How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask CounselorJules Your Own Question
CounselorJules, Counselor
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 786
Experience:  Licensed Professional Counselor
Type Your Relationship Question Here...
CounselorJules is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

My wife will not set boundaries family and gets mad

Customer Question

My wife will not set boundaries for her family and gets mad at me when I do and enforce them. We are on the verge of divorce bc of their intrusiveness & things they have done. However, she just keeps saying that it is up to me to put up with it bc that is who they are. I have set her down and explained how this is effecting our relationship. What can I do?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  CounselorJules replied 1 year ago.

Gosh, I think you are in a tough situation, but you are right in asking her to establish boundaries. The thing that you may try is explaining to her what you hope can be gained by establishing the boundaries with them. She may just hear criticism and less of the positive possibilities, and therefore feel defensive. Try thinking about what can be gained by these and explaining this to her. Tell me a bit more about your situation so that we can be more specific :)

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Where do I begin? My wife and I have been together 8 years and married 3. We have a 2 year old daughter. Since we began dating, the parents have always made derogatory remarks to me but smiled while doing it. We have always had to base our holidays around what her mother wants.
In the past, I have just let it roll off my back. When our daughter was born, my wife began pulling away from me and migrating towards her mother. They kept me out of decisions about our daughter and I felt like my MIL was in her ear.
I have done much to try and be accepted by this family. I gave her little brother $2,000 of furniture to take to his college apartment (which they refused to thank me for).I have purchased almost every meal we ate together as a family. The father has told me I didn’t know how to do my job (financial advisor) and the mother has to run down any accomplishment I make.
My wife got her brother a job with my friend at a local restaurant (after I told her I did not want the brother working there). My BIL made great money and was treated very well by my friend. However, the brother lied about how much money he was making and did not hold out enough taxes. When tax time came, the parents had an attorney threaten to turn my friend over to Dept of Labor if he did not change the W2. This made me furious. I called the brother and parents and told them how upset I was at what they had done. My wife told me that I was not allowed to do that & sided with her family.
A few weeks later, we were on vacation. The in-laws wanted to come to the beach house I had rented. I told my wife that I did not want them there. They showed up anyway. When I asked my wife why they were there, she replied “I can’t disappoint my mother and tell her no”. The parents and I got into an argument.
My wife knows of many bad thing they say about me & try to run me down. She refuses to stand up for me and
I could go on & on but won’t. These are just examples of what happens. I have explained to my wife that I don’t care what they really do. It hurts me that she won’t establish boundaries or allow me to do so.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I stay bc I love my daughter and don't want to spend time away from her.
Expert:  CounselorJules replied 1 year ago.
Wow. It completely sounds like you have been disrespected. It also sounds like they probably have know realization of the enmeshment that is occurring. The sad part too is that your daughter will see all of this and not have a healthy awareness of boundaries and self-differentiation if change does not occur. There is a great deal of dependence on her parents' approval I'm assuming? Is there some reason that she feels indebted to them? Passive aggressive behaviors by the mother or is there something she feels that she owes her mother? Or was your wife ever independent, like during college years?
Expert:  CounselorJules replied 1 year ago.

I havent heard back from you, so if it is okay, I am going to send you some further information with additional links to help you with your situation. I dont want to bombard you with emails so please let me know if you are still interested or you can update me with more information if you would like!

Expert:  CounselorJules replied 1 year ago.

I was looking over some of the questions that I still have on my list. I wanted to go ahead and send you some information. I have some books in my office related to boundaries and one specifically is called, "Boundaries in Marriage." It is by John Cloud and Henry Townsend. They discuss the "Ten Laws of Boundaries" and applying these to marriage.

The Law Of Sowing and Reaping – Actions have consequences. If someone in your life is sowing anger, selfishness, and abuse at you, are you setting boundaries against it? Or do you reciprocate this in some way?

The Law of Responsibility – We are responsible TO each other, not FOR each other.

The Law of Power – We have power over some things, we don’t have power over others (including changing people). We can’t change or fix anyone – but we do have the power to change our own life. However, how you respond to the situations can change the behavior.....

The Law of Respect – If we wish for others to respect our boundaries, we need to respect theirs.

The Law of Motivation – We must be free to say “no” before we can wholeheartedly say “yes”.

The Law of Evaluation – We need to evaluate the pain our boundaries cause others. Or in the case you have described, it could be the lack of boundaries and your wife may need to hear from you how you are hurt.....

The Law of Proactivity – We take action to solve problems based on our values, wants, and needs.

The Law of Envy – We will never get what we want if we focus our boundaries onto what others have.

The Law of Activity – We need to take the initiative to solve our problems rather than being passive.

The Law of Exposure – We need to communicate our boundaries. A boundary that is not communicated is a boundary that is not working. Boundaries are often "invisible" so we have to make sure we discuss what we need from others.

Also, another chapter in this same book is "Resolving Conflict with a Boundary-Resistant Spouse." In this chapter, it talks about helping our partner's establish boundaries so that you help them to understand that you feel compassion for her needs, desires, and hurts also. You will have to demonstrate self control and patience and be willing to be humble in communicating with her what you desire. You may have to let her react, but demonstrate self-control and don't try to be "correcting" in your statements. Try to validate the importance of that relationship but also, express why the relationship can benefit from the boundaries.

She may be resistant to boundaries because she has a "split" in her desires. She may feel indebted for some reason to appeasing them. Make sure she knows how she can rely on you....

I also wanted to send you a few links to look over.

I hope that this is helpful and that you will consider providing a positive rating. Best wishes, Jules

Expert:  CounselorJules replied 1 year ago.

Also, I really like this quote and it could be useful if you mention it to her, "Boundaries are about protecting love, not about changing people, beating them up, punishing them, or showing them their wrongs." When talking to her, make love the goal..... You can say, "When you dismiss my feelings about boundaries, I cant feel the love that I have for you. I feel more disrespected and I don't want to feel that way. I want to feel close to you and fix things because my life with you matters and I want to work on things."