Disharmony between wife and parents

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I have been married three years ago. We(me & my wife) are from India and belong from different family backgrounds and economic status,she being the best out of the two.The problem started after my marriage when she started disliking my parents because of my mom. Somehow my mom’s behavior did not meet her expectations. She stopped talking to them and wanted me to do the same as well.

Her problem is,that she is very reticent. If her feelings are hurt she would prefer to stop communicating than to express her anger. Somehow I managed to bridge the gap between them however I was emotionally exhausted. Now she is angry at my brother because he asked certain unwanted questions. As expected,she snubbed all communication with my parents and my bro.They do not know what happened.

She expects me to shout at them for annoying her. I cannot do this because my parents are innocent. If my parents call me in her absence she believes that they try to pin me against her which is absolutely false. She has developed a negative image of them. Probably she is insecure as well because I left her for home when I was emotionally drenched. However I came back and we got married.

How to deal with this situation. I have explicitly told her that I will not abandon my parents. Although they are not financially dependent upon me however I will take care of them till their last breath.

A: You are right. For some reason, your wife is very insecure. Asking you to take sides and cutting off communication for real or imagined hurts is manipulative. Asking you to shout at people is asking you to be as immature as she is. She apparently doesn’t understand that she is creating exactly the situation she fears most: Her bahavior is making a gap between you that will be harder and harder to bridge. No one should ever be asked to choose between the people they love.

I wonder why your wife feels so threatened by your relationship with your parents. Does she, perhaps, not have an equally close relationship with her own parents? Does she feel that she needs to compete for your love? Since you are from different backgrounds, is it possible that she misunderstands your family’s ways and thinks they are being rude to her when they are only being themselves? Or has something happened in her life that makes her feel so unloved that she needs all of your love and attention to feel like she is getting enough? Does she feel she married beneath her and therefore needs you to reject your family in order to be equal to her?

Without more information, I’m afraid I can’t be very helpful. Perhaps you can take a big step back from the situation and analyze what motivates her to be this way. If you can understand her pain, you’ll be able to be more compassionate and you’ll be better able to address her needs. Instead of arguing with her, keep asking her, in the most loving way you can, why she doubts your love. Reassure her you have plenty of love to go around; that loving your family doesn’t diminish your ability to love her.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 24 Apr 2011

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2011). Disharmony between wife and parents. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 22, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/04/24/disharmony-between-wife-and-parents/