My husband & I live with his parents & our life is controlled very much by his parents. He is extremely close to his family & won’t take any decisions unless it is approved by his parents. He is also very close to his unmarried brother, both my husband & his brother are the stereotypical mama’s boy’s. My in laws have a hard time letting the kids go on & lead their own lives i.e they are control freaks & want to administer every aspect of their lives. Frankly it’s getting very very annoying, I feel like me & husband are not a family any longer, I feel like I got into a package deal, my husband only comes with his family, he won’t even move 15 miles farther away from his family. I come from a tight knit family as well but it’s not so tight that we suffocate each other, frankly this family is overbearing & I feel suffocated… I really can’t take it anymore, how can I get my husband to believe that we need to lead our own lives as a married couple? Please help, please
A: This is a very difficult situation. At 31, it’s certainly time to develop a life independent from the parent generation. On the other hand, you don’t want to ask your husband to choose between you and his folks. He can’t do that without resenting you.
When parents and adult children live together, it’s very difficult to resist the pull to old roles. I don’t have enough information to know if his parents are “control freaks.” It may be that they, and your husband and his brother, have reverted back to the way they operated as a family when the boys were teens. They all see nothing wrong with it because it is so familiar. Further, if you are financially dependent on the older generation, they may feel they have a right to some say in how you are managing your lives and your husband may agree with them.
Please do consider whether the reasons you moved in with his parents are still good ones. If you need to stay there, see if you can talk with your husband about how to have some time for just the two of you so you can be an adult couple together. Maybe you want to eat separately or spend evenings in your own space instead of with the folks.
Find ways to make contributions to the household so that you aren’t living there like kids. If you can’t pay rent, you and your husband can contribute by doing heavy chores and regular house cleaning. Doing such things without being asked demonstrates maturity and appreciation and is likely to get you further than having a confrontation. Do start making plans for when you will move out. Having an end date can keep little annoyances from growing into big resentments.
Start a serious savings program so that you can afford a place of your own. Limit your spending. Take second jobs or do things like babysitting and yardwork for the neighbors. Work for your independence and you can make it a reality. You may find that once you are back in your own place at least some of these problems evaporate on their own.
Meanwhile, do your best to cope. You want to keep things as pleasant as possible so that you can have a friendly relationship with your in-laws once you move out and move on. Your husband will thank you for it.
I wish you well.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 2 Sep 2011
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2011). Husband controlled by his parents. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 20, 2013, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/09/02/husband-controlled-by-his-parents/