Dear Stavroula: The Mother-in-Law and Her Only Son

(AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

Dear Stavroula,

I feel very angry with my mother-in-law and disappointed with my husband. We are six months married and I think she refuses to understand that her son now has another family. She calls him almost daily and demands that he visit her every afternoon after work, which is next to her home. He never begrudges her a thing and many times he comes home late, because he’s hanging out with his mom. I have the misfortune that my husband is an only child. I feel that she has the first place in his life and I am angry with him every time he leaves me alone to hang out with her.

Meni

Dear Meni,

From your letter I understand that your husband’s relationship with his mother is upsetting you. Indeed, a mother’s relationship can often become dysfunctional, especially if the mother has no spouse or other children. However, it is a relationship that can show a lot about the character of the man you have married. A son who cares about and respects his mother can only respect and care for his wife and his own family. Your marriage is relatively recent and your mother-in-law may feel afraid that she will be left all alone and that she does whatever she can to keep in touch with her only son. But instead of feeling that she “lost” her child, she could also feel she has acquired another one, you. This depends a lot on your own mood. I think that if you approach her, if you go with your husband to see her sometimes, if she feels love and acceptance as your husband’s mother, things will improve for both of you. In any case, especially if you are not inclined to approach your mother-in-law, talk to your husband and explain to him how you feel, without coercion and without feeling that you are competing with his mother. Try with love and understanding to find a solution together that satisfies you.

When She Wants a Child and He Does Not

Dear Stavroula,

I am 35 years old and for four months I’ve been dating K., who is divorced and has three children. We are great together, I really feel like I have found my other half. Only he does not want any other children. However, I want to have children of my own and I think I have to hurry. What should I do? Should I break up with the guy I fell in love with or pressure him to have a child with me?

Anna

Dear Anna,

From your letter, I suppose that K. has the same feelings for you that you have for him. Still, I think it’s too early to think about a child, you have only been dating K. for four months and your relationship has not yet been clarified. I understand, therefore, that at this stage K. is not thinking about having more children since he already has three. But you cannot know how he will feel as time passes and you are both sure that you are made for each other. Maybe then he will think about it differently and want a child as much as you do.

However, no one is in a position to advise you what to do. This is something you will find in your life, depending on your priorities. There are people who prefer to stay with the one they really love even if they do not have children with him. On the other hand, it is so important for some people to have a child, they are determined to do it even when conditions are not the most ideal, even in a conventional marriage. You have to look inside yourself to find what you really want.