Maggie L from Bridgeton, N.J. Fighting About Family (Q & A)

Dr. Bryce Kaye gives advice to a wife and husband fighting about family relations.Q:  My husband and I have been married for almost a year now and our marriage seems to be going around in circles. We are constantly fighting about his family.  I talk to him all the time and try to fix things but somehow or another we always end up back to square one (no where).   I tell him that he makes me feel as if his family comes before I do. And every time we fight, regardless of who started it, I always end up being the one begging and pleading. I feel so frustrated. Every word I say seems to go in one ear and out the other. I just don’t know what else to do. I tried talking to his family rationally as well but they were “offended” since they claim to have every right to interfere in their brother’s life. I don’t want out (of this marriage).   I just want a solution. HELP please.   I am willing to try anything.

A:  Maggie.  You probably need to back up and go at this more systematically.  You need to recognize that your husband has a right to have a relationship with his family that is not subject to your approval.  At the same time, your husband must recognize that there are topics and decisions that need to remain private between you and he.  You should not get into a black vs. white tug of war for your husband’s loyalty.  Don’t set it up as such.  Instead, see if he will sit down with you at length and map out decision areas and other topics that will remain shared only between he and you.  Also, try to get him to map out activities and communications with his (other) family that you are to respect.  In other words, negotiate it out.  I’m assuming that he can be consistent if it’s clearly mapped out.  However, if you and he already have commitments that he’s actually breaking because he’s afraid of his family’s disapproval,  then you will need to confront him very very strongly.  In the latter case, a mediator (such as a counselor) might be necessary. Good luck. – Bryce Kaye

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