
Sometimes after a break up, we cling to the familiar. It’s not surprising that you two had a hard time staying apart. You were probably both in need of comfort. But I think if you were going to get back together, it would have happened by now. Having a hard time moving forward is normal and since you and your ex spent some time keeping your feelings alive after the break up, it’s understandable that moving on has been especially difficult for you. But the longer you hold on to the idea of getting back together, the longer it will take you to heal. And if he’s indeed moving on with someone else, holding on is going to be very painful.
My suggestion is that you take some time to think about things that make you happy that don’t have anything to do with relationships. Are you involved in school clubs or sports? Do you love hanging out with your friends? Take this time to do things that you enjoy. Things that get your excited about life and that don’t require that you’re dating someone. It’ll help you take the focus off of your loneliness and back on what’s most importance…your happiness.
I'm going through a hard time.You see me and my boyfriend broke up but the sad thing is its been 2 months sense the break up. I still haven't moved on. My question is why haven't I moved on? I kinda want my ex back but hes an ex!!! What should i do?
Dear Letting Go,
Feelings don't follow a schedule unfortunately. Some people move on right away, and some linger in the post-breakup Blues for a long time. Give yourself some time. And take some time to focus on you. Think about things you'd like to do that have nothing to do with having a boyfriend. You'll heal quicker and be ready for your next relationship if you spend some time on your own happiness first.
I broke up with my boyfriend in january of this year. I've wanted him back ever since but i thought he hated me. In like march he wrote me these little notes saying he misses me and ever since we've been "talking" as in "together but not together". We were sort of friends with benefits and For the past month he's been saying he needs time to think and he's unsure of what to do. Last week he said he didn't wanna be "committed" but that he really liked me (still) and he was really hurt when i dumped him and he was scared. I told him if i didn't think we would work i wouldn't be putting in so much effort to make things work and if we weren't dating then he couldn't touch me. When he said he needed time to think i tried giving him space and left him alone and i wouldnt let him touch me. Three days later He thought i was mad at him and he said i sent my friends to talk to him (which i didn't). And he said "oh you know..the school years ending and I'm tired of this..and when you dumped me it really messed with my self confidence" and I told him "don't tell me you have feelings for me and want to be with me and give up so easily. you haven't even been trying to make this work" and before he could say anything his friends pulled him away.. i don't know how to feel or how he feels or if i should cut him off or if he even cares..all i know is how much this hurts.
Dear Second Thoughts,
My guess is that your instincts told you this wasn't going to work in the first place, which is why you broke up. But break-ups are hard for everyone and it's tempting to go back in time. Unfortunately, you can't go back. You can only go forward. So if you two end up moving forward, I would suggest doing so with a clean slate. Don't try to get back what you had. Start something new.
Stick with your "hands off" policy. You deserve a relationship, not just a roll in the hay (unless that's what you want). It's okay to expect more.
Give yourself some time to think about what you really want. Is it really this guy?
I have a serious problem that I don’t know how to handle. I have fallen in love with my 29 year-old orchestra teacher and I’m only turning 13. I have no clue what to do. I know you may say it’s just a crush but i know it’s not. I get butterflies in my stomach just looking at him. I know it’s highly illegal for a minor to date a teacher but I really want to be with him. I know I can’t so right now all I really want is a kiss or hug or something for him to symbolize he cares about me. I love him and I don’t want him to get in trouble for something he didn’t do. Please help me.
I’m not going to tell you this is just a crush. Your feelings are real and I don’t doubt that they’re overwhelming. But, I’m going to be honest with you. As a teacher, he cannot have any kind of inappropriate contact with you, including kissing and hugging. Teachers are held to a professional code of ethics that forbids them from having that kind of contact with their students. It’s intended to keep you (his students) safe from being taken advantage of, but it’s also intended to keep him (and other teachers) safe from making mistakes.
The bottom line: Kissing you, hugging you or having any inappropriate contact with you could not only get him fired and/or arrested, but could make it impossible for him to teach ever again. If you care about your teacher, don’t put him in a position that might ruin his career and his life. It doesn’t have anything to do with his feelings or yours. It’s about following the rules and keeping everybody involved safe.
So I am young and my boyfriend isn't talking to me in school and hasn't been texting me lately. My first thought was that he was mad at me and he said he's not. Then I asked my friend who's in his class who said he hasn’t been talking to anyone today and kind of down. I asked him what's wrong and he said he was up late doing schoolwork and he was tired. I don't think that's the whole problem but he said it is. What should I do?
The best thing you can do is to give him some space but let him know that you care about him and are there for him if he needs to talk. Maybe he’s really just tired. Or maybe he’s got some stressful stuff happening at home. It’s hard to say for sure and if he’s not feeling like talking, you can’t force it out of him.
Now, if you start to worry that he’s depressed and might harm himself, find an adult you trust to talk to right away.
We all have bad days and sometimes our bad days are more like bad weeks or years. Be his friend. Let him know he can come to you if he needs you. Then give him a breather. When he tells you he’s not mad at you, believe him. When he’s ready to talk about how he’s feeling, he will. Or maybe he’ll work through whatever’s bothering him and things will get back to normal. Give him time.
What should you do if you haven't talked to your boyfriend in 2 weeks??? He says he doesn't have a phone and I believe him but I don't think its good for our relationship!?? So please help me. BTW I'm 15!!
After reading your question, I found myself wondering how you met your boyfriend. I would have assumed you’d met him at school given your age, but then I wondered why you haven’t seen him for two weeks. Clearly, I’m missing something. But either way, I think my advice would be pretty much the same so I’m going to press on. It stinks not to be able to talk to your boyfriend everyday or even just more regularly. And yes, it does make a relationship difficult BUT not impossible. I would suggest finding other ways to communicate. Here are some suggestions:
Ok, so one last thought. If your boyfriend disappears for large periods of time, this may not end up being the kind of relationship that’s going to be comfortable for you. And it’s okay to understand that about yourself. You are absolutely entitled to decide what kinds of things you like and are willing to live with in a relationship. You can’t make someone else fit that mold if they don’t (round peg, square hole) but recognizing the things that you need in a relationship will make it more likely that you find someone who meets those needs.
Wishing you good luck.
Don't be shy! Say what's on your mind and get a good dose of perspective in return.