he says...she says...
should they do?
Diane and Bob have been married two
years. Bob’s relationship with his mother is causing
stress in his marriage. What should Bob and Diane
I should be number one!
Diane says: I love Bob
and I respect his mother. But she
calls every day after work, just at
dinnertime, and she wants to talk
with Bob for an hour. She also
expects him to come over every
Sunday and do small chores for her,
and then stay for dinner. She always
makes some excuse for excluding me
from the invitations. I thought
married men were supposed to put
their wives first, but I’m
definitely feeling like a runner-up!
but it's my mother!
My dad died when I was a
teenager, and my mom relied on me. I
was her only companion for years. I
love Diane and she is definitely my
first priority in life, but I can’t
say ‘no’ to my mother - she really
needs me. And is it really so much
for her to expect one dinner a week
with her son? I just wish Diane
could understand that this is
important to me and my mom.
The expert says: Remember
Genesis? God said, “Therefore
shall a man leave his father and
mother, and shall cleave unto
his wife and they shall be one
flesh.” (Genesis 2:24) Seems
that God may have predicted this
issue and gave us pretty clear
directions. A man needs to align
himself with his wife. While the
‘what to do’ is clear, the ‘how
to’ is not. How a man and woman
make a marriage and family work
is not always easy, especially
when it comes to our extended
triangles in relationships can
happen in the best of families.
The best way to handle this
problem is to talk about these
issues ahead of time, before the
marriage takes place.
Identifying how each feels and
why, is the first step to making
this problem feel better.
Bob and Diane need to make sure
their relationship is well
nurtured. They need to spend
quality time together. The trust
partners develop in their
relationship helps them weather
the ups and downs of life, and
they cannot go wrong by focusing
on communication. Putting the
marital relationship first is
critical to a successful
The rule of thumb is to
communicate with each other
openly. Bob and Diane should
pick a time to talk when they
are not already angry at one
another. Bob should listen to
Diane - really hear her and
imagine how he would feel in her
spot. Can he understand how she
might feel? Diane needs to try
to own her feelings, using “I”
language that does not blame.
How does it make Diane feel that
Bob’s mom only calls him? Is
dinner every Sunday acceptable?
Is it possible that minor
maintenance could be done
Now it is Bob’s turn. He needs
to acknowledge how torn he
feels, and Diane needs to
listen. Hopefully, Diane can
imagine how Bob’s mom may feel.
The competition between Diane
and Bob’s mom needs to be talked
about openly by the couple. Bob
needs to clearly let Diane know
that she is No. 1 in his life.
That doesn’t mean he can’t help
Once Bob and Diane agree on what
is comfortable for them, the
boundaries on which they agree
need to be communicated to Bob’s
mother. These same guidelines
can be used for Diane’s parents
and family as well.
Families are important; they
provide necessary love and
support. Perhaps Bob and Diane
can find a role for Bob’s mom.
Is she willing to help with
children? Could Sunday dinner
move to Bob’s and Diane’s?
Including Bob’s mom in their
family life will help her feel
cared for and a part of their
lives, not just Bob’s. It would
be great if she gained a more
supportive caring relationship
with Diane. This is a bonus for
any mom in these fast-paced
Email questions and comments
| Take a
few minutes to think about what
it would be like without your
spouse. Write him a note about
the things that make him most
precious to you.
party together. “P” is for
party; “A” is for all-right; “R”
is for right now; “T” is for
take it easy; and “Y” is for
“Y-Not!” Have fun together.
Laugh until it hurts.
money, that wonderful leftover
cash. What to do with it? How
much do I get to spend
frivolously? For marital harmony
and financial stability, discuss
the OUCH! factor in your
marriage - the agreed amount you
can spend without consulting
requires regular maintenance, just
like your car. Plan a night out
together where you focus just on
each other - no kids, no talk about
work. Talk about each other, just
like you did while you were dating.
Tell each other something new about
yourself - even in a long-term
marriage, we are always learning
about the other person.