146. She is very controlling and...
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Dear Dr. Smith,

I really need your help. I am having in-law problems. My wife and I have been married for almost 12 years and her mother is always in the middle of our life. She is very controlling and exerts so much influence on our decisions as a married couple. Pretty much anything we do my wife has to run it by her first. So far, every year for the past four years or so, they have been with us every Christmas, and have even been with us for over five months in our tiny apartment. What can I do? How do I let my wife accept and my in-laws know that this behavior is unacceptable?

Dear worried Friend,
Thanks for reaching out to me. If what you are saying to me is true, then, there is no question that your home has become dysfunctional. Your greater problem however, is your wife. She needs to get her act together. Clearly, your in-laws have too much of a stronghold in your marriage and they need to get a life of their own. The time has come for you to take full charge of your home and put it back in order. This however, cannot be done without the full cooperation of your wife. I therefore recommend the following:

1. Decide when your mother-in-law comes and how long she stays. She should not make another visit until both you and your wife have determined and settled this issue. So if your wife wants her parents to visit her, she must first agree to the terms and conditions.

2. Clarify the rules of engagement that she will abide by, if not DON'T COME. This will take a little fighting on your wife’s path, but stand your ground. No rules no visit.

3. Ask your wife to make a decision between you and her mother, the marriage or her family. The metaphor used in the Bible is one of “leaving and cleaving”. Your wife seems to want to change it to, “leaving and returning”, but that does not work well in marital life.

4. Be tough enough to move on with your life if she rejects you in favor of her family, but the one thing you cannot do is to succumb to the manipulation of both in-laws and wife. If you do, you will be just a wimp and a weasel in the relationship.

5. Be a man and command your home after righteousness. Don’t be a pigmy be a giant Christian man. Remember "Meekness" does not mean "Weakness"

I suggest that you first pray about this matter, then sit down with your wife and explain to her the burden of your heart. Try your utmost best to resolve things as peacefully as you can, work towards a compromise if possible, but the one thing you should not do, is to sit back and do nothing. I pray God that things will get better for you.

God bless.

Dr. Smith
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