Q: How do I get my husband to see which priorities come first in life? We have been together for 14 years, with a set of very young twins. I quit my 20-year job to stay home and care for my preemies. The problem is his mother. Going into the marriage I knew he was a momma's boy, but I didn't know it was this bad or I wouldn't have married him. We are on the brink of divorce. I have tried to talk to my husband and argued about it, too. He will not reason when it comes to his family. No matter what my wishes are or what I ask, he will go against it to please his family. Please help. -- Vicky, 45
Dr. Susan: Sounds like he hasn't made the switch from being a kid to being a father and husband. Both of you need to recognize that having kids is hard, having twins is harder, having twins in your forties is a challenge, and having had to deal with preemies, with leaving a job you were used to, are all enormous challenges and stresses on a relationship. Now more than ever in your lives, you need to work together as a loving, cooperative team. Even if your priorities in some areas are not the same, I'm pretty sure you'd both agree that getting your children a good start in life is number one for now. A divorce is too drastic a solution, and avoidable.
So stop arguing and consider seeing a counselor together for the sake of everyone's sanity. It's possible that your husband has been a momma's boy for so long that he really does agree with his mother about most things. The two of you have to get that third party out of your marriage. Without putting her down, gently suggest to your mate that you and he make an effort to stick to the subject, whatever it is, and not bring his mom's thoughts or opinions or desires into it. If you could only get her on "your side." She may even know a thing or two and be of enormous help with the twins, if only your husband weren't playing the two of you against each other. As my own grown son said to me, "Thank you for the input, but we're not seeking advice right now." It stung a bit, but I respected their wishes. Perhaps your mother-in-law would butt out if your husband asked her to very very nicely. Good luck!
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Advice for Her
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.