Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Guilt Trip 101; The Mother-in-Law

This was sent to Aunt B via email...

I moved to another state to be with my boyfriend. His family was nice, including his mother. When I found out I was expecting, everyone was excited except for my boyfriend's mother. She accepted the baby on and off. Until all of sudden, she stopped coming for a while and later came to insult my boyfriend, my daughter, and I. She called the baby a bastard, and said she never liked me from the start and that she had bad vibes. I find this weird because I know I get along with everyone. My boyfriend chose us over his family. It's been almost 7 months since that happened and his mother refuses to speak to him. I came from a family who are really close, and I can't stand the fact that they aren't talking. Should I talk to the mother first, woman to woman, and see if we could all work things out? If she wants to act childish, at least I could to her. Please help.

Dear Friend,

Her behavior, is surely questionable. I think I would be, understandably upset, myself, if I were in your shoes. I'm glad to hear that her son has done the right thing and stood by you but it must be difficult. We will use this exact situation, the Mother-Son relationship, to try to solve this.

Quite often, I tell people, who write me, to handle things, by writing a letter, to the person, they are having difficulties with. I say this for a reason. I hate to repeat myself, but will for your benefit;

Have you ever, been in an argument and you can't get a word in edge wise? Ever been knee deep, in debate and you're so angry, you say exactly what you don't mean? Ever had an argument and walked away mad and thought to yourself, later that you wished you'd said this or that? I know I have. Now, it is human nature, when we argue, to take a defensive stance. Quite often, any and all of what we say, is lost in the heat of the moment, lost in translation. It may fall on deaf ears because the person we have the tiff or disagreement with, is pissed off and is only thinking of a snappy and snide comeback. Often times, arguing only results in bad feelings. Many a relationship, has been severed and suffered because of a simple argument. If we learn to fight fair, say what we mean, mean what we say and try not to say it mean, we might get somewhere. Often times though, we tackle an iffy situation, even with the best of intention, only to make things worse because of our temper. How do I know this? I have learned this the hard way, as I have a terribly short fuse and tend to say really nasty things, when I'm angry. Thus, I must "Sabotage Myself."

I learned to shut my big mouth, calm down, take a cleansing breath, maybe wait a few hours or a few days, even and then I place a pen in my hand, instead of a proverbial knife. Words do and can cut like a knife and can be much likened to a double edged sword. Words are more powerful, than we realize or give credit to and they can make or break even the strongest.

Our choice of words can actually be life changing, life altering and life building. If we behaved more responsibly with our words, this world, of course, would be a better place. But it is a golden egg, for someone, to grow enough to finally realize before the damage has been done, to choose their words carefully.

By writing a letter, we can face our fears, we can address, things calmly and we can choose those words, with all their/it's power, in check. We may orchestrate what needs to be said, how it is said and we are afforded, the choice of wielding this power, unbridled, unobstructed, undisturbed.

If you are in a nasty argument with someone, you can't say half of what needs to be said and or how it should be said. But with a letter, you have that person, (hostage, hah, just kidding) in an audience. They can read it and re-read it. it is proven that more is retained by reading something, first hand. The impact of your words and phrase, prose and stance can not be be undermined. More importantly, that person, with whom you may have had an altercation with, is not in your face, no nasty words are exchanged, no one dies.

I think you get my meaning, right? If I were you, I'd write his Mother and tell her that whatever it is, that has caused her to have disdain or dislike for you, you'd like to know, that way, you can possibly resolve it. You may have to do a little fluffing by telling her that you don't want to be on her bad side and that you respect her. More importantly, you are having a real hard time, feeling like you are the reason, that her son is at odds with her. You do not want to be the thing that comes between them.. I think it's real important, that you take this approach. Make her aware that you don't understand what you've done, to cause her to dislike you and you are willing to do what it takes to turn that around. No, you're not kissing ass but you are putting the ball in her court. She'll have to look at her own behavior, if you make it appear, that you are willing and ready to make amends. Now, I'm real aware that you've done nothing wrong but give her that opportunity to let you in on whatever secret reason, she has for disliking you, all of a sudden. Is it because you had the baby? Is it because you two are not married? You tell her that you can't make it right or resolve the situation, if you don't know what you've done wrong. This will open the door for her to possibly tell you, what it is that's bothering her. But it may also be something and she doesn't know what it is? If that's the case, then quite possibly, she'll have to look at how ridiculous she's is behaving. It just might open her eyes.

Make sure, that you mention, that it is rather hurtful for her to call your child, her grandchild, her sons baby, a "Bastard." You then, bring up the fact that this child is her sons and is innocent in this. See, she probably said that out of anger. Or she may have said it because you two are not married. But you must bring this up and hopefully, she'll feel guilty about it and see just how spiteful she has been. This is another "Guilt Trip 101." I've written concerning this before. Sometimes, we must fight fire with fire and do the dang thing, getting down and dirty. Sometimes, we have to pull out all the stops and meet people on their own turf, even if that turf is pretty dingy and nasty. But you'll stand upright, when you state the facts, respectfully and rightfully.

You make her aware of how she's hurt her own son but you must refrain from mentioning how she's hurt you, with her attitude. Nope, don't give her that. Make the emphasis, on her hurtful comments concerning the baby and the fact that her son is upset by it. Get down with the guilt.

You end the letter with the question;
How may we resolve this, for the sake of your son and grandchild?

Carefully write the letter, mail it to her and wait. It will take a minute for it to sink in, for her to digest it and to realize that she's been a real, nasty cuss. If she doesn't contact her son, write me again and we'll go for Round Two.


Xmichra said...

agree 100% with Babs on this one.

And wanted to add: Kudos to your man! It isn't often that these letters include the support of the other partner.. so that in itself is just freaking awesome.

Maybe appeal to her raising a man with his maturity and his moral compass. Never hurts to praise a mothers job.

Ask Aunt B said...

Xmichra, excellent point.

G said...

I'd be careful here. The situation is right already. Your man has made a stand up decision to be with you and the child you've been graced with. God bless your relationship and the separate family you you are developing. You are feeling upset about your man and his mama not speaking, okay. I can totally relate to that. I am there myself, often. But getting involved with his mother because you feel bad that he isn't speaking to her is another kind of boundary violation. Let them remain apart until your man decides what next step, if any, he wants to take in his relationship with his mom. Her behavior was inappropriate. Why would you open the door to have her around your child any sooner than is absolutely necessary? Write that letter. Get all those feelings down and explore the issues. But DONT SEND IT. It is for you to understand your own buttons better. She has pushed them mightily but to come to her with a peace offering is a mistake. Learn to separate your hard to sit with feelings (that lead you to want to rescue her) from what actually is your responsibility, taking care of your child and growing in your own life.I made the mistake (for several years)of trying to 'help' with my husbands relationship to his mom. I would get uncomfortable with her guilt tripping and his silence towards her and be trying to patch things up...it just taught her to that her bad behavior worked. She was wonderful sometimes but when she didn't have us where she wanted us anymore she started to escalate her behavior. It started to interfere with our marriage and give me nightmares and even panic attacks. She threatened to hurt herself if he wouldn't call when she wanted, refused to see a doctor (although she worked at a hospital) for her chest cold unless he would do as she wanted. And on and on. Don't play into it. Learn more about why your afraid to let her resolve her own emotional issues. Be who you are without apolgies as often as you can and be proud of your man and child. Its great that you get along with your own family, enjoy them and let them be a haven for your man from his inappropriate mama without your trying to 'fix' his relationship to her to help out your own feelings. Maybe after a couple decades of her antics hes had enough. Good for him. Best wishes on your new (and separate)family. Good for you!