Can I save this marriage?

Reply Sat 20 Mar, 2021 03:32 pm
My wife (36F)and I(35M) are newlyweds. We've only been married for a couple of weeks now. But already I'm sleeping on the couch and the wife is looking to file for divorce. Yes, it's that serious. Over something so petty too.

So my wife has never really liked my mom. When she and I first started dating (it's been 3 years now) she'd comment on how our dynamic was dysfunctional and "too close". How can you be "too close" to your mom? My mom would say comments like "no woman is good enough for my son" and that my wife wasn't coming over to the house. I lived at home at the time. My wife didn't like that. She kept instilling in me that my relationship with my mom was abnormal and probably contributed to why I had never had a girlfriend before her. My wife was my first and only girlfriend and that didn't happen till I was 32.

My mom and my family in general is very important to me. I let my feelings about that be known in the beginning to my now wife. So she sucked it up and started coming to family events. My mom would take jabs at my wife (then girlfriend) by saying little things like calling her retarted for not trying a certain food, asking her if her cooking is better than her own mom's cooking, telling her on more than one occasion that if she ever hurt me, she'd kill her. I know my mom. She didn't mean those things literally but my wife took it personally and made it about herself (which she does often) and got emotional about it (which she also does VERY often)

Anyway, fast forward to now. My wife says that she can't stand the sight of me and that she wants nothing to do with me bc my mom has continued to make comments and yell and curse at my wife and I when she's drunk. She (my wife) has been telling me that I need to set boundaries with my mom and that I need to defend her more. But I've said things to my mom. She told my wife that she calls everyone retarted but still my wife can't seem to get over it!

The past few nights she's been crying uncontrollably and telling me she's in so much emotional pain. But I don't know what to do. She accuses me of being a psychopath bc she says I don't comfort her when she's crying but how can I? What does she want from me? I tell her I love her and it's not like that but she keeps crying and telling me how unhappy she is. She also says that if she had somewhere to go, she'd leave. She asked me to leave her and go stay with my parents for a couple of months while she recovers her finances, gets back on her feet and is able to move out. But I don't want that. I want to be independent. And why should I have to move out? I'm trying to make this marriage work but clearly my wife isn't. She said she's emotionally exhausted and can't do it anymore and that in order to maintain her sanity, she needs to go.

See, my wife grew up with an absent father and a narcissistic mother. Her mother was neglectful and in turn it turned her into an emotional mess. She's come along way though through therapy and self reflection. She's very self aware. Something she says I need to be. She says that I need to remove myself from the situation with my family and become the observer so I can see the abuse and emotional blackmail she places on me bc I just don't see it. She's been saying for the past 3 years that my mom reminds her of HER mom and that my mom is a narcissist. But my mom wasn't neglectful. I just think my wife doesn't want to feel alone in having a f***ed up parent but I just can't see my mom in that light bc she's always been there for me.

Last night I was at my parents house bc I'm trying to be more insightful and shed more light on this like my wife has asked. I wanted to inquire about my childhood and why I can't express my emotions to my wife. But from what my parents explained, it sounded like a normal childhood. Yes, I got hit at times but I know they were just disciplining me. I don't see the connection of narcissism although I can agree that my mom CAN possess this air of bravado or 'nose up in the air' kind of attitude but she just has self confidence which is a good thing.

So while I'm at my parents last night, my wife texts me a list of all the ways my mom has hurt her or indicators that she's a narcissist. I don't know. This is the list if you care to read it:

-Wanted to come with us to sign the lease when we first moved in together.

-Wanted keys to our first place together.

-Said her son moving to another state would be over her dead body.

-Wanted better seating tickets to see the rockettes than the seats he got me for Christmas

-Has called me retarted for not wanting to try calamari

-Has made subtle jabs at me like "I'll teach you how to fold towels" or asking me if her corn beef was better than my moms

-Gets upset when we don't want to come over or go out with them to dinner

-Gives the silent treatment

-She's very rigid in her own relationship. Won't take a walk with her husband, step foot in a mall or a fast food restaurant. It's all about HER and what SHE wants. Forget about her husband. His desires don't matter to her bc those things are so beneath her.

-Grounded her son for a month when he was a kid bc he didn't make his bed

-Expects us to spend every single holiday with their side of the family and tells us "that's the way they are" and we're just expected to get used to it

-We're not allowed to start our own traditions

-Anytime either of us mention a dream of something we'd like she, and your dad, will say "no, that's not what you want" and shut down what we want

-I'm not allowed to spend holidays with my mom or MY side of the family. Every holiday and event has to be spent with their side of the family bc they're Italian so they're better than any other race according to her

-When your Uncle came over to visit, the first thing he said to me is "it's important that we keep the family together" as if grooming me to their bizarre programming of the family you come from is your be all end all and that anyone that marries into that has to conform to their warped reality of what a family is.

-Yells at us like we're children and tells us we better not be hiding anything from her when we decide we wanna move in together at 34

-Curses and yells at us

-She's always right there with her I told you sos when something goes wrong to us

-We're expected to do everything the way their family does it bc according to his mom, "this is the way WE do things" and so it HAS to be done as such. Including the way WE want to get married, the way WE want to raise our kids, and the way WE choose to live our lives.

-Had to see the condo we picked before we finalized on it bc "mother knows best"

-He said no to having a civil union in spite me needing his insurance to get a mammogram bc he was afraid of disappointing his family.

-When he finally decided we COULD have a civil union after all, he had to run the reason by every single member of his family (some even not family) bc he knew they would ask why. So he sacrificed my personal info in order to appease them

-When I told his mom I found a lump in my breast her response was "oh great. Something else to worry about" when I told you, you didn't seem to care

-Everything is chalked up to "oh that's just mom" or "that's just Flora" or "it's the drinking that makes her that way" but no one says anything to her out of fear so they enable her behavior

-Tells me she's surprised I don't like cilantro since I'm Puerto Rican

-Anytime you tell her how she's being mean or rude to me she downplays it by making it seem like I'M too sensitive and that's how she talks to everyone, not just me. And that I should be flattered that she considers me one of them

-She's told Joe no woman is good enough for her son and that I'm not coming over to her house right before we met

-When she met another girl that you liked before me she said to her "where the f*** do you think you're going?"

-She cried when you moved out even though you were 32

-Her and some family were traveling outside their home state and stopped outside a cracker barrel. They didn't have or allow alcohol in so she got upset and waited outside in the car while the rest of the family sat inside and ate

-She gets upset if someone calls her out and she'll either yell and curse at them or give them the silent treatment

-She would constantly tell me that if I hurt her son, she'd kill me

-Anytime we're around your parents and you walk away they secretly gang up on me and ask why we don't come around often and ask if I'm not letting him come over

-She blames me when you don't answer the phone for her

-She and also your cousin has said I'm taking you away from the family

-She told me you chose me over the family even though I never asked you to choose. I just asked for boundaries.

-You told me she went crazy when she found your brothers girlfriends things in her house. She threw them in a garbage bag and threatened to call the cops. Seems to be a recurring pattern of her sons can't have their own lives.

-She gets even more rude and abrasive when she drinks and she drinks every single day

-When she was at our house, she left when the alcohol ran out. She said she'd stay longer if we could go get her more wine

-She can't take criticism and thinks she's always

-Back when we were dating and you still lived at home, you got sick. I went over there to take care of you. She yelled at me that you're HER son and that she'll take care of you.

-Anytime I tell her something that you did for me (cooked me dinner, folded the laundry) and how good you are at it, she takes credit it for it

-She takes credit for you going on a diet, for you cooking, for you folding laundry. Any normal activity or mundane chore you performe is somehow attributed to her amazing parenting skills

-She gets mad when you do things around our house bc you didn't help HER when you lived at home

-She's always looking for a reason to complain when we go out. She'll complain to a waitress if she thinks the table is too dirty. She'll complain that the restaurant is too cold and demand to be seated next to the fireplace. One time when we were out for Valentine's day together 🙄 she complained bc they seated her facing a wall. We couldn't enjoy our night until I switched seats with her so she could overlook the restaurant and place judgement upon everyone.

-She told me for Halloween she always dresses up as the queen from maleficent bc she IS a queen

-She opens your mail even though you don't live there anymore. You don't seem to care. But it bothers ME bc it's indicative of how controlling she is of you. She just won't let you have your own life.

-She has a very inflated ego.

-And the sad part is, there's lots more. This is all I remember off the top of my head. And no one, absolutely NO ONE in that family stands up to her or sets boundaries. Now do you see why I wanna leave?

-She is insufferable. I just can't.

While I can agree with everything on the list bc I know how my mom can be, I will also say that I think my wife interprets it the wrong way and takes it too personal. She warned me in the beginning that people always told her she was too sensitive but not being able to let these things go is just silly to me. My family is important to me. I've told my mom to not say mean things to her anymore but she still does here and there so what can I do? I can't control my mom's behavior. My wife has asked me if it was ok if she wasn't around my family. She's never demanded I stop seeing them. She says it's my choice. But she asked how important it was that SHE be around my family. I told her they're important to me (especially my mom) and that if she couldn't be around them that would be a problem. And now here we are with me sleeping on the couch.

Tldr; my wife thinks I put my family's feelings over hers and it's causing a rift
Reply Sat 20 Mar, 2021 04:57 pm
Good lord, your wife is 100% right and I am surprised she's lasted this long.

What can you do when your mother is mean? Stand up to her. Here's your script.

"Lisa (or whatever her name is) is my wife and while I don't expect you to love each other, I do expect you to respect her. She is my choice and disrespecting her means that you have no respect for my choices."

Your mother is a nasty, narcissistic, controlling, mean drunk. And she's the one who has forced this rift, not your wife.

Inlaws don't have to love each other. It's lovely when they do, but it's not necessary.

What is necessary is them stepping back and giving you the space to have your own lives, and to sink or swim. It also means not actively insulting anyone. Yes, retarded is an insult, full stop. If your mother thinks that behavior and name-calling is funny, then she's insensitive and mistaken. And her claiming she "doesn't mean it" is beside the point.

If she didn't mean it, then she wouldn't do it.

You are not kids and after 3 years, no one can claim you rushed into things.

Break away from your mother before you lose your wife.

And, I might add, alcoholics tend to not have terribly pleasant ends to their lives.

Step away now, before you're a 60 year old divorced man, changing your mother's adult diaper while she yells at you for not getting her a bottle fast enough.
Reply Sun 21 Mar, 2021 07:26 am
What do other family members say about your relationship with your mother?
Why were you still living at home at age 32?

Buddy - Your marriage is breaking apart. Options are:

MOVE - away, far away.

Limit your connection with your mother to you and you alone. Don’t expect or force your wife to be in the same room as her attacker ( your mother)

Separate and get your own apartment. See which one you miss the most: wife or mother.

(Your wife should have seen this family dynamic before taking vows with you. But love is blind)

Reply Sun 21 Mar, 2021 09:39 am
You are a mummy’s boy, I’m not surprised your wife doesn’t want to look at you. Your mother sounds dreadful, and you’re a dead loss.
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Reply Sun 21 Mar, 2021 10:39 am
They don't say anything about it. We were raised to not leave the family. We all stay together. If anyone marries into our family, they accept that we do everything together.

Until recently, my cousin and her husband lived in her parents house for awhile even when they were married. We just see this as normal.

Anytime my wife and I want to do something alone, like New Years Eve, Memorial Day, or just can't make it to a family event they (my mom mostly) make us feel guilty. They (my mom and the cousin I mentioned above) kept saying my wife is taking me away from the family and they hated her until she integrated with us. But I can understand them wanting to get to know the woman I'm with.
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Reply Sun 21 Mar, 2021 10:53 am
Yikes! Where do I even begin?

First of all, this is not a family. It's a cult.

"They wanted to get to know the woman I'm with"
No love, they wanted to brainwash the woman you're with into conforming to their psychotic family structure. Your wife noticed the trap and rebeled. Shows that she won't allow her individuality to be sucked away. Good for her.

It honestly sounds like a bunch of narcissists that need each other to feed. Your wife is right. This dynamic is extremely dysfunctional.

Your wife aside (because let's be honest she's most likely going to leave you which she should) YOU need to get out too. You're conditioned to believe this is normal, I assure you, it is not. It is controlling, it is abusive and it is toxic.

The dynamic alone is parasitic, throw in your mother's obvious abuse on top of it and I could imagine your wife is an emotional wreck.

You need to let her go for her sake. You've allowed your family to damage her. Frankly, it sounds like you don't even love yourself let alone your wife but instead you're more upset that she can't just accept this abuse that you've been conditioned to believe is normal. You're going to need YEARS of therapy to hopefully undo what your family has done to you.

The biggest red flag I'm getting from your post is that you don't seem to acknowledge any of this as abnormal. This is bordering on psychosis. And the sooner you can realize that, the sooner you can begin to live a more happy and emotionally healthy life.

All the best
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Reply Sun 21 Mar, 2021 01:03 pm
You should divorce. This marriage is not compatible.

Your family’s dynamics sound like extreme cultural traditions . Therefore you need to find a woman who shares the same cultural standards. Your current wife does not.

However you need to know that your mothers behavior is beyond any kind of cultural standards and it’s going to be a problem. The fact that you don’t see it as a problem is going to make it extra hard on any woman that you have a relationship with or marry.

Best to end this marriage.
Reply Tue 23 Mar, 2021 08:24 am
Can I save this marriage?

Answer: No! You’re married to your family. When and if you every break away, you can have a successful relationship. I’m surprised your wife ever agreed to marriage. Wonder what SHE was thinking?

If you love your wife, let her go. Unless you get therapy and break away from the control, you’ll not be able to maintain a marriage that will fulfill both partners.
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Reply Thu 25 Mar, 2021 01:30 pm
I understand what you're saying but it's a lot easier said than done. My wife wants me to take a temporary break from my mom so we can try to fix this without her interference.

But there's so many holidays coming up and her birthday is in June and I know she's going to want to spend them with us.
Reply Thu 25 Mar, 2021 01:33 pm
I'm ok with moving away and only seeing my family once or twice a year while I build a life with my wife. It's just in the interim, it's hard to just break away from them
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Reply Thu 25 Mar, 2021 01:44 pm
June is happening in over 2 months from now. Easter (or Passover) is your immediate concern. If you feel the need to smile and attend, then do so - but don't expect your wife to join you. Do you need an excuse for her not to come? Actually, no. But if you really want to offer it up to some nosy so-and-so's, then just say she's spending it with her family and then change the subject immediately. If they persist on the particulars, or whine that your family is better or whatever, ignore them and ask them to pass the asparagus.

Moving away doesn't have to be the other side of the planet. And you can even see your family more than once or twice a year. But if you want to, and you want to save your marriage, get used to her not going with you to family stuff, and get your family used to it as well.

I would also suggest working out a schedule with your wife. Easter at her folks' on every year that ends with an even number. Your folks for the other years. Xmas at her folks' on every year that ends with an odd number. Your folks for the opposite. July 4th? Host if you like. Or make your own traditions. Or do whatever you please. You're adults. You're allowed to.

It's not easy to navigate a family dynamic where getting everyone together is a bad idea. But you would not be alone in terms of trying to pick your way through the minefield.

But the person who's seeing your marriage versus your family as a black or white, all or nothing proposition is not your wife.
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Reply Sun 28 Mar, 2021 03:37 pm
You are asking your wife to be a verbal punching bag for your dreadful mother. Your mother is selfish, you must know that. Do you know anyone outside of your family that lives like this??? It's very unhealthy, and you are expecting your wife to be completely miserable so you can make your mother the center of the universe as she demands. It appears your wife already knows what it's like to be miserable and maybe she doesn't want the rest of her life to be a nightmare. We all deserve some peace of mind, if you love her at all, let her go. You and Mom will be much happier so be a man and allow her to go be happy.
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