Fiance Won’t Go to Counseling

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

My fiance and I have been engaged for over a year. Our wedding was put off because his parents asked him to build a house for them 2 months before our wedding! They had a perfectly good house at the time they just wanted their dream house. Regardless, my fiance granted their wishes and the concrete was poured the day that we were to get married.

He is VERY dependent on his mother. He is 46 years old and she handles his finances for him. On Father’s Day, he and I hosted a Father’s Day dinner for both of our families and while she was here, did nothing but talk bad about my fiance behind his back, to his own daughter, no less. It broke his heart. She would constantly call after that saying that their house wasn’t being built fast enough when actually it went up in 4 months and this was a custom built home. I have avoided them because I do not I do not even know what our average electric bill is because she pays it.

When she says jump, he says how high? When she says squat, he says how low? I have always been very independent and managed my own finances and at 46 and 39 believe that we are old enough to be doing this ourselves. His response to this statement was “You can go get them from her if you want to.” Well, shouldn’t he be taking responsibility being that it is HIS mom that he gave the reigns to in the first place ??? I have asked that we go to counseling but he is refusing to go. What do I do ?

A: Your fiance seems to have a co-dependent relationship with his mother. At 46, he is unlikely to change it unless he is highly motivated to do so. Another factor is that your future father-in-law colludes with her. He doesn’t tell her to back off. He supports her in her demands to get the house up when she wants it and as fast as she wants it. He didn’t stop her from downgrading his son to his granddaughter. Your fiance seems to be following in his dad’s footsteps and doing whatever makes his mom happy. She has a very powerful position in this family.

The fact that he would postpone your marriage to build his parents a house is probably symbolic of how it will always be. Her demands come before his happiness – and yours. You don’t have an ally in your future father-in-law. Only you can decide if your fiance has enough of the other qualities you are looking for to make the terms of this relationship worth it. Maybe he does. He must be sweet indeed for you to have juggled this situation as long as you have.

I suppose you could sign on for a lifetime of competing with his mother but that usually ends badly. You could also try asking to take the reins of your fiance’s finances to see what happens. It’s just possible that she doesn’t think he can handle it and has been waiting for him to have a partner she could trust to take care of him. It’s not likely but it is possible. Your other choices are: — love him for his other qualities and join with him in keeping his mother comfortable or — leave and look for someone who wants you as his true partner in life.

It’s probably just as well that the wedding was postponed even though it was painful at the time. You have had the time to really consider what kind of life you will have if you do marry this man.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 3 Feb 2011

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2011). Fiance Won’t Go to Counseling. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 1, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/02/03/fiance-wont-go-to-counseling/