Home Anger Management I Can’t Stop Being Angry at My Wife and Her Family

I Can’t Stop Being Angry at My Wife and Her Family

by Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

From the U.S.: My wife and I got married 17 years ago. A couple of days before our wedding my wife had her last bridal shower at the church she was attending at that time. I was living in another city at the time and on that day I had an argument with my father before I came to the shower. At the shower I was very quiet and did not say too much at all to anyone.

Then the night before our wedding, I called my future wife to be. She was crying and upset. She told me that she was mad and upset at her mother. I asked her about what? She then told me that her mother told her that she hoped that I did not abuse her (my future wife)!

My wife asked me if I was upset and I told her no. However, I was hurt and furious and her mother. The wedding went fine and honeymoon was good. But in the back of my mind that statement still bothered me and made me feel angry anytime my mother in law’s name was said or anything about my wife’s family. As time has gone on since then I do not go to any of my wife’s family crap (birthdays, holidays, etc…). Some of my wife and mines arguments over the years has been about her mother and family.

I personally feel that I should be able to go to my mother in law and get things off of my chest and tell her exactly how I feel. Regardless if it hurts her or not. But, when I say that, my wife then threatens to divorce me and then also to call the cops.

My wife continually goes to every family thing of her family all of the time. Regardless of how I feel and what her mother has said to me. They all think that my mother in law is just such a saint and that she is so sweet of a person! (Makes me puke!). Even over the years when I have gone to church with my wife her friends there think that her mother is so sweet.

My wife has asked me why I feel the way that I do and I have told her about it. She also asked why I hate her friends also but I have told her that I just don’t feel right around them and that I feel the same way about the church she attends. She tells me that is not a reason. I have tried to tell her that yes it is a reason. I also have not told her that another part of the reason is that all of them think her mother is such a wonderful person.

We had a argument today about her family. Just a few minutes ago, after asking her not to go, she goes to her niece’s baby shower. I argued with her and I feel that she cannot tell them no on anything. She goes running there every time they call regardless of me asking her not to.

I don’t know what the hell to do? Am I wrong for feeling this way? Shouldn’t I be able to tell her mother what I need to even though she is 79 years old? This feels so unfair to me! It makes me so angry!!!

I just need an opinion

You asked for an opinion, so I’ll give you mine. Feelings are never wrong. They are information. Acting on feelings is a choice. Confronting a 79-year-old for something she said 17 years ago is both unnecessary and hurtful. Don’t.

Her mother was being protective. It’s what mothers do. Frankly, your letter indicates that she may have sensed that something is amiss. You have held onto one comment from 17 years ago to justify trying to separate your wife from her family and friends. (You’ve also held onto a grudge about something your father said at the time. Really?) Your wife has been strong enough to refuse to let you control whether she sees people she loves and has somehow prevented you from hurting her mom. Good for her.

But not so good is that the two of you haven’t had a healthy relationship with each other or with her family — and maybe not with your own family of origin as well. Part of becoming married is for a young couple to define — together — how much contact is healthy and how to support each other in maintaining family connections. Done well, family connections only increase the love and support available to the couple. You and your wife have not done that developmental task well. That often results in a wedge that leads to divorce.

Everyone is complicated. It may be that your mother-in-law is as sweet as other people say. It may be that she doesn’t like you and doesn’t hide it. But it may be that your grudge prevents you from seeing the parts of her that are lovely.

The problem is not with your wife’s love of her family. The problem is that you are trying to control your wife’s relationships with the friends and family she loves. You are 50 years old and married 17 years. You still have the time to change your attitude and to become a welcome part of the circle of people your wife brings to your marriage. If you can’t do your own attitude transplant, do consider getting some help from a marriage counselor.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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