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KHA2012

ARE YOU REALLY TRYING TO MEND THINGS?

36 posts in this topic

I haven’t posted for a while since we have been on a TO with my MIL, after her trying to contact me with no avail she started to reach out to my DH (which she should have done in the first place) to “make things right” as she say and “do whatever it takes to have a relationship with our family”. I thought great! What lovely choice of words……that didn’t last long, I think 12 minutes into the emailing with his DM the swords came out and they were in the battle field. Pointing fingers and this and that!!! TOP ISSUES WITH HER ARE: does not show respect at all towards us as a couple, parents and individuals! Over steps boundaries and is difficult to pleased! …wait I take that back she would be pleased if I handed over my LO and DH to her and left the country! J However she expects respect at ALL TIMES, she feels she has a say in everything because she is GM and DS mom, does not feel that she has to check in with us regarding our LO, she should have the honor to do whatever she please with NO restrictions. When DH did express his concerns about why he has not had any communication with her and what he would need to change she tells him “I am not your child and his issues are insignificant” (steam came out of my ears) yet would continue in the same line on the page with “I just want to love my grandchild and have a relationship” not that I want to repair what I have don’t or I’m sorry you feel this way, I will work on it. She continued with “it’s your fault things are the way they are, you treat me like a bystander because you didn’t allow me to change his diaper, give me more time to visit him. When you did asked me to watch him while you and YOUR WIFE was going out you left me with 3 hours of play time before the kid would have gone to bed….not fair, I would have liked more time and I think my feelings are NORMAL, you have yet to accept my apology” ( I have no clue what apology she thinks she has said ….but we have searched text message, via emails and voice mails….none to be found. ) She also included comments about my DM that really pushed me over the edge, something to the effect of “how can you allow that a woman who is not even a relative to you be around my grandchild”… (Not trying to insult her) Maybe I am missing something but this doesn’t sound like a person who is trying to make a mends?

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She also included comments about my DM that really pushed me over the edge, something to the effect of “how can you allow that a woman who is not even a relative to you be around my grandchild”…

Just to clarify - does DM here indicate YOUR MOTHER? As in "Dear Mother"? If so, my answer is going to be a big whopping NO on the making amends part. I'm going to venture to say that maybe she thought that after the time out things would go back to "normal" rather than "new normal". Meaning - she expected everything to go back to the way things were before rather than you expecting her to make any changes, vocalize her apologies etc. You will have to make it clear that things are going to be very different (if you haven't already)

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Yes, she was speaking of my mother and you are correct that is exactly what she wanted to do, let’s forget all the hurt and keep moving. I thought to myself that is not healthy for any relationship. Issues that are becoming a big problem needs to be address and changes need to be made and DH made that clear, I was very happy with him doing that. i just think after reading the whole emails that she came off feeling that even though she has an adult son that she should still have the final say in things and that decision should be between her and my DH or with me and her....not me and DH??? also the insulting his feelings and concerns, because you can simply express your hurt without being insulting and the fact that is was thru email, had me thinking "did you not read over what you sent...or did you not care." her "(Imaginary) right" appears to be more important than working things out is what i got from it.

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It seems there is a lot going on here and that if I'm understanding correctly - she's not assuming any responsibility for her part in it. I'm still dumbfounded by her comment about YOUR mom not being a relative - I'm assuming that she was talking to your DH and indicating that she wasn't HIS relative but even still - is there some reason why your mother wouldn't be around your child that I'm missing or is this her particular brand of cray cray? Otherwise - wouldn't that particular playing field - Grandmother to Grandmother usually be pretty even? Why on earth would she be surprised or making comments about him allowing the other grandmother to see a shared grandchild unless....the time out didn't make it's point at all. I think that you are correct in thinking that she didn't get the point of the TO - and it may just get worse. If she's already getting upset about your mother seeing your child and keeping score that vocally after one conversation. You said it yourself - her imaginary right is more important than working things out.

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It seems to me that she doesn't understand that

TOP ISSUES WITH HER ARE: does not show respect at all towards us as a couple, parents and individuals! Over steps boundaries and is difficult to pleased! …wait I take that back she would be pleased if I handed over my LO and DH to her and left the country! J However she expects respect at ALL TIMES, she feels she has a say in everything because she is GM and DS mom, does not feel that she has to check in with us regarding our LO, she should have the honor to do whatever she please with NO restrictions. When DH did express his concerns about why he has not had any communication with her and what he would need to change she tells him “I am not your child and his issues are insignificant”

Is completely incompatible with:

“I just want to love my grandchild and have a relationship” not that I want to repair what I have don’t or I’m sorry you feel this way, I will work on it.

And I don't really see how you can be expected to "make" her realize that, nor do I think it's reasonable to expect you to maintain a relationship with her, and certainly not your LO if she does not respect your rules. I guess it's back into a TO with her while she thinks a little more about whether she wants the first thing ("respect" no rules, etc) or the second thing (love, a relationship) more. Ultimately it's up to her.

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Its hard for people who aren't control freaks to realize how important controlling other people is for people like this MIL. And if she can't control her adult son, who can this sad sack expect to control? Understand she does not see you as an equal. She believes in her heart that DH and you are below her and must defer to her authority. She is frustrated that her superiority and social status above you isn't properly recognized. She's disgusted that DH isn't behaving as one who knows his place is beneath her. She's insulted when she's reminded that DH considers you, his lowly wife and lowly mother of his child, before he considers her. She can't believe how her ungrateful disrespectful son has the nerve not to make His Mother's demands a priority above HIS WIFE. MIL writes these letters not to have a "relationship" on the terms of that you imagine (as adults, as equals, as LO's parents, respect runs both ways) but to have the "relationship" she feels entitled to (she's in charge, she controls, she comes first, respect flows only to her). You're speaking two different languages. Allow me to translate:

"Make things right" means Things are only right when I'm in charge. Just let me wrangle my way to be in charge of you and I will stop having to argue with you about getting control.

"Do whatever it takes to have a relationship with our family" means Do whatever it takes to have the control of your family I deserve.

"I am not your child and his issues are insignificant" means you are my child, you are A child, as my son you should be the one doing as I say not the other way around. Your issues are insignicant compared to my wants as your Mother. Your so-called concerns are merely whims that should not interfere with my Rights.

"Respect" means Obedience, deference, subservience, indulgence.

“I just want to love my grandchild and have a relationship" means I just want to control your child and make decisions for him as I see fit and you won't let me have that relationship.

"your fault things are the way they are, you treat me like a bystander because you didn’t allow me to change his diaper..." means Its your fault for refusing to acknowledge my position as above you or at the least as a co-parent to LO

"...give me more time to visit him." means Its your fault due to your failure to recognize your wishes must automatically be subjugated in favor of mine

"When you did asked me to watch him while you and YOUR WIFE was going out you left me with 3 hours of play time before the kid would have gone to bed….not fair," means Any time you and YOUR WIFE THAT WOMAN WHO DIDN"T EVEN GIVE BIRTH TO YOU AS I DID fail to give me what I want as much as I want it's not fair because naturally it is only fair for me to be entitled to have whatever I want for as long as I want.

"I would have liked more time and I think my feelings are NORMAL, you have yet to accept my apology" means My feelings are very important and every one must be expressed to you and indulged so if I want more and I am mad I don't get more then I get to throw up my bad feelings all over you and it's your job to clean them up

"how can you allow that a woman who is not even a relative to you be around my grandchild" means How dare you treat yet another female rival, YOUR WIFE'S mother, as if that woman is of any importance to my grandchild, the child I have marked as my territory. Son, you gave that lady something of mine to play with, how dare you, Wahhhhh.

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WWU i have to admit i find it comical how you translate, yet true… i immediately starting laughing! Thanks for thanks :)

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Blue eye girl ” is there some reason why your mother wouldn't be around your child that I'm missing or is this particular brand of cray cray?” Not at all my mother stays pretty much to herself, doing her own thing. She rarely says anything about our parenting or our marriage. So yes she is cray cray J

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Blue eye girl ” is there some reason why your mother wouldn't be around your child that I'm missing or is this particular brand of cray cray?” Not at all my mother stays pretty much to herself, doing her own thing. She rarely says anything about our parenting or our marriage. So yes she is cray cray J

That's what I figured - just wanted to cover all of the bases ;-)

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So MIL is not only back on TO but I'm assuming (hoping) that you and DH decided to extend the TO because of her further disrespect, right?

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KHA, I'm so sorry you and DH are having to deal with this but I'm very glad to see that you're on the same page! Unfortunately. there are a lot of moms/MILs, I think who have trouble accepting that they now have to follow their adult DS' or DD's rules (or those made with DIL or SIL), after all those years of being "the parent"/ the one "in charge" (or in-charge-along-with-the dad/FIL). This is especially true, IMO, if they didn't begin letting go when their kids first became adults or, even better, a little bit in their teens. That is where the "I'm not your child," comes from, I believe. MIL not only isn't getting that she needs to respect your and DH's wishes as parents, etc. but also, she's failing to see that this is about respect between adults, at all! She's taking it as if DH is treating her like a child - and trying, as WWU suggests, to establish the idea that, no, in fact, DH is still "the child" (and you, too, by extension).

A part of me almost feels sorry for her. She really "doesn't get it," IMO and probably can't understand what's happening. But another part of me is irritated with her for not, apparently, even trying to let go of DH sooner or to see your and his POV. She may be able to, eventually, but I'm afraid it's going to take a long time. B/c though I said I think a lot of moms/parents have this problem, she seems, I'm afraid, to be more wedded to her POV than most. And the fact that she doesn't see that your DM is as important a part of your family's life as DH's DM (her) and "as related" to LO as she is - all that tells me her thiking on these issues is really skewered. I wouldn't be cmfortable about having her around LO!

So, like PPs, I'm afraid I'm hoping MIL is back in TO. Perhaps - hopefully - as Eowyn suggests, if she "thinks a little more" about the problem, she'll begin to see what she needs to change and be willing to do so.

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A part of me almost feels sorry for her. She really "doesn't get it," IMO and probably can't understand what's happening.

I no longer feel sorry for most of the older moms who "don't get it" when they've been repeatedly told how things actually are. They "don't get it" because they don't WANT to "get it." If that sounds harsh and condemning, well, then that's what it is. Such a lack of introspection, humility, respect, and a whole raft of other qualities necessary to form functioning relationships during adulthood-- that lack is entirely of their own doing, and completely under their own control.

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Unfortunatelly some mothers in some cultures think that their sons are theirs forever even when they meet and marry someone. The women they marry sometimes have no idea what the relationship is with the son and his mother and how involved he has allowed her to be in his life. When he gets married then there is another person involved who doesn't know the history of their relationship. Men don't want to get involved with all the stuff that the women are hurt or upset about, they just want it to go away or fix itself and that isn't realistic. He should be talking to his mother telling her specifically what he feels the issues are, just the two of them, cause she isn't going to listen to anything anybody else has to say....it is between the two of them. The husband and the wife, need to discuss what their expectations are and then he takes that to his mother....I know people will not agree with me but if the H & W go together, she will be ganged up on and honestly her relationship and history is with her son.....the other thing is, in some of our lives we are dealing with people of a different generation, depending on how old the H&W are....people 70 and above lived a different life, women were seen and not heard and did what the man either their father or husband told them to do, they didn't have DL or write checks, they made dinner and cleaned.

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Blondie I am totally excited to see you on here. Seriously not kidding. I agree that when both go it is easy to make the MIL feel ganged up on. I think some people do it as a show of solidarity. I also think some go because they are afraid their DH will say the wrong thing, whether that mean throwing DW "under the bus" or agreeing to something the DIL is NOT okay with. I also think some women unfortunately will try to manipulate and it is easier to do that with their sons alone. Some will badmouth the DIL if she isn't there. (That was my MIL's favorite hobby. Luckily DH learned how to more effectively defend me.) However, that is when it is the son's job to stand up to his mom.

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At one time I use to feel that way, that we both should go together, because my MIL would want to sit down with each of us separately, (I remember one time when me and DH was dating NOT even engaged or married yet, ) she called to have a sit down with me about something and from then on she felt she should be able to handle each situation or issues she has with us personally. The only thing is she would blame him to me and me to him when we would have these sit down, or attempt to get us to turn on each other and that’s when DH said we should go together or like you mention we would talk about what we felt needed to be address and he would talk with her alone…sadly that too didn’t go well she would go and be theatrical! run up stairs, say he doesn’t love her, say this is not the way you feel, it’s her (his wife…me) that is feeding him this. Etc…. however after reading several posts about that topic I still feel it should be between him and her. If he doesn’t want to I will not fight him, or suggest otherwise.

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KHA, is MIL married? We found all talks went best with MIL and FIL present along with DH and myself present. MIL and DH do most of the talking and FIL is MILs anchor to rein it in, while I anchor DH. It did stop a lot of the theatrics and crying and also provided witnesses (she had a history of claiming neither DH nor I told her something or claiming she didn't say that really offensive thing.) And it prevented that gang up dynamic if it was just DH and I talking to MIL. Now granted, we still aren't at the point that we can talk about some of the heavier stuff that needs to be discussed, but baby steps.

It was interesting to find out that FIL did not know how MIL was behaving or the emails she was sending. His involvement has really put a lid on a lot of the more dramatic stuff.

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Blondie - while I do agree with you that if the two go together, the MIL can feel like they are ganging up on her, I do think that generalizing about people of different age groups is not a good idea. It is wrong to say that all women over the age of 70 behave as you stated in your post, just as it is wrong to say all teenagers are lazy. It is giving an excuse for poor behavior in my opinion.

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Tinker1 ...no she is not married

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KHA, with not being married and some of the information in your original post, I have to wonder if MIL got into a bad habit of revolving her world around your DH. And is now trying to do it with your children.

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Tinker, you may be right. I will admit I allowed some of the things she would do go without addressing them, like some comments and actions, because she was his mother when it was just DH and I before the baby. However once becoming a parent myself, I just wasn’t able to suck down a lot of the things she thought she could do when it came to our LO. Recently DH brought that to her attention that she needs to learn her role as a GP and not think she is LO parent. Her reasoning was that we should finally be happy that she is not on our backs bothering us about our personal life anymore? To me that makes no sense if I did not like you in my personal like, telling how I should dress, how I should cook etc…why would you think I would be ok with you taking over my LO! But I guess there are some things I just won’t understand. For the past few weeks she has not made any contact with me, she is no longer able to contact me via phone J and life has been quiet pleasant. ALL communication goes thru DH, and he himself has kept her at arm’s length as well.

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I'm glad things are going better for you, KHA. I'm sorry that MIL had to be pushed away from you, this way, but clearly, she brought it on herself. Hopefully, in time, she'll begin to realize what needs to change - I hope so for her sake, as well as yours and DH's. But... sigh... I wouldn't hold my breath

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I got this from controlfreak dot net.

"...Everything they achieve now comes from control and the longer they’ve being doing this the less they can remember how other people do things. They’ve lost that fluidity, lost that spontaneity, lost that inner spark and most of all lost the ability to grow. With a personality now defined by the world they’ve defined they don’t stand a chance.

Of course the natural reaction of a control freak is to try and control this new environment too. But this never works, no matter how hard they try, because they’re not embedded in the new environment enough to do that. So their efforts get undone, diluted and lost. Not only that, but attempts at control from a distance stand out and they get spotted for what they are and so a natural resistance builds up. Even worse, they are bound to have made enemies on the way that are unpredictable wildcards.

So we end up in a position where the walls the control freak builds to control the world within now work just as effectively to trap them inside. They can’t get out without letting the walls down and they can’t let the walls down without dropping the control and they can’t drop the control. They’re trapped and by being trapped they can’t reinvent themselves and can’t rejuvenate, which is where the rot sets in..."

This makes sense. An adult woman has struggled much of her life to create an environment where she controls everything and everyone. She gets it the way she likes it; everyone knows their roles, everything is set up just so; she's gotten to the point where all she has to do is maintain status quo. Life is good.

Then an adult child marries or a grandchild is born. There's a new household, new family that belongs to her, and she knows just how she wants to have it annexed into her life. It never occurs to her that this new household and family isn't an interest dividend on her investment. This is her pay off for having controlled everything so well. There's more to control.

But this new household and family is a new environment, with strangers who don't know their roles. And possibly one of her possessions/people changes to accommodate the strangers and the new environment. She moves into the new environment and tries to control, but is thwarted. There are new rules, and those rules are knocking holes in her perfect environment and undermining her efforts. She's not embedded. She's an outsider trying to control. So she tries invading; and if she's frustrated, she tries to control from a distance--and by using other family members. The strangers see right off what they are doing, they are and always have been outside her authority. So the son or daughter in law becomes an enemy.

If they bend and loosen the control in the new household and family, they fear all the controls will be loosened throughout all aspects in their lives. If child#1 gets away, what will happen to child#2 and #3 and if they escape, what about her husband, and if the 'annexable household' isn't run her way, then maybe her the contamination will spread to her household and her household won't be run her way. And then all chaos will ensue and she will be blamed and will suffer criticism.

Control freaks fear critism and inadequacy. They have boundary issues, sure that everything is a chain reaction. They often come from highly chaotic and judgmental families, and have usually suffered great shame in mid childhood. They use perfectionism and control to build walls to keep chaos and critism out, and are ruthless about stamping out chaos and critism within their walls. And then they can rest and finally feel safe and proud of themselves.

When the disruption comes, the new family which should be their reward for all their good work, like the apples on their trees, or the equity in their houses, breaks away, and they feel just as you would if your tax refund was cashed by the people across the street. This is yours! Something was stolen from you. And worse: it's not just money, to get your tax refund the guy across the street must have stolen your identity, your personal information, and who knows what's he going to do with it? It's out of your control now: he can open credit cards in your name, take out loans and mortgages, ruin your credit. You are going to be left with legal trouble, debt, homeless, perhaps criminal charges.

Well, when the DIL or SonIL comes on the scene, takes the bio-child, and produces an increase (the grandchild)--and somehow manages to slip away; the control freak feels just as you would if you learned someone else had stolen your personal information and taken your tax refund and is now running amuck at your expense.

You have no idea where this will all end: will they move away? Will the holidays the woman has taken years to perfect be destroyed? Will her expected profit and lifetime payoff be stolen from her by this...this stranger who if she or he cannot be controled represents all the people who shamed and criticized and inflicted chaos on her when she was at her most vulnerable and dependent as a child. Will those days come back? Will she be plunged back into chaos and loss and critism and helplessness and dependency?

These control freak women know they have no power, they know their own helplessness in the face of chaos and critism. And they know something else: they know how to protect themselves from this catastrophic disaster: they've done it before. They built their kingdom carefully, they used their strong will and uncompromising personality and bullying before and succeeded in making their world safe and productive and something to be proud of. So they throw themselves into it with a vengeance...

...and get told to back off, stop it, 'respect' the enemy stranger who destroyed their beautiful world, their future dreams, their safety. They find walls built locking them away from their own property. They are told to let someone else take control: the stranger/enemy; the child they raised who betrayed them by aligning with the enemy and who is now an unpredictable wildcard.

How would you feel if you marched across the street to get your tax refund check back from the thieving neighbor, only to be told: "Hey, have a heart, be charitable, it's ours now"? And how much worse would you feel if a member of your own family whom you thought you could trust said, "Ah, let them have it, they actually have more right to it than you." And then to hear from the across the street neighbor and your own child: "Trust us. This is the right thing to do".

You'd never understand, NEVER, that's YOURS! It's YOUR tax refund. Yours!!! The outrage and indignation becomes obsessive.

Remember--The last time they let someone else take control was when they were a minor, subject to the unpredicatable chaos and blame of their family. If they can take your tax refund and the world lets them, your own CHILD lets them, where will it end? Will the neighbor take your pension? Your social security check? Your car? Your house?

As long as you don't understand why they get your tax refund, you can't trust that they won't take your pension and SS check. Worse yet, you look around and everyone else seems to be able to keep their tax refunds (all the other grandmas get to be in the L&D room, get to visit for 3 weeks at a time, get to babysit, get to have holidays at their house....). You DON'T understand.

It's so clear to you that's YOUR tax refund check, it's so clear to you underhanded shenanigans are going on (just like the last time you weren't in control back when you were 8 and your parents were screwing up their lives and blaming you and there was perhaps dynamics so shameful and so dysfunctional that your basic needs weren't met). How come nobody else can see it? How come nobody else understands this is YOUR tax refund.

And if you hear one more time, "Let it go, this is the right thing, why are you so stubborn and selfish." you are going to lose your mind. To you it's insanity.

And finally someone actually has the nerve to tell you that you, YOU, need to go to a therapist, YOU are the one who is wrong, YOU, the one whose tax refund is in the bank account of the person across the street.

You won't go. You spent most of your childhood being blamed for things that you had no control over and weren't your fault. And you are NOT going to let THAT happen again.

It's not until you actually do lose your pension and your social security check and your car, and you find out you are unable to rebuild those walls to keep the insanity out and encase YOUR possessions safely within, that maybe...maybe you go to counseling. There's nothing else to try.

So you go. But for counseling to work, you have to let go of control, lower walls, allow vulnerability, FEEL shame and fear and inadequacy. And often they can't. They would rather sit alone with what they can salvage and completely control, than risk what

they believe will end up being everything. Sometimes they are so battered by the dismantling of their perfect world that they will listen to the explanation of why their tax refund actually does belong to the neighbor. They can learn why the neighbor gets the tax refund but not the pension. They can trust that they have the tools to keeps chaos and total devastation at bay. They can learn that they are safe even as life changes; change can be for good as well as bad.

Maybe they don't like the reason the neighbor got the tax refund (for an unpaid neighborhood assessment, he's head of homeowner association), but they understand that it's not chaos, and not the beginning of the end. And once they understand that, they don't have to agree or like it, but once they understand it, they can handle it in a more healthy manner.

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Understanding doesn't mean you have to accept unacceptable behavior.

Understanding means you can let go of the nonproductive anger inside of YOU, and deal with the symptoms and make firm boundaries with compassion. Understanding means you know you cannot change them with 'sit downs' and letters, and so you just do what you need to do to protect your own happiness and let them manage their control freakiness themselves without trying to effect the outcome (because you cannot--the problem is way too deeply rooted).

Understanding won't help them; but it will help you.

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Got an opinion on this topic? Why not join in and post?

Come on in! :)

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I'm glad you bumped this up, Rose, I had somehow missed Ginnie's reply.

As I read the posts in this forum, I'm frequently doing self-checks: "Do I do that? Would I do that? Am I capable of doing that?"

Control-freakiness is a term I've heard bandied about since I was a teen. "OMG, I had to sneak out of the house wearing jeans because mom thinks they look like they're spray-painted on and she was going to make me take them off. What a control freak!"

I know I can be a control freak at times-- definitely at work (where, IMO, an element is needed, although not to tge point of micromanagement). I'm not with family, but with my DH I can be, mostly when it comes to his family, now that I'm reviewing things. (to be fair, he's a control freak when it comes to social outings and excursions. And some of the house maintenance.)

But I wonder if that control-freakiness isn't a sort of reaction, too, to my MIL's and SILs' controllingness...There were a lot of peculiarly forced group activities, early on.

In a moment of revelation.... It could be that my DH's reflex to hand over control to his mother and sisters, isn't a sort of control-freakiness, too. His form of control, is to attempt to control me into giving up all reasonable control over my own person, too, and do whatever they tell us they want us to do.

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