Respecting Boundaries

By Mindie Barnett

Wellness coach, author, and speaker Mindie Barnett answers your questions about life, navigating these stressful and uncertain times, and steering you down a more straight forward path. We welcome your questions and invite you to contact Mindie at:  mindiesmusings1@gmail.com

Mindie is available for in-person and virtual wellness therapy sessions via her Executive Health by Mindie Barnett wellness coaching practice. Her expertise is in interpersonal relationships, overcoming depression, coping with anxiety and avoiding and overcoming burnout among many other wellness areas. Life coaching and career coaching are also areas she excels in. For more information or to schedule a session
visit mbexecutivehealth.com

Dear Mindie,

I just got married and my mother-in-law is driving me crazy. I don’t know how to handle her, and my husband Is not being supportive of my feelings and doing his best to avoid the issue altogether. The main point of conflict is her lack of boundaries. We live in neighboring towns, and she tends to stop over anytime she pleases, often unannounced and is creating a lot of upset for me. I love my husband and we just started our new life together, but I don’t want to resent him because of his mother and eventually dismantle our marriage. Please help!

Angry Bird

Dear Angry Bird, 

I feel for you! First, you need to have an honest conversation with your husband. Rather than accusing his mother of her disregard of boundaries and/or his lack of supporting you in handling his mother, focus on your feelings. How does his lack of involvement make you feel? How does his mother’s unannounced visits make you feel? Focusing on your feelings and conveying your emotional state to your husband rather than from a place of argumentative criticism (even though it sounds like it may be very warranted!) will be much better received and likely yield a more productive outcome with solutions you can tackle as a team.

The key factor is that you and your husband are and remain a team. Whether dealing with his overbearing mother or another issue, you need to support one another and do your best to see issues from the other’s perspective. Regarding this situation, while I am sure it’s especially frustrating to watch your husband witness your upset and remain a spectator, try and put yourself in his shoes. I would imagine if his mom were this intrusive even though he’s now married, she has likely always behaved this way so it may be difficult for your husband to now confront her, when he may never have had the ability to do so before.

In addition, he may be accustomed to her personality and behavior patterns so her consistent presence and lack of boundaries may not even phase him.

That is something you need to explore either as a couple or in couple’s therapy. (Which is not only for couples in crisis!) Having an ongoing relationship with a therapist, even for just a monthly “check-in,” is a very smart way to maintain a healthy marriage. As mental health wellness coach, I always advocate for couples to seek an outside source to weigh in on even the most mundane of issues. Talking things through in a safe place, in a nonconfrontational way and with a therapist who is neutral and has the integrity of the relationship at heart is one of the surest ways to maintain harmony at home. It’s also a way to stop conflict and potential bombshells in their tracks before little bumps in the road turn into unmovable mountains.

Best of luck and I hope you become a hummingbird in no time!