Mother enmeshed men support for partner asked by. I took the mother enmeshed men course on bloom, thank you so much for this, and we have been reading the Kenneth M Adams books. So my boyfriend and I discovered he’s an MEM and I discovered he has developed a porn addiction from an early age. He’s in recovery and hasn’t relapsed. He finally found a therapist who can help him. My mother-in-law is trying everything she can to sabotage our relationship, and it’s really exhausting. The harder she tries, the more distant I feel myself towards him. He’s finally setting boundaries, but she doesn’t want to accept them yet. So he’s changing and making great progress, but even when she’s not there, it feels like she’s in our home, in our thoughts. And when we finally have a moment together, she starts texting or calling again. I don’t get the space to heal from all of this because she’s always present. She often bullies me in subtle ways when we visit her and now she’s even attacking me verbally on the phone that I have brainwashed her son. She apologized, but afterward I found out it wasn’t an honest apology at all. I could visit less often to relieve some of the stress. My boyfriend can go visit her alone. But the problem is that the acting out always happens when he’s at his parents’ house, in his old room.
So him going alone to the trigger of his addiction and the only place where he acts out is really triggering for me also. So we’ll go together now and afterwards he feels stronger and setting boundaries, he’ll go alone again. But both scenarios are putting me through a lot of stress. So my question is, my boyfriend is working really hard to set boundaries towards her, but I know this process can take years.
I believe in my boyfriend’s journey to recovery, but I’m scared I’ll get fed up or burned out because of his behavior, the attention seeking bullying and guilt taking. Oh of her behavior, I’m sorry. I wonder what the best way for me to deal with her. I’m the daughter-in-law. So I have the feeling, I can’t speak my mind.
I always react kind and mature, but when she bullies me, I often stay silent. I know she’s just waiting for me to explode. This is really hurtful for me. So what’s the best way for me to communicate with her so she treats me with respect, and I don’t say anything wrong at the same time. And how can I heal from all this if it feels like she never gives me room to breathe? It also prevents my boyfriend and me from healing in our relationship because we’re always on edge and scared of what she’ll try next.
So this is a big question and there’s a lot of stuff in here and I can feel the fear that’s there and the love that you have for your boyfriend and wanting to be there for him and wanting to help him and not wanting his mom to negatively impact your life in as many ways as you possibly can. And I get the sense of helplessness and just trying to do what you can and in order to feel like you have some kind of control in the situation. And I think that’s normal and it does feel hopeless because this is his mom and his relationship and choices he has to make that you can’t make for him. And that is that’s really scary.
So first, like I said, my heart goes out to you cause it’s not a fun place to be in, and it sounds like you’re doing your best to deal with it in a healthy way. So second of all, I have a lot of questions and I’m going to have to speculate in some ways, but just to ask some of those questions; One, how long have you been together and what is the status of the relationship? And what I mean by that is you live together. Do you treat the relationship as a marriage or as a boyfriend, girlfriend situation still, those are very different scenarios. Additionally, how does his mom treat the relationship? Because oftentimes parents will be really in the mix when people are dating. But once they are married, they know they, like they give up, like they realized they can say no more. And so I just wonder where his mom is in that scenario. If she still feels like you’re not good for him, and she’s gonna try her best to get him away from you. And then if you got married, then she would give up. I don’t know, but those are some questions that I have. I think whenever there is change in someone’s life, there’s a ripple effect. And it sounds like this relationship between his mom has been this way for so long. And now that he’s trying to change, she can’t accept that her son needs to change in that she has a problem. And so it’s easier to blame you. So one, for you, I would try not to take that personally. It isn’t about you, it’s about her. It’s about her losing control. It’s about her feeling panicked, that things are changing in ways she doesn’t have control over. And she’s trying desperately to keep status quo, even though that’s not healthy. And I think maybe you can relate in some ways in that you want a strong and good relationship and you don’t want that to deteriorate. And so maybe you can empathize with some of that confusion and helplessness that she’s feeling. It’s just her spectrum is not necessarily from a healthy place and it sounds like yours is. Again, take that for what it’s worth.
Back to your question of, I’m not sure if I should be the one talking to her, I feel like she’s trying to attack me, basically in subtle ways and it hurts. So, generally speaking, even in a marriage, not boyfriend girlfriend, it’s best for the child of that parent to be the one to talk to their parent. It can take 7 to 10 years of marriage even to solidify and have equilibrium in a family again. And it really is best for the person who already has that long standing relationship to be the one to talk to their family member. The only caveat to that is if she is attacking you in a way that makes you feel that you need to set a boundary with her. Like for you, not for your boyfriend slash husband, but for you. And in that case, It would be appropriate to in a calm way, set that boundary with her.
So that also leads me to what are boundaries? So a lot of people misunderstand what a boundary is. They think that it’s something to hurt the other person or to get back at someone. But that is not what a boundary is. A boundary is very simply someone is violating my personal space or emotional space. It’s not good for me. This is what I’m going to do in order to protect myself. And if that person chooses not to follow the boundary that I’ve set, this is the action that I’m going to take.
In a podcast that I listened to, a life coach school, she talks about like the mother-in-law who’s always stopping by the house. And the daughter-in-law’s busy doing other things, but feels like she has to open the door, but it really bothers her that her mother-in-law just stops by whenever she wants to. So, the boundary would be; Hey, we really love for you to come visit, sometimes we’re not available. I really need you to call before you come over to make sure that we are able to be available and visit with you. And if you don’t, then I will not answer the door. So some people get panicky about setting that kind of boundary because they feel like they’re going to hurt the other person. But the reality is that mother-in-law can feel that something isn’t right when she’s at the house anyway. This is just calling a spade. It’s a way of being authentic to yourself and honest with the person that you’re dealing with. So, it’s not to hurt them. It’s to say; Hey, this is something that is not okay. I need it to stop. If you choose not to stop, this is what I’m going to have to do in order to protect me and my relationship. So, I think if your boyfriend is coming from that perspective and really his intention is to show his mom what’s okay and what’s not okay in his life, not because he doesn’t love her, but because he does love her and respect her, and wants her to understand that this is what he needs in order to have a healthy relationship, or there’s not going to be able to be a relationship. Then I think coming about it from that intention feels very different and doesn’t feel as scary or overwhelming. So that’s just something to consider and hopefully that’s the place that he’s coming from.