I recently viewed an episode of a reality show that I don’t usually watch due to the media reports of the current story line and found myself fussing at the TV screen because I couldn’t believe the way that it was playing out. Now granted, I’m not sure if the antics being displayed were written into the story line or a true representation of the mother’s behavior but nevertheless, I was very disappointed. Here is a young lady who has her own home, career, and child who has to be in her late thirties or early forties sitting quietly and even leaving the room at one point while her mother was disrespecting her fiancée tremendously. She did not bite her lip at all about feeling that he has an ulterior motive concerning her grown-up child. Now don’t get me wrong, I believe that there are times when parents can see things that we cannot and we should Honor them by taking their views into consideration but to allow disrespect is completely unacceptable. I applaud this gentleman who sat there and strongly listened to the outright defamation of character sent his way. He could have certainly gotten to the point where he couldn’t take anymore and started acting out in defense of himself; however, he respectfully shared his true intentions repeatedly and in my opinion stood up for himself in a very tasteful way. He also did something else that I felt was upstanding and that was – let his future “hopeful” wife know that she has to do something about her mother and the way that she treats him. In regards to the mom, apparently, this is a behavioral pattern that she has displayed for some time when it comes to those who are becoming too close for comfort to her little girl. I had to calm myself down because I was giving my two cents of an opinion to the lead character through the screen just like everyone else in the media – lol. That’s when the teachable moment came to me!
Effective relationships are the most vital aspect of our existence in this world and as a result, we must know how to respect and nurture them and one of the best ways to start is by Setting Boundaries! Regardless of the nature of the relationship (Mother, Father, Sister, Brother, Friend, etc., etc.) in order for it to be an effective two-way interaction, there must be boundaries set at the onset. As an individual who didn’t always understand the importance of setting boundaries in relationships myself, I was able to identify some possible reasons why the young lady was holding so tightly to her belief that if she addressed her mother about the issue she would be disrespectful towards her. Two possible reasons why she has allowed or enabled her mother to have such an influence (whether positive or negative) in her life/ relationships:
• Self- Doubt – I believe that it is possible that this young lady may have unknowingly lost confidence in her ability to make “sound” relationship decisions. Despite her high level of confidence in other life areas, due to the failure of past romantic relationships, she may feel deep down inside that she may make the wrong decision by marrying the young man so she subconsciously allows the disruptive behavior of her mother. Fear of the unknown and the possibility of failing may have her hostage.
• Co-Dependency – In considering the fact that this is something that frequently occurs between her and her mother, it leads me to believe that there may be some level of co-dependency within the relationship. “Co-Dependency is a psychological condition or a relationship in which a person is controlled or manipulated by another who has a need to control another.”
No matter which case this particular situation my fall under, the bottom line is that the situation is out of control and is unhealthy. At a time in her life where she should be happy, excited and joyfully planning her wedding, she is caught in the crossfire of dialogue between her mother and her fiancée. This is no way to begin a union. The bible clearly states in Genesis 2:24– “Therefore shall a man (woman) leave his (her) father and mother, and shall cleave unto his (her) wife (husband) and they shall become one flesh.” Considering this, I believe that individual and couples counseling would be great for the couple and it may even be time for mother and daughter to go to counseling as well. Lord knows an open session with Iyanla Vanzant would be beneficial to everyone involved here. I truly hope and pray that everything works out for the couple as they genuinely appear to love one another and given all that this young lady has been through, she deserves to have a blessed relationship. I am not a licensed counselor or psychologist; however, I believe some of the things I have experienced have equipped me to offer wisdom and guidance and if there was one thing that I could say to them or to anyone else finding themselves in a similar situation, I would share the following:
Boundaries communicated in a loving, clear, and respectful way are NOT a show of disrespect!