She does things like this quite frequently, and I don’t trust her. She told my boyfriend that he needed to get a better job to take proper care of me…and then screamed at him for an hour over the phone one day because he told her that he was paying the rent in full so that I could focus on paying off my medical bills (I have a couple of chronic pain conditions and a spine injury).
I suppose my question is: how do I interact with her? I strongly disagree with her refusal to get treatment for her bipolar disorder — I think it’s disrespectful and borderline emotionally abusive to her family members who have to put up with her screaming at them. I also don’t like that she’s polite to my face but then essentially calls me a whore behind my back to my boyfriend. I’ve talked with my boyfriend about him just not telling her any of our personal business, and he says he’s tried that but then she gets mad at him for “hiding” from her. I can handle being polite to her face, but when important things that affect both of us come up — for example, he’s paying off a car that he bought from them, and his mother alternately tells him not to worry about the payments and then screams at him for not “making the effort” to pay her off immediately — what should I do? My solution was to say that we’re not going to pay another red cent until she picks an agreed upon amount for the car and what she’ll accept as a monthly payment, and then have her sign it, because I’m tired of her flip-flopping on something as serious as $2,000. My boyfriend says that’s rude and won’t work with her, so I’m wondering how I should handle situations like this that will arise in the future? Is there a better way to deal with someone who has a mental problem but refuses to treat it? — Bipolar Disorderly Conduct
Your question shouldn’t be how do you deal with your boyfriend’s mother; it should be how do you deal with your boyfriend. After all, he’s the one who’s sharing personal information about your life together with his mother. He’s the one who keeps repeating the terrible things she says about you. And he’s the one who can’t seem to pay his parents in a timely manner for a car he agreed to buy from them.
If you want a better relationship with his family, start with him. Tell him you will not tolerate him telling his parents your personal business anymore. You two are grownups and it’s time he set some boundaries to protect your privacy. Unless he’s a spineless wimp, I can’t understand why he hasn’t stood up to his mother and told her, “You know, that’s really between my girlfriend and me” when she asks personal information about your lives. I blame him for your anxiety. I blame his mother for not taking medication for her illness, but seeing as your boyfriend is the one who’s supposedly mentally stable, he should know better. He should keep your life private and quit blabbing to you about all the crap his crazy mother says behind your back in a fit of mania.
Furthermore, if the two of you don’t want financial drama with his parents, freakin’ pay them back already for the car you/he bought. I mean, why are you waiting for her to tell you what the monthly payments should be? Decide amongst yourselves what you can afford to pay off each month, put it in writing, show it to her and pay that amount on the same day every month until the debt is paid off. Grow up and be adults already. Not “paying another red cent” until your boyfriend’s unmedicated mentally ill mother starts behaving rationally is a recipe for disaster. You can’t change her behavior. You can’t change the fact that she has failed herself and her family by refusing to treat her illness. But you and your boyfriend can damn well step up and start taking responsibility for your own actions, like paying for something you’ve agreed to buy. It’s not rocket science.
As for interacting with the mother, continue being polite to her face as you have been. You say you don’t have a problem with that, so good. Don’t create one then and you’ll have a better chance of keeping your sanity. Tell your boyfriend that he’s in charge of dealing with her on more personal matters and that you don’t want or need a re-cap of their conversations — especially the ones involving you. If you plan of marrying this man one day, his mother is going to be a permanent part of your life. I suggest you read up and educate yourself on bipolar disorder so you can better able to understand what causes her behavior, how to deal with it and how to spot warning signs that her mood is changing. The National Alliance on the Mental Illness is a good place to start.