Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Husband Sides with My In-Laws Against Me”

My husband and I are from different parts of the country. We have moved to several states during our marriage, and had never spent a great deal of time in either person’s hometown except for occasional visits. When I was pregnant with our first child, my husband lost his job. We had both agreed that we’d prefer for me to stay at home with our children, and luckily my husband quickly found a new job. It was about an hour from where he grew up, and at the time, I thought it was a wonderful idea to move closer to some people we knew. Rather than look for a place to live in the actual town in which he’d be working, he wanted to move to his hometown. It was much less expensive, so, despite reservations, I agreed. As soon as I gave birth, we packed up and moved.

I developed postpartum depression and really struggled for the first six months after I gave birth. We had a very high-needs infant. I had no friends in the area. With my husband’s long work hours and commute, I was essentially taking care of the baby alone for 5-6 days out of the week. Additionally, I had never been unemployed before in my adult life, and I sorely missed that type of fulfillment. It was a hard time for me that was very scary.

During that time, I felt as though my husband kind of abandoned me, and like he had no sympathy for what I was going through. For the first time in our marriage, we argued constantly. He expected me to spend every weekend with his friends or family. My in-laws, whom I got along with great from a distance, began to smother us with constant advice on everything from our parenting choices to our finances. I felt as though my husband was still a teenager and they were always telling him what to do. he worst part was: he’d listen, even if I didn’t agree! It seemed as though he was taking their side against me in everything. In short, I felt as though I had no support system at all — we are currently living twelve hours from my family and the majority of my friends — and as if I was the only piece of the puzzle that didn’t fit.

Eventually, I insisted that we see a counselor. We only went one time, as my husband’s schedule didn’t permit him to get off early from work to make the visits. I do think, however, going to the one counseling session helped him to see there was a definite problem and how very unhappy I was.

Since then, things have improved but not as much as I’d prefer. We’ve tried to set boundaries with his family, but they still get involved in our personal lives more than I would like. I have still not managed to make many friends. It is a small town and his parents are pillars in the community, so almost everyone I meet knows them very well. I know that the majority of my dislike for the area is due to the past, which is silly, but I can’t seem to love living here. We are expecting our second child now, and I dread the postpartum period.

I would really love to move to a neutral location for both of us at some point, but I feel guilty asking my husband to give up his friends again and a job that he loves all to make me happy. I have considered asking him to be willing to move once our children are a little older and I begin to look for employment again. By that time, I thought he would have been able to put several years into his career here so that he wouldn’t be job hopping. However, I’m not sure that asking this of him is fair. Another option I have considered is asking him to move to the town in which he is employed once I return to work, but I know that he would not like that idea. I feel as though he’s being a little stubborn about only being willing to live in his hometown, even though neither of us is working there! What do you think? — Mama Blues

Geez, talk about a defeatist attitude. You write as if nothing is in your control and like your husband holds all the cards here. You write like you already know your husband is going to shoot down all your requests for compromise even though you haven’t even talked to him about most of them. Are you not equal partners in this marriage? Are you not equal partners in parenting? You, my dear, are not powerless in creating the life you want, from building a support network to finding some fulfillment outside of your family life, as well as being proactive in dealing with potential post-partum depression.

First, you can talk to your husband NOW – not when your kids are older, but now when you are consumed with tending to their every need on a daily basis with very little help – about moving closer to where he works. Explain how overwhelmed you feel caring for one – and soon two – young children all day without any help and that if he could cut over an hour from his daily commute and be home in time to at least help with getting the kids to bed, that would be a huge relief for you. That hour may not seem like a lot, but multiply it by five days a week, four weeks a month, and you’re talking about the difference of 20 hours of support each month that you don’t currently have. Surely that, in addition to the gas money saved and the psychological relief you’ll feel, is worth the extra expense of living in a pricier area closer to your husband’s work.

Another suggestion I have for you is to consider getting a part-time job a few hours a week once your baby is old enough to be left with another caregiver. You may find that you can’t find a job that pays more than what it would cost to pay a babysitter, but I’m telling you from personal experience that the break you will have from your kids, not to mention the opportunity both to meet new people and to utilize skills other than parenting skills, will be more than worth breaking even financially. Caring for young children is fucking hard. It’s also often boring and tedious. I, personally, consider the nine hours a week I employ a babysitter to watch Jackson to be sanity-saving. I pay the sitter with money I make from this site and, by the time I pay hosting fees, there isn’t much money left over at the end of the month, but it’s worth it. (On a personal note, if anyone wants to help with the cost of running this site, you can donate here, or make purchases through my Amazon affiliate link). My sanity is worth it.

You know what else has saved my sanity in this first year of motherhood? Surrounding myself with other new mothers who have provided support, friendship, and advice. I started a new moms’ group when I was eight months pregnant, and I don’t know where I’d be without the friendship that grew out of that group. The bonus is that Jackson has tons of playmates, too, which also takes a little pressure off me to entertain him nonstop. In addition to creating the moms’ group, I have been known to go up to women I see in the neighborhood with babies, introduce myself and basically ask them out. It’s not quite as weird as it sounds, though it is always a tad awkward, but the truth is, most new moms are equally stressed, bored, tired, lonely, and so eager for company and support.

Now, I know not everyone lives in a neighborhood like mine where there are more babies and pregnant women than singing competitions on network TV, but my point is that you can put yourself out there. See if there’s a Facebook page or Yahoo group for parents in your area. Check Meetup.com for moms’ groups, play groups for kids, or even – gasp – activities you’re interested in that have nothing to do with parenting. People need friends, and the older we get the harder it is to find them. But it’s not impossible, and with the Internet, it doesn’t HAVE to be as difficult as approaching people in person (though I still stand by that route as an excellent way to meet new people).

Something else that’s going on here that you didn’t quite articulate in this letter is your feeling
under-appreciated. I think for the parent who works outside the home, it’s easy to assume that the parent who stays home has things easier than she really does. Caring for a young child and being a housewife is not afternoon soap operas and leisurely naps. Do you know I actually had a working mom tell me the other day that she envied the “down time” I got by staying home. Fucking seriously? People who aren’t home all day don’t know what it’s like. Many of them don’t appreciate the hard work that goes into raising happy, well-adjusted kids, keeping a comfortable, clean home, and putting healthy meals on the table every night. It is a hard, often thankless job. Do you know how you get the message across that you need to be appreciated? Let your husband walk a day in your shoes. Some Sunday when he is off from work, schedule a “me” day – go to yoga, get your hair done, see a movie, peruse a book store, have lunch with a friend, take a kickboxing class, whatever – and let your husband get a taste of what full time, solo parenting is all about. I did this recently when I went out of town for the weekend. My husband already appreciated the work I do, but after spending two days caring for our baby all by himself, he was exhausted, and so happy to see me when I arrived home. Knowing that he “gets it” when I’ve had a bad day or I’m too beat to cook dinner gives me permission not to knock myself out being a superwoman.

Finally, you and your husband need to find time to COMMUNICATE with each other. You have to tell him how you’re feeling and what your needs are. Share with him your frustrations with his family and how belittled you feel when he seems to listen to them more than to you. Tell him about your fears of mothering two small children and potentially dealing with postpartum depression again. And on that note, talk to your OBGYN too. He or she can help you find a support group, recognize early symptoms, and prescribe medication that will help you better deal with the demands you’ll have caring for both a newborn and a toddler.

There are so many resources for you. This is a happy time and you have potential to have a wonderful life – a loving husband, two (hopefully) healthy children, and the luxury to stay home with them. Don’t squander your good fortune feeling sorry for yourself. Be proactive fixing the things you can and getting help to meet your needs. Good luck, and best wishes on the rest of your pregnancy and labor.

*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at [email protected] and be sure to follow me on Twitter and ‘like’ me on Facebook.

50 comments… add one
  • FireStar

    FireStar July 23, 2012, 9:28 am

    Your first problem seems to be your husband’s loyalties are misplaced. If that one therapy session helped then you need to go back. Therapists meet in the evenings – some have weekend hours. Do the research and find one that fits his work schedule and then go. He has to understand that he is a grown man with a family and the decision making that happens in his family happens between the husband and the wife – not between the parents and the grown ass son. My dear – where is your voice in all of this? It sounds like you don’t want to speak up for fear of getting shot down. Who cares if your husband doesn’t agree? You don’t agree with him. That is the perfect opportunity to engage in compromise to make sure your mutual needs are met and some of each of your wants. You need to captain your own ship a little and tell your husband that the current situation is untenable for you. You are unhappy. And then explore some of the possibilities that you have already thought of – listen to any compromises of his that can address your problems. I think moving to the town that has his job is a great idea. Living an hour from his parents is plenty close. A new town means a new start for you and a new start for your family – and hon – it sounds like you need it. When you are there take Wendy’s advice about mommy and me groups and if there aren’t any in the area – then start one. I have a friend that just had a baby and started a yoga group for new moms in the area and weekly stroller walk through the park. Her social life is full, she gets out of the house (which saves anyone’s sanity), and she has made a ton of new friends in exactly the same stage of life…and all because she was a little proactive. You get one shot at life – you need to start actively engaging in yours. Good luck!

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    • avatar

      Anna July 23, 2012, 10:20 am

      You said exactly what I was thinking as I read it. If you really want to work on things in therapy, you’ll find time. The therapist I saw for a little while was open evenings and weekends.

      And yes, for God’s sake this guy needs to cut the apron strings already! If he can’t handle moving an hour away from his parents, he has serious dependency issues (aka “Mama’s boy” syndrome.) I’m currently looking for a house to buy and one of my requirements is that it not be too close to my parents’ house.

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    • avatar

      Caris July 23, 2012, 6:36 pm

      wfss

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    bethany July 23, 2012, 9:35 am

    WWS.

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      Addie Pray July 23, 2012, 10:23 am

      WBS.

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        bethany July 23, 2012, 10:33 am

        WAPS 🙂

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        Addie Pray July 23, 2012, 1:20 pm

        (We give the best advice. People should just listen to us, always.)

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    jackie_like_the_chan July 23, 2012, 9:35 am

    I gotta say wws!
    I can see where you’re coming from though, my parents lived down the street from my grandmother and I never realized it growing up but she was always in the middle of family fights. When we were little they (my gram and dad) used to complain that my mom did nothing but stay home and watch the kids, so she got a job and then they complained that she was always at work! It used to drive my mom nuts but then she made some friends and she’d just go and laugh it all off, friends are great for that sort of thing and it was hard for her to make friends because she barely spoke english!
    I’m trying to say that if my mom could make friends when there was a huge language barrier and where everyone knew my grandmother (small town) than so can you! Is there a bigger area nearby where there may be more diversity? My mom’s friends are about a 45 minute drive away and I think the alone time in the car was very important to her too.
    Is there anyway you can take advantage of grandparent love and maybe ask them to babysit a couple days here and there? My grandmother loved getting us for what she called “grammie days” We’d stay all weekend and by the end of it she was too exhausted to complain about anything because she’d see what hard work three little kids were. In my extended family we’d often have sleep-overs with cousins or at our grandparents house to give parents a break once in awhile. It makes my grandmother feel like she is helping to raise us and it let my parents get out and about.

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    • Budj

      Budj July 23, 2012, 9:40 am

      really good advice there. There are pros and cons to living close to your parents and when the grand kids come along it is the perfect time to start using the “pros” side of that situation.

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  • Budj

    Budj July 23, 2012, 9:39 am

    Personally I don’t see anything wrong with parents offering advice, but both people in the relationship should be present for the conversation and it should be requested by the couple. Parents butting in all the time uninstigated is annoying.

    I’d also try to make some mom-friends. Activities you can take your kid to where other women in similar situations to you are as that will help foster a social relationship and also give you an excuse to make plans with people you’d like to see so you don’t feel so one-sided all the time.

    But I’d also like to pose the question…are you inherently against making his friends your friends because you view them as his friends? Or just because it is a dude-fest you aren’t interested in partaking in? Most of the time in long-term relationships with my friends their s/o becomes a friend…so I am just wondering why you are against that happening. I mean I don’t hang out with them one on one, but they are always invited to group activities and we do have somewhat of a friendship via social media/cell phones outside of the group hang outs.

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    • famous_blue_raincoat

      famous_blue_raincoat July 23, 2012, 11:53 am

      I think the whole being friends with his friends thing is tricky. I’m moving to my husbands town (and country, eek!) in a few weeks and while his friends are great, one thing that is super important to me is to make my own friends there. Besides the fact that I want to have my own social life, I think it good to have people who are, for lack of a better term, on my side…people that I can vent to about anything, including him and not feel awkward. Especially in a situation like the LW’s where she already has certain issues with her husband and his family, I think making her own friends would be the best thing for her.

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  • avatar

    kerrycontrary July 23, 2012, 9:42 am

    I’m also curious why the LW doesn’t want to make friends who know her husbands parents? I think that would be an advantage of living in a small town is the introductions.

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    • parton_doll

      parton_doll July 23, 2012, 9:56 am

      It can also be smothering, like you’re under a microscope all the time. If they are really well known and well respected, that comes with built in expectations of the family and the LW may not be able to/inclined to meet those expectations. Sometimes it can just be nice to meet people with a clean slate and them get to know you for you.

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    • avatar

      Temperance July 23, 2012, 12:56 pm

      Not if you hate your in-laws and want a break from them.

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        painted_lady July 23, 2012, 2:20 pm

        Yeah, I mean, even if you love your in-laws you’re eventually going to butt heads every once in awhile, and you need someplace to vent that stuff. I love Walter’s mom, but when she initially planned her visit with us, it was going to be a week in our tiny apartment, and she was going to fly in and not rent a car, whereas we only have one – mine. If I hadn’t vented to a couple of friends, I never would have gotten up the courage to say, “No, Walter, she can stay for five days or get a hotel, and she can either drive or rent a car. I have plans and I never agreeed to chauffeur.” But if those friends had been friends of hers as well, I might not have been so candid.

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        Temperance July 24, 2012, 8:08 am

        That’s absolutely fair. I was more thinking along the lines of my own personal horror at the thought of having to be stuck with my shitty ILs as friends … or having to share friends with them! Eeek.

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    ktfran July 23, 2012, 9:45 am

    I love Wendy’s advice. And FireStar’s.

    I really think you and your husband need practice communicating to one another. If a counselor will help facilitate that, you should definitely see one together. Also, you can tell from the tone in your letter that you’re really frustrated and unhappy. You’re also placing a lot of the blame on the in-laws, which might be warranted, but don’t come at it from that angle when you talk to your husband. Don’t attack him or anyone. I have honestly found that the best way to get results is talking about how something makes you feel. So you can say . . .

    “Husband, when you do this (insert whatever is bothering you), I feel this (insert however you feel).”

    Don’t yell this, or say it in a frustrated voice or in the heat of the moment. Think about it and when you’re both togehter, bring it up.

    I learned this from my therapist. I acutally used it two weeks ago with a close friend/boss. She had no idea that how she sometimes talked to me came across as her putting me down and really bothered me. She apologized and all is well. It’s really that simple.

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    • dandywarhol

      dandywarhol July 23, 2012, 7:11 pm

      I think you go to my therapist…mine said the same exact thing! When you are upset/mad/sad etc with someone, always say “I feel _____ because you ______”. It has actually helped me articulate my feelings, which I suck at.

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  • katie

    katie July 23, 2012, 9:54 am

    WWS. seriously. also, thank you wendy for being so honest about parenting.. i think a lot of people, specifically this LW, need to hear it. parenting is thankless, boring, and tedious. add in post partum problems and it becomes even worse. this is a conversation you, LW, need to have with your husband. he needs to understand whats going on!!

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  • Fabelle

    Fabelle July 23, 2012, 10:21 am

    It seems like you & your husband are at cross purposes– but communication should help to remedy that, as long as both of you remain reasonable. I’m getting the impression your husband thought you could use the support of his family, not realizing they’d be more trouble than they’re worth. And ALSO not realizing that HE’S the one who should be your main support.

    Talk things over with him without assuming you’ll get shot down. Don’t go into the conservation thinking your requests are “unfair”– living an hour out from his family, in the town he works, is totally fair.

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    • avatar

      ktfran July 23, 2012, 11:14 am

      I’m choosing to believe this with the husband as well. Not that he can’t cut the strings, but maybe he thought support of a family would be ok and not interfere too much. It has, the LW needs to speak up and they need to work it out together.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom July 23, 2012, 11:37 am

        Or it could be that when they moved and he found his wife depressed he turned to his parents for support and advice. He may have found that she couldn’t make decisions or that she didn’t seem to be happy about any decision or he didn’t want to burden her with decision making.

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    Anna July 23, 2012, 10:25 am

    WWS times 1000% today! Your life is what you make of it, LW. Instead of waiting for someone else to pick you up out of that rut, why don’t you start climbing out yourself? You’ll see the sunshine a lot quicker that way. One thing you should never lose control of is your own happiness.

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    • katie

      katie July 23, 2012, 10:27 am

      WAS for sure! if you dont like something, do what you can to change it.

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        Anna July 23, 2012, 7:08 pm

        Ooh my first WAS! 🙂

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    Bossy Italian Wife July 23, 2012, 10:46 am

    I don’t have children, but I know about split loyalties to your nuclear family because I had them. Before we got married, my husband said to me quite plainly, “You need to choose if we are going to have and be our own family, or if you want to remain loyal to your former family.” Yep, “former family.”

    Truth is, when you get married, you have a new family. While advice is welcomed (or at least it should be) you and your husband need to be a united team. One therapy session? C’mon! That is a joke. You guys need regular therapy–or at least you do because of your postpartum issues. So get on that ASAP.

    Also, you say that you feel as though your in laws are invading your privacy, and I am wondering if that might have something to do with your postpartum issues. My brother and his girlfriend had a baby and she had some issues feeling like my mother was being overzealous in the advice department when that couldn’t have been further from the truth… so think about how your depression might contribute to a clear feeling of inadequacy and how that effects the way others interact with you. Just sayin’.

    Yes, being a mom is an incredibly hard job, but you can’t A) Let your marriage fall to the wayside or B) Stop participating in your own life. Don’t let things just happen to you, like Wendy says. Start being proactive and stop letting your husband have all the control in the matters of your emotional state. Put your foot down, start putting yourself in places where you can make friends and gain support and CHOOSE not to blame it all on others.

    You have to be strong and be ready with a plan of attack for after your second child is born because postpartum depression is a serious thing.

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    • parton_doll

      parton_doll July 23, 2012, 10:51 am

      Excellent advice!

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    • katie

      katie July 23, 2012, 10:52 am

      “You need to choose if we are going to have and be our own family, or if you want to remain loyal to your former family”

      this is so important- so many people need to hear that.

      i read once on offbeatbride that a girl was having her mom and dad walk her down the aisle and her logic was that it wasnt a “giving away”, it was a symbolic transfer of her family… her mom and dad were her closest family, and now her husband will be… and that is true legally, finantially, and it *should* be true emotionally as well. i really hate the “giving away of the bride” tradition, but that was the one time that i really felt like it was a good thing and really meant something.

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        kerrycontrary July 23, 2012, 11:08 am

        I agree, and I think that a wedding is so symbolic of this transfer of families. Not to get all biblical, but everyone takes the ‘two will become one’ to mean sex, but I always think of it that two people become one family unit. Two people who will always have each others backs.

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        Anna July 23, 2012, 7:09 pm

        That is exactly what I tried to tell my ex so many times but he refused to hear it. I guess it makes sense that he chose his childhood family over an adult family.

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  • avatar

    laxhaxtax July 23, 2012, 10:46 am

    Why is it so hard for women to say “no”? If you don’t want your in-laws in your business tell them. You are a grown woman. Stand up for your rights. If they call, or come by, and you don’t want to engage them either leave the room or get off the phone. Tell your husband that you love him but he is going to have to back you up. THEN, get a job. You will be amazed at the amount of good feelings you get from positive feedback at work. It validates you. Your children won’t suffer from a few hours in a good day care. Take care of yourself first. If not, everyone suffers.

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  • sobriquet

    Sobriquet July 23, 2012, 10:47 am

    Amen. I think this is a good pep talk for anyone feeling a little helpless and lonely. Babies or not. Sitting around feeling sorry for yourself and too afraid to do anything proactive will get you absolutely nowhere.

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  • avatar

    laxhaxtax July 23, 2012, 10:52 am

    I also think you are still suffering from depression. Get your ob/gyn to see what is the cause. I know that some meds are off limits during pregnancy but right now you need to be positive in what you do and how you feel. I would imagine that your husband is somewhat selfish if he has always been catered to, and this means he will have a difficult time giving up all the love pats he gets from his parents. Marriage is compromise. Demand your rights but be sure you are coming from a good place and not just because you are sad. Proactive people get the problem out into the sunlight to see what can be done and then doing it.

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    • avatar

      Lindsay July 23, 2012, 9:15 pm

      I agree. A lot of her thoughts seem like they are magnified into these massive problems. Not that they aren’t frustrating on their own, but they are all fixable. The fact that the LW still feels so hopeless is a red flag.

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  • bagge72

    bagge72 July 23, 2012, 10:10 am

    I agree with everything Wendy said, and I’m not sure why your husband can’t work an hour away from his family, especially if they really are trying to run his life that much. There does seem to be a communication problem here, and it seems to cause you some resentment which is making it very hard for you to like this town you live in, when it really should be easier to make new friends there than if you did live in a neutral town. So definitely start talking to your husband a lot more, and see if you can get him to move, because it actually seems like it is the best move for both of you in the long run! Maybe take a vacation by yourself back home as well, and have your husband watch your child for a week by himself, that way he can see how hard it really is!

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom July 23, 2012, 11:14 am

    You sound as if you are still a little depressed so I think you should talk to your obstetrician about how you’re feeling.

    I’ve found that any time you have a major life change in a marriage the marriage is rocky for a while and both partners have to make an effort to accomodate each other and to be willing to do what needs to be done. Things like a change in commute time changes how much free time you each have, who cooks dinner, who gets kids ready for bed, etc. You and your husband had four major life changes at the same time (move to a new location, husband new job, wife went from working to stay-at-home mom and birth of a baby) and you’ve formed a pattern in your life that seems to be working for your husband but not for you. You need to keep talking to your husband, telling him what doesn’t work for you and try to give him a why it doesn’t work for you, and do so by talking without being mean or accusing or crying, just matter of fact but earnest. Four major life changes at one time is huge and so it isn’t surprising that this time is difficult for you.

    You also both really need to be in therapy together. Even if he has to take half a vacation day every week for a few months if you can’t see someone when your husband isn’t at work. Or you find a different therapist, maybe in the town where your husband works or somewhere in between. You could leave your daughter with his parents, meet him for the therapy session and then go to dinner and have a bit of time to talk about things and a little time to be a couple instead of just parents.

    You also need to keep reminding him that the two of you are married and make your decisions together, just the two of you. It is fine for him to get advice from his parents (and you should tell him that) but when it is time to make a decision the two of you, and only the two of you, will discuss the decision and make the decision together. Even if something worked for his parents doesn’t mean that it is the best solution for the two of you. You are two different people than his parents and your best solution won’t always be what worked for them. At the same time, don’t dismiss an idea just because it came from his parents. They have lots of life experience and some of their advice will probably be useful. At times you may want to take part of their advice and then modify it so that it fits you and your husband.

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  • avatar

    redessa July 23, 2012, 11:39 am

    You need to speak up! If your husband shoots down everything you suggest, ask him point blank what he IS willing to compromise in order for you to be happy in this marriage too. You say you feel guilty asking him give up things in order for you to be happy…. why? Marriage is compromise. You have the right to ask him to do things for you.

    It might not be much but if getting out of the same town in his parents would give you some breathing room, I don’t see why he should be so opposed to living in the city where he works (and it doesn’t sound like you’ve actually asked him). How many days a week does your husband go to his parents’ house or see his friends? How many days a week does he go to work? Doesn’t it make more sense to live near work and travel to the parents? I don’t understand why it’s okay for him to commute an hour each way to work but that same distance is somehow living too far away to visit his hometown. This seems like a pretty easy compromise for him to make – he still comes out on the better end by far.

    And as far as the parents butting in, they can only butt in as far as the two of you let them. If they ask for personal information, tell them outright that you’re keeping private things private. This, of course, requires your husband’s cooperation. But even if he does overshare, you need to insist that he not be making decisions without you. My mother LOVES to give unsolicited advice about what I should be doing on everything from career options to how to decorate my house. I listen, nod, then go about my business. If she has a good idea – great! But mostly I just laugh about it w/ my husband “you’ll never guess what my mom thinks I should be doing this week….” (It’s been everything from going to law school to starting a house cleaning service.) As long as your husband isn’t making decisions with his parents and not you, then sometimes you have to let things roll off your back. If he is, that needs to stop immediately. YOU are his partner. Your happiness and input are equally important to his. Insist he treat you as such.

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  • avatar

    RMM0278 July 23, 2012, 11:42 am

    I don’t know. I get her feeling of powerlessness. If one person wants one thing one way, it’s so easy to get overruled.

    I remember building a future with my ex — talking about kids, family, home buying, careers, retirement, etc. He spoke often of how solid our relationship was and nothing could tear us apart. Then, weeks before our wedding, he bailed. Turns out this was a life he never wanted. He just went along with everything because he thought that would lead to the least amount of confrontation. ????? (I would rather he just never proposed but whatever…)

    I was an idiot to think I had a say in my own relationship. My long-term relationship crumbled in 10 seconds, and there was literally nothing I could say or do about it. Nothing I had said or could say mattered. It didn’t even matter if I loved him. He made a unilateral decision, thus giving himself all the power.

    I get where this LW is coming from. If her husband is just going to do what he wants in the end, then what’s the point? She should take a lot of the steps Wendy suggested, but I, too, wonder what difference it’ll make to even talk it out.

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    • FireStar

      FireStar July 23, 2012, 12:11 pm

      If someone wants out of a relationship there is nothing much the other person can do about it – but if someone wants to HAVE a relationship with someone else then there is a lot you can do. You can communicate your wants and needs effectively to the other person – your ex clearly didn’t do that with you until he was ready to bale – but the LW’s husband has shown he is willing to compromise – she noticed a change just after one therapy session – so there is no reason to adopt a defeatist attitude when it comes to her. Confrontation isn’t easy, communication isn’t always easy – especially in the beginning, letting someone know the status quo they thought was just peachy isn’t okay won’t be easy but no one should feel like a victim in their own life. You may not have had a say in how your relationship ended but you certainly have a say in your own life. You are ultimately responsible for your own happiness…no one else bears that responsibility. Sometimes in life you need to take a deep breath and get to gettin. The LW made the first step by asking for help. I have every faith that she is capable of achieving a life she wants for herself that will bring her happiness and fulfillment.

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    SpaceySteph July 23, 2012, 10:52 am

    I wonder how much of the parents’ increased involvement has to do with them moving closer and how much with the fact that they have a kid now.
    When you have a kid, people (your parents, friends, random strangers) feel like they have a right to offer unsolicited advice about every damn thing. It’s possible they would have been calling every other day to offer their opinion on things if you lived several hours away, and moving closer just gave them an easier path to provide input.

    Anyways, its important to set boundaries with people who want to tell you how to raise your kids, whether down the block or across the country. You have to get your husband onboard in politely but firmly declining to take their advice. “Thanks for your input Mom but we are doing it this way.” (and then change the subject and continue doing it exactly as you were before)

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    ktfran July 23, 2012, 11:19 am

    Stroller Strides. I wanted to mention that because it’s a group for moms/babies/kids. You get to interact with other moms, maybe make a few friends and excercise, which will help with depression. See if there is one in your area. If not, maybe start something with new moms on your own.

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    painted_lady July 23, 2012, 2:39 pm

    WWS. Everyone’s actually got a lot of great input on this one. The only thing I would like to add is, up until December I was doing an hour-plus commute, and now I live three minutes away from work. If I didn’t have to travel during the day, I could walk to work. I cannot begin to say how much easier this has made my life. The stress of traveling that much in a car got to me, traffic got to me, the cost of gas got to me, and OH MY GOD THE TIME IT SUCKED FROM MY LIFE. For two years I insisted over and over that the drive wasn’t bad, I didn’t mind it, it gave me time to unwind, I loved my house too much to move, all my friends were close to where I lived, blah blah.

    The fact is, the drive was that bad. There were some days I had to stop and get a soda or a coffee three times or more to keep myself from falling asleep. I never had time to run errands. I had this great house that I only saw for an hour or so before bed, and anytime anything went wrong with it, I was never home to fix it or available to buy the supplies to do the fixing because by the time I went to the gym after work and drove home, everything was closed, or I was just too exhausted. I never had energy to do anything because the driving was exhausting, so I never saw my friends during the week, and the weekends were spent recovering from the week, so anytime I went out it felt like a tax on my very rare alone time. Once I moved, I could still go to the gym 3-4 days during the week and actually come home and either cook or Walter and I would go to dinner somewhere fun. I see my friends an hour away almost as much because now I have more energy to do fun stuff. I do things I enjoy at night. I don’t let the house fall apart because I have more energy to devote to fixing, cleaning, running errands.

    So figure out why exactly it is that your husband is resistant to moving away. If it’s so you have more help with the kid(s), obviously that’s stressing you out. If it’s so he can be near his family, how much does he actually see them, and can he make that drive a few times a week like I do now, rather than making it every day? If it’s because things are more expensive in the town where his job is, figure out how much money you’re spending on gas and come up with a plan where you re-budget so that it will be comparable with that extra money lying around. And then you get a say, too. Tell him how exhausted you are, and how much it would help to have him around an extra two hours a day.

    Good luck, LW,!

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      misslisa July 23, 2012, 4:04 pm

      Thank you for commenting on how a long commute can suck the life out of you. I’ve been in the same boat for six long years. I apologize for getting off the main topic, but this is meaningful to me – just last night, I began to wonder how much longer I can keep living so far from town and driving 75 miles round-trip to work every day. But it’s a dilemma: Even if the housing market is picking up and I could actually sell, I adore my house & neighborhood & still resist leaving it.

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        Trixy Minx July 23, 2012, 4:20 pm

        I don’t know how anyone does it. I live 8 miles away from work and I still hate the drive.

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    MMcG July 23, 2012, 3:39 pm

    I don’t know if it’s been mentioned above, but here are some resources that may be helpful to you and your husband (I’ve got no experience with having babies or potential depression, only to say that please please talk to your doctor, and if you moved and have a brand new one, consider getting back in touch with your old for a consult or something because it may help to have a bigger picture of your health):

    Books! There are many out there, I highly rec the Seven Principles of a Successful Marriage, which has a section on just this type of VERY COMMON marital problem (I just wanted to emphasize, in-laws and boundaries are not just you LW, you can do this!). Your spouse and you can read it at your own pace and do the exercises without having to go to counseling. Also, my future hubby and I were having similar issues – only he didn’t realize how controlling and overbearing his parents had been his whole life – so he started reading books about controlling parents and building boundaries, finding your true independent self, and it’s been very helpful. I was never going to win the battle to convince him his parents sometimes sucked and didn’t care what the hell we thought about our wedding for instance… that light bulb had to go on over his head all by himself (fortunately the future in-laws pulled enough crap to demonstrate the problem).

    Counseling! As some of said above, there are after hours and weekend options. There’s also Skype – not sure of your husband’s work situation but could he cut out for an hour “lunch break” and get on the computer or conference call to continue the good momentum?

    Online! My fiance and I took a PAIRS workshop, they have some good tools online as well. Suggest taking a Myers-Briggs or similar personality test as well, may flesh out some differences in communication/decision-making style that could help.

    The most important thing LW for you to understand is that you can control your actions, reactions and boundaries — but you can’t force your husband to take your side. He has to want to willingly… turn towards the marriage and “building the we” as opposed to turning towards his parents, which while natural perhaps, is actually very defeating towards building your own household. You and he decide how kids are raised, what type of food they eat or sports they play. Ideally YOU AND HE decide what’s best for you and your marriage, you inform others, if others are close enough to you to offer guidance or another point of view then you don’t blow them off – but one member of the team can’t commit to a whole new way without the other’s consent:)

    Best of luck LW!!

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    Fidget_Eep July 24, 2012, 12:26 am

    The only thing I slightly disagree about in the advice is when Wendy suggested she leave the baby with her husband for the day and go out for herself. This was suggested so that he could get a feel for what it is like for her on a daily basis. I COMPLETELY agree that she needs a break periodically, but because they live so close to his parents the minute it gets even a little rough he will pack that kid up and go straight to mom and have her help (and or call her to his house) and it will not have impact Wendy wanted. My dad did this to my mom a number of times, she had to go out of town for more than a day (once maybe every 4-5 years). As soon as mom was gone my dad took me and my sister to my grandparents and left us there till the day before my mom got back.

    I think that she needs to talk to her husband one on one with no parents around and have a clear conversation. It’s not working out the way she wanted or the way they expected and that needs to change. Like a few other commentators stated she needs his full commitment to their small family and support in turning down the interference from others. He seems to have gained the most in this move and she needs to be clear about her needs.

    (just my $.02 )

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    Sue Jones July 24, 2012, 12:28 am

    I had a boyfriend once whose family lived nearby. We would make plans and if they needed him/wanted him to do some work on their house, etc. he would drop our plans immediately. He was 10 years older than I was, but still under his parents’ thumb. That is one of the reasons that he is an EX-boyfriend and we never married (thank God!)

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      Temperance July 24, 2012, 8:14 am

      Seriously, I had a BF like this. His DREAM was to live around the corner from his parents. All vacations, except for the honeymoon, were “family vacations”, meaning extended family. We wouldn’t ever get to make a decision on our own, or do anything on our own.

      I’m so thankful that Mr. Temperance is not this way. His grandparents ran his family, and they aren’t smart and made bad choices, and I really think it tanked his parents’ marriage, or at least played a role in it. They keep trying to do it to us, and his mother thinks that she will similarly get to make those choices for us … lol.

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    Temperance July 24, 2012, 8:12 am

    Your only option is not to live in his hometown and let your ILs steamroll you. If anything, that is the worst option, and it sounds like it’s really bad for your marriage and your family life! It’s fucking GREAT for his parents, who get to run your lives and boss you and your kids around … but it doesn’t sound great for you, or your marriage.

    I think you need to work on finding a new marriage counselor, one that meets after his work hours. Just because this ONE counselor was inconvenient doesn’t mean that others are or will be. I think that a good solution would be moving nearer to where he works and further from his parents, for the sake of *your family*. That way, you can visit his parents when you want without them running the show, or without you FEELING like they are.

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    MarkD July 24, 2012, 2:18 pm

    I would argue that he might intend for his friends to become your friends. It might not happen, but it’s worth trying with an open mind.

    The in-laws is an issue that I don’t really understand. I married my wife, not my folks. She left her family, country, culture and language behind to be with me. He needs to man up and support his family emotionally. If that means less of the parents, so be it.

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