Post # 1
Hi All – I wanted a bit of unbiased advice. I tend to lurk around the threads and I figured this might be one to get out. I am currently dealing with the tipping point of a particularly controlling mother. And while I never thought to deal with it in the past (I’ve sort of learned to just be submissive in order to avoid drama), I’m at a point in my life where I’m pushing back and it isn’t going as well as I thought it would.
Here’s the scoop (sorry it’s lengthy):
I’m 25 years old and I’ll be getting married this September. My Fiance and I just bought a home this month and not only is is a HUGE accomplishment that we’re so very proud of, it’s extremely nerve-wrecking. It began when we narrowed down the area we thought would be best to live in for a long while and when we chose it my mom wasn’t exactly keen on the area…why? It was just too far from her. 30 minutes to be exact. We searched for a home in the area anyway. When we finally found our dream home and put a contract on it, the first thing she said to Fiance and I was “Why would you put a contract on a home without consulting adults?” This was the first strike for my Fiance who simply walked out of the room. I calmly had to explain to her that while I may be used to her back handed comments like that, she couldn’t do that with him. That was my way of settling that conversation. When we successfully clinched the home, we decided to take our parents to see it. His folks absolutely loved it and congratulated us the entire way through. My mom? On the drive there spoke about how long the drive was and how our commute would suck, when we got to the house she commented on how the stairs were so steep and how would my grandmother visit, throughout the house (which was PERFECT) she couldn’t find a thing wrong and instead decided to zero in on the additions we would need to make – getting a fence, a storm door, blablabla. That was strike two for my Fiance. The final blow that tipped the ice burg was when we finally finished up with everything, bought our furniture and decided it was time to move. This is the part that isn’t going over well with my mom AT ALL. She says that I have no morals, how could I do this to her, what will her friends think, what will people say about her daughter living in sin and why couldn’t I just wait until September? That turned into – your relationship will fail if you move in beforehand, you’ll go to hell, I refuse to attend your wedding, why even get married anyway, etc. I’ve chosen to not argue with her and just slowly move my things, but it’s beginning to chip away at my sanity and just my entire spirit…she’s making me feel horribly guilty and I know that the real issue is her inability to just let go and stop controlling everything…but she’s taking me down with her. She continues to snobbily say, “you can make your own decisions and move out Sept. 2013”.
I know many will say – well, why don’t you just leave? It’s hard when you don’t recognize how much someone has controlled you and you feel captive in their manipulation…the guilt keeps me there, but I’m angry that I feel guilty over nothing. I’m just curious if anyone else has been in a similar situation and what they did and how did it end for you? I don’t want to have any bad blood with my mom, but I fear that if I stay under her shadow now, I always will be and I’ll resent her.
Post # 3
@miss_jess: *Hugs* Welcome to the Bee (officially) and I am so sorry you have to deal with that from your mother. Frankly, she needs to calm down and stop trying to use every possible weapon from religion to your grandmother to keep you from moving. You are a grown woman, and she cannot keep you under her thumb forever. By all means, move as soon as you can!
That being said, I think some therapy for yourself would not be a bad idea, to help you deal with the enormous load of guilt you’re holding onto, and to gain some perspective from a neutral point of view.
Lastly, it may be in your best interest to significantly limit the amount of time you spend around your mom. You may even consider cutting her out of your life, drastic though it sounds. Her behavior and manipulation is not healthy, and you and your Fiance don’t need her trying to run your marriage. Good luck and best wishes!! 🙂
Post # 4
We can pick our friends but we cannot pick our relatives and sometimes those relatives are toxic. There is little hope of changing her. There is tremendous hope in changing your reaction to her. You are an adult, about to create your own family. It is time to STOP this woman from having such an impact on you.
My Mother (God rest her soul) was extremely hypercritical. I learned fairly early in life to let those criticisms roll right off my back. When she would start bitching, all I heard was “Charley Brown adult talk” – wah, wah, wah. My lack of reaction bugged the crap out of her. She did mellow out a bit later in life. Don’t feed the dragon!
Post # 5
I’m going to tell you upfront, that I too, have a mother that acts this way. Not exactly the same situation, but that she takes guilting and manipulation to a whole new level. I would act the same way you would, with being submissive to not create problems.
That however is the problem. You haven’t ‘fought’ back in a respectful way, by laying out boundaries with your mother all these years. Number 1, you and your Fiance should be VERY proud of this accomplishment – it’s awesome! Congratulations!
Number 2, it’s time to start acting like a team with your Fiance, when you mother sees that the two of you are backing each other up, at all times, she will eventually, though reluctantly, start getting it. She can’t have her way and be controlling if the two of you have a united front and stick up for yourselves. It’s SUPER hard to do after a lifetime of bowing to her whims, I understand. I’ve been there. 🙂 Start with the small things, the little backhanded comments, and firmly and calmly state, “Mom, I appreciate your advice. Thank you.
However, Fiance and I have decided to go in a different direction.: If she battles this, repeat the above statement. She’ll get it, thought it will feel like forever until she finally backs down.
Post # 6
@miss_jess: I get the impression she has treated you and everyone else this way for a very long time. Do you know why? You let her. People will do what gets them what they want. What she wants is you under her thumb and what works is bullying you.
My parents are extremely toxic. When I was younger, they controlled me with money. I could have anything I wanted if I played by their rules. For awhile, it was intoxicating… until I realized they were just doing what worked for them to get what they wanted, which was ultimately to control me.
Your mother’s means are different, but the results are the same. I now live over a thousand miles away from my parents and have seen them once in the past three years. I am cordial and send them photos of their grandchildren and update them a bit about our lives. When I first moved out of my city (I lived for several years within 3-4 hours of my hometown), they threw a fit. I was a bad mother for stealing my children from them. I would never make it. I was a loser. I had no sense of family. Whatever.
Now that I’m gone, they’re actually very nice to me. We’ll never be super close.. they’ve done too much that I won’t go into here (the controlling part is just one dynamic). But they’ve come to a point to where they realize I’m an adult and nothing they say or do is going to change my intention to live a life that works for me.
You have to stand up here. You have to be an adult. A real one. You have no reason to feel guilty. If you bow down again, you will resent her for life and your husband to be will resent you for it. That’s a nasty dynamic. She’s going to throw a fit. You know that. You need to rip it off like a bandaid. Don’t waffle over your decisions. Act purposefully in a way that represents what you want for your life.
It’s time to draw your boundary lines for your new family and yourself.
Post # 7
@trueblue14: wow i needed that advice myself i will def use the charlie brown wah wah wah lol
and to the OP i wish you the best its already hard dealing with difficult family members in general but even harder when its your MOTHER.
Post # 8
I’m sorry your mom isn’t being supportive of your choices! I know the feeling and it sucks, especially when you just want your mom to be happy for you. I think this is partly due to her adjusting to the transition of you becoming an adult, making your own decisions without her. Her role as mother is changing, so this is probably how she’s coping with it. I’ve tried to just tune out the criticism from my mom. I don’t even bother engaging in conversation/arugments with her because we won’t see eye to eye. I think she’ll calm down once she’s used to the idea of you being independent from her, living away from home, etc.
My mom said she wouldn’t come to my wedding if I didn’t get married in a church (I grew up Catholic) and what would the family think blah blah blah and worried about being judged for her parenting skills. I know, silly to me, but serious concerns to her. We had a few big blow outs, but now she’s excited for my “nontraditional” outdoor wedding officated by my best friend, god forbid. haha I think the excitement of me getting married eventually trumped everything else. I hope your mom comes around with time! I think my mom didn’t really calm down until we got closer to the wedding day this June.
I also moved an hour plane ride away from her many, many years ago and she still asks me every so often when I’m planning to move back. haha NEVER!! Even after my fiance and I bought a house. That’s some moms for ya!!
Post # 9
@miss_jess: I think you should make an appointment with a counseller so you can talk this through with someone objective who can offer support and advise.
If the real issue here isn’t your Mom’s moral objection to living together before marriage and its really about keeping you at home / controlling you for as long as possible, then truly, you have nothing to feel guilty about.
You are an adult. You are entitled to live your life independently and on your own terms. It is not your fault or responsibility if your mother has chosen to over invest herself in your life. Or if your refusal to allow her to dictate your life upsets her.
Plus, lets be realistic – even if you let her control your move out date, its not like that will appease her and put an end to her controlling ways. It won’t. So setting boundaries sooner rather than later is probably a good thing.
Here’s the thing with controlling people – they demand things on their terms and if they don’t get them, they are ready, willing and able to declare WWIII. They make the price of saying no to them so high most don’t want to pay it. They get their way by taking things to an extreme most people aren’t willing to go to. Recognize that tactic for what it is and realize that you may very well have to allow her to take things there a few times before she gets it that that won’t work anymore. She may never get it and you may have to make the decision to walk away when she’s ramping up the drama.
You say you want a good relationship with your mother and that’s great. But, you’re probably also going to need to realize that she’s going to try to dictate the terms and those terms will likely include an expectation of you capitulating to her demands. Don’t. She also bears responsibility for your relationship. If she’s not willing to back off, be supportive, rational and reasonable, then your relationship can only be so good and that’s on her. You may have to tell her in no uncertain terms to back off and butt out.
Post # 10
@sweet_tea thank you, i try to remind myself everyday that i’m starting a new family and this needs to stop. whew.
@trueblue_14 oh man, i’ve tried not having a reaction and that’s tough! she will push until i react and that usually works, i need to work on self control and just ignoring the beast.
@jlc3 thank you for that piece of advice, i think i’m going to try a singular calm sentence to repeat while she gets angrier and angrier…i need to keep my anger in check too.
@stuckinwonderland my goodness, you hit the nail on the head…she controls everything and everyone around her…and my sister is a strong believer that her control has damaged her way worse than i since i tend to fight back.
all of you are right, it’s such a scary process…but I thank you so much for your words of encouragement.
Post # 11
I’ve had a similar relationship with my mother in the past. At your age, you are well within your rights to make your own life decisions, especially since you’re about to be married! It can really hard at that age though to transition from child to adult and it sounds like you’re making the transition much better than she is!
I think that your best option would be to move everything asap rather than dragging it out piecemeal. Also, if she starts making threats about not attending the wedding or anything, just very calmly say, “I’m sorry that you won’t be able to attend. We’ll miss you.” Call her bluff. Don’t be rude or disrespectful, but you need to show her that you’re not going to let her manipulate you.
Also, the sooner you start doing this, the better off you will be. Once she begins to realize that her guilt trips and manipulation don’t work, she will begin to modify her behaviour and hopefully you can get into a healthy adult-adult relationship rather than a mother-child relationship.
Good luck, I hope this helps!
Post # 12
I agree with the repeating a single sentence over and over. Something like, “I am an adult, I will make my own decisions regarding my life.”
Post # 13
- Wedding: November 2013 - St. Augustine Beach, FL
@miss_jess: My dad tried this with me with I made a good friend of the family the executor of my will. He didn’t understand why I didn’t make it him or my mother. (I thought that maybe he and my mother would be so upset about my unnaturally young death that they wouldn’t be in the right mind to deal with my probate affairs. Also, my parents are divorced so I didn’t want them to end up fighting over me and my measger property in death.)
I was 26 years old at the time which I reminded him was well past 18. I also reminded him that I was an attorney (and had been for a years) that actually worked in probate so if anybody knew something about wills in the family, it would be me. I told him I would appreciate it if he would treat me like an adult from then on since I obviously was one. I haven’t had a problem since.
As far as the moving together before you’re married means you’re going to hell. I wouldn’t take that from her. It’s 2013 and couples cohabitate before they get married. I am sure that God has better things to do than be worried/upset about a young couple “living in sin” before they married. I would pack my stuff and move into my new home. If mom says “boo” I would tell her to mind her own business and lie to her friends if she felt it was that important for her to save face.
If it helps, before I moved out of my mom’s house when I went to college, my mom and I were at each other’s throats for a few months. It was like we had to been mean and spiteful to each other to make the pain of me moving out lessen. My mom and I have a much better relationship and honestly it got better within a few weeks of me moving out of the house.
Post # 14
@stuckinwonderland: I get the impression she has treated you and everyone else this way for a very long time. Do you know why? You let her. People will do what gets them what they want. What she wants is you under her thumb and what works is bullying you.
I used to have a toxic relationship with my sister. She always had an unsolicited opinion, never could saying anything positive, just a bad cloud. I had to finally put in her check my limiting my contact. If she said something out of order, I would immediately address it, without emotion (which is hard). If she tries to escalate it after my speaking up, I remove myself from the situation physically. Initially, she actually got worse, and stepped up her emotional terrorism. I didn’t care, I was no longer going to be manipulated by her. It took a long time, but now we are peachy. She knows the boundries. You don’t not get to belittle someone (or their choices) because they are family/your child. No. No. and No. I agree with the PP that said you and your Fiance are a unit now. Put your big girl panties on, move out NOW and start your new (drama free) life with your partner.
Post # 15
@miss_jess: Be strong and keep moving your stuff out! Many well meaning mothers use emotional manipulation to control their children, especially their daughters, and it sounds like that’s what is happening here. You are 25 and it is normal, healthy, and appropriate for you to be moving forward in your life. Your mom has to deal with her empty nest, aging, and control issues on her own. You can’t fix them for her and feeling bad yourself won’t help her. Good luck and stay strong!
Post # 16
@miss_jess: I totally understand what you are going through. Your mother, surprisingly enough, thinks she is telling you these things out of love. But, the reality is, she is being selfish. The sad part is she doesn’t even know it. I’m glad you have FI’s parents to have a gauge of what normal family support should look like. First – I think it’s great that you recognize that your mom is being controlling and manipulative. That, IMO, is the first huge step. From there, you can work on your boundaries with her. There’s a book called “Boundaries” by Henry Cloud (I think that’s the author) and I’d highly suggest it. Giving yourself boundaries is NOT punishing your mom – it’s giving yourself worth and value. Your desires, your dreams, your choices ARE IMPORTANT!! Your mom is trying to place her feelings/values/dreams for your life ahead of your own. And that is not OK!
You may go through a period of time where you aren’t as close to your mom. You don’t have to be an open book with her, especially if all she does is throw stuff back in your face. A lot of my process with my mom was mourning the loss of the mom I wanted her to be. Accepting the fact that she was who she was and was doing the best she knew how to do was a HUGE lightbulb moment and something that has taken years to process and sink in.
It’s been a long road, but I feel like she and I have a much better relationship now (certainly much better than when I was in the throws of moving out and engaged). Being loving and kind to her while respecting myself was a big part of that restoration.