Of course, the pregnancy has had a negative impact on my relationship. It’s been extremely difficult to get to a level of comfort and trust with each other and even though it was “love at first sight” for me, it has still been very trying. He is very excited about being a father and we have thrown ourselves into saving every penny and living together. All things considered, we have handled it as well as possible.
The “problem” is that his mother absolutely hates me. I would love to be able to say a ton of negative things about her but it’s all summed up by her belief and statement that I will be a terrible mother. She has come to this conclusion simply because I was raised by liberal parents who allowed me to travel the country to figure out my dreams. (I ended up in a career I love in a not-so-liberal state.) She is completely horrified by the fact that my parents don’t live together (they have been married 33 years and are concentrating on their careers, which happen to be in different states, so that they can retire soon). As well as my being from a liberal family, she believes the fact that I work outside of the home is proof that I am unworthy of birthing her grandchildren.
I am very aware that this has been a stressful time for everyone and would love to have a relationship with her. I’m at a loss as to how to deal with a woman who refuses to accept me. My boyfriend loves his mother and wants us to get along but every time I see her or talk to her I end up crying. Please give me some advice! — Hopeless in Arkansas
My biggest question here is how do you know your boyfriend’s mother hates you and how do you know it’s for the reasons you list? Has she outright told you she doesn’t accept you because your parents don’t live together or are you making some inferences? Has she come out and told you that she can’t stand you because you traveled around the country or are you projecting a little bit? Has she expressed to you personally that she doesn’t like you because you have a job or are you grasping at whatever might explain the distance between you? If you’re going on assumptions here, you’re being as big of a jerk as you’re accusing her of being and it isn’t fair.
I don’t doubt that your boyfriend’s mother acts cold toward you. I’m not suggesting you’re making that up. But I do have a hard time believing that the reason for that coldness is because you traveled around the country before ending up in Arkansas or that your parents don’t live together. These may be factors in her feeling like she doesn’t relate to you or understand you. But hate you? I don’t buy it.
Let’s try to look at things from her perspective. She barely knows you. Hell, her son barely knows you — four months is a drop in the bucket! — and yet you’re carrying her grandchild. You’re going to be in her life forever. It’s natural she’d feel a little om edge about everything, just as it’s natural that you’d feel a little on edge as well. So, rather than both of you focusing on what you lack in common, you’d be better off focusing on what you do have in common. Here’s a big one: she’s a mother and you’re about to become a mother. So, start there. Reach out to her for advice and support. Make her feel needed. Let her be a part of this pregnancy. Put aside your differences and whatever assumptions you’ve made about her impressions of you, and start thinking about this woman as the grandmother of your unborn baby.
While you’ve been waiting to feel accepted by her, she may very well be waiting to feel accepted by you. So, accept her. Let her know you want her to be very present in your child’s life. Ask her what she’d like your child to call her. Express some of your fears to her. Drop your defenses and let yourself be vulnerable. If she really does see you as some hard-nosed liberal career woman, then showing a softer side of yourself may help her relate to you a little better. Letting her know that, despite having traveled all around the country and being a working woman, you know you don’t know everything and that you respect the experience and knowledge she has may go a long way toward endearing yourself to her.
Finally, the person who should really be giving you advice for getting along with your boyfriend’s mother is … your boyfriend. He knows her better than anyone, right? And though he’s still getting to know you, surely he has some insight as to what you can say and how you can behave to foster a better relationship with this woman who is going to be part of your family very soon. So, lean on him a little more. Let him know how important it is that you and his mother get along and ask for his support and help in making that happen. If he’s the one who’s been filling your head with all these reasons his mother hates you, tell him that he needs to stop — that hearing those things just puts you on the defensive, especially given your hormonal state. It’s time for him to act not as a divider between you and his mother, but as a connector. So tell him to do just that — it’s his first duty as a dad.
*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.