I used to laugh at psychologists for this. Like, why do I have to talk about my mom, mainly because I’d already done enough self-analysis to resolve my mom problems. Then I started to see my friends’ coming to me with their mom and dad problems. I guess I hated it because they seemed so powerless in their problem solving. So unaware of their own personal power and self inflicted pain, but was grateful that they decided to share, not so I could relate to past mom hurts or dysfunctional families but because of their willingness to talk and share. It wasn’t until I saw one completely shut down when trying to talk about her family; as if she was fearful of a discussion. When I’d talk to my psychologist, I would just tell them that I had issues in the past with my Mother, but accepted her flaws, prayed for her, kept my distance, helped her when I could, and didn’t really dwell on childhood dramas. When she was in my vicinity, I was her friend; able to compare me to her, feeling a sense of unspoken self pride, not pity, anger or resentment for her decisions, thanks to self-analysis.
I reviewed other’s relationships with their Mother’s and listened to their thoughts. Two felt in competition with their Mother’s and Mother In Laws. One hated that her Mother often compared herself to her daughter and even vocalized that her mother was pessimistic, not recognizing her own patterns of pessimism in work, marriage, and social engagements. She conveyed a need to feel accepted by her Mother in Law, communicated fears of not being liked, as well as discontent with her new marriage in a similar fashion as with her previous one. She wasn’t aware she was in full negative complaint mode, unable to speak about the positive things she saw in a man or even her Mother. I often had to reassure her that her Mother was a nice person and must be if she was willing to entertain her conversations and visits. She must’ve enjoyed her company, but she could never compliment her. She talked about her sisters and their life challenges about how they were not like her and how her youngest sister made bad marital decisions, never connecting with her own bad decisions.
One was being trampled on by her Mother during wedding planning, while the other allowed no motherly involvement in planning or if she did, she didn’t share it or lead me to believe it. She handled everything herself.
The other one spoke about family dysfunction and difficulty with her Mother, Father, and Mother In Law. She had a stronger personality but was struggling with being a Mother with a Father on deployment, suffering from occasional bouts of depression. She had difficulty with the Father’s family, although in the vicinity of her and her child, they failed to follow through on the child’s 1st birthday or promises to care for the child while she worked. All I could ever do was try to be there for them and apologize for the problems she was experiencing, reassuring her that her husband would return safely; that she was a good mother. I was really shocked when she shared drug abuse problems and became very concerned when she told me she was moving to an area where there was cocaine use after she and her husband got out of the military; mainly because she had been open to using drugs in the past and also spoke excitingly about her willingness to use; even after having a child. She was very guarded of her child and herself. She presented as strong willed, but I observed an abusive tendency toward herself and her husband. They’ve gone on to have 3 children, stating she became a full time student pursuing her Master’s degree. I wasn’t sure if she was lying because she had described her living arrangement as being out in a remote location with a city being many miles away. I felt I could no longer trust in what she said, but still felt a natural concern for her and her children which was never presented as being mutual.
They both talked of financial woes, relying on the Mother In Laws to help them out.
These two somewhat resembled my own Mother. Strong willed, a negative complainer, and powerless in her surroundings. I didn’t rely on them as Mother figures, but sometimes felt I was a Motherly role for them.
I feel bad for the one’s that use their mother’s to solve their marital problems, engaging them in their own love quarrels not realizing it, but alienating them from their other half. Although it seems right to draw upon your Mother’s expertise in relationship advice, it creates a family barrier that is difficult to overcome. Especially because you’re asking your parent to take sides in your family dispute, potentially creating a problem down the road in family gatherings and perceptions. It might be considered the same in using a sister or a brother, yet different, since it’s a different relationship dynamic. Relying on a brother or sister to help solve a marital problem puts them in also in an awkward position, yet helpful in seeing another point of view from a trusted advisor.
If a woman is married and still attached to her Mother, unable to solve her own problems, relying on Mother to solve them, then she has not yet become a woman. If a man has to rely on his Father to solve marital problems, he too has not yet become a man. Parent’s love it when their children contact them to solve problems, as it makes them feel needed, important, something they might have been missing for sometime. It’s not a bad thing to confide in parents or look to them to solve problems, but you must exercise caution considering their past experiences, lack of lessons learned, or their own cycles of bad decision making. Involving them in your love life and financial problems is like inviting them into the intimate part of your marriage.
I once knew this lady that was entered into marriage and rarely had a day without Mother, Sister, or In-Law contact. Their marriage crumbled, most likely due to the familial interference or inability to build their own lives without family support. While combining families is the main goal, it must be done so with boundaries and planning to create a new family with healthy Fatherly or Motherly attachments. Parent’s of new married couples need to be financial supporters or champions and prepare to become grandparents or friends, not marital counselors and critics of their new son or daughter in laws. Some don’t know when to go home and let go of their children learn to build their own lives without Mother or Father interference, limiting their child’s ability to establish their own family and identity. Too much Mother and Father influence in a new marriage or family makes a new married couple still feel like children and the new family may have difficulty creating the life they want rather than redoing the life they grew up with. Not all families follow in the parental footsteps, but the point I’m trying to make is Parental Attachments with new married couples requires change and adaptation, just like adoption.
Financial Family Support is a dangerous but sometimes a necessary evil in achieving success; often harming the ego of man or woman because they don’t have the means necessary to succeed without them. It gets dangerous when a man is in debt to his wife’s family; as it eats away at his ego and internal well-being, making him feel like he can’t be a bread winner or provide for his family on his own, as expected by society. The man has to be smart enough to decide if it was the woman pushing him in this direction because of her inability to detach from her own mother or family and become an independent woman of a new family.
It certainly is a period of growing and learning how to separate oneself from the old and from the new and can be very difficult when adults are still stuck to their parents, especially when Mom’s or Dad’s become territorial over the child they ‘gave away’ in marriage. They often times forget that they have to give them up and let them go their own way, even if it means financial disaster.
If you’re trying to buy a home and build a business and decide to rely on family to get there, it’s not going to be without a price; whether it’s a threat to a man’s ego to satisfy the woman’s desire in home-ownership and building a family or if it’s just merely a financial loan. It places people in a feeling of inferiority where they make up for it by putting in more effort to attain success, independent of the family. They naturally seek approval by the family and feel bad if they can’t provide it themselves. If the family offering financial support doesn’t abuse the new family, then it could be successful, but it depends upon the dynamics and how the woman or man or parents view the familial support.
It should be a joy for parents to contribute to the success of their child’s marriage. It only becomes problematic when either party abuses the financial provider or holds it over their head to use it as a tool during a period of marital dysfunction. Ideally, if I had to borrow money from an in-law to purchase a home, then I’d have a contract with terms, separate from access to the future children, access to the home being purchased, being certain that boundaries between in-laws and the married family are known and secure so no one gets taken advantage of. It’s important to maintain confidentiality and trust in the marital relationship, knowing that your new wife or husband is not going to run to the parent’s to solve disputes without first working it out within the marriage in both emotional and financial matters. Some people think because they gave birth to a kid even if it’s been 40 years they have superiority and some also think because they contributed financially to the success of the household that they can come and go as they please and have influence over the estate.
You might be familiar with the woman that secretly calls her dad for a ten thousand dollar loan because her husband’s business is failing. She didn’t tell her husband what she was going to do, so naturally the husband becomes angry because it was his job to prevent it or get them out of the disaster. She robbed her husband of an opportunity to save the family from financial ruin and proved she didn’t know how to effectively communicate and problem solve as a family unit.
I observed a family where the number of in-laws was greatly imbalanced. The young woman in the new marriage was very close to her family; her Mother lived close to her and after marriage became a daily fixture in their lives, providing financial and grandmother support. It seemed like a healthy dynamic at first, until I observed the Mother’s interference and close involvement in the marriage; it seemed out of bounds. I also listened to her discontent about her new husbands’ need to discuss his absent Mother; a comment made by a woman that couldn’t see her own unhealthy attachment to her Mother.
I sensed the man was well liked and accepted by the family, but I also sensed his pressure to provide for them, as well as the stress of the Mother’s presence, either due to her criticisms or her daughters’ inability to become an independent woman. While, daughters benefit from their Mother’s during child rearing, it is best if they perform as a grandmother and not a financial benefactor or a hired hand and the same goes for the son-in-law. Space is most important because if the grandmother is intertwined in the family’s everyday life then the family has no room to grow and build an independent life without “motherly” oversight. A man gets enough of that from a woman. What is perplexing is the grown women’s need for each other and what is an ideal level of involvement in the lives of her children and grandchildren. To put it bluntly, if you are in your twenties, thirties, or fourties, and your Mother or Mother In Law is a daily part of your life; something might be wrong. Some may view this as not being a family oriented kind of person, but some may realize the importance of independence in family dynamics, necessary to break cycles of past abuse or just grow into a healthy adult without daily parental influence.
Communication and Money are the two biggest reasons marriages fail. So are in-laws.