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Charlotte asked...

Hi

I'm having a few difficulties dealing with my soon to be husband's mum and sister. We are due to get married in August 2014.

The mum is on medication for anxiety/depression and was before I met my fiance. In the last 3 months she has admitted to be having trouble "letting go of her son", as such she is very offish, rude or just plain wierd with me.

The sister is a difficult personality to deal with. She is very opinionated, spoilt and quite childlike with her behaviours. Causing conflict between my family and my fiance's family. Which then causes conflict between myself and my fiance.

Normally, I'm ok to let people be and be in the background supporting them, whilst they deal. However my fiance is very close to his family and sees them quite often. I'm really struggling. I need time away from them as it is effecting my emotional/mental health. I mean this in every sense, texting, emailing, phoning and visiting.

I have talked about this with the mum and sister, explaining the situation I'm in and how it effects my health and our relationship.

I explained I would like a relationship with them but need my own space from time to time.

I have also spoken to the sister but she doesn't seem to understand.

I have spoken to my fiance and explained how I feel but it puts him in a really awkward postion as he loves his family and he loves me and he feels torn, he wants to support and help everyone.

He feels he needs to explain why I'm not there for family visits and he feels like he has to explain that I don't dislike them but I need my own time, even though I have explained this before.

I have worked hard with myself and my family to build healthy relationships. But I feel the relationship with my fiances family is not and I'm at a loss.

I love my fiance and want to spend the rest of my life with him, for that to happen, I'm worried it may impact my mental health. I want to be be happy and mentally healthy but I can't see that happening unless I can detach myself from the emotional/dramatic black hole, that is his mum and sister.

Is there any advice on how to deal with this situation?

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The Answer

One of the first rules of a happy, stress-free life is to stop trying to change things that are out of your control. At present your problem is driving you into a never-ending spiral. 

Your fiancé’s mother and sister are behaving badly...and that creates problems between them and your family...and that in turn impacts on your relationship with your fiancé...which in turn threatens your mental health. Can you see that in your assessment of the situation you leave no room for anything other than you stepping out of the loop by stepping out of their lives? 

However, there is another option. When you can’t change the stimulus you put all your effort into changing your response. This is something you do have power over, however difficult it might seem, so I would see your solution needs to be built around firming up your own confidence and emotional state. Stop allowing other people to control that. You’re worried about their behaviour impacting on your mental health but many people manage to live with difficult in-laws and muddle through without it causing mental health problems.

I speak to so many brides who face their wedding day with a ‘grit your teeth and smile’ attitude to their new in-laws! 

Judi James, Behavioural expert

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