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inlaw-trouble
December 4, 2000
1:00 pm
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autumnlife
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I am a woman, age 58 and married. My marriage has been fairly strong up until about three years ago, when the last of my two parents passed away and there were many family problems. It took a while to get my nerves back in order and calmed down. Now, my husband's father has passed away a few months ago and it seems his mother has started criticizing me.

Now, a relationship that seemed very comforting and supportive five years ago, has become a major thorn in my side.

I really do not want to visit my mother-in-law at Christmas, because I am so uncomfortable with the situation.

My husband says he needs me to go along as a support to him. He was supportive when my parents died, so I owe him my support, which is okay.

His Mother is coming up with all sorts of uncomplimentary remarks about me, and she, herself is quite pitiful, so I do consider the source.

I know I am talented and can be thankful for good health, and many things, but it is difficult to deal with insults from people who purport to be "family". I lose patience.

I am trying to project how I am going to cope. We have not been on a vacation for three years, and my husband is losing his job and I am unemployed, though seeking employment. He will not consider going away even for a weekend. I am sure my husband is feeling anxiety. We never seem to have a real opportunity to relax. Other than watching TV, he turns everything into work. Sometimes I feel as though I will explode.

December 4, 2000
7:57 pm
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Molly
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Is your husband an only child, sounds like she is lost, and miserable. Surely you can understand this,and perhaps if you were not still so raw from your recent loss, and the financial stress that you are both enduring, you might have a higher threshold for her nonsense, which I am sure is very real to her. figure out a way to be there for your husband, who must be there for her, it is just a rough road all around for the both of you right now, but I am sure you have thick enough skin to be deaf to a lonly old woman. Find some good books, or maybe you'll be lucky and find employment, which could be the best excuse to avoid the trip. Good luck.

December 4, 2000
8:37 pm
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gingerleigh
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May I ask a question...when your mother in law starts criticizing you, how do you react? Do you become quiet, change the subject, get angry or defensive? Do you offer insults in return? Do you cry? Do you laugh or tell her that you don't take her seriously? Do you pretend to agree with her?

People criticize others for a variety of reasons, and each person is egged on by different types of feedback. Some people might be like bullies in the playground, where all they want to do is get you to cry. Others want to draw out an angry emotional response, to inflict the pain that they are feeling on someone else. I'm sure there is a psychological reason that people pick on others, but I am nowhere near educated enough or experienced enough to guess what that might be.

You understand intellectually in your head that what she says doesn't really matter. But for some reason it really does matter to you. Why is that? What happens if she thinks you are a horrible person?

New subject: with the holidays coming up, it seems like you really do need a break of some sort. What about going on a short vacation yourself? It doesn't have to be costly, perhaps a short weekend trip to the mountains or the ocean or the woods or some other park near wherever you live. Go alone, take your best gal pal, whatever. Plan it out, and ask your husband to go with you. He might relent if he realizes that he doesn't have to work on planning and such. If he doesn't, follow through and get away. It will do your mind and spirit so good, and you'll come back more refreshed and centered.

Peace.

December 5, 2000
8:59 am
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autumnlife
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To Molly -

I thank you for your thoughts. My husband is not an only child. My mother-in-law is very pampered. She has a son over 40 who still lives with her and another son that lives half a mile away. As widows go, she is very fortunate to be so well attended to. Her younger sister just sold off most of her furniture and gave away a lot of her stuff just to move in and take care of things for her. She is rather helpless in many ways.

I think she is just mixed up. She seems to be trying to meddle in my relationship with my husband. I like your concept of being "deaf" to a lonely old woman. She is blind and deaf to my feelings and she really is not as needy as many others in her situation. I am going to see what I can do to keep myself from emotionally "hearing" what she says.

To Gingerleigh -

I thank you for your thoughts. When she criticizes me I waltz around the issue and become intellectual, avoiding showing my feelings. Then when I am away from her, the feelings surface and I feel angry, may cry. In part I am sometimes avoiding an angry response to a very pitiful old lady, but at a price which I am not able to pay at this time.

Your suggestion to observe/avoid giving her the feedback she may be looking for is a good one. I am trying to analyze what this is about. Probably, there are some differences in values. Also, I think she feels threatened that others may "take over" her life. For example, she will not share any of her financial info with her own children, and insists that only her 73-yr-old sister can help her with finances. They are both in their seventies. She is a very controlling matriarchal type, but in a simple, uneducated way.

To both people her responded -

I felt so much better that someone responded. Your ideas were helpful and appropriate.

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