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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5822
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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I am a 34 year old wife and mother to a one year old son.

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hi, i am a 34 year old wife and mother to a one year old son. these last 6 months i am having terrible rows with my husband regarding my mother in law. she keeps calling me with the name of my husband's ex with whom he split up 10 yrs ago! this is causing me great sadness and i'm afraid im going into a depression. when she calls me with her name im feeling invisible and unwanted and i take this out on my husband accusing him of not standing up for me. am i reacting super-sensitive? if it was for me i just dont see her, but how to behave having my son? should he see his grandma without me being there? or if i dont go to her house he stays home with me? pls i need yor help

Hello, I'd like to help you with your question.

It sounds like your mother in law is calling you by your husband's ex's name to get you upset and get a response out of you. It seems she might feel jealous of you and this is her way of expressing her feelings instead of talking about how she feels. It is an unhealthy way of handing how she feels.

However, this can really hurt your feelings, no matter the reasoning behind her actions. Being called someone else's name, particularly a woman who came before you with your husband, hurts a lot. But keep in mind, that is what your mother in law intends. She wants you to feel unwanted and invisible. The key here for you is to change how you react to her.

The next time you hear your mother in law call you by your husband's ex's name, say to her "it sounds like you are trying to hurt me by calling me this name". Then say "I'm sorry you feel the need to act this way". By saying this to her, you acknowledge that you heard what she is trying to do and you put the blame on her for her actions. It also keeps you from defending yourself so you don't show her that her tactics are working with you.

Also, you may want to discuss this further with your husband. Let him know that you feel his actions are hurtful (use "I" statements as in "I feel....") and that you are having trouble in the marriage because of it. He does need to be defending you with his family. You are his wife and you come first. If he does not respond well to you, then suggest counseling. Sometimes it takes someone from the outside of the situation to explain how hurtful in laws can be.

Here is a good resource to help you cope with your mother in law:

If you can get your husband to agree to deal with his mother, then it is ok to go over her home with your family. Try to go even if she is difficult with you. Keep in mind, she is the one with the problem and not you. You are not doing anything wrong. Showing her that she cannot hurt you will help. That way, she may eventually stop.

I hope this has helped you,

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

when i discuss this issue with my husband(nearly every day!) he keeps excusing her and says that perhaps the more she tries remembering my name the more she has the other name in her head and so the more she makes a mistake......!!!! when i confronted her she told me im taking things too personally and that im over reacting.

i need your help regarding my one year old son pls. should he see his grandma without my presence as my husband suggests? or he doesnt go if i dont go. these last 6 months i havent visited my mother in law and neither has my son... should my husband keep seeing her as often as before problems cropped up? i know she is his mum but im there too....things are bad when there is some family dinner or birthday and we dont go. my husband misses them when we dont go for the celebration taking place. so do i go just to make husband happy ?

im desperate for doing the right choices. many thanks

Your husband is not doing what he is supposed to do. When you are married, your spouse comes first. You leave behind your parents and put your partner first in your life. Your husband may either not understand that, or he is fearful of dealing with his mother. It sounds like he may need counseling to help him understand how to handle this situation with his mother.

When there are family events, you should go as a family. Your mother in law needs to know that she cannot bully you and push you aside. It would be easier to handle this if your husband was supportive of you rather than his mother, but until he does correct his behavior, you may need to be the one person in this situation that does the right thing. You can take steps to protect yourself and your son, however. If your mother in law begins to act out in front of your son, you have the right to remove him and yourself from the situation. Let your husband know ahead of time that you will be doing this so he knows. That way, you can have some control over the situation.


Customer: replied 4 years ago.

i'm feeling terribly lonely since all this started. you see, i have lost both my parents and my husband was my only support. now i'm feeling inferior to his mother in his love and am feeling totally lost. also cos of my little one im feeling terribly guilty of all the arguing this is causing as my husband shouts a lot during arguments and my son starts crying.

It is important that you both consider counseling to work this issue through, particularly if it is affecting your son. If your husband will not go, then go yourself. Also, consider having your son seen at least for an evaluation by a child therapist to be sure he is handling the conflicts well.

You may also want to develop supports outside of your marriage with friendships. You need support right now and relying on your husband only is going to hurt you if he is not supportive of you. You can always start on line with support groups and work out from there. Develop friends in your neighborhood and with other mothers from your son's school. Join groups and participate in outside activities. That can help you feel less isolated and more supported.


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TherapistMarryAnn and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you

Thank you for the positive rating! I appreciate it very much.

I think once you find other supports for yourself and work through this issue with your husband, the problem with your mother in law will get better and become a minor part of your life.

Take care,