Tuesday, November 30, 2010

My wife and mom don't get along... and now we have a baby on the way! How do I deal?

Question:  My wife and mother had a falling out last year.  I’ll spare you with the details, but for the past year, my wife has been avoiding all family functions that take place at my mother’s house.  She doesn’t speak to my mother let alone see her  - all of which is intentional.  My mother brushes it off as if she doesn’t care.  We are expecting our first child together and my wife is in her eighth month of pregnancy.  During this whole pregnancy, my mother has not seen my wife once.  Both of them are too stubborn and apologize to one another.  Our baby is due in January and I would really hate to bring our new baby into this world when there’s so much friction between my wife and my mother.  What should I do? (Seattle, WA)

Social Shrink:  Listen, you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family.  Your mother is your mother, and your wife has to accept that you will not choose sides in this case – it’s just wrong.  You are stuck between a rock and a hard place and while it’s not the best position to be in, there are ways you can approach this situation.  While your family doesn’t need to become the Brady Bunch, everyone can still learn to respect one another.

If neither women have extended an olive branch to each other, and they both know how upset it makes you that they are fighting (and yet still not doing anything about it), it is time to for all three of you to focus on the big picture – the newborn baby.   Your wife and mother may not become best friends running around arm-in-arm, but they can at least take the first steps of being around each other in a civil and respectful manner.  Rather than making your wife feel like she needs to go to your mother’s house, bring the two women to a neutral place such as a restaurant or coffee shop.  They don’t even need to talk to each other – the fact that they are making the first steps to being in the same room is  a start.

Do this all before the baby is due so that once your wife goes into labor at the hospital, you are able to bring this newborn baby into the world with no drama.  The baby symbolizes a new beginning and fresh start, so have your wife and mother put all differences aside and do it for that reason alone, if nothing else.  In the end, have your whole family embrace this new bundle of joy and come together to ensure that it feels nothing but love and drama-free!

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