Last week I shared with you how marital issues and mother-in-law issues sometimes get mixed together to the point that it is hard to know when something is a marital issue and when something is a MIL/DIL issue. When these issues get compounded, neither one ends up getting resolved, and they both often become worse. Last week I gave you some tips on how to know when it is purely a MIL/DIL issue. This week I want to give you some tips on how to know when it is a marital issue.
It becomes a marital issue when:
- You want (or expect) your husband to fix his mother or fix the problem.
- You start arguing about his mother, but then the fight spreads to other issues between the two of you.
- As you start talking about the issues you have with his mother, you become keenly aware of how much you’re losing respect for your husband.
- You want to cut off all ties to his side of the family, and you’re angry with him when he refuses to do so.
If you have a marital issue, addressing that first will put you in a better position to work on the MIL/DIL issue. Here are three valuable strategies for doing that without starting WWIII:
1. Figure out what you want from your husband – Do you just want to vent, do you want him to truly understand your emotional pain, or do you want something entirely different? Get clear on this first, because after all, if you don’t now what it is you want from him, how can he know?
2. Let him know this early on – Begin the conversation by letting him know right up front what you want from him. How you word your request is critical to getting what you’re after. If you are berating his mother or blaming him, you are not going to get what you want – even if you think it makes you feel better.
3. Keep the focus on the two of you – not on your MIL – Remember, you are working on getting closer to your spouse right now – his mother just happens to be the catalyst. For the time being, keep her out of it!
If you practice using these three strategies, before long your husband will start to feel more like your ally than your adversary. Not only will that improve your marriage, but it will also go a long way toward helping you resolve your in-law issues. It’s a win-win!