I am 23, married for three years. My husband is an only child. He was spoiled rotten as a child, and I think he still is.
My husband and I bought my in-laws’ house when they moved away for a job change. The problem is his parents think they can stay at our home whenever they want and for as long as they want. When they come, they also bring their four dogs.
His mother basically takes over my home when she visits, all the way down to cooking and making plans for the week. My husband tells me I must deal with it because they live far away and they are my in-laws. But my husband sees them at least six times a year for a week at a time, either here or there.
On our first Christmas, they came to our home and stayed two weeks. After our honeymoon, my husband even made plans for us to fly back to his parents’ house before going home. Of course, he didn’t tell me that when he booked the flight. My husband always seems to know when they are coming because he and his parents make plans behind my back.
Now we are building a home of our own, and my husband has discussed having them come the actual week we move in. My mother-in-law says she is coming to help, but I know she will try to take over. I am taking antidepressants because of this.
My husband won’t back down. I love him very much, but we fight about this all the time. I can’t come up with a compromise. His mother knows what she is doing to me, but she turns around and buys me everything just to make me look ungrateful to my husband.
It is unbelievable what these people think is normal.
Ginny, your husband acts as he did when he was growing up. Small wonder. You moved into his childhood home, which of course was his parents’ home.
That’s one reason he and your in-laws treat you like a child who doesn’t need to be consulted. Your mother-in-law is like the parent who doesn’t tell a child she is going to the doctor for a shot. After the shot, the child gets a lollipop.
The first time you accepted a lollipop from your mother-in-law, and the second time, and the third time, you agreed to her terms. After the honeymoon, your husband moved you from one place to another without your knowledge and against your will. If ever there was a time for fireworks, that was the time.
Your husband didn’t suddenly become a self-centered only child. He was decades in the making. So were his parents. A marriage certificate cannot change that, and a pattern was confirmed while you were dating and engaged. That is why he and his family think you are in the wrong.
You married three people. They don’t need to win the argument if they can get what they want behind your back without penalty. You could ultimatum your husband, but ultimatums seldom solve underlying problems, especially deep-seated ones.
If it takes drugs to live with these people, the answer is obvious. “I thought I could manage being married to you and to your mom and dad. But I can’t.” You were 20 when you married. You are young enough to begin again. But if you have children, you will be trapped. Pondering that, not how to compromise, is where to begin.
~ Wayne & Tamara
Column for the week of June 3, 2019
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Wayne & Tamara answer as many letters as they possibly can.