Dear Amy: My husband isn't capable of speaking with me about decisions in our marriage and insists on running to his mommy for everything.
Instead of planning events that he and I could attend, he has to ask his mommy. Instead of speaking to me about what's going on in his life, it has to be mommy. We've been together for eight years and married for six, and I cannot stand his constant need for his mommy's input into our marriage.
His mom is great but doesn't live with us, help with our kids or pay our bills. Am I wrong for feeling like I'm being treated as an outsider in my own marriage?
I've brought it up in the past, but I'm "crazy" (in his words), and honestly, I'm beginning to feel crazy.
Amy says: I completely agree with you that your husband should not discuss private matters or plans with his mother before discussing them with you. When he chooses to communicate with his mother instead of with you, he is essentially partnering with her.
However, as long as you belittle both him and his ("great") mother with this snide "mommy" language instead of treating both of them as adults, you are reinforcing the immature behavior.
Your husband's reaction to you is a classic and unacceptable defensive posture. He is not only denying your right to react to his behavior, but he is offending you in the process.
No matter the conflict — whether it's how to load the dishwasher or how to claim your rightful space as your husband's primary partner — you could perhaps start to nudge the narrative in a different direction if you looked at your communication style.
Consider reading "The Heart of the Fight: A Couple's Guide to Fifteen Common Fights, What They Really Mean, and How They Can Bring You Closer," by Judith Wright and Bob Wright (2016, New Harbinger). One core tip applies to your situation: You should emphasize to your husband that you want to fight "for" your marriage and not "against" each other.
Who owes Mom a visit?
Dear Amy: My mother-in-law, "Jane," is in a nursing home in the same town my sister "Brenda" lives in. We live about an hour away.
Brenda used to visit my mother-in-law occasionally, and she would often inquire about how Jane was doing when we spoke. Brenda stopped all of this about a year ago.
This bothers my husband greatly, and every time I talk to my sister he says, "Did she ask about Mom?" I told him to stop asking me this because it makes me feel bad.
I told him that if Brenda does ask about his mom, I will let him know. I also reminded him that my sister is pretty self-absorbed. But he continues to ask. What can I do?
Amy says: Your husband's need to have your sister inquire about his mother speaks volumes about his own guilt and anxiety.
Obviously, your sister would not have been visiting a nursing home during the pandemic. But now she might feel guilty about not visiting because of the pressure your husband has placed on her. It's possible that she doesn't inquire about Jane because doing so might bring forth even more pressure to visit her.
Your husband could resolve some of his anxiety by visiting his mother himself. The next time he asks about Brenda, you could deflect a little by saying, "Honey, we all care about your mom. Let's go see her this weekend."
Send questions to Amy Dickinson at firstname.lastname@example.org.