In Law Problems

Updated on June 13, 2008
A.K. asks from Versailles, KY
24 answers

My inlaws have always been very helpful throughout me and my husbands 15 year marriage. Once she told me that money doesn't solve problems, but it makes life alot easier to deal with. My husband is bipolar so he has spells where he can't work. So when they think we are having difficulty, they help financially. That sounds great, doesn't it. The problem is I have told them, we need to be able to handle money crisis. My husband is an only child and his parents always have helped him. I have 2 brothers and had to work for everything. Over the years my mother in law, in times when their money was tight, has made comments about how 'the burden is always on them' because my parents don't hand out money like it grows on trees. But when their money is ok again, they are helping financially again. My mother in law is also a very controling person, her words are 'I have a problem with control but I can control it' ha ha. So now that my oldest is 15 I can see the same thing happening to him, the more they help, they more control they have. I have talked with him about the situation, stand on your own don't depend on someone else.
The problem I have is that whenever I am around them I have this rage against them inside me. We all have been pretty close, but it makes me so mad just being around them, I get mad if they offer me something to eat. I don't want to take anything from them. And they have taught me that money equal control, so I need lots and lots of money. This is a big problem and yes I feel like I am being ungratefull but I also can't help but feel behind every thing they give us, there is an alterior motive behind it, or with everything they send over to our house I am losing control of my family.
HELP!

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So What Happened?

I appreciate everyone's help and advise. I think this is just something I am going to have to live with and just deal with it the best I can. I guess I did leave out the fact that I am a real estate assistant and I clean houses. I think the reason why it bothers me more now is because since my hubby has been getting help for his bipolar(they are still triing to find the dosage of meds)he is becoming more stable and we are forming more of a closer bond between us. I don't think his parents like that. I had another-nice quite talk with them about how we need to learn how to make it on our own. He needs to learn to wait for some things instead of getting them whenever he wants. The next day, we were cleaning out the pool and cleaning up the pool equipment, hoses, brushes, nets etc., after his mom stopped by and saw what we were doing, she left and came back with brand new EVERYTHING all of the chemicals we needed for the whole summer, new equipment, new floats, pool toys and stuff. She said no sense in cleaning all of that, here are a few things. By the next day she told at least one family memeber about her 'help' and I'm sure that will get around. And she opened everything for us, so no taking that back. So I will just learn to accept his family for who they are and do what I can to help them when needed. As for the kids, I will do my best to teach them how to be financially responsible the best I can.
Thanks again for your responses.
A.

More Answers

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S.R.

answers from Nashville on

A., I can't believe how similar your story is to mine, except it is my mom. For 22 years my husband and I dealt with the same senerio. My mother is very controlling, but in a passive-aggressive way. It was wonderful, because she helped us financially in many ways, eventhough we didn't ask for help. But, at the same time, it brought feelings of resentment and I think my husband felt strange about accepting the help. The more help she gave us, the more control it gave her, especially to verbally put down my husband or to ask personal financial questions or to give us "advice" about how we should or shouldn't be spending our money. She was "gifting" out of my inheritance, but made us feel guilty about it, eventhough it was her idea. One christmas I called to say thank you for the check in our card and she said,"Well, everyone expects it". On my birthday I called to say thank you again for another large check that was in my birthday card and she said, "Well, I guess I don't have a choice". Here she wanted to help us so we wouldn't have a mortgage and so we could have a college fund for our kids, but then made it sound like it was a burden on her. After reading an excellent book called BOUNDARIES by Dr. Jonn Towsend and Dr. Henry Cloud, my husband and I spent many hours praying for direction.

The Lord lead us to do something in faith which seamed very drastic to everyone else. We sold our beautiful, custom home that my mom helped us build in California and moved to Tennessee. It was incredibly hard to do, but now we have such peace and a feeling of freedom. Now we're relying on God now to lead us and sustain us. Our relationship with my Mom, especially my husband's relationship with my mom, is so much better.I'm not suggesting that you move out of state, but I would recommend reading the book BOUNDARIES and talk to a counselor (we talked to our pastor). It's scary moving away from family, because of the "what if...", but it's making us trust in God more. Isaiah 26:3 "You will keep him in pefect peace whose mind in steadfast on you because he trusts in you". God bless you--we can totally relate to you. S.

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M.H.

answers from Nashville on

Um, this seems to easy - how about sating "No" when they offer their help? You need to figure out what you need more - their help or the control of running your own life.

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B.D.

answers from Raleigh on

I too had a controlling MIL when I was married. In fact it was one of the things that led to demise of my marriage, so I congratulate you on being able to find a way to deal with the situation thus far. And for finding ways to deal with the bipolar, that is never easy. Sounds like maybe MIL might be somewhat bipolar too if she is so controlling. Since this had been going on so long, you might not be able to stop it, but you might be able to find creative ways to deal with it. When the In-Laws provide money, who does it go to, yourself, your husband, your son? Maybe you could find a way to put that money in an interest bearing account instead of using? There are some good credit counseling agencies out there that could help also. If your son is planning on going to college (or purchasing a car soon) you might be able to get him to see the benefit of saving the money for these things. I know it is hard for a 15 year old to get a job since opportunities are limited for that age but mowing lawns and babysitting are possibilities - there are some great articles out on the net about how to help your kids learn the value of earning and saving bucks. I assume your husband might be getting counseling for bipolar, so maybe you two could try to air out the differences in financial opinions with a counselor also, then go see a financial planner. My two cents might not be that helpful, but I am behind you in your efforts!

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M.T.

answers from Nashville on

Allison,
Maybe your husband really isn't bipolar. It takes yrs to diagnose that. Maybe it is severe anxiety or near nervous breakdown due to his parents. I was in a situation at one time where I had butting-in, in-laws who, with the help of my X, drove me crazy.......literally. So it does happen.
I would start staying away from them as much as possible. If you don't want to take their money and you don't like the control that they have over you. STAY AWAY. Don't go to their house anymore. If they come to yours,....if you know when they are coming... leave so you don't have to run into them. If they don't get the hint then, just simply and politely tell them that you don't want their money but thank you for the offer but you all can do it on your own.
I have an X like that who thinks money controls everything and it usually does for him. He controls our kids against me by making alot of promises that turn out to be empty promises but his money talks..... and it talks alot. I have lost 2 of my children because of his money and his control and one son that cannot be bought so he is still with me to this day. All I can do is pray about it and let God handle that or it would drive me crazy. I feel your pain. I have been there before just in a little bit different senario.
Stand tall and be strong and put your foot down and don't be afraid to say NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO and NO.
If all else fails, move out of state.

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V.C.

answers from Wheeling on

You've gotten some really good advice, but I had to add my 2-cents worth. LOL

I agree that maybe your husband is simply suffering from the control his mother has oppressed him with. My mother-in-law was 'borderline' controlling with money. It didn't affect us directly because my husband (of 32 years) has always been blessed with a decent job, but she 'did it' to her other son who had a physical ailment. If your husband can't stand up to his mom (as he should), then you must.

Try to have a calm family meeting with your own household, first, and see if you can get them all in agreement. If not, then you proceed . . .
Tell MIL in no uncertain terms that you will accept NO MORE financial 'help' from them unless YOU ask for it (which you probably won't ever need to). Then DON'T take it. Return it if it's given. And, I agree that you should stay away from the in-laws if they're not co-operative. Better to save your own family and estrange them than to end up with EVERYONE against each other.

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E.R.

answers from Jackson on

I totally understand your problem my inlaws allowed us to rent a house once and we appreated it but when they came over they contantly reminded us it was there house and that we didnt clean as she does and if we had anything in our yard she didnt think we needed she would tell us get rid of it or shed have the yard cleaned to her specs and send us the bill.after 3 years we bought a house and she had no say my father in law was sweet and never gave us any problem.I love them but I would rather root hog or die than be under their control.you might have to work to make in and tighten your belt on spending but is better thanalways being under someone elses thumb.being close is one thing being undre someones thumb is totally another.this one is your call and I personally would say thanks but no thanks we will make it on our own.the bi polar is another issue is your husband medically compliant i have been there to and i truely know what happens when off meds if thats the problem tell him how much the meds help they dont think it does and try to keep him doing what the dr says.good luck sounds as though you need it.

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A.C.

answers from Fayetteville on

Hi A.

First of all, I understand you situation and feelings. Personally, your husband needs to explain to his mother that you are taking care of the family financial situation. However, If your husband is willing to accept his mother's financially help then this is my suggestion. Receive the money as a loan account from your in-law. When they are in financial trouble, just sent them some money from the loan account. Now, legally! keep an account as loan and money sent as loan payment. This too! could become an I.R.S. audit.

I feel, you may be anxious over this because if a person is willing to give you money then throw it back like it was a strain then they should keep the money for rainy days.

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K.H.

answers from Charleston on

There is always a price to pay for everything in this world.

If you need the help financially then you have to accept that she is going to control things. I don't think it is right and maybe you should sit her down and tell her how you feel.

If she helps you from the heart or because it is something that God expects her to do then you owe her nothing. Don't be her whipping dog just because she is a control freak.

I am also a control freak but I have learned if I want to keep my daughter and be friends with her I have to suck up a lot of things that I don't like. Maybe dear old Mom needs me to talk to her.

I have been through the same thing myself. It can also be a "pass it on" thing where you can help someone else when the times comes. She needs to understand that it really is harder to receive then it is to give. She needs to count her blessing and stop being such a control freak.

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N.P.

answers from Knoxville on

I can only imagine what you are going through because I have lived with a bi-polar daughter and a controlling sister who has no children so she has "adopted" mine. She is at least a millionaire and helps certain people in the family IF she can control them and the situation. She's angry much of the time probably because she didn't have children. I read a lot about setting boundaries for yourself and your family. You are entitled to do this and you must. There are some great things written on the internet how to do this - tells you what to say and how to respond and be prepared for conversations with the controller. I heard that anger is a form of insanity and I believe it. Hang in there. Prayer will bring you peace asking for God's healing.

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A.F.

answers from Knoxville on

A.,

I am so sorry you and your husband are dealing with mental illnes. I am a very stable, happy, fun loving person. Or so I thought. Until I recenlty suffered from a complete nervouse breakdown last year. I thought I was going to lose everyhthing but I was so sick I really didn't care. My poor husband went through so many changes during this time and I felt so bad about putting him through this. Anyhow eventually I came out of it with a lot of praying and hard work on my part. Not to mention my Gyno who found out my hormones were so out of whack she couldn't beleive I was walking around!!!It's hard to beleive I have always been "your most stable friend" or the "person you can count on." Mental illness is so difficult on everyone and I don't doubt you are having your own mental problems from the situation. My poor husband really suffered and I thank god he took care of me as much as he could or I may have jumped off the Henley Street Bridge. I also have an overbearing mother in law. I remeber I finally got sick of it and just flat out told her I care about you but this is my family and I will do as I want in my home and if she wanted to be part of my family she would respect that. (Then I moved 600 miles away hee!!hee!!)Anyhow, after 15 months of being insane two days ago I realized I felt like myself again. Hang in there and don't let your mother in law bother you. Your husband needs you. And beleive me when he starts to feel better, and he will, he will be so grateful to have you. I also want to ad that they thought I was bipolar as well but turns out I had a real medical problem. Your husband needs a full medical exam including thyroid tests!!!

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J.C.

answers from Nashville on

I had a very controlling mother-in-law as well, and it was very difficult. (I was married for over 30 years.)

It took me a very long time to realize that I was playing into her hands, as you realize is happening to you.

3 things helped me. One was humor. The second was that I had to find a creative way to vent my anger and 3rd, not take her actions personally--everything came with a price, so to speak, so we stopped accepting the grand gestures.

Mark Twain said that laughter is the flip side of pain and I believe he was very wise. When things looked serious and she offered to help, I'd make a joke and laugh it off, concluding with something like: Oh, we'll manage to survive, don't worry!

When things got too rough, we just stayed away and didn't tell her our problems.

Hang in there. As for your son, accept what is practical and refuse the rest. Talk with him about the way some people try to control the ones they love; it's the only way they know how to express love. He's old enough to see the pattern, if you point it out in a safe manner.

Hang in there!
Edie White

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W.M.

answers from Nashville on

One thing you can do is sit down and explain to her and her husband that you appreciate all that they do to help b/c you would not have made it in some hard times...but, you are begining to feel that their help is too much. You want their help to "help", not hinder and create more problems. Tell them that your son is growing to expect such things and you want him to have a good work ethic and appreciate things that he has to work for. There is a good book called Boundaries that you could give them to read. Read it yourself first. It is a book about families and how to set the boundaries for their place. Secondly I would tell them that when they do help, you want it to be the bare minimum to get you by. They can take on a bill for you, pay something off for you, instead of always having their hands in your business. Lastly, take a good look at your bills and rewrite your budget. Cut stuff out that can help you pay your bills yourself. You didn't mention if you work, maybe a second job would help temporarily until you get certain bills paid off. Maybe your husband can get a job where he can work even through distress. Don't let your son see what is going on if at all possible. Maybe keep your inlaws at a distance, maybe not have them visit so much? Not sure how often them visit but, this is personal and your son should not be knowing what is going on financially, especially if it is bad.

Hope this helps, W. M

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I.N.

answers from Raleigh on

This problem has an easy fix. Stop accepting stuff from them. Then just keep your distance for a while. The anger should subside. Your husband is another problem. Concentrate on getting him good treatment so that he can fully function in your family. Bipolar disorder can be very challenging and very stressful to those around the patient. You may want to look for a support group to help deal with your frustrations. It can be very helpful to YOU. Good luck!

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C.D.

answers from Chattanooga on

If they're making you feel this way, then you need to just tell them to keep their money the next time the situation arises. I really don't see a better solution. If they are this controlling then I doubt they're going to change anytime soon. Of course, you could always voice your concerns to them, but I'm not sure it would work, and it could also cause tension that you probably don't want to deal with. It sounds like you're just going to have to put your foot down and resist their giving, especially if it's affecting your son.

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E.W.

answers from Chattanooga on

A.,

I do know what you are going through. I had a very similar situation. I also know about the anger. First and foremost, you need to get rid of that anger. Talk to someone. Vent on someone you can trust. Let that go. If you don't, it could ruin a relationship with your in laws that your husband may still need. Being bipolar, he needs a support system. Not financial. If you need that kind of help, you can get help for that from the state if you have to. Don't take any more money from your in laws. If they give it to your son or husband, you take it back to them and tell them you will no longer accept any money from them. Do this calmly and walk away. Don't let your in laws get you into a discussion about it or you may just lose your cool. You have to keep calm about this. Just tell them firmly that it is no longer a subject you will discuss and walk away. You have to be in control of your family. If your MIL has a control issue, that is her problem. Let her take care of it herself. That is not your problem. Just don't let her get to your husband alone. In his condition and until he is in a normal mental state, he is vulnerable to her. It is all a matter of taking control and putting your foot down. I had to, it took time but I did it. I wish you all the luck in the world. Send me a private message if you want to use me to vent the anger.

E.

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P.B.

answers from Charlotte on

A., first make sure you and your husband are in agreement about your course of action regarding your inlaws. The two of you need to be on one page in this. Then decide which boundaries need to be set with them. (You may want to read the book "Boundaries" by John Trent and Gary Smally.) Yes, we are to honor our parents, extending love and kindness. No, we do not need to let them take control of our lives through money or any other means. It's critical that you do this now so your children will see the correct example in you and your husband's response. They are learning from you.

Ahead of time, choose positive and firm ways of stating your desires about not receiving from parents: "Thank you, we appreciate your kindness in wanting to help us. This is our time to experience these trials, grow thru them and be examples to our children of how to respond to the difficulties of life without someone else's resource." Pay attention to the (angry) red flags that are going up in you, but choose ahead of time how to respond appropriately for you , your children and your extended family's sake. Hope this helps.

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J.J.

answers from Huntington on

I really feel for you. I know this is a difficult situation. I have parents very similar to your inlaws. I do not accept money from them. It sounds like your inlaws live close to you and are close to the family. If you refuse their money, it will offend them, I'm sure. I would take the money and put it in a savings account. Then if later they say money is tight for them, give it back to them. They don't have to know it was their money in the first place! If they refuse to take it, then you just tell them the same rule applies to you. You want to help them when you can, and they can help you when they can. If they refuse your money, then you will refuse them the next time. You really should make sure your husband is on board with this though. You must have a united front for this to work. Other wise, you'll be the lone ranger and it will be more problems.

If at all possible do not take anything from them and use it. Yes, they are using money to control you and your family. If you don't like the control, you need to quit letting them use it as leverage. If money is tight for you because of your husband's disorder, then get a job yourself. It is inconvenient and difficult, but it will give you your freedom, and that that seems to be important to you.

And pray for patience. You will need it!

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P.L.

answers from Greensboro on

Wow! Almost sounds like an "Everybody loves Raymond" episode! Haha...The only advice I can give, I think Y'all should move. Far far away from the inlaws before yo say or do something terrible to them. They are there for you and your family when you need them. But your animositiy towards them semms to be getting worse. Move away. Good Luck!

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B.C.

answers from Nashville on

I think you are being the most ungrateful daughter-in-law. Do you realize how many people struggle with finances and lose their homes and can't buy groceries because a spouse cannot work. You need to stop making this all about you and how you feel. You say your in-laws control your family. Well, is that not what you want is control. You seem to have a thing about jealousy because your family doesn't help. You sound like they have never asked you for any money in return. When they say that this always a burden; it only means that they are concerned for your family and are willing to do anything they can to see that your life is easier. I think you should be on your knees thanking God that you have in-laws willing to help. Maybe you think you could handle a money crisis and maybe you could but why make it harder on your family than it needs to be. There are loving in-laws and parents that are willing to help their children not have to face the financial obstacles they did at a younger age. I don't mean for this to sound harsh it is just that you should be grateful for the help and you should thank them often. So what, if you are not the "shining star" always. Be thankful that you have a family; something many people would give the world for.

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B.S.

answers from Charleston on

First get rid of your anger. Second, calmly explain to your MIL that you want to take care of your family financially but that you appreciate their help if you ever need it. That you wont accept money from them unless it is for birthdays or christmas as gifts.

If they continue to give your husband and boys money, take it and open a savings/checking account separare from your own and put the money in it. Then when your inlaws need money, take it out and give it back. Savings account draw interest. Keep the interest for yourself and emergencies.

If you need to have someone listen just mail me here and I will send you my regular email addy.

I wish you the best of luck with your husband getting his bipolar under control and with your inlaws.

Hugs for when you need them.

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L.W.

answers from Memphis on

My husband and I had some control issues with his parents when we were first married. It was so bad, we had to go to marriage counseling about it. The counseler told us that my husband and I had to both be committed to telling them to back off (nicely). I don't know how your husband feels about it, but I hope he is in agreement with you, or you may never solve this issue. Because they are his parents, he will be the one whose opinion counts to them. Once my husband started drawing the boundaries with them, our marriage improved, and my relationship with his parents improved. They were very hurt at first, but finally realized that what they were doing was hurting our marriage. My inlaws are nice people, and I suspect that yours are to. We are all flawed. My MIL also jokes about her control issues. She used to seem proud of it. Now she is beginning to learn to let go of a few things.

Now, that part about 'the burden is always on us'. That is a self-inflicted burden. This is another trait your MIL and mine have in common. She often helps people without them having asked for help and then complains about how she had to help them. They like to be thought of as martyrs. And thats pretty rude for her to insiuate that your parents are in the wrong for not giving you money. If you don't want the money and you've told her that, then she's the one that's in the wrong here. I imagine she thinks that she is helping but she is not aware of the long-term consequences of what she is doing.

Here's a book you might want to check out from the library. Don't let the title fool you. It's "The Millionaire Next Door" by Stanley and Danko. The book is about saving money rather than spending frivolously in order to be financially secure. There is a chapter on 'Economic Outpatient Care' which is exactly what your inlaws are doing. The authors found through their research that "the more dollars adult children receive, the fewer they accumulate."

I think it's important to thank them graciously for the money they have given in the past while asking them to give you a chance to try to make it on your own. Your money-managing skills will increase when it becomes a necessity.

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J.H.

answers from Wilmington on

If your honey has been diagnosed with bipolar then surely he has a councelor. That said, perhaps you need to go together. You need to articulate your feelings to your family or it is going to eat you up.
Regardless of what you think, your 15 year old is going to model your behavior. Let that be your inspiration to get the discussion going and to make some healthy choices. I would also suggest setting everyone on a budget and making them stick to it. Then the owness isn't on any one person, but rather the "rules" or the "budget". That way no one is the bad guy.
Good luck.

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K.W.

answers from Greensboro on

Don't worry about some of the "not so nice" responses you've received. It sounds like you're a very proud person. Your sense of pride is down when your in-laws offer money during financial difficulties. Yes, you should be grateful for their help and not worry about your pride. There were some great suggestions about how to handle the situations. Putting the money in a savings account or some other investments was a great suggestion. Simply telling them that you do not want their money is another great suggestion. I'm not going to suggest anything as far as the monetary offerings, as they do seem to be a blessing in a time of need. Yes, it is very wrong for them to use it against you and making you feel bad about it afterwards, but you just need to let those remarks roll off your shoulders. If it upsets them after the fact, that's their problem, not yours. After all, they gave you the money. They didn't have to, right? I do not know your religious background, but my advice is to pray about your bitterness. The bitterness you feel inside, towards your in-laws, is going to grow. If your family and husband do not already notice your bitterness, they soon will. It is going to cause a considerable amount of damage to your marriage. It is going to cause some health issues for you as well. The bitterness that you're describing is somewhere I have been against my own mother-in-law, for different reasons. I just prayed that God would help me to look at the situation differently so that my bitterness would go away. It did work. Every now and then, I feel the bitterness creep in, but I continue to pray and my relationship with my mother-in-law is still good. God has a way of helping, but sometimes he wants to see you work at it too. I do hope this helps.

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L.M.

answers from Memphis on

A.'

I am only going by what I am reading and one thing that I would like to ask is do you work? Because if you are not working then how can you stop getting money from his parents when your husbands money is the only income and your children needs to be taking care of. Second: In the event that you are working then you should let your husband handle the situation these are his parents. He knows his parents and he would be better suited to handle his own parents and tell them to stop. Surley your husband is accepting the money for a reason. Control is a big issue with you, and you are letting them win because they see that you all are not stable with your income,your husband has been a mommy's boy for too long and he has adjusted to their way of living and has brought that demand into your home. Money will destroy if you allow it. I just think that the problem is not in MIL I think the problem is within your husband and his issues and you want things to be normal again. I fill your pain because I am a private person and when I got married at the age of 31 my mother tried to do that and I explain to her that if she wants me to stay married then she needs to allow me to be a mother, wife, and friend to my family. And once I told her how I felt she baged off. It was hard for her because I had her first grandson and she thought that if she interferes that my son will be a better child and that was not the case. I told her that if she raised a good daughter then allow me to raise my son and stay in place by being a grandmother and enjoy your grandson on another level instead of seeing if I am raising him right. So to make a long story short your husband as well as yourself needs to do some self evaulation and ask yourself what am I doing and if what I am doing suitable for my life style, and is this behaivor something I want my children getting use to. This is a big world and you do not want your chldren thinking that it is ok to accept money from family and friends when you do not have to because clearly this is hendering you from progress and moving forward with what you have instead of have nots. Please allow your husband to be a man and step up to the plate with his mother. I think this will solve some of your issues get on your knees and pray to God that the demand leaves your mind,body,and soul.

Good luck and I am saying a special prayer for you. I am sorry for the tough love but sometimes we need the truth instead of what we want to here.

L. Mckinney
[email protected]____.com

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