Author Topic: Helping a young couple draw boundaries  (Read 6233 times)

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White Dragon

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Helping a young couple draw boundaries
« on: February 26, 2013, 08:26:32 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?

Winterlight

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Re: Helping a young couple draw boundaries
« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2013, 08:38:42 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.
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LeveeWoman

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Re: Helping a young couple draw boundaries
« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2013, 08:45:46 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.

citadelle

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Re: Helping a young couple draw boundaries
« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2013, 08:48:00 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.

buvezdevin

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Re: Helping a young couple draw boundaries
« Reply #4 on: February 26, 2013, 08:49:01 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.
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WillyNilly

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Re: Helping a young couple draw boundaries
« Reply #5 on: February 26, 2013, 08:51:45 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.

White Dragon

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Re: Helping a young couple draw boundaries
« Reply #6 on: February 26, 2013, 09:25:04 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."

gramma dishes

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Re: Helping a young couple draw boundaries
« Reply #7 on: February 26, 2013, 10:24:05 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?


Deetee

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Re: Helping a young couple draw boundaries
« Reply #8 on: February 26, 2013, 11:02:08 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)




delabela

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Re: Helping a young couple draw boundaries
« Reply #9 on: February 26, 2013, 11:12:09 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. 

White Dragon

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Re: Helping a young couple draw boundaries
« Reply #10 on: February 26, 2013, 11:31:34 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.

PastryGoddess

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Re: Helping a young couple draw boundaries
« Reply #11 on: February 26, 2013, 11:32:23 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.

White Dragon

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Re: Helping a young couple draw boundaries
« Reply #12 on: February 26, 2013, 11:58:14 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.

delabela

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Re: Helping a young couple draw boundaries
« Reply #13 on: February 27, 2013, 12:24:37 AM »
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. 

gen xer

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Re: Helping a young couple draw boundaries
« Reply #14 on: February 27, 2013, 08:21:24 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.