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Dear Doctor,

I am Sreema from India. I was searching for dominating mother-in-law (MIL) when I came across your blog. I am in a big dilemma.. My mother-in-law is a very dominating person. SHe believes that her sons money and everything he has belongs to her. And I have seen that when my husband is with her or if I am away from him, he obeys her like a child does.

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She decides what he should do for me and my baby on our birthdays and anniversary. She even decides what type of clothes he should buy for me. When I was home for my delivery, i had to stay alternatively at her house. (My husband is working @ some other place very far from our native place and I went to our native place for delivery leaving him). All the time I went to her house she kept on talking about dowry "which others in her knowledge got or gave". We are from a different sect from hers. And we dont give dowry in terms of money but as property. She seemed to tell me indirectly that she doesnt want me to have a house, instead I should give money in her hands. But my parents said that she never mentioned such things before marriage, instead she said, "I dont want anything, i just want them to live happily".

Later i came to know that my husbands first wife divorced him because of the interference of his mother. Now i can really see why she left. My husband's first wife was actually my mother-in-laws neice. I was wondering that if her own neice couldnt tolerate her, how will i?

When i went there alternative weeks with my baby during my stay in my native place, she behaved as if she loves her neighbour's (her brother's) grandchild more than my baby. Even when we were there, she used to bring that baby every evening. I felt really hurt when she gave my babys dress to that baby, and when i found out that she was hiding my baby's toys so that she can give it to that child when we are gone. I told her that it wont be possible for me to stay every alternative weeks. I told her that my parents are dying to be with my baby and they dont have any other grandchildren like my MIL. Then she started crying and saying that how can we count on neighbours children. (THat she has to think and not me!).

My husband who was so sad to part with me when i was going home was not deciding on taking me back with him. Mummy (MIL) was finding some or the other reasons to keep me from going with him. She made him buy a car for her with 3/4th of his savings. And she was making more and more demands of money from him. I even felt that she has started giving my paralysed father in law things that should not be given. (Every system in his body is running with medicines and he has to follow a strict diet). BUt i felt that now, she is giving him things that is strictly a no-no for him. I could feel that she is in a hurry to step into my and my husband's life by finishing off her sick husband's affair. IT is becoz of him that she is still staying in the native place and not accompanying us. Somehow i insisted and succeeded in joining my husband.

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Now my husband got a job in a place more or less near to our native place. Now i feel really threatened. I am sure that once we are there mumy will start off again with her controlling. I am completely done with it and i cant take it anymore. BUt i know clearly that when we are there, my husband will again turn to be mummys boy. I got qualification to find a good job. It is my 11 month old baby that is keeping me from working.

There is a job oriented course related to my area of studies in somewhat far city from our native place which would help me earn a good job there. I have asked my parents to look after my baby for time being. (Still i know, if my baby is there, my MIL will try to take control of him). BUt still, i want to get a job and establish my own identity.

I am still worried and getting depressed bcoz... I am going to miss this sweet family life of mine.

I wanted to share with you so that.. you can help me out with some advice.. AM i doing the right thing?? WHat should i do? Please do help me with a reply.. SOrry to write so much..
THankx and regards\\
sreema R

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Dear Sreema--

This is a difficult question for me because your cultural background is so very different from mine. If you were sitting in my office, I could ask questions and so get a sense of how seriously you take the customs of your sect, how difficult you would find a divorce, and other such inquiries. Since you are not in my office, I have two choices. Either I can tell myself that I do not have enough information properly to respond to your entreaty ("What should I do? Please do help me with a reply."), and so leave you without advice, or I can tell you what I might recommend to a woman from a background more like my own. After some thought, strongly influenced by the suffering I hear in your letter, I have decided to reply. However, please take my words with a grain of salt; they might not apply to your own life situation in a constructive way.

That said, I think you should have a long talk with your husband. You should tell him that the present situation is intolerable, and that you refuse to accept it any longer. This conversation must not be an argument, but a calm explanation such as the one you have written to me. Don't demand anything. Instead simply insist that this way of life is no good for you, and that you do not intend to continue with it no matter what he says.

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Explain to him, as you did in your letter to me, that his previous wife was forced to leave him because she could not tolerate his mother's interference in their married life, and that you are well on your way to doing the same. Tell him that he now must make a choice. Either he can continue being mommy's good little boy, which includes allowing you to be insulted and mistreated by mommy, or he can grow up, be a man, and treat you as a real wife and partner, which means ignoring his mommy"s plans, schemes, demands, and dictates entirely. This will include explaining to her that you, not she, is his wife and life-partner, and that you, not she, will be the center of his life henceforth. He must be certain that this change in direction is explained to her in explicit and unmistakable fashion, and must absolutely not leave it to you to battle any longer with this shrewish virago of a mother-in-law. Make clear to him that your words constitue an ultimatum: If he does not immediately and fully change his ways, you will divorce him. If he does not immediately speak to mommy in no uncertain terms, you will divorce him. This must not be a threat, but an action which you fully intend to carry out unless everything changes right away. Then, if necessary, divorce him.

I understand that a divorce would be painful, but if you do not rectify this unworkable situation now, things will only get worse. As things stand now, your mother-in-law owns your husband's testicles, and if he does not get them back, your life will always be the kind of hell you have described in your letter.

That is my best advice, but it is the advice that I would give to a Western woman. You will have to decide how it fits into your Eastern life and customs.

Please let me know how this works out.

Be well.

p.s. You might also like to read Help! My Husband Is Totally Attached To His Mother.

Dear Doctor..
THank you so much for the reply.. Yes what you said is right.. Cultural difference does keep me from thinking of a divorce, for a second time. THat is totally impossible. But one thing is also clear to me.. I tried to talk to my husband in all ways possible.. and once he himself agreed that it is mother who is responsible for his cousin divorcing him. but that was only for once. He said his mother is like that but as long as his brother is in United States, when his mother becomes single, she is his sole responsibility. And he cannot throw her away anywhere as she is his mother. THe fact that hurts me more is that his mother loves her elder son more than my husband. He does not spend a penny on his parents, puts all the responsibility on my husbands shoulders.. But when it comes to the matter of owning the house, mummy wants to give it to her elder son. I am least bothered about all that matters. I have even said my husband that he should spend for his parents and finance them. But I can sense the difference mummy has for her two sons. She does not care to cook anything of my husband's choice when we are there. But when her elder son is there, she is trying all means to please him. One day she said that her elder son is not going to settle in States but will come after some 10-15 years. That means that until then I will have to put up with her.
My husband once said that his sister in law (brothers wife) said that even they were on the verge of divorce long before. She said that when my husband got divorced by his first wife. BUt it is mutual understanding that saved them from such a harsh decision. I know that his brother will come 10-15 years later only becoz he wants to keep his mummy at a distance. My husband does not understand anything. He always wants to be home, and be with his mummy. I know very well that mummy just want to exploit my husband. I got many clues to understand that she loves her elder son and does not have any sentiments for my husband.. But i dono why.. my husband is always trying to please her and get her attention and love. He thinks that by spending money on her and making her happy, she will love him more than his brother. He does not realise that she is exploiting him and his brother is exploiting all of them!
I am really sorry to talk this way.. but.. i wanted to share my worries.. I will surely consider your advice.. and once again give a try to talk to him when i get a chance to point him out how mummy is insulting me..
Thanks n regards

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