I’m a straight woman in my 30s, in a monogamous relationship. I’m engaged to a wonderful, sweet, and interesting man, and we’ve been together about six years. We’re getting married this summer. If I could run away with my fiancé and ignore the rest of the world, marrying him would be the easiest decision I could make. I love him so much, and he makes me happier than I’ve ever been. But the problem, of course, is that we can’t ignore the rest of the world... his family in particular. He works for the family business, and we live next door to his mother.
His mother is very aggressive, and needs constant attention. My fiancé thinks she is likely bipolar as well. So as you’d expect, she’s difficult to be around. Anytime we’re having friends over, she comes over too, and there is always drama. She’s usually drinking too much and ends up getting mad at someone. Now my friends don’t like coming over anymore because they’re worried she’ll be there. Worst of all, my family won’t visit anymore. It sucks. So much.
He‘s an only child, and his parents are getting divorced, so he’s been taking care of his mom a lot. She calls multiple times a day, just about every day, and he’s remarkably patient. He hates living next to his mom more than I do, but he feels responsible for her. He also doesn’t want to do anything that might get him excluded him from the family business—my fiancé likes his job and the industry he’s in, and his mother’s father still runs the company.
I’m marrying him, not his mom, but he and his family are a package deal. I’m getting cold feet because I know this isn’t going to get better with time. I’ve heard you give advice to people in similar situations, and often the significant other is putting their family over their partner. That isn’t really the case here. When I ask my fiancé to prioritize me, he does. But how often do I need to put my foot down? It’s exhausting. I don’t want to have to compete for his attention. I know he doesn’t intend for it to be that way, but that’s the reality of it.
I don’t know what to do. Is dealing with his mom the price of admission? Do I just need to suck it up? What about my friends and my family? If you have any advice, I would really, really appreciate it. I’m feeling quite lost at the moment.
Reluctantly Cold Feet
P.S. Or as my future mother-in-law calls me, that swamp-head, gold-digging, dog-hating spoiled princess. And those are just the PG names!
Being isolated from your family and friends because you live next door to your needy, verbally-abusive, toxic POS potential future MIL is too steep a price, RCF. So you do need to put your foot down—you need to put it down and keep it down until after your fiancé has done three things, RCF.
1. He's agreed to move and you've actually moved. He can look after his mother without having to live next door!
2. He's updated his resume and sent it out to prospective employers. If need be, RCF, he can find a job in the same industry at another company.
3. He's called a meeting with his relatives—or just with grandpa—to discuss his mother's deteriorating mental condition. The time has come to stage an intervention and he needs to get grandpa on board.
And to be clear: by "put it down and keep it down," RCF, I mean, "Don't marry this guy until he's taken pro-active steps to limit your exposure to his mother and until after he's proven to you that your relationship isn't going to become more of a hostage situation than it already is."
If his family is so fucking toxic that grandpa would fire your fiancé for refusing to be abused by his mom and refusing to allow his mom to abuse the woman he wants to marry, RCF, then your fiancé needs to get out from under grandpa's control—and that means finding a new job that gets him (and you) away from all the hostage takers and blackmailers in his family.
And if he won't move, RCF, you should move.