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Should I marry my love if I find his mother toxic?

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  • #301535
    Mark
    Participant

    Marie,

    You can try to understand and “work with” your fiance’s mother but the person you really need to work with is your fiance.  Can you live with a man who gets run over, mistreated, and have his self esteem battered by her?  Can you live with someone who accommodates her, who cannot have boundaries with her?

    Mark

    #301669
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Marie:

    By cutting contact with your fiancé and to be husband from 100% (living in the same town and having daily contact with her) to let’s say, 5% by living far away, you still have 5% too many because if you put out 95% of a fire, the remaining 5% are enough to burn acres and acres of land and homes and whatever is in its way.

    anita

    #301731
    Michelle
    Participant

    Hi Marie,

    Couple of thoughts for you.

    You are always going to find these kinds of people throughout life. Yeah, they’re a pain to deal with but I’m not convinced removing each one from your life is the best way forwards, as it means you are going to be making a lot of choices that you would prefer not to make if they were not part of the decision. Therefore learning to deal with them in a way where they no longer have any power over, no effect on you would perhaps be a different way forwards.  In the same way you have (mostly?) been able to overcome your trained people pleaser instincts, you can learn how to handle these situations differently. Usually it only takes a few times of standing up to them in a positive, assertive,  not an aggressive or emotionally reactive way for them to back off and leave you alone, seeking out easier targets.

    It sounds like you have fought hard to gain the sense of freedom and independence which you now value highly. And I imagine this feels under threat from this woman. Are you sure you don’t actually also feel threatened by the idea of marriage too? It is not unusual to want to do something but at the same time be unsure of the commitment/change to our freedom it may make, especially when hard-won.

    Hope helps.

    #301735
    Kkasxo
    Participant

    Hi Marie,

    Following this thread as in a somewhat similar situation in that my ‘partner’s mother is an abusive, controlling narcissist also.

    None of it made sense UNTIL I had to endure terrible trauma and through therapy and research of my own I actually was able to understand that this is a real thing, it is an illness and more often than not it isn’t something that is ever going to change.

    I wouldn’t advise to leave your fiance, you guys seem really happy and content BUT keep your distance from the monster behind the mask.. It’s a good thing that you were able to pick these traits up now before anything horrible happened to you. Unfortunately for me that wasn’t the case, I was completely blinded and in awe by this woman who very quickly turned out to be someone who took away from me everything that I had known for the past 25 years, literally.

    Distance and boundaries are key here. And remember, you are not obliged to allow this person into your life. Whether people say you marry the family or not, it is YOUR relationship and YOUR life. So long as you respect your fiances wishes to continue or not to continue to have contact with her, and he respects yours you guys will be okay.

    Wishing you all the best!

    #367918
    Marie
    Participant

    I know this post is closed, but I came across an old email with someone’s reply and I wanted to give an update:

    My life partner decided early this year to take a break from his mom after she started to aggressively (and daily) batter him with alt-right, xenophobic, abusive tirades. After fighting for years on these topics, it really ramped up with the world-wide BLM protests and she doubled down on her intolerant views and verbal abuse towards my life partner. He decided to step away from the relationship and ceased contact with her.

    He is saddened that he had to do this, but he is also lighter and more confident now that he doesn’t have his mother telling him repeatedly that he is worthless and incapable of achieving his dreams. He no longer has “dead voice” or depressed episodes after engaging with her.

    It truly does seem like a weight has been lifted. She still calls and texts him multiple times a day/week and tries to convince him that he is nothing without her, but he does not pick up the phone.

    He is  healing. He is laughing more. We are both focusing on the loving family and friend relationships in our lives that nurture joy, happiness, acceptance.

    Thank you again for your replies. It’s difficult when a close family member (a mother, a father, a caregiver) acts in this way and tries to dim our light. If there is someone out there who is going through the same thing… I hope you remember that you are worthy of love, that you don’t have to listen to anyone you trust (or trusted) tell you you are worthless. If someone puts conditions on love… that is NOT love.

    You are enough. Just as you are.

    #367920
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Marie:

    I read all your past posts (yes, I did). I want to start with a quick summary of those and then respond to your update of today. I am interested in your story and I thought that my attention to and summary of your story will interest you as well.

    Oct-Nov 2013 and March  2014- at 29/30, you shared that in college, in your early 20s, you met your boyfriend, 8 years older than you. The two of you liked to drink at the time (“drinking has been a big part of socializing for me”), but as the years went by, your interests expanded to exercising, yoga, traveling, etc., and your boyfriend, although he loved hiking, cooking and traveling, continued to drink more than you were comfortable with, even getting a DUI.

    He lost two jobs in the first two years of the relationship with you and was unemployed for five years afterward, living on his savings, but as you lived together, you paid for most of the groceries and for outings and trips. As time went on, his drinking became heavier (“alcohol is a huge part of his life. He loves it.. He says life is boring, that why he drinks… he’s never going to give up drinking”). He didn’t want to talk with you about his drinking, about his future, about his future with you, as a couple, about looking for a job, and about his feelings.  alcohol is a huge part of his life. He loves it… He says life is boring, that’s why he drinks

    You wrote that he was “the sweetest person in the world.. funny, charming, considerate”, but also,  a man who “doesn’t know what he wants to do with his life.. sort of stalled, running in place”. You had “zero chemistry” with him, “he hardly wants to be intimate anymore”. And yet, you wrote: “He calms me down. Makes me feel safe”.

    Sept 2014- you shared that you decided to move out of your boyfriend’s apartment about 5 months earlier, which would be about a month since your previous post. You wrote that you feel like a fool, for holding on so long to that relationship, but still, you wrote: “I do still love him. Even though I feel like an idiot saying so”. You were still open to resuming the relationship and “work on us… but so far he’s ignored my requests, yet he doesn’t want to stop talking to me and still sends me pics of beautiful sunsets and stuff he’s cooked that night, etc.”.

    You shared that you “have very low self-worth and confidence. Not sure why. Just have always felt like I don’t belong and have always felt like I’m not good enough”.

    You shared that you hated your supervisor at the time, who belittled and undermined you and made you feel small, trying to make you “feel worthless and incompetent on a daily basis”, “toxic and soul-sucking.. and emotional vampire”. You suspected she suffered from a Narcissistic and/ or Borderline Personality Disorder.

    October 2014- you shared that you indeed moved out of your boyfriend’s apartment months before, following a “steady 7-year relationship” because at almost 40, he refused to “talk about the future (marriage, kids, next week) or his excessive drinking or the fact that he hasn’t had a job in almost seven years and also has lost interest in being intimate or communicating about anything important”. You shared that you found out that he was going to visit your mutual female friend, your former college and post-college roomie, who “lives by the beach and her world revolves around fun and not looking towards the future”. Your former roomie, like your former boyfriend, still loved to drink, and like your former boyfriend, “most of their sexual experiences with others has been while intoxicated… a lot of drunk one-night stands for both of them.. both have the mentality of ‘Oh well, I was drunk!’ when they do such acts”. You were concerned at the time that spending time together, they will drink and have sex. “Maybe they’re perfect for each other as they both don’t really talk about their feelings”, you added.

    June 2015- You shared that you were at the time “in a beautiful, inspiring, growth-based, creative job (I love it)”, that you were free from your previous supervisor’s tentacles, but still, you had “moments of anger or confusion: Why? Why do people get off on trying to tear others down.. And how can I move on, once and for all, from the memory of how she treated me and others?”

    a kind, supportive, smart, funny, compassionate man. And he’s handsome and communicative

    Five years later, June 2020- you shared that you were engaged to “a kind, supportive, smart, funny, compassionate man.. handsome and communicative”, whose mother is just such a woman that you mentioned five years before, a woman who “gets off on trying to tear others down”, an “extremely toxic” woman, having “99% of the symptoms of someone with Narcissistic and Borderline Personality Disorder”, “extremely manipulative and everything needs to be about her. Otherwise she has tantrums or lashes out. It’s exhausting”. You expressed concern of being trapped in a marriage that includes her, that she will turn against you the moment you disagree with her, that she will harm your potential children . “Will her exhaustive nature haunt our marriage?… Should I just call the whole thing off?”

    You wrote in regard to his mother, and such mothers in general: “I do not believe that giving someone life and bringing them into existence allows you a free pass to run rampant over their emotions, verbally abuse them, and expect them to have total allegiance to you for the rest of their lives. What an awful arrangement”.

    You shared that your fiancé “has an unhealthy relationship with his mother.. he puts up with her behavior and her calling him ‘a garbage person’ when he doesn’t do what she wants”, that it pains you to “see him be verbally belittled so often”. He shared with you that “he was miserable at home and would have chest pains/ headaches/ panic attacks”, that his sister didnt have contact with her for years, and that you were “not sure if my fiancé will agree to no contact”. You also mentioned that he was attending therapy.

    Four months later, October 2020, you shared that your “life partner” decided early this year “to take a break from his mom.. step away from the relationship and cease contact with her”. As a result he is “lighter and more confident now that he doesn’t have his mother telling him repeatedly that he is worthless and incapable of achieving his dreams. He no longer has ‘dead voice’ or depressed episodes after engaging with her. It truly does seem like a weight has been lifted… He is healing. He is laughing more. We are both focusing on the loving family and friend relationships in our lives that nurture joy, happiness, acceptance”

    She still “calls and texts him multiple times a day/ week and tries to convince him that he is nothing without her, but he does not pick up the phone”.

    * I would like to add comments to my summary later, Mon morning (in about 16 hours from now), and if you would like to post again, before I return, please do- I would like to read more from you.

    anita

    #367925
    anita
    Participant

    * I am re-posting the above, a cleaner, slightly edited version:

    Dear Marie:

    I read all your past posts (yes, I did). I want to start with a quick summary of those and then respond to your update of today. I am interested in your story and I thought that my attention to and summary of your story will interest you as well.

    Oct-Nov 2013 & March  2014– at the age of 29, you shared that in college, in your early 20s, you met your boyfriend, 8 years older than you. The two of you liked to drink at the time (“drinking has been a big part of socializing for me”), but as the years went by, your interests expanded to exercising, yoga, traveling, etc., but your boyfriend, although he loved hiking, cooking and traveling, continued to drink more than you were comfortable with, even getting a DUI.

    He lost two jobs in the first two years of the relationship with you, and was unemployed for five years afterward, living on his savings; you lived together and you paid for most of the groceries and for outings and trips. As time went on, his drinking became heavier (“alcohol is a huge part of his life. He loves it.. He says life is boring, that why he drinks… he’s never going to give up drinking”). He didn’t want to talk with you about his drinking, about his future with you, or without  you, about looking for a job, and about his feelings.

    You wrote that he was “the sweetest person in the world.. funny, charming, considerate”, but also,  a man who “doesn’t know what he wants to do with his life.. sort of stalled, running in place”. You had “zero chemistry” with him, “he hardly wants to be intimate anymore”. And yet, you wrote: “He calms me down. Makes me feel safe”.

    Sept 2014– you shared that you decided to move out of your boyfriend’s apartment about 5 months earlier, that you feel like a fool for holding on so long to that relationship. “I do still love him. Even though I feel like an idiot saying so”, you wrote. At the time, you were still open to resuming the relationship and “work on us”, but so far he’s ignored my requests, yet he doesn’t want to stop talking to me and still sends me pics of beautiful sunsets and stuff he’s cooked that night, etc.”.

    You shared that you “have very low self-worth and confidence. Not sure why. Just have always felt like I don’t belong and have always felt like I’m not good enough”.

    You shared that you hated your supervisor at the time, for belittling, undermining you and making you feel small, trying to make you “feel worthless and incompetent on a daily basis”. She was “toxic and soul-sucking.. an emotional vampire”. You suspected she suffered from a Narcissistic and/ or Borderline Personality Disorder.

    October 2014– you shared that you indeed moved out of your boyfriend’s apartment months before, following a “steady 7-year relationship” because at almost 40, he refused to “talk about the future (marriage, kids, next week) or his excessive drinking or the fact that he hasn’t had a job in almost seven years and also has lost interest in being intimate or communicating about anything important”.

    You shared that you found out that he was going to visit a mutual female friend, your former college and post-college roomie, who “lives by the beach and her world revolves around fun and not looking towards the future”. Your former roomie, like your former boyfriend, still loved to drink, and “most of their sexual experiences with others has been while intoxicated… a lot of drunk one-night stands for both of them.. both have the mentality of ‘Oh well, I was drunk!’ when they do such acts”. You were concerned that they will drink and have sex, “Maybe they’re perfect for each other as they both don’t really talk about their feelings”, you added.

    June 2015– You shared that you were at the time “in a beautiful, inspiring, growth-based, creative job (I love it)”, that you were free from your previous supervisor’s tentacles, but still, you had “moments of anger or confusion: Why? Why do people get off on trying to tear others down.. And how can I move on, once and for all, from the memory of how she treated me and others?”

    Five years later, June 2020– you shared that you were engaged to “a kind, supportive, smart, funny, compassionate man.. handsome and communicative”, whose mother is just such a woman that you mentioned five years before, a woman who “gets off on trying to tear others down”, an “extremely toxic” woman, having “99% of the symptoms of someone with Narcissistic and Borderline Personality Disorder”, “extremely manipulative and everything needs to be about her. Otherwise she has tantrums or lashes out. It’s exhausting”.

    You expressed concern of being trapped in a marriage that includes her, that she will turn against you the moment you disagree with her, that she will harm your potential children; “Will her exhaustive nature haunt our marriage?… Should I just call the whole thing off?”

    You wrote in regard to his mother, and such mothers in general: “I do not believe that giving someone life and bringing them into existence allows you a free pass to run rampant over their emotions, verbally abuse them, and expect them to have total allegiance to you for the rest of their lives. What an awful arrangement”.

    You shared that your fiancé “has an unhealthy relationship with his mother.. he puts up with her behavior and her calling him ‘a garbage person’ when he doesn’t do what she wants”, that it pains you to “see him be verbally belittled so often”. He shared with you that “he was miserable at home and would have chest pains/ headaches/ panic attacks”, that his sister didnt have contact with their mother for years, and that you were “not sure if my fiancé will agree to no contact”. You also mentioned that he was attending therapy.

    Four months later, October 2020, you shared that your “life partner” decided early this year “to take a break from his mom.. step away from the relationship and cease contact with her”. As a result he is “lighter and more confident now that he doesn’t have his mother telling him repeatedly that he is worthless and incapable of achieving his dreams. He no longer has ‘dead voice’ or depressed episodes after engaging with her. It truly does seem like a weight has been lifted… He is healing. He is laughing more. We are both focusing on the loving family and friend relationships in our lives that nurture joy, happiness, acceptance”.

    She still “calls and texts him multiple times a day/ week and tries to convince him that he is nothing without her, but he does not pick up the phone”.

    * I would like to add comments to my summary Mon morning (in about 16 hours from now). If you would like to post before I return (or afterwards), please do.

    anita

    #367928
    Marie
    Participant

    Wow. Anita! Thank you so, so much for sharing this. It’s a very humbling summary. Sometimes I forget where I’ve been. It’s crazy to see the pressure points of my past laid out like this. I feel as if I’m slowly learning from these lessons. I admit I’m still a work-in-progress.

    I’m glad I decided to reach out to this community again, even though it has been a long, forgotten time. I’ve been thinking of this quote and how there have been people I have come across who build cages of fear, whether they mean to or not, and how I can learn from them — even if it’s just choosing a different path:

    “The small man builds cages for every man he knows while the sage who has to duck his head when the moon is low keeps dropping keys all night long to the beautiful, rowdy prisoners.” – Hafiz

    Still so much to reflect on.

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 11 months ago by Marie.
    #367950
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Marie:

    You are very welcome. I will now read my post to you from yesterday (the cleaned/ edited one) and comment. After that, I will comment on your most recent post.

    1. Seven years ago (Oct 2013), and six years ago (Oct 2014), you shared about your then boyfriend of seven years, with whom you were living, a man who did not want to talk to you about his feelings, or “the future (marriage, kids, next week) or his excessive drinking or the fact that he hasn’t had a job in almost seven years and also has lost interest in being intimate or communicating about anything important”, a man who is “sort of stalled, running in place” for so long– that he is “the sweetest person in the world.. funny, charming, considerate“.

    I trust the italicized description to be accurate to a very partial extent: he was probably sweet, funny, charming and considerate at times, maybe when he felt good, tipsy or whatnot, but not on a regular-enough basis to describe him as italicized. A man who will not talk about his feelings, or about anyone’s future- does not have the maturity/ mental health required to be consistently or adequately sweet, funny, charming, and/ or considerate. From what you shared about him, he was a troubled man, one not able to be adequately or regularly considerate of you or of himself.

    2. You wrote about the same man: “He calms me down. Makes me feel safe”- he lived off his savings and didn’t work for five years, and he didn’t want to talk about looking for a job- to feel safe with a man like this when considering marriage and children, means, in my mind, that either he had lots of savings, perhaps a family fortune that was available to him through a mutual trust, OR that the reason you felt safe with him is because there was no future with him, and that living day to day felt safe, to you.

    It may be that a talk about the future, about “marriage, kids, next week… anything important”, would have distressed you, and the fact that he didn’t want to talk about these things, was comforting to you.

    I imagine a woman who is very interested in a particular future would have been distressed, not comforted, living with a man who will not talk about that particular future.

    3. Four months ago, you shared about your fiancé. (I assume it is not the same man you shared about previously because you didn’t mention a man’s mother before, and it’s  been a few years since you posted about the other man. But I am not sure), that he is “a kind, supportive, smart, funny, compassionate man“.

    You shared about his mother that she is and has been, in her son’s life, “extremely toxic”, a woman with “99% of the symptoms of someone with Narcissistic and Borderline Personality Disorder”.

    – There is no doubt that a toxic mother poisons people (this is what “toxic” implies), particularly her children. There is no doubt that young children are severely and negatively affected by a mother who exhibits 99% of such personality disorders. And so, again, I doubt the accuracy of  the italicized description of this man.  He may be kind, supportive, smart, funny and compassionate sometimes, or most of the time- but he has to be also very troubled a lot of the time. His compassion has to be mixed with a heavy dose of guilt and distress, unfortunately.

    You wrote about his mother that she ran over her son/ your fiancé’s emotions, verbally abused him, and that she expects from him “total allegiance” to her for the rest of his life (“I do not believe that giving someone life…”).

    A boy who gets emotionally run over throughout his childhood cannot possibly grow up to be an emotionally healthy man, not without heavy duty professional psychotherapy and an ongoing emotional/ cognitive healing process over the period of a few years, at the least.

    Only four months ago, you wrote that it pains you to “see him be verbally belittled so often”- 4 months ago, she was still poisoning him. Yesterday you shared that he decided early this year “to take a break from his mom” and that as a result, he is “lighter and more confident now… He no longer has ‘dead voice’ or depressed episodes.. It truly does seem like a weight has been lifted.. He is healing”-

    – it will take much more time and lots of work in a professional setting for him to adequately heal. The fact that his mother still “calls and texts him multiple times a day/ week and tries to convince him that he is nothing without her”, and he hears her voice, emotions and words (even if he “does not pick up the phone”), is very concerning because her voice in itself is enough to activate the poison that she inserted into him for decades, a poison that is keeping him sick.

    She instilled in him for many years that she deserves his “total allegiance”- even though he is now taking somewhat of a break from her, that expectation of total-allegiance-for-life is still powerful, in his mind and heart.

    4. You shared in September 2014, six years ago: “I have very low self-worth and confidence. Not sure why. Just have always felt like I don’t belong and have always felt like I’m not good enough”-

    – I am guessing that you didn’t feel like you belonged in your home of origin (“have always felt like I don’t belong”), that you felt not good enough in the context of your childhood (“have always felt like I’m not good enough”), that the natural, beginning-life feeling of self-worth and confidence that all young children have- was taken away from you, perhaps not in the same, extreme behaviors practiced by your fiancé’s  mother, or by your previous supervisor (“toxic and soul-sucking.. an emotional vampire”), but in.. less extreme ways, maybe subtle, yet powerful ways.

    * In your most recent post, you wrote: “I’m still a work-in-progress… there have been people I have come across who build cages of fear, whether they mean to or not… Still so much to reflect  on”-

    – You are welcome to do more reflecting right here, in your thread, if you want to. You can reflect on the people you came across as a child, people who built cages of fear for you and placed you in those (whether they meant it or not).

    anita

     

     

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