Val is a life-long practically oriented student of effective emotional and attitudinal responses to the many challenges of life.
I can't believe she's lived this long. God must be avoiding her.
— Brian Francis
Time to Wake Up, Girl!
When the love of your life said that solemn: "Yes, I do", little could you know that he was also saying it on a behalf of his mother—who didn't waste any time to take an active part in your marriage.
Nothing looked overly suspicious about her eager help in the wedding planning and preparations. Actually you were so grateful for her willingness to take care of every detail. It also seemed alright that she asked if you guys could drop her at her home on your way to the airport for your honeymoon.
And then, how could you see anything strange about your hubby spending some time sitting on the beach and talking on his cell to his mom, who wanted to share his joy of honeymoon while asking about, well, almost every detail of it.
Oops!!! Is that supposed to be a new definition of "love triangle?"?
However, like they would say it poetically: "Filling the glass with wine looks all right until the moment it overflows." That moment came for you right after your honeymoon, when you found your mother-in-law in your new home with a big smile, open arms, and the dinner table set for three.
At that moment you didn't even know you blurted out all confused: "I didn't know you had the key to our place." Well, she did, and somehow she also "forgot to hand it to you on her way out that late evening".
Now, with one eye still desperately trying to stay asleep and not leaving your dream, the other started to see a reality which no bride on earth wants to face.
Perhaps Anita Loos had been right when she wrote that family life was only for those who could stand it.
— Christina Bartolomeo
The Unholy Matrimony Farce
Now, why is it that some, not all mothers-in-law, have that need to meddle in their son's marriage? My own, bless-her-soul, was nothing of that kind, but I have seen, or only heard of quite a few who would fall in that unholy category.
One in particular that I had a chance to see proudly called her daughter-in-law her "right hand" in that business of her son's marriage and household. I almost blurted out: "Shouldn't it be the other way around?", but I didn't want to lose the lasting friendship with the guy standing by.
Needless to say, a little of that friendship went sour at that moment in the department of respect, but that's not the only example when we keep some of those friendships "for sake of old times".
So anyway, the reason that seems most frequent and obvious, such mothers are having an awfully boring life, and their son's marriage is a breath of fresh air, somewhat reminding them of their own wedding and the rest.
Something downright unhealthy going on there, that we don't see only in movies.
But then, there are those a little more "sinister" motivations. The first that would come to mind is notoriously old and strong tie between mother and son, which probably inspired those "fathers of psychoanalysis" to come up with the expression "Oedipus complex". It's depicting a mythological prince who married his own mother.
Actually, a "complex" or not, it can easily be observed in a much milder and healthier form between many fathers and daughters, as well as mothers and sons.
However, here we are talking about a "mother's boy" big time, and her overly protective and possessive grip on that marriage -- characterized by her unwillingness to share the love of her little boy with another woman.
My mother-in-law belongs to Hell, but devil is afraid she'll end up taking over.
— Matshona Dhliwayo
Have You Run Out of Names Yet?
Somewhat similar dark motivation would be of a mother-control-freak who tamed the last symptom of manliness in her own husband, and now can't stand the idea that her son has slipped out from under her iron hand.
However, here we are not talking anymore about a mama's boy, but rather a mama's victim, who may keep appeasing her after marrying, while a kind of being brainwashed by her volition, and unable to mentally liberate himself from it. Not that he never tried; but very early in life he gave up after noticing how miserably his father failed while trying the same.
Usually such husbands suffer a great deal as they feel torn between the two women of their life and trying to make peace, while emotionally too weakened by mother's rule to put their foot down and once and for all start living a normal life.
Mothers like that can be extremely manipulative, and if they can't get enough attention by playing a boss, they may play a "constantly sick" card. They may actually get sick from something psycho-somatic in nature, so strong is their need to keep their sons' eyes on them.
No, it is definitely not against any religion if you secretly call her an "old batt from Transilvania"
So, other than constantly calling or visiting with her complaints, and lurking for an opportunity to be "helpful" with an advice, or a critic about her daughter-in-law's running the household, she will also need him to take her for "regular" treatments.
It's usually something to do with her arthritis, or back pain, but she may also go quite creative about other symptoms. By that age, it's amazing how much people know of human anatomy, and especially about all those parts that may hurt or cause a discomfort.
Unfortunately, over a time, it's not only that she is the only one with health problems, but also her son may come up with a mild diagnosis or two, out of an enormous emotional strain of trying to be both, a good husband and a good son -- in that kind of marital arrangement.
A great marriage is not when the perfect couple comes together. It is when an imperfect couple learns to enjoy their differences.
— Dave Meurer
You May Be Younger, but You Could Also Be Smarter
So, what do you do with a husband and a mother-in-law like that, after having already said every version of: "You should have married your mom"? Your friends have run out of advices and you can even notice some signs of their becoming tired of your story and its ever new and new chapters added---while possibly having more than enough of their own soap opera at home.
Is there a way to get your husband back from that stranglehold of his mother? Is there a wire cutter sharp enough to cut that steal umbilical cord never properly severed at his birth? Of course, despite so many temptations, putting a drop or two of arsenic into her coffee is out of question; and so is strangling your hubby in his sleep on one of those sleepless nights.
And how could you convince your kids that grandma is just bribing them against you with all those hidden chocolates that you are not allowing---for more health reasons than saving on dentist's bills?
Well, you could try a couple of sneaky strategies to get your family back. So far you know that a direct confrontation doesn't work, and you came out as "ungrateful", "mean", and what not, sometimes not quite sure if your hubby is not falling for his mother's badmouthing you.
When emotions prove themselves short of any (legal) strategies, it's time to summon up your mind to the drawing board.
The ideal outcome would be if the change would come within him and without your pushing in that direction -- at least not obviously. You would have to go sneaky about it, play it smart, so no one could possibly blame you for anything.
So, let's see what could turn out to be effective.
Of course, the whole idea is not that you "come out a winner" in that marriage, after having spent some time pissed at him and his "mother superior". The basis for that should be your love for him, so you are simply trying to help your husband to grow out of that emotional dependency on his overbearing mother.
If you can tell the difference between good advice and bad advice, you don't need advice.
— Laurence J. Peter
An "Affair" With Female Friends
Like I announced, there are couple of things that you could do. The first one that comes to mind would be to "make your husband wonder". No, I am not suggesting that you make him jealous, but to re-activate and somewhat amplify your old friendships---with female friends, of course.
The rule number one is that through the whole thing you absolutely stop all your usual complaints, and even show a new "satisfaction in your life", as you are spending some more time on that cell yapping with your friends, or even going out for a coffee with them.
What bothers every man the most---other than woman's "cold feet"---is a worm of doubt that he may not be "enough of a man" in any meaning of the expression. By seeing you suddenly "happier than before" because of your friends will make him wonder if you were missing something that only friends could provide---and he doesn't have it.
He may also become suspicious that you are confiding to them, and his "mama's boy" status would come up, for everyone to have a good laugh over it. Well, as long as you don't overdo it, he can't have a legit excuse to confront you about it. Goes without saying: no matter what you do, bite your tongue before saying: "I have to have someone who understands me", or even worse: "My friends are more fun than your mother".
Assuming your friends are humans, that also makes them imperfect -- so, limit your trust!
Again, use your female intuition to play it in moderation. You can even start telling him about the "news" in the lives of your friends, or mention some funny moments from spending your time with them.
The idea is that he suddenly sees you "more satisfied with your life" since you are seeing your friends. In the beginning he may be somewhat confused between his not liking it and liking it, since you are not bringing his mother up in your conversations anymore.
But then it is bound to start creeping into his mind that you are "giving up on him" and not fighting for his love anymore. At that point a big question may start obsessing his heart how much you mean to him, and how to give you that-something which your friends are providing in your life.
You know, it's the old human truism, that we know the best how much others mean to us when we feel that we might lose them to an extent, or have lost them already.
If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you want to stop your story.
— Orson Welles
It May Turn Out to Be Easier Than You Thought
One word of warning: No matter how tempted you may be to reveal your little game to your friends---DON'T! If you are not telling your friends about the details of your marital bedroom matters, this is another thing that they definitely shouldn't know about either.
At the same time while you are doing this little routine with your friends, start being extra nice to your tormentor-in-law. Yes, you heard me right. As a matter of fact, do your best to get on her nerves with your being nice. Call her about that pain in her arm, or neck, whatever. Google to find out about possible home remedies, and shower her with advices, not forgetting to say something like: "You, poor thing, it must be terrible".
Beat her with her own weapon, by constantly "worrying" if she is eating right, and telling her what she might change in her diet. Then play on her conscience by asking her at the first occasion "if she did anything about it".
Maybe she should skip that third coffee; maybe her mattresses are uncomfortable; maybe she could lose a few pounds; maybe at her age she should force herself to drink more water, because older folks don't register that their bodies are going de-hydrated. Keep nagging "for her own good". You see, no one can confront you for caring about the wellbeing of your dear "second mom".
Be nice, nice, nice...drive her nuts with your niceness. Then, sooner than you expect it, she may stop visiting so much, or calling so much, not wanting to catch you on the phone instead of her son.
In the process, she may also get disarmed by facing her own weapons turning ridiculously boomeranging and ineffective. The tactics I am mentioning here could be called "mental judo". In this martial arts you don't use your own force, but misdirect the opponent's force making him or her kiss the ground.
The process will not stay unnoticeable to your hubby, who will gain a new courage while seeing his mother's manipulative tactics collapse. Without any resistance on your part you are bound to get your hubby back.
And then the two of you may start living "happily ever after".
© 2017 Val Karas
ValKaras on February 16, 2017:
MizBejabbers---Here, you are the second commenter with good things to say about your in-laws, and now it makes three of us so far. It's great to be feel appreciated and "approved" by them, and if on top of that they also love you, then it's a "bonus" that stays in heart forever.
I've seen cases where in-laws were better than parents in the department of love and respect.
But then, I've also seen quite a few of those that my hub is all about.
ValKaras on February 15, 2017:
Larry---No, you are not "weird" - on the contrary, it's great to hear. I never generalize in my hubs, and in this one I also specified that "...some, not all mothers-in-law...". My wife and I also love (memory of) one another's parents.
I'm glad you liked the hub.
Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on February 15, 2017:
Not to flaunt it, but my wife and I both love one another's in-laws, lol. Guess we're just weird.
Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on February 15, 2017:
Good points, Vlad. I've known families with mothers-in-law like that, and I even dated (for a short while) a man who couldn't untie the apron strings. I may not have been so lucky in the marriage department, but as far as MIL go, I had the two best in the world. when I cross over into that great beyond, I may look them up and tell them so.