Post # 1
I have been married for 15 years. My wife and I have two children of elementary age. My problem: my wife invites her parents to EVERYTHING we do!
She invites them on every vacation to theme parks (Disney, Sea World, etc.), everything we do locally (restaurant, movie, museum, water park, sporting event, etc.). And, my in-laws still have a 48 year old daughter living with them, so she is also invited by association. And, whenever we go somewhere, my wife walks, talks, and sits with her mother.
We also have no intimacy. I consulted a divorce lawyer last fall, consulted a therapist (he says that my wife and her family have something called “enmeshment.). Our very first “family” vacation was 8 days at Disney with the in-laws, and that was just the beginning of 10 years of this. I took the liberty of discussing this with female co-workers whose jaws dropped when I told them this and other details. Whenever my sons have sporting events, my in-laws are at every one, AND my wife sits in between her mom and dad, instead of with her husband, me!!
Basically, I am a beta male who married an alpha female. In addition, she never took my last name and insisted on our sons having a hyphenated last name. With everything I’ve experienced (I could write a book) I believe that my wife is married to her parents. She has responded to my objections on in-law invites with, “I cannot not invite them, because what we do is so special” or “I don’t want to hurt their feelings.”
I have had two outbursts over the past few months which left her in tears. I have mostly been unhappy in this marriage, but we’ve had two kids and JUST purchased our first single family home. I am not a marriage expert so I was hoping to get advice and to have the ladies of this website explain to me what they believe is happening here. Be gentle!
Post # 2
Enmeshment isn’t something that just pops up one day, so she’s probably been this way with her family since you’ve known her (and always, really). This seems like a major point of contention for you, so I’m wondering why you chose to marry her in the first place. Were you hoping marriage would change things?
My advice would be to look further into couple’s counseling – see if that is something she would be open to. My guess is that she will also need individual counseling or counseling with her family to sort out the enmeshment issues between them. The key is that she has to be willing to work on these issues and detach. Enmeshment and codependency are very difficult things for some people to end – usually at least one party involved doesn’t see anything wrong with it and manipulates/guilts the others (my mother is like this, FYI, and stopping codependency with her has had its challenges, but I was determined to live my own life as an adult and my therapist was a big help).
If she is unwilling to put your marriage first, then I think you have your answer.
Post # 3
If I were in your shoes, I would be annoyed too. But, it sounds like that’s a part of how your wife is, and you guys will have to find a way to work through it. Have you tried having an open and honest conversation with her about it? Maybe try coming to a compromise.. like “Let’s reserve x amount of days a month/week for JUST us, or just us and the kids” Or “Can we try to take a family trip – just you, the kids and I”.. Or maybe surprise her with a mini getaway with just you, her and your kids?
On the other hand, I would not ask her to tell her parents to not come to every sporting event of your sons. I would have loved if my grandparents could have made it to more of my sporting events when I was younger! However, I do think it’s weird that she chooses to sit between her parents instead of by you. Maybe voice that it bothers you – she may not even realize that she’s doing it.
Is the counseling you’ve done just been for you? Or couples counseling? Maybe having these conversations in the presence of a therapist might be your best bet. It sounds like some boundaries need to be set, and you both will have to be willing to give a little to come to the best compromise.
Post # 4
NO WAY would I let that happen, espeically the vacations and all the “date nights”. Sometimes, maybe. But always? Nuh uh. You teach people how to treat you and you’ve let this go on too long. If you have had a heart to heart convo with her and she’s still pitching a fit, I’d suggest you BOTH go to counseling. She doesn’t get it. This is so unhealthy. And frankly, if she doesn’t want to try to change it then I’d be out of there. Life is way too short to live in misery. Been there done that won’t do it again.
Post # 5
It sure is a fluke, but I worked with a girl who was the same way. She adored her parents, spoke to them every day on the phone in work, and loudly said “I love you Mommy, I love you Daddy” when she signed off the call.
She also had 2 kids; another friend and I joked that her husband was “fifth, at best” in her affections. She also was The Boss in the house, her husband was someone she could control. She hyphenated her name, but allowed the kids to have their dads names.
I don’t think there is anything you can do about it. I hate to say that, but seeing this girl, she would have fought anyone who suggested she not put her parents first in everything. Having your own therapist to sound off to seems your best bet, to handle your own frustration. Your wife isn’t going to change.
Post # 6
Does she know how close you are to calling it quits? I wouldn’t be able to live like that either, honestly. A partner needs to come first, not their parents.
Have you suggested or done marriage counseling?
What would happen if you just flat out told her that she could not invite her parents on vacation and stuck to it? Would she choose not to go?
Post # 7
Does your wife want to stay married? Does she know that you have consulted a divorce lawyer and a therapist? Some people are happy living in each other’s pockets and in some cases there can be a cultural component to a lifestyle like this but if you are unhappy, you have to let her know that the status quo is a deal breaker, as it would be for most people. I would have drawn the line from the start.
I think you need to insist on couples counseling. If she’s not willing to make changes, she needs to know up front what that will mean. Kids games would be fine with me as that is a public event. The rest of it, no way, with occasional exceptions.
Post # 8
You need to be honest with her and tell her you cant take it anymore! You need regular time without her parents, just YOUR family. Honestly my DH is so family focused, I do this all the time! I just put my footdown and say, “Im family-d out. I need a weekend just us”. Or if he needs to see them sometimes I just say “Im busy, pls send my regrets” and he goes alone. Having close extended family is a blessing, Im sure you kids really appreciate their grandparents at all their sporting events. But I totally get that it can be grating! I mean hell, I dont talk to my own parents that much.
You just need to put your foot down about what you need. If she says she doesnt want to hurt their feelings, you say “what about my feelings? I cant take this anymore. Ive already considered divorce and spoken with an attorney. I am at my breaking point, I need you to hear me. I cant be with your parents every single time we go somewhere. “
Post # 9
You’ve mentioned you’ve been to a therapist, but what about couples counseling? Does your wife know how close you are to ending it? Does she know you’ve already consulted a divorce lawyer?
This would drive me crazy as well but, as others have said, this can’t be something that just happened. There had to have been signs of it before you got married and had kids as well. Were you hoping marriage/children would change things?
Post # 10
one partner not committing fully to the marriage and being enmeshed is one of the biggest marriage killers.
there isn’t a magic answer. It’s about where you’re at. If you’re thinking divorce, two card her. It’s either couples counseling to learn to put the marriage/her family- as in you and your kids- first, or divorce.
If you’re not there yet, just know that Its not possible to build a strong marriage with this level of enmeshment. She will always put her parents and sister before you and possibly her own children. That’s not workable and you can’t fix it without her deciding to change.
However, There are some changes you can make for yourself. you need more help than you can get on a forum, but you might get some help with boundaries and books to read at DWIL.
That said, her choice for last name might have nothing to do with this, it’s perfectly fine for her to want to keep her last name and I would drop this and the alpha beta bit from your complaints. It doesn’t matter who is alpha or beta, except that marriage should be a team with people’s positions changing based on what they are best at.
your wife is married to her parents right now, and that simply doesn’t work to build a solid marriage with her husband.
Post # 11
I am shocked that you have put up with this for over a decade. Frankly, it doesn’t sound like you have much of a marriage left at this point. Because you have tacitly consented to this behavior for so long, I think you need to recognize how entrenched it is and that it will take a long time to remedy, if it can be at all. But I think there is hope if she (and proabably you are well) is willing to take a hard look at herself and make changes. Therapy is a great idea.
I’m not sure that this has anything to do with her being “alpha” and you being “beta.” It’s a behavior and family dynamic that she has probably maintained her whole life. Not changing her last name or hypenating the kids’ names is perfectly normal and healthy. After all, you are equals who have an equal interest and right to keep your family surnames and you both contributed to the conception and raising of your children, so I’m not convinced that makes her “alpha” as you say or explains her co-dependecency with her parents.
Post # 12
I also don’t agree with the alpha/beta application here and I don’t know what her keeping her name has to do with this but this is ridiculous. Do the two of you ever do anything as just a couple or with just your family? Does she really think this is typical?
When was the last time the two of you went on a date? Or a trip? Being so close and involved, surely the inlaws could handle the kids while the two of you had a chance to get away and reconnect.
Have you talked to her about couples counseling?
Post # 13
Are you an MRA? WTH does beta/alpha and last names have to do with anything? It sounds like you resent the fact that she wanted to keep her own last name.
The in-laws stuff – yeah, I wouldn’t put up with that. I’d be putting my foot down and demaning couseling and redefining of boundaries.
But if you’ve been reading red pill/MRA boards, you’re probably already drinking the Kool-aid and have one foot out the door anyways…
Post # 14
I think he’s just providing background for the issue. And the name thing, it sounds like he’s mentioning it because it’s just another example of how she put her family above him.
Post # 15
I’m another one who was with you up until the alpha/beta and name stuff. This isn’t an alpha/beta issue or a feminist “she kept her own name” issue. This is an unhealthy boundaries issue. No wonder you’re sick of it — I would not be cool with this and don’t know many people who would be. Unfortunately, if this is how she’s always been, this is how she’ll always be. You can try counselling since you’re married and have kids, but she is unlikely to change. You might need to prepare for divorce.