Dear Amy: My partner and I have been together for almost three years. Over the course of this time, I’ve come to know his family (and he, mine). While I understand that no one is perfect, it seems to me that my partner’s mother has had it in for me since we met.
Every time I go home with him, she ends up drunk-fighting with my boyfriend about our relationship. She has told him that I’m disrespectful and rude. She says that I have no personality. She’s yelled at me, told me I’m not good enough for her son and kicked us out of her house because we didn’t want to get drunk with her.
I always thank her for her hospitality. I help with dishes every morning, afternoon and evening. I clean up after myself, speak to her the way I would anyone else and follow the rules she’s put in place.
We’ve begun to talk about starting a family. When the topic of his mother came up, he said that if I wanted our children to see his mother, that was fine – but if I didn’t, my partner was OK with that, too. I feel conflicted.
While I understand that his mum might change, I also don’t want to put my children in an environment where their grandmother disrespects their mother. Either way, I feel like in the end, I’m the monster.
Dear Helpless: Don’t over dramatize your role as a “monster” here. This whole dynamic existed before you came into the fold; you are collateral damage.
How do I know this? The phrase “drunk-fighting.”
If you have been a guest in a household where the host is drunk, mean and disrespectful, you should stay away from that household until you have some realistic hope that the dynamic has changed.
This is your partner’s mother, and you should be as supportive as you can be in terms of his relationship to her. If he wants to spend time with her, you should encourage him to do so, but you should only accompany him if you have a getaway plan in place.
Don’t make any pronouncements regarding children now. With someone as volatile as his mother, you will have to take her behavior on a case-by-case basis, and make decisions as you go.
Your partner should definitely seek a “friends and family” support group for the children of alcoholics. This sort of disrespect and boundary-smashing is common; you both need to learn how to deal with this behavior, instead of merely expecting and then tolerating it.
Dear Amy: My husband and I have been together for 12 years.
My eldest daughter lives on the West Coast. I get to see her once a year.
She recently flew east. I drove to pick her up from her college town and stayed one night there with her. The next day she came back with me to my city to visit her siblings. Because of an emergency with her sibling, she wasn’t able to spend the night at his house.
I arranged a hotel room for her and wanted to spend the night with her. We had to leave early in the morning to get her to the airport for her flight home.
When I called to explain this to my husband, he asked me why she could not just stay at the hotel alone.
I told him that would not be very nice for her and I had only seen her for one day.
There has always been bad blood between the two of them, and she does not feel welcome in our home.
He said, “I guess I have no say,” and hung up on me.
Miffed Midwest Mom
Dear Miffed: If your daughter doesn’t feel welcome in your home, then yes, you have no choice but to go to where she is to spend time with her.
You have the happy task of telling your husband that he is right. He does have no say in the matter.
Dear Amy: “Bewildered Bride” didn’t want children under 10 at their reception. My aunt and uncle did the same thing many years ago.
Our two cousins (who were 10 and 11) were invited to the wedding, but those of us who were between 6 and 8 were not. It hurt us at the time, although we laugh about it now.
It would have been kinder to have a cut-off age of 18 or 21.
A (still) Loving Niece
Dear Niece: Nine-year-olds everywhere are with you.
Email Amy at firstname.lastname@example.org.