Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Life...in general => Topic started by: White Dragon on February 26, 2013, 07:26:32 PM

Title: Helping a young couple draw boundaries
Post by: White Dragon on February 26, 2013, 07:26:32 PM
BG - I am writing on behalf of a friend.

The two families involved are the families in this thread:http://www.etiquettehell.com/smf/index.php?topic=106504.0

Since the time of the previous incident, the two families are still close, but the overall friendship has cooled quite a bit.
Lina - the lady whose vehicles got damaged, is the mother of Conner.
Sylvia - the lady involved in the accident, is the mother of Anna.

The only relationship that hasn't cooled is that of Connor and Anna. They have been in a relationship for 4 years and have made plans to marry - probably later this year.

Sylvia, the mother of the bride, can be very giving, will bring you food when you're sick and is very involved in community groups.
She is also very controlling (especially of her children!) and is never, ever wrong. Ever.
Anna moved away, mostly to get out from under her mother's thumb and is trying to distance herself from her overly-involved mother.

Lina, the mother of the groom, is trying to help Anna draw boundaries and encouraging her to maintain a relationship-with-boundaries with her mother.

To make things even more complicated, Lina and Sylvia now work together, and Lina is Sylvia's supervisor.

End BG

Anna recently said that she wanted to invite Lina (and possibly a few others) along to look at wedding dresses. Lina was of the opinion that it was Anna's decision, so that was fine with her.
Syliva *announced* that only she and Anna would go dress shopping because she wanted it to be a mother-daughter thing.

Sylvia got quite mad at Lina for Lina maintaining that it was Anna's decision, not Sylvia's. Lina is desparately trying to help the young couple get some boundaries set up - she has visions of Sylvia being the interfering mother-in-law from EHell.*

Lina is looking for phrases she can use to deflect Sylvia and that she can help the young couple use to maintain some space.

*Examples of the kind of control Sylvia exerts include:

Showing up at Anna's apartment on New Year's Eve, when Connor is also visiting.
The couple are dressed to go out.
Sylvia and Mr. Sylvia invite themselves in and stay. For hours.
Anna and Connor didn't know how to express to them that they had plans, and end up missing their event.
***
Connor calls on Monday to ask Mr. Sylvia if Anna is free for a movie on Friday.
"I don't know, I'll have to think about it."
Connor calls back on Wednesday. Same response.
Thursday. Same answer.
Friday afternoon "I haven't decided".
15 minutes before the movie starts, Sylvia or Mr Sylvia makes a decision.
(Note - at this point, Anna is  17 or 18)

Sometimes, Connor gets permission to take her out, but when he shows up, there is "family time" and she's not allowed to leave.
(And yes, MrSyliva and Sylvia like Connor very much. They just want to control Anna.)

How can Lina help this get things off to a good start for Anna and Connor?
Title: Re: Helping a young couple draw boundaries
Post by: Winterlight on February 26, 2013, 07:38:42 PM
It sounds like Connor and Anna need to start saying no. They also need Lina to stay out of the middle- inserting herself into a mother-daughter disagreement? Bad idea, bad form. Sounds like Sylvia isn't the only potential problem in-law here.
Title: Re: Helping a young couple draw boundaries
Post by: LeveeWoman on February 26, 2013, 07:45:46 PM
It sounds like Connor and Anna need to start saying no. They also need Lina to stay out of the middle- inserting herself into a mother-daughter disagreement? Bad idea, bad form. Sounds like Sylvia isn't the only potential problem in-law here.

I agree. Lina can help Connor learn to set boundaries, but she needs to stay out of the relationship--however toxic--between Anna and Sylvia.
Title: Re: Helping a young couple draw boundaries
Post by: citadelle on February 26, 2013, 07:48:00 PM
I also agree. It sound like Lina may be trying to set herself up as the "good" MIL vs Sylvia as the one from "e-hell". Lina should continue to be polite and supportive, and let Connor & Anna deal with Sylvia.
Title: Re: Helping a young couple draw boundaries
Post by: buvezdevin on February 26, 2013, 07:49:01 PM
It sounds like Connor and Anna need to start saying no. They also need Lina to stay out of the middle- inserting herself into a mother-daughter disagreement? Bad idea, bad form. Sounds like Sylvia isn't the only potential problem in-law here.

I agree. Lina can help Connor learn to set boundaries, but she needs to stay out of the relationship--however toxic--between Anna and Sylvia.
Oh yeah, and boy howdy.
Title: Re: Helping a young couple draw boundaries
Post by: WillyNilly on February 26, 2013, 07:51:45 PM
The only thing Lina can do is model what healthy boundaries are... and part of that is not trying to control Anna herself.  Because telling Anna to stand up to her mom is telling Anna what to do too.

As for the dress... if Sylvia is paying for the dress, which is not uncommon, I actually think Sylvia does get a say in who comes along shopping.
Title: Re: Helping a young couple draw boundaries
Post by: White Dragon on February 26, 2013, 08:25:04 PM
I am pretty sure that Anna is paying for the dress herself.

The point about Lina staying out of Sylvia and Anna's relationship is a good one.

I forsee Lina spending the next few months at work telling Sylvia "I think that's up to Anna and Connor."
Title: Re: Helping a young couple draw boundaries
Post by: gramma dishes on February 26, 2013, 09:24:05 PM
I'm kind of confused, I think.

In one part of your introductory post you mentioned Anna's apartment.

Right below that you mention that Connor had to ask Mr. Sylvia's (Anna's father's) permission to even take her to a movie, but then she was 17 or 18.

How old is Anna now?  Does she live in her own apartment?  Does Connor also have an apartment or does he live with Mr and Mrs. Lina right now?

Title: Re: Helping a young couple draw boundaries
Post by: Deetee on February 26, 2013, 10:02:08 PM
The best way to help anyone draw boundaries is to respect theirs and show them what it feels like to have a boundary respected.

In this case Conner and Anna are obviously spineless.

Quote
Showing up at Anna's apartment on New Year's Eve, when Connor is also visiting.
The couple are dressed to go out.
Sylvia and Mr. Sylvia invite themselves in and stay. For hours.
Anna and Connor didn't know how to express to them that they had plans, and end up missing their event.

I mean, the above example has a tiny amount of boundary trampling (showing up uninvited) and HUGE amount pure spineless capitulation. They missed a party because they neither of them could manage to mention they had to be somewhere else? Really?

Just based on that, in my own opinion neither of them are ready to get married (but that is boundary tromping of me)



Title: Re: Helping a young couple draw boundaries
Post by: delabela on February 26, 2013, 10:12:09 PM
Lina needs to stay as far out of this situation as possible.  Conner and Anna need to learn to express their positions/needs - honestly, they come off as remarkably immature for people about to get married. 
Title: Re: Helping a young couple draw boundaries
Post by: White Dragon on February 26, 2013, 10:31:34 PM
I'm kind of confused, I think.

In one part of your introductory post you mentioned Anna's apartment.

Right below that you mention that Connor had to ask Mr. Sylvia's (Anna's father's) permission to even take her to a movie, but then she was 17 or 18.

How old is Anna now?  Does she live in her own apartment?  Does Connor also have an apartment or does he live with Mr and Mrs. Lina right now?

Sorry about the confusion. Last fall, Anna turned 18 and moved to a city 5 hours away.
Connor visited when he was able.
While she was living at home, Anna wasn't allowed to go out without permission.
Title: Re: Helping a young couple draw boundaries
Post by: PastryGoddess on February 26, 2013, 10:32:23 PM
Is there a certain level of maturity required by law to get married?  Who decides that?

While they do sound young, I would hope that they can learn together how to enforce boundaries with their families.  But it's something they have to learn, hopefully together.  Lina should stay out of the other mother/daughter relationship and only pipe up when she's asked a question.
Title: Re: Helping a young couple draw boundaries
Post by: White Dragon on February 26, 2013, 10:58:14 PM
The couple is young, yes, but have given their decision a great deal of thought.
Their relationship has survived time, distance, and medical crises.
I realize it doesn't seem like it, but they are quite mature for their years.
I suspect many would have trouble learning to overcome a lifetime of control and browbeating.

Anna confides in Lina and has asked her advice on dealing with her mother.
Lina has been a surrogate aunt for several years, so it's hard for her to back away completely.
Title: Re: Helping a young couple draw boundaries
Post by: delabela on February 26, 2013, 11:24:37 PM
Anna confides in Lina and has asked her advice on dealing with her mother.
Lina has been a surrogate aunt for several years, so it's hard for her to back away completely.

This may be, and good for them that they have a close relationship.  But Anna is the only one who can set or not set boundaries with her mother.  Lina needs to not be a part of that relationship if she wants to maintain a good relationship with Anna throughout the years to come.  It may be difficult to back away, but she needs to let Anna grow in her ability to deal with this. 
Title: Re: Helping a young couple draw boundaries
Post by: gen xer on February 27, 2013, 07:21:24 AM

Immature...well maybe in some way through no fault of their own.  Maturity comes with age and experience.  I feel badly for the young lady since it will be really hard for her to establish boundaries if she has never known anything but control all her life.  It always kills me to see some parents who want their kids to be mature but have controlled them their entire lives - you have to let go in order to let them grow up.  Doesn't sound like that has happened here.
Title: Re: Helping a young couple draw boundaries
Post by: camlan on February 27, 2013, 07:30:59 AM
Instead of providing the assistance and advice herself, could Lena point Anna to some resources? If Anna is asking her for help, it seems that she realizes that she needs to learn how to deal with her parents, but doesn't have many people she can turn to for advice.

I'm not really sure what sort of help is out there. But maybe Lena could recommend a therapist, or a few good books Anna could read. Maybe someone here has some better suggestions. But that way, Lena can step back from the struggle between Anna and her parents, while still being a friend to Anna (which it seems that Anna needs right now).
Title: Re: Helping a young couple draw boundaries
Post by: Cami on February 27, 2013, 08:45:28 AM
Is this couple able -- individually or as a unit -- to set boundaries with others? I wonder, since being unable to make a simple and logical statement on that New Year's Eve situation of, "Hey, great to see you, but we're on our way out. Sorry. See you later!" seems somewhat indicative of an issue that goes beyond a pushy mother.

I agree with others that Lina needs to get out of the business of interfering and giving proscriptive advice here. She's breaking boundaries herself by telling Anna what to do with her mother (who's also her employee.  Yikes!). Dollars to donuts, this advice is going to backfire sooner or later.

I'd recommend the book Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend. It's inexpensive to buy and available from most libraries.
Title: Re: Helping a young couple draw boundaries
Post by: Kaypeep on February 27, 2013, 09:26:21 AM
Lina should give her son and future DIL books on boundaries, as suggested.

At work, Lina should tell Sylvia that she doesn't want to talk about the wedding on company time. (And she should not talk about the wedding with any other co-workers either, so that they don't get dragged into this either.)

Anytime Anna asks for advice, Lina's response should be "What do YOU want to happen?" and based on her answer, help her find a solution to make what SHE wants happen.  I can understand how the long term relationship they have makes her to the go-to person for Anna to seek advice.  I have a similar relationship with my mom's BFF's and have often consulted them or vented to them because they understand her like I do. But I never asked them advice and they never offered it.  We did more commisserating than exchanging.  I think that's what Lina should do.  Be a sounding board, but don't try to fix this.  Only Anna can fix this.

The NYE story angers me, but we've seen many posts on Ehell about uninvited guests showing up and posters needing help polishing their spine to turn people like this away. I don't think this is immaturity, it's just lack of knowledge and spine on how to handle situations like this.  I'd help them polish their spine with tips like "You don't HAVE to answer the phone every time it rings.  No is a complete sentence.  It's okay to say no, this doesn't work for me.  And teach them how to suggest alternatives or figure out a compromises.   If the parents drive 5 hours for a surprise visit, compromise and say "Gee, you should have called. We're on our way out to a party.  You can stay here and watch TV until we come back, or rest before heading back if you can't wait for our return." Better yet, Anna should call her mom now and say " You know that surprise visit on NYE?  I didn't know how to handle the surprise then, but now that things have settled I have to tell you that we missed a party because of that because we didn't know how to tell you we needed to leave and we stayed to visit with you instead.  It upset our friends, who expected us, and it upset us.  I should have said something then, but I didn't know what to do.  I've thought about it so I'm calling you now to say, Please, in the future, do not do that again. If you are going to visit, please arrange it beforehand.  If you are in the neighborhood and decide to pop in, call and check beforehand to see if I'm free.  I will not be rude and end as a no-show for something I committed to simply because you made a surprise visit."
Title: Re: Helping a young couple draw boundaries
Post by: Piratelvr1121 on February 27, 2013, 10:13:50 AM

Immature...well maybe in some way through no fault of their own.  Maturity comes with age and experience.  I feel badly for the young lady since it will be really hard for her to establish boundaries if she has never known anything but control all her life.  It always kills me to see some parents who want their kids to be mature but have controlled them their entire lives - you have to let go in order to let them grow up.  Doesn't sound like that has happened here.

Yeah, you can't have both. Either a mature adult or a grown child to control.   

I think it would be more helpful for Lina to give Anna advice and support in standing up to her mother.  A friend of mine did that for me, more or less teaching me to be able to tell when I was being manipulated and controlled and empowering me to stand up for myself rather than fight my battles for me.  You know, the ol' teach a man to fish metaphor. 
Title: Re: Helping a young couple draw boundaries
Post by: TootsNYC on February 27, 2013, 10:25:31 AM
The couple is young, yes, but have given their decision a great deal of thought.
Their relationship has survived time, distance, and medical crises.
I realize it doesn't seem like it, but they are quite mature for their years.
I suspect many would have trouble learning to overcome a lifetime of control and browbeating.

Anna confides in Lina and has asked her advice on dealing with her mother.
Lina has been a surrogate aunt for several years, so it's hard for her to back away completely.

I think Lina can give advice when it's requested.

But she needs to *not* deal with Anna's mom on this issue. She doesn't "fix" anything.

She simply "coaches Anna"--and not from the sidelines, either. From the locker room.
Title: Re: Helping a young couple draw boundaries
Post by: Eden on February 27, 2013, 10:40:13 AM
I'm surprised Lina and Sylvia's workplace allows the supervisory relationship given their personal connection. Not trying to head down a legal road but in general I'd say that's a major minefield. I think Lina even saying, "That's up to Anna and Connor" is taking up too much of a position (at least at work but possibly personally too). "I prefer not to get involved" or "I prefer not to discuss this" seem like safer responses.
Title: Re: Helping a young couple draw boundaries
Post by: GratefulMaria on February 27, 2013, 11:04:39 AM
I was in my 30s and 40s when I started to realize I'd been living my life with an eye towards gaining my parents' approval -- and that, as well-intentioned as they may have thought they were -- they believed that was the correct thing for me to do.

That either / or in a couple of earlier posts?  About having a child to control instead of a mature adult?  That really resonated with me.  There has been nothing more terrifying and saddening to my parents than not calling the shots, though they won't even admit that to themselves.

http://www.powells.com/biblio/?isbn=9780307575326&utm_source=RandomHouseWebsite&utm_campaign=randomhouse&utm_content=Toxic+Parents-RandomHouse-9780307575326

Title: Re: Helping a young couple draw boundaries
Post by: PastryGoddess on February 27, 2013, 11:17:37 AM
I'm surprised Lina and Sylvia's workplace allows the supervisory relationship given their personal connection. Not trying to head down a legal road but in general I'd say that's a major minefield. I think Lina even saying, "That's up to Anna and Connor" is taking up too much of a position (at least at work but possibly personally too). "I prefer not to get involved" or "I prefer not to discuss this" seem like safer responses.

Why?  Lina and Sylvia aren't related or married to one another.  Their kids are dating.  That might be a social minefield, but not a business minefield
Title: Re: Helping a young couple draw boundaries
Post by: gramma dishes on February 27, 2013, 11:29:40 AM

Why?  Lina and Sylvia aren't related or married to one another.  Their kids are dating.  That might be a social minefield, but not a business minefield

Because sometimes personal minefields carry over into business relationships, especially when one is "workplace superior" over the other. 
Title: Re: Helping a young couple draw boundaries
Post by: wolfie on February 27, 2013, 11:37:34 AM

Why?  Lina and Sylvia aren't related or married to one another.  Their kids are dating.  That might be a social minefield, but not a business minefield

Because sometimes personal minefields carry over into business relationships, especially when one is "workplace superior" over the other.

I don't think businesses would have a leg to stand on if they refuse to promote someone because their kid is dating a co-workers kid. I think the personal relationships have to exist between the coworkers themselves before a business should think about stepping in.
Title: Re: Helping a young couple draw boundaries
Post by: heartmug on February 27, 2013, 12:05:46 PM

I'd recommend the book Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend. It's inexpensive to buy and available from most libraries.

I was going to recommend that book.  Children, even adults, have trouble setting boundaries because it is their parents.  And they think they have to listen, and DO, what they say all the time.
Title: Re: Helping a young couple draw boundaries
Post by: gramma dishes on February 27, 2013, 12:31:40 PM

Why?  Lina and Sylvia aren't related or married to one another.  Their kids are dating.  That might be a social minefield, but not a business minefield

Because sometimes personal minefields carry over into business relationships, especially when one is "workplace superior" over the other.

I don't think businesses would have a leg to stand on if they refuse to promote someone because their kid is dating a co-workers kid. I think the personal relationships have to exist between the coworkers themselves before a business should think about stepping in.

I don't think anyone would disagree about that.  I also don't think anyone suggested that the business should get involved in this in any way. 

I think what we're trying to say is that if there are personal issues between two employees, their animosity toward each other can possibly spill over into the business climate and perhaps make both of them as well as other employees very uncomfortable and also possibly interfere with both employees' effectiveness on the job.  When two employees are bickering, the atmosphere can become incredibly tense and may very well have a negative effect on productivity.
Title: Re: Helping a young couple draw boundaries
Post by: Piratelvr1121 on February 27, 2013, 12:50:20 PM
I was in my 30s and 40s when I started to realize I'd been living my life with an eye towards gaining my parents' approval -- and that, as well-intentioned as they may have thought they were -- they believed that was the correct thing for me to do.

That either / or in a couple of earlier posts?  About having a child to control instead of a mature adult?  That really resonated with me.  There has been nothing more terrifying and saddening to my parents than not calling the shots, though they won't even admit that to themselves.

http://www.powells.com/biblio/?isbn=9780307575326&utm_source=RandomHouseWebsite&utm_campaign=randomhouse&utm_content=Toxic+Parents-RandomHouse-9780307575326

I read that book a few years ago.  Quite the eye-opener. Not knowing Anna's mother I don't know if I'd feel comfortable labeling her as toxic, but I will say that of the people I've known who still have good relationships with their parents, it's because the parents knew when to go from being a parent to being more of a mentor/friend.   MIL was like that and I know someone who's adult daughter is my age and lives with her mom willingly in a friend/roommate sort of situation because they get along so well.
Title: Re: Helping a young couple draw boundaries
Post by: Hmmmmm on February 27, 2013, 12:50:46 PM
I agree with the other PP's that Lina try to stay out of the middle of the mother/daughter relationship. However she is free to give any advice she'd like to her own son if he asks.

If I were Lina, the first advice I'd give my son is for he and Anna to attend some pre-marital counseling and tell the counselor they specifically need help on setting boundaries with their parents. 

She can also help teach Connor some easy responses.

"Mr & Mrs Sylvia, I appreciate your input but that will be a decision that Anna and I make together."
"Mr & Mrs Sylvia, I'm not comfortable discussing this with you. I'm sure you understand why this is a discussion that should occur between Anna and me."
"Ms. Sylvia, I believe Anna wanted X at the wedding and I will support her decision."
"Mr. Sylvia, I'm sorry that won't be possible. We have plans that evening."
"Ms Sylvia, thanks for stopping by but we were on our way out. We'll call you tomorrow."
Title: Re: Helping a young couple draw boundaries
Post by: Minmom3 on February 27, 2013, 01:04:01 PM
I'm surprised Lina and Sylvia's workplace allows the supervisory relationship given their personal connection. Not trying to head down a legal road but in general I'd say that's a major minefield. I think Lina even saying, "That's up to Anna and Connor" is taking up too much of a position (at least at work but possibly personally too). "I prefer not to get involved" or "I prefer not to discuss this" seem like safer responses.

Why?  Lina and Sylvia aren't related or married to one another.  Their kids are dating.  That might be a social minefield, but not a business minefield

I STRONGLY disagree.  What happens if Sylvia takes offense at something innocuous Lina said?  Their children live together, romantically, and are getting married fairly soon.  Sylvia is extremely controlling.  Lina has a different parenting style.  All these things are tailor made to cause work place dissension and conflict.  If I were Lina, I'd be giving serious thought to going to the higher ups and requesting that they be separated somehow, it's too close to familial ties that many workplaces forbid to be in direct lines of supervision, for excellent reasons.  It is all too easy for the family and parenting style disagreements to spill over into the workplace, ESPECIALLY because Sylvia appears to have control and boundary issues.

IMO, YMMV! 
Title: Re: Helping a young couple draw boundaries
Post by: wolfie on February 27, 2013, 01:06:02 PM

Why?  Lina and Sylvia aren't related or married to one another.  Their kids are dating.  That might be a social minefield, but not a business minefield

Because sometimes personal minefields carry over into business relationships, especially when one is "workplace superior" over the other.

I don't think businesses would have a leg to stand on if they refuse to promote someone because their kid is dating a co-workers kid. I think the personal relationships have to exist between the coworkers themselves before a business should think about stepping in.

I don't think anyone would disagree about that.  I also don't think anyone suggested that the business should get involved in this in any way. 

Eden - post 20 - they said they are surprised that the business allows them to be in a supervisory position due to their personal relationship. So I see that post as suggesting the business should get involved in that way.
Title: Re: Helping a young couple draw boundaries
Post by: rashea on February 27, 2013, 01:20:13 PM
They need to get pre-marital counseling. It sounds like they have a great start, but this could clearly hurt their relationship long term.

Personally, I'd go with writing a list down (it's easier not to let things slide if you write it down). The list should include things like:
communication (how often do you call, who makes the calls)
finances (do you accept or loan money)
holidays (where do you go and when, who handles presents, who cooks)
conflict/difficulty (how much do you tell them)
kids (what rules do you have, this one is huge and a thread in and of itself)
Title: Re: Helping a young couple draw boundaries
Post by: Eden on February 27, 2013, 01:29:35 PM

Why?  Lina and Sylvia aren't related or married to one another.  Their kids are dating.  That might be a social minefield, but not a business minefield

Because sometimes personal minefields carry over into business relationships, especially when one is "workplace superior" over the other.

I don't think businesses would have a leg to stand on if they refuse to promote someone because their kid is dating a co-workers kid. I think the personal relationships have to exist between the coworkers themselves before a business should think about stepping in.

First I have to apologize because I forgot the couple are not yet married so Sylvia's personal tie to Lina is not quite binding. However, many workplaces have policies that prevent someone from directly or sometimes even indirectly supervising someone with whom they have a personal tie such as family members or spouses. I'm not sure if in-laws would fall into that, but it seems tricky at best.

With that not being the case for Lina and Sylvia, I'd impose some pretty strict personal/professional boundaries were I in their shoes, both to avoid conflict amongst the two but also to minimize the potential for others to question whether personal motives are affecting the professional situation.

If Lina and Sylvia did not work together, I'd leave my suggestion at refusing to discuss the kids' relationship with Lina and providing gentle support and guidance to my son.
Title: Re: Helping a young couple draw boundaries
Post by: Poppea on February 27, 2013, 01:29:41 PM
I'm surprised Lina and Sylvia's workplace allows the supervisory relationship given their personal connection. Not trying to head down a legal road but in general I'd say that's a major minefield. I think Lina even saying, "That's up to Anna and Connor" is taking up too much of a position (at least at work but possibly personally too). "I prefer not to get involved" or "I prefer not to discuss this" seem like safer responses.

Why?  Lina and Sylvia aren't related or married to one another.  Their kids are dating.  That might be a social minefield, but not a business minefield

How in the world would a business address this? Our company policy forbids workers from dating each other, their siblings, parents, children, grandchildren, or former in laws from dating each other.  Furthermore employees will be teriminated if they are found to be living in the same neighborhood, attending the same church or if their children are in the same classroom.  Oh, and no employees are allowed to become friends outside of work, no to eat lunch together more than 2 times a week least a friendship develop.


When the kids get married Lina and Sylvia won't even be in-laws.  They will be relatives of each others in-laws.  The idea that people can supervise anyone they have a personal reltionship is absurd.
Title: Re: Helping a young couple draw boundaries
Post by: White Dragon on February 27, 2013, 02:08:58 PM
Thanks everyone.

I am going to meet Lina for coffee today and talk things over with her.
I'll certainly share the insights that have been presented.

Re the workplace - the company has no policy that would prevent the two from working together.
If the conflict became severe, then the company would take action.
Lina wants to make sure that it doesn't get to that point, which is why she's asking for advice.

Anna and Connor do not live together. After they marry, they will probably move into Lina's home.
(They will pay rent to Lina and Mr. Lina, with the understanding that the 'rent' will be put into a savings account towards their own home. If they rent elsewhere, they will not be able to afford to save.)

The couple adamantly do not want to live with the Sylvia and Mr. Sylvia. As far as I know, Sylvia is aware of this plan and is okay with it.

I think the idea of the book on Boundaries and an objective pre-marital counsellor is a good one. Dealing with Sylvia's belief that she is entitled to control Anna is a huge obstacle, and a counsellor would take Lina out of the equation.

Someone asked why Connor hasn't spoken up.
He very much wants to do so, but feels that - as a boyfriend - he doesn't have the right to interfere in the relationship between Anna and her parents. He is trying to respect that.

However, once he become's Anna's husband, they as a unit have the right to make decisions and he does have the right to express these decisions - to whomever. He is looking forward to having the 'social authority' to intervene.
Title: Re: Helping a young couple draw boundaries
Post by: Minmom3 on February 27, 2013, 02:56:40 PM
I second the motion for pre-marital counseling.  I think that's a good idea for any couple getting together, really, regardless of age.  Everybody has SOME assumptions that go awry, and counseling can help avoid those pitfalls.  I think it's even more important in this young couple's situation, where they ARE young, there are already boundary issues, and all things need to brought out in the open and discussed.

And on a slightly different topic, if they get married, the two women will be co-mothers-in-law, and while there may be no legal relationship between the two women, TRUST ME when I tell you it's a fertile ground for disagreements and conflict.  My MIL and Mother absolutely despised each other...   I would do a lot to NOT work with any parent of a man my daughters marry.  A lot.  I don't care how wonderful the man is, and how 'normal' both sets of parents are, I think it's a big potential source of conflict, and should be avoided if at all possible.
Title: Re: Helping a young couple draw boundaries
Post by: TootsNYC on February 27, 2013, 04:04:10 PM

And on a slightly different topic, if they get married, the two women will be co-mothers-in-law, and while there may be no legal relationship between the two women, TRUST ME when I tell you it's a fertile ground for disagreements and conflict.  My MIL and Mother absolutely despised each other...   I would do a lot to NOT work with any parent of a man my daughters marry.  A lot.  I don't care how wonderful the man is, and how 'normal' both sets of parents are, I think it's a big potential source of conflict, and should be avoided if at all possible.

The Navajo, if I remember right, forbade any interaction between son-in-law and mother-in-law.
Title: Re: Helping a young couple draw boundaries
Post by: jedikaiti on February 27, 2013, 04:17:59 PM
Someone asked why Connor hasn't spoken up.
He very much wants to do so, but feels that - as a boyfriend - he doesn't have the right to interfere in the relationship between Anna and her parents. He is trying to respect that.

Is he merely a boyfriend or a husband-to-be? If they're making wedding plans and setting up post-wedding living arrangements, he is a husband-to-be, and absolutely should be talking with Anna about appropriate boundaries and how to establish and enforce them. The communication of these boundaries should be through Anna, but he is not an outsider in this situation, and with controlling parents like this, her relationship with them has the potential to majorly impact her relationship with him. It's likely that they will expect to continue controlling her, and to start controlling him as well. They both need to be prepared for this, and to present a united front.

A third-party pre-marital counselor is a GREAT idea, and your friend should say nothing to Anna's mom (bean dip, deflect, what have you) no matter how much Anna may come to her for advice & suggestions.

And under no circumstances should the young couple allow her parents to obtain a key to their home.
Title: Re: Helping a young couple draw boundaries
Post by: Kaypeep on February 27, 2013, 04:20:03 PM
In light of the update that the newlyweds will be living with Lina, I think it's even more imperative that she set a ground rule to not discuss the wedding or any other personal things about Anna and Connor at work.  If Anna's parents are as controlling as it sounds, I totally foresee Sylvia having a whole new set of issues as Anna and Connor set boundaries.  She will view the living situation as her loss and Lina's gain, and probably overcompensate to try and retain control of Anna because she'll percieve that Lina now has the control because the newlyweds live in her house.  More than ever she needs to play Switzerland.  Just talking about having dinner with them on weeknights might set her off into some kind of competition. 

And Triple Kitty POD to the couple getting some pre-marital counseling, with an emphasis on boundary setting!  This could be beneficial for how they deal with Lina as well.
Title: Re: Helping a young couple draw boundaries
Post by: nuit93 on February 27, 2013, 05:49:39 PM
Quote
Someone asked why Connor hasn't spoken up.
He very much wants to do so, but feels that - as a boyfriend - he doesn't have the right to interfere in the relationship between Anna and her parents. He is trying to respect that.

However, once he become's Anna's husband, they as a unit have the right to make decisions and he does have the right to express these decisions - to whomever. He is looking forward to having the 'social authority' to intervene.

As the husband-to-be, he DOES have a say--and he should be getting his feet wet in speaking up about things.
Title: Re: Helping a young couple draw boundaries
Post by: blarg314 on February 27, 2013, 08:30:14 PM


Quote
Someone asked why Connor hasn't spoken up.
He very much wants to do so, but feels that - as a boyfriend - he doesn't have the right to interfere in the relationship between Anna and her parents. He is trying to respect that.

However, once he become's Anna's husband, they as a unit have the right to make decisions and he does have the right to express these decisions - to whomever. He is looking forward to having the 'social authority' to intervene.


Oh dear. Those poor children. This is a disaster waiting to happen.

I feel really sorry for Anna, in particular. She's sandwiched between very controlling parents on one side, and a fiance on the other who is quietly waiting for the marriage certificate to lay down the law, and declare how he wants things to be. 

I can see this going one of two ways. First version, they get married, and Connor tries to declare How Things Will Be as a married couple. It doesn't work, Anna still give into her parents, Connor tries to fight back and you've got a volatile, very messy, situation. Second version, Anna, used to giving into authority, is now being bossed around by her husband, rather than her parents, and still has no say in how things go.

If I were talking to Connor I'd smack him upside the head, and point out first  that he's acting like Anna's parents, except he's assuming that a marriage certificate gives him the right to control her, instead of parentage. His first task is to honestly talk to Anna and explain his issues, and ask (and listen) to what Anna wants to do, and work from there.

And second, that a marriage certificate does not actually change relationship dynamics, and he can assert his right to make decisions as a unit until he's blue in the face, and he'll still have ultra controlling in-laws and a wife who has zero idea that she's even allowed to stand up to them.

If I were talking honestly to Anna, I'd tell her to move at least a three hour plane ride from both Connor and her parents, and learn to live independently and know who she is and what she wants and how to make her own decisions, and only then think about marrying someone. Connor may be a very nice guy, but Anna is moving from a situation where her long term boyfriend had to go through her parents to ask for a date to the movies, to a husband who is waiting patiently for his chance to lay down the law to her and her parents about how things should be. Nowhere in anyone's mind is Anna a capable and independent adult who can make her own decisions and have a legitimate opinion.

If I were talking to them both, I'd tell them six months to a year of good, weekly marriage/couples counselling, and coming to a workable situation with the parent/Anna/Connor dynamic before even starting to plan a wedding. And use at least three forms of birth control simultaneously until they get to that point.

Title: Re: Helping a young couple draw boundaries
Post by: Black Delphinium on February 27, 2013, 09:02:45 PM
I think its a stretch to go from "looking forward to having the social authority to intervene" to "Connar is controlling" without more information.

I took White Dragon's comment to mean that he wants to be able to stand up to his in-laws in support of Anna, not that he wants to be the new absolute authority in her life.
Title: Re: Helping a young couple draw boundaries
Post by: Piratelvr1121 on February 27, 2013, 09:11:47 PM
I think its a stretch to go from "looking forward to having the social authority to intervene" to "Connar is controlling" without more information.

I took White Dragon's comment to mean that he wants to be able to stand up to his in-laws in support of Anna, not that he wants to be the new absolute authority in her life.

That's how I took it as well.

That said, I do think it would be a wonderful idea to do premarital counseling.  Speaking as one who grew up with controlling parents that liked to yell and scream, and therefore learned it was "safer" to avoid conflict by walking on eggshells, I ended up spending about the first 4 years of marriage pretty much letting DH have his way whenever we argued cause I was terrified of making him mad.  Not that I had reason to be terrified of making him angry mind you but that's just what I was used to. 

I've since grown a backbone and gotten a good deal wiser but I do wish we'd had some premarital counseling so we could learn how to solve arguments effectively rather than one of us just backing down at the first sign of a possible disagreement and then getting angry later when that person (me) would get resentful for not getting what they wanted or needed.

What I'm saying is that even if Conner isn't the controlling type, if Anna's used to giving in it could lead to an unhealthy dynamic so it's better to just get things sorted out now.
Title: Re: Helping a young couple draw boundaries
Post by: EllenS on February 27, 2013, 09:23:59 PM


That said, I do think it would be a wonderful idea to do premarital counseling.  Speaking as one who grew up with controlling parents that liked to yell and scream, and therefore learned it was "safer" to avoid conflict by walking on eggshells, I ended up spending about the first 4 years of marriage pretty much letting DH have his way whenever we argued cause I was terrified of making him mad.  Not that I had reason to be terrified of making him angry mind you but that's just what I was used to. 

I've since grown a backbone and gotten a good deal wiser but I do wish we'd had some premarital counseling so we could learn how to solve arguments effectively rather than one of us just backing down at the first sign of a possible disagreement and then getting angry later when that person (me) would get resentful for not getting what they wanted or needed.

What I'm saying is that even if Conner isn't the controlling type, if Anna's used to giving in it could lead to an unhealthy dynamic so it's better to just get things sorted out now.

This, this, this.  From where I sit, it looks like Anna, however sweet and well-intentioned, has been rendered passive by her controlling parents and is looking for someone to "rescue" her.  Lina and Connor, being nice people, want to help and really do care about her.

However, "helping" her by standing up to her parents FOR HER, is just going to stick them in the void where Anna's own voice should be.  She still has someone else telling her what is good for her.

I second, third and fourth the recommendations for counselling and that Lina should absolutely refuse to discuss anything personal with Sylvia. 
Title: Re: Helping a young couple draw boundaries
Post by: Itza on March 01, 2013, 05:51:52 AM
I'm surprised Lina and Sylvia's workplace allows the supervisory relationship given their personal connection. Not trying to head down a legal road but in general I'd say that's a major minefield. I think Lina even saying, "That's up to Anna and Connor" is taking up too much of a position (at least at work but possibly personally too). "I prefer not to get involved" or "I prefer not to discuss this" seem like safer responses.

Why?  Lina and Sylvia aren't related or married to one another.  Their kids are dating.  That might be a social minefield, but not a business minefield

I STRONGLY disagree.  What happens if Sylvia takes offense at something innocuous Lina said?  Their children live together, romantically, and are getting married fairly soon.  Sylvia is extremely controlling.  Lina has a different parenting style.  All these things are tailor made to cause work place dissension and conflict.  If I were Lina, I'd be giving serious thought to going to the higher ups and requesting that they be separated somehow, it's too close to familial ties that many workplaces forbid to be in direct lines of supervision, for excellent reasons.  It is all too easy for the family and parenting style disagreements to spill over into the workplace, ESPECIALLY because Sylvia appears to have control and boundary issues.

IMO, YMMV!

And after damaging Lina's and Lina's son's cars!
Title: Re: Helping a young couple draw boundaries
Post by: crella on March 01, 2013, 06:09:19 PM
We're in this situation now, and I'm doing my best to make suggestions w/out butting in too much, but it's hard! DIL's mother seemed nice when I met her but since the kids got married she has this attitude of 'He stole my daughter from me', I get phone calls with long tales of woe about how much she was enjoying DIL moving back home to live with her after finishing far-away college etc, I'm doing my best Switzerland impression (love that!) by listening and empathizing with her, and listening to DS when he calls me totally fed up. She just can't let go of her daughter, she didn't get married according to Mom's life plan for her (living at home as she worked, getting married at about 30 instead of 24).

The woman has no boundaries, DIL is working at setting some, which I'm grateful to see. In the meantime I have to counsel DS and give him someplace to vent instead of directly to the out-law.... ;) I sympathize with you, believe me!!