Welcome to Ask April, a no-nonsense advice column focusing on what it is you can do to correct things that need correcting. While we all know much in life is out of our control, and sometimes, our reaction is all we CAN control, we really do have a lot of personal power, thankfully. Our will is just as important as the wills of others around us, and while we need to be considerate, we also need to make sure others are equally considerate of us. It is my hope that when you write in to me, asking advice that I can help you make a good decision that somehow improves whatever situation you’ve found yourself in. As with anything I share, I recommend people don’t automatically take my word for anything, but include my advice in with the rest of the things that help them make a decision. I wish you well. Read on.
I have a problem with how my mom speaks to, and about my husband. She calls him good-for-nothing to his face every time we go see her, and she complains to me about him. No matter how many times I tell her she is out of line and not to act like that, she keeps it up. I can’t stand how she treats my husband. Is there anything I can say, or do to make her stop?
Hurt Daughter and Wife
Dear Hurt Daughter and Wife,
First let me say I sympathize. My mother was a harsh, hurtful individual who thought the whole wide world was entitled to her opinion. I managed to come up with a formula that broke her of her behavior, and I will share it with you, and other readers.
Since you are adult enough to stand up to her, and have already tried to rationally explain why her behavior is unacceptable, and she continues, there is nothing at all you can say to make her stop.
Unless you withhold visiting privileges, that is.
There are two ways to do this. First is via telephone or text, and secondly in-person.
If she is bashing your husband via phone or text, you give one warning. “I need you to stop speaking against my husband right now.” You can even say please if it makes you feel better. The second it resumes, say “Because you cannot respect my wishes and are bashing my husband anyways, I am ending this conversation. We can talk when you can be respectful. I love you, and I am hanging up now.” Then hang up. Do this until she cuts it out.
If it happens in person, again, give one warning. Then when it resumes, say “ I asked you nicely not to bash my husband. I am not going to listen to this. I am leaving, and I will see you when you can be respectful of my husband. “ Then get up, and leave. If she does it at your house, she has to leave.
Don’t put yourself in a situation where you rode together in public, so you don’t get stuck staying and listening to her crap. You can meet over lunch, and if she starts, get the food to go, pay your bill, and leave.
Prepare for yelling, bitching, and retaliation.
Stick to your guns, though. Don’t raise your voice or fuss, no matter how she retaliates. Just calmly tell her how it is.
If your mother really loves, and cares about you, she will soon realize you are not going to stand for her behaviors, and she will stop for the sake of getting to see you. If it is more important for her to bitch, maybe she does not deserve to see you anyways.
On the other hand- truthfully, some people ARE good-for-nothing, and loved ones are trying to open your eyes to that before the good-for-nothing individual wrecks your life. When we are in love with somebody, we often blind ourselves to their negative traits. As adults, unless our loved ones are paying our bills for us, or cleaning up a mess said beau or girlfriend makes, it is our right to make our own mistakes. Except in situations of abuse, I keep my mouth shut unless asked specifically by a loved one what I think of their beau, or girlfriend. I have absolutely chosen some bad eggs, myself, and I am thankful for the friends who stood by me when I screwed up, and were there for me when I came to my senses.
It’s tough to lay down the law with family, most especially parents, but it’s crucial sometimes for peace of mind, pleasant family gatherings, and self respect, as well as solidarity with your partner.
*However, readers, I know the gal who asked this advice, and I can attest to the fact said husband is an awesome individual, and does not deserve to be bashed.