Dear Manay Gina,
I have a problem with my husband. He follows his mom more than me, sometimes. Recently, we were considering a career move that would have taken us hundreds of miles away from them. My mom-in-law laid him the guilt trip and told him:
“What’s really important to you, career or your family?” Well, it made the decision for us because my husband decided that we stay. My question is: How can I tactfully tell my mother-in-law to back off?
Asian societies historically emphasize selfless subordination to family and extended kinship. Furthermore, in the absence of economic prospects, parental inheritance remains a source of wealth for young people, especially sons.
Hence, parents have a great deal of influence on their married children.
It may sound old-fashioned to suggest that you must have a submissive attitude toward your mother-in-law, but it’s a biblical pattern. Ask God to give you patience and grace to respond lovingly in the face of her behavior. Who knows how God will use your gracious attitude in her life? This sounds like a weak response, but it takes a lot of strength to respond in a Christ-like way.
Meanwhile, build your teamwork with your husband so he gets accustomed to making decisions, big and small, with your good input. Maybe part of his problem is that he’s still learning how to work as a partner with you. You can’t do much about the mother-in-law, but you should do everything you can to be a solid teammate with your husband. As his comfort level grows, he will be more likely to make decisions that are informed by your input, not his mother’s.
“What then is freedom? The power to live as one wishes.” – Marcus Tullius Cicero
* * *
Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org