My wife has an overbearing family which she at times will admit. If I try to bring this up in a normal discussion, than it is overlooked and ignored. If I bottle it up and we get into a heated argument about it, then it’s my fault, I’m the jerk for getting mad. I just can’t win. Her family has a huge amount of drama in their lives and she feels obligated to carry the burden. I’m personally all for helping family, but you can’t help them if they don’t try to help themselves first.
I offered to go to counseling, she agreed, but when the time comes up to go it never happens. I truly believe that she is afraid to hear what a counselor may have to say.
Not sure what to do, I’m at the end of my rope with this relationship. Any advice you could supply would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you for your time.
We were dating for about 17 years before getting married.
A major source of disagreements like this seems to be for you and your wife can definitely put strain on a relationship. The good news is that this does not appear to be a fundamental issue between the two of you; but between your spouse and an outside party.
With issues like these, we recommend first using very precise language to define the problem.
- For example, first define your exact feelings on the situation. Perhaps you would say: “I get upset when my wife drops everything to help family members that have a prior history of overreacting and causing problems for the whole family.”
- The next question is why do you feel that way (ie, how and why do her actions bother you at all)? Is it because she is spending your joint money on helping her relatives financially? Do they stress her out and then she carries over that tension into her relationship with you? Is she spending time with them that could be spent instead with you, etc.
Now it is time to have a discussion with your wife when you are both calm. When one spouse is frustrated, it can be difficult to feel open-minded and non-judgmental, but the best approach is to get the other spouse’s perspective first.
- You first want to know, in a genuine and kind way, why she feels she needs to constantly be involved in her family’s drama. Is it simply the only way she was raised? Does she feel like a bad person if she doesn’t participate? Is she worried what other family members might say about her behind her back?
- The next step is to explain to her how these actions impact the relationship between the two of you. Again, use precise language to explain exactly the issues you are seeing.
- Finally, ask her to help you come up with solutions. A relationship is a joint effort, and coming up with solutions to relationship problems should also be a joint effort. Perhaps she agrees to only talk to her family once a week, or not to commit time or money into trying to solve their problems without discussing it with you first.
This is a surmountable marriage problem! With some patience, love and persistence, the two of you can overcome this hurdle.