Dear Carolyn: I am getting married to a wonderful man, and mostly I get along with his family. I do have one recurring problem with his mother: She has this issue with communication. She calls him multiple times a day and texts him, and has this nasty habit of contacting me if he won’t respond.
When we first started dating, she used to call me right away if he wouldn’t answer her calls, sometimes when I was at work. He put a stop to that, but then she started texting me, saying it’s important for him to call her.
My fiance has said things to her multiple times, but she hasn’t stopped – and in fact it’s getting worse.
How can I get her to stop with the text messages? – Frustrated Future Bride
You can stop the text messages many ways, but that won’t help if you and your fiance don’t face the real problem, which is his mother’s complete failure to recognize or respect boundaries.
Whether the mom has a case of untreated anxiety or runaway self-absorption or some diagnosable amalgam of the two, the fact that the behavior is escalating is your warning to treat it not as “this issue with communication,” but instead as something that could damage your marriage.
Please talk to your fiance about what you both would like the relationship with his mom to be.
Once you and he start to see the terms of a healthy relationship emerge from this conversation, then please flick yourselves in the forehead and say, “This is up to us, and has been since Fiance became an adult.”
He just needs to tell Mom he loves her, and also needs room to be himself without her voice in his head: therefore, he won’t pick up the phone for multiple calls per day, and you won’t relay her messages to him. And then you both need to stop responding – to the calls, texts, or to the threats/guilt-tripping/ game-playing that will follow this lockdown as surely as gas follows beans.