Boyfriend’s mom is con­trol­ling

Austin American-Statesman Sunday - - SHOPPING TODAY -

DEAR CAROLYN: My boyfriend’s (of four years) par­ents do not like me ... or rather his mom doesn’t like me and is a very con­trol­ling woman so it’s hard to tell what his dad thinks of me. They just booked tick­ets to visit us for the sec­ond time this year in spite of my boyfriend say­ing it is a bad time be­cause he is very busy again.

He is over­loaded with work, so in­stead of con­fronting her when he found out, he has cho­sen to push the con­fronta­tion un­til later. Last time they claimed they would oc­cupy them­selves but of course when they ar­rived, the “we paid all this money to see you” guilt trip started im­me­di­ately.

He is younger so he still is work­ing on the stand­ing up to her. Any sug­ges­tions for me to help him put his foot down with her? (Sug­ges­tions for me to keep calm enough to not give her an ac­tual rea­son to hate me would be nice too.)

— Un­wanted Hosts

No, I will not give you sug­ges­tions to help you be­come the next con­trol­ling per­son to whom your boyfriend out­sources his un­com­fort­able de­ci­sions.

He is “younger” so he’s still “work­ing on” it? No to that, too.

You’re clear­ing two dif­fer­ent paths with that ra­tio­nal­iza­tion. One is to­ward tak­ing over the de­ci­sions your boyfriend fails to make. This is how peo­ple wind up either ex­hausted and re­sent­ful for hav­ing to carry the en­tire men­tal load both for them­selves and a part­ner — the role you’re train­ing for — or de­tached and re­sent­ful for hav­ing lit­tle say in their day-to-day lives — the role he’s rapidly slip­ping into.

The other path leads to treat­ing your boyfriend’s weak­ness not as a bad thing, but in­stead as a thing that will be good even­tu­ally and he just needs to fix it, yeah, no prob­lem. This is how peo­ple find them­selves mid-di­vorce 10 years later and mar­veling that the mar­riage-end­ing prob­lem was one they’d known about all along and yet signed up for any­way.

You don’t want to be on either path. Nei­ther does he. You’re out of bal­ance al­ready. No more ra­tio­nal­iza­tions. In­stead, speak only for your­self: “When you de­cide not to say no to your mom, I end up in the awk­ward spot of hav­ing to host them while you’re busy at work. That’s not fair to me — or to your par­ents, for that mat­ter.”

Then, see whether (and how) he speaks for him­self in re­sponse to your con­cerns.

Then see whether you, he, and the power bal­ance in this re­la­tion­ship are healthy enough to hold up un­der the pres­sure of force­ful moms and pas­sive dads and over­loads of work. Not when he “grows up” — now. When they are, in gen­eral, I sus­pect you’ll find your de­meanor takes care of it­self. Carolyn Hax writes an ad­vice col­umn for the Wash­ing­ton Post

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.