Dear Dr. Dana,

My husband and I are staying with his widowed mother to keep her from getting lonely. But then as days went by, there would be friction between me and my mother-in-law. For instance, my instructions to our househelp have always been “countered” by my mother-in-law.

After a while, I began to resent this. I thought: “How would I learn to run a household if I wasn’t given a chance to do so?” I also realized that my husband is somewhat of a mama’s boy, and he’s being spoiled by his mother.

So now, I’m beginning to think that maybe living with my mother-in-law isn’t a good idea. Maybe it’s time we think about living on our own. But how do I tell my husband? It’s obvious that he doesn’t see anything wrong with our living arrangements. How can I convince him that living independently will be ultimately good for us?


Dear Marlene,

The problem of getting along with in-laws is an age-old one. So much so, that many jokes, clichés, even movies have revolved around one's relations with in-laws.

Your situation with your mother-in-law is the most common one, as two women who love one man in different ways, are often at odds with each other.

As a rule, I would always advice newlyweds to live independently from in-laws, whether his or hers, so the couple can establish their own identity; their own lifestyle, their own ways of doing things for themselves. Their experiences while living together become totally their own, without outside meddling and interventions, creating a very strong bond between the couple, having to work things for and by themselves. It builds a strong foundation for the couple’s married life in the future.

The best thing for you to do is to consider living independently. So how can you justify such a move to your husband and even to your mother-in-law? The timing in airing your opinion is crucial. You must discuss this issue with your husband alone, just the two of you. You’ll have to present a united front when you talk about this with your mother-in-law. You can only do this if you have thoroughly dissected the merits and demerits of the situation to your husband in a purely private marital conversation. Only when you are both of one mind should you even bring it up with your mother-in-law. Make sure that when you hold your discussion, both of you are mentally and emotionally prepared for it. I suggest for this talk to happen during a weekend, when you’re both reasonably refreshed after the week’s work. Go some place where you won’t be bothered, preferably outside the house to avoid being overheard. I hope your situation is resolved for the best.

Very truly yours,

Dr. Dana R. Sesante