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Should I kick out my wife’s mum to save our marriage?

Monday September 19 2016

Couples disagree with each other. Your being together must be the result of some bond that you both enjoy.  FILE PHOTO

Couples disagree with each other. Your being together must be the result of some bond that you both enjoy. FILE PHOTO 

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Hi Philip,

We got married five years ago and have a three-year-old baby. All of a sudden, my wife has become moody and chosen to sleep with her mother in our other bedroom. Her mother now lives with us after my father-in-law died a year ago. Most times when I get home, she refuses to serve me or eat with me. However, I find the food prepared. My concern is that she quit her job and now spends too much time with her mother and the baby, neglecting me. I feel so alone. Do I ask my mother-in-law to leave so that I can save our marriage? We were very happy together for the first four years – until my mother-in-law moved in with us about a year ago. Now we do very little together and I feel we are drifting apart.


Some issues that stand out from your e-mail need consideration. The first one is your wife’s moodiness. I feel there is something bothering her but my views concerning what might be causing the moodiness could be totally off the mark. I would suggest that you take time off with your wife and discuss this issue.

I believe your mother in-law can take care of the baby while you are away. Be gentle and affirming in your effort to seek disclosure regarding what might be troubling her.

The second issue is the fact that your mother in-law moved in with you after her husband’s death. You have two grieving women in your house. While your father in-law might be dead and buried, you can never put a time limit to grieving. Maybe your wife is trying her best to help her grieving mother. I suggest that during your time away, you make this the second issue to talk about.

Show empathy and exercise wisdom when you raise the issue. Don’t look like all you want is to have her move back into your bedroom. Be assuring and caring. Show her that you care about what she cares about. The third issue is the fact that your wife left her job. I am not sure why she did that. Could all these things be related? Could she have left her job to care for her mother?

Was she also grieving to the extent that it affected her work and thus ended up losing her job? I really don’t know. I can only guess that if you follow these threads, they could just lead you to one place, the place that is causing the current shake-up in your relationship.

Finally is the amount of time she spends with her mother in comparison to the time spent she spends with you. It is said that birds of a feather flock together. Maybe these two women currently find security and strength in each other because of a common issue they are facing, or have a certain level of co-dependency. Whatever the case, I feel that outing with your wife is long overdue before you think of sending your mother in-law away.

I have been in a relationship — not for a very long time — but I am very serious about it. I don’t know about him. Although I do love him, I have a problem. For some time now he has changed and is different from the person he was before; he argues a lot more than he used to. I am not sure whether he loves me the way I love him. Am I missing something? How can a person change so radically? We hardly talk these days. And when he talks, he claims he is okay with me, but there is nothing to support these claims. What do I do?


Relationships are not easy to manage. A friend once told me that managing people is extremely difficult. This is especially true when those you are managing or relating to are close to you. Relationships can bring the greatest blessings, but they can also wound deeply. Knowing this helps one determine the way the relationship will be managed.

Those who enter into relationships do so for a variety of reasons. Secondly, those who stay connected in a certain relationship know exactly why they are, and continue to stay, connected in that relationship. Many of those who get out of relationships also know why they opt out instead of staying.

From what you have shared, there seems to be enough information to help you make a decision. We don’t just become unhappy about someone. You have related for a while and I believe from your time together, you have collected enough information to help you make an honest evaluation of the relationship. All relationships accumulate what is known as their “history”.

This history helps paint a positive or negative picture of the progress of the relationship.

First, your being together must be evaluated by asking certain key questions: are we growing and seeing progress in our relationship? If so, what kind of growth is there and how does it affect our relationship?

Growing relationships involve a couple that finds pleasure in each other. In addition, such a relationship displays a certain level of maturity in the way the two relate. There must be a demonstration of intimacy, good listening, mutual respect and mutual submission, among others signs.

When you evaluate yourself against these factors, you will know whether you are wasting your time or not. From where I stand, I would be surprised if you are still in the relationship because there is growth.

Secondly, your being together must be the result of some bond that you both enjoy. So my questions would be: what issues bind us together? What makes me feel that I belong here? You see, the feeling of belonging comes from a bond in which you feel valued, respected, honoured, and supported. When you stick in a relationship for the wrong reasons, you only get hurt as a result of these bad choices.

Be honest with yourself and ask whether you feel valued, respected, and important? Are your views valued and respected? For him to say he is okay with you does not communicate much.

Third, People don’t just change suddenly. The fact that he argues with you a lot and at times goes quiet on you should raise red flags. A mature relationship must advance towards solving the individual partners’ own relational issues without degrading their partner or casting aspersions on them.

In relationships, partners need to look for consistency. Every person must consider consistency a long-term relationship indicator. I might not know what happened to your man to cause his erratic behaviour towards you.

What consistency tells you is, “I know that my man loves me and I can count on his love. I can predict where we are headed.” The issue here is whether there is anything in your relationship that can make you feel that he is consistent in his behaviour and actions towards you. This will make you know whether or not you can depend on him.

Finally, staying or moving out is your choice, based on what makes the most sense. If you feel that something is not right in your relationship, think through these issues and ask yourself whether staying will add value to what you want to become.