Dealing with Difficult In-Laws (1)
Although mothers-in-law bear the brunt of the “difficult in-law”
tag, family in-law problems come in many different guises and are not
restricted to mothers, or even to females. Let’s take a look at
some examples where a marriage is under siege due to problems with extended
Helena and Dave are a busy, working couple in their early 30s with no
children. Both hold responsible jobs and work long hours. Dave’s
brother, Dean, is single, changes his job regularly to follow his main
interest—surfing—and is an easy-going, genuinely fun guy.
People enjoy his company, including Helena and Dave. But Dean is causing
problems in Helena and Dave’s marriage. He is chronically short
of money due to his irregular employment and borrows money from his
brother and seldom pays it back. Helena is becoming increasing furious
with Dean, particularly as she hopes to give up work shortly to have
children, and wants to save as much money as she can in the meantime.
She expressed her feelings to her husband, but Dave calmly dismissed
her fears, saying they hardly missed the money, and besides Dean is
fun to have around. Helena is beginning to resent Dean, and finds it
increasingly hard to be civil to him when he visits. When she made a
sarcastic comment to Dean recently about his money problems, Dean laughed
it off. But later, Dave became angry with his wife for being rude to
his brother. Helena now feels even more resentful of her brother-in-law.
Claire has a three-week-old daughter and is struggling with feeding
problems, and lack of sleep. But Claire’s own mother seems to
be her biggest problem. Grandma Julie drops in at any time of day, without
notice, to see her “Baby Bella”. Although Claire has given
out hints that she would prefer a phone call first, her mother just
ignores her and says that as a grandmother, she should be able to see
her granddaughter any time she likes. Claire has started to exhibit
signs of postnatal depression recently and cannot deal with her intrusive
mother anymore. She has asked her husband to step in, but so far he
has said nothing to his mother-in-law. He believes Claire is just “over-emotional”
at the moment.
Elise’s mother-in-law recently showed a movie to her four grandchildren
while she was minding them for the night. The movie was rated for ages
15 years and over. The grandchildren were aged 11, nine, eight, and
six. Elise was furious because her eight-year-old was upset when she
came home. On investigation, Elise found that the movie contained oral
sex scenes and was entirely unsuited to an audience of children. Both
Elise and her husband, Carl, confronted his mother over the incident.
The mother-in-law stated she had done nothing wrong, as she believed
that what children don’t understand goes over their heads. When
told her eight-year-old granddaughter had been upset by the movie, she
simply repeated that she couldn’t see a problem. Elise and Carl
went home frustrated and angry by the whole incident and the lack of
a suitable resolution.
In our next article on difficult in-laws, we will look at why the first
two couples are in an unhealthy family dynamic, and why the third couple
is further down the track to solving their dilemma.
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