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Dear Stavroula

His Mother Does Not Accept Me

Dear Stavroula,

 

My boyfriend and I have been together since university and while we lived away from our families our relationship was calm and harmonious. At some point, we decided to make our relationship official and naturally we met each other’s family. From the first moment I met his mother, I felt her critical gaze on me and since then every time I am around her I want to run away and disappear. I know she objected to our relationship from the beginning because their family is very well-to-do while I come from a low-income family, and she even tried to poison our relationship for a long time with various comments about me and my family. When she realized that her son would not break up with me, she seemed to accept the relationship, but she never misses an opportunity to show me that I am not the bride she would have chosen for her son. She comments very artfully on everything I do, so that on the one hand she makes me feel uncomfortable, while on the other what she says is so veiled that no one – especially her son – can accuse her of anything.

I don’t know how to deal with her – I was longingly waiting for the moment when the relationship with my boyfriend would become serious, when we     would start dreaming together about our new house, about marriage and our family, and this woman has ruined all my joy.

When I try to talk to my boyfriend about his mother, he tells me that I’m overreacting and that what his mother says to us is with good intentions and not because she wants to put me down or criticize me. I don’t want to have anything to do with her, but how can I convince my boyfriend of this? I’m at a dead end. Can you help me?

 

Katerina

 

Dear Katerina,

 

A person’s relationship with their mother is one of the most intense relationships in our lives and plays a very important role in the development of a person’s personality. It is not a rare phenomenon for people who in their professional and social activities seem particularly independent and dynamic, to maintain a particularly dependent relationship with their mother.

In fact, the mother-son relationship seems to be decisive for the way in which the boy will later behave towards the opposite sex.

However, in some cases, especially when the father is absent for some reason, the boy may take on his role and feel an obligation to protect his mother. This behavior is often reinforced by the attitude of the mother herself, who often substitutes the lack of a partner with her son. She may  project her own desires onto him, preventing him from being complete as a personality.

Perhaps something similar is happening in your case. It seems that your future mother-in-law, for her own reasons, disagrees with your relationship. But the problem in this case is not her attitude, but the attitude of your partner.

No mother-in-law is obliged to like and accept her daughter-in-law. However, her adult child is obliged to defend his choice and protect his relationship. In other words, your future mother-in-law couldn’t be poisoning your relationship if her son didn’t allow her to. If your partner is influenced to such an extent by his mother, it may mean that he is not yet independent enough from his relationship with her, or that he himself has doubts about your relationship.

So the first thing that might help is to find out if your partner feels confident in your relationship so that he can limit his mother’s influence. In this case, she would more easily accept your desire to keep your distance from her until at least your relations improve.

The next step is to see how much you can stand in this relationship, whether your own feelings are honest and strong enough to fight for the man you love regardless of his mother’s attitude.

It won’t help in any way to talk down to him about his mother. In this case, the most common reaction is to take a defensive stance. After all, the real problem is not whether or not your future mother-in-law will approve of you, but how important this is to your partner and you.

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