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In my time as a life coach and marriage counsellor in Dubai and online, I have worked with countless couples who struggle with having parents that are too involved or having a partner who keeps turning to their parents for everything.
In fact, some couples tell me having a partner who is so attached to their parents can make the other person feel like there are three parties involved in the relationship. When parents are too involved in a relationship that means an extra opinion to consider, that means often having to live a life that others want and not feeling like you are in control of your own life and relationship decisions.
This kind of additional involvement can really put a strain on a relationship and can impact your connection to one another because you haven’t chosen to have a third wheel attached to you both.
Today, I want to start by sharing two relationship counselling Dubai case studies of couples who turned to me for couples counselling Dubai to support them because of heavily involved parents and how this impacted their relationship. I will end with top tips you can incorporate into your life to reduce the involvement of parents in your relationship, including how you can work through your partner’s reliance on their parents too.
Lisa and Karim had been searching for a counsellor in Dubai and after reading my reviews, they decided to book a free consultation with me.
Lisa explained that Karim was what others would consider a “mummy’s boy” who will drop everything, including family responsibilities, for his mum. Karim has a tendency to involve his mum in everything and chooses to ask his mum’s opinion for things that Lisa believes should be between husband and wife, for example, when they were choosing their new family home, Karim would film the potential houses and send them to his mum for feedback before discussing it with Lisa. Even on holiday as soon as they arrived to their destination, Karim created videos for his mum to see where they were and what it was like. Which killed the romance for Lisa. Lisa also believed that Karim’s mum was being “manipulative” because she was always “playing the victim” since the death of her husband Karim had become her husband and father not son Lisa felt. Karim’s mum behaves in a way where she makes her family feel guilty for moving on in life and if Karim doesn’t drop everything to help his mum, she gets upset and uses emotional blackmail to get Karim to do what she wants – regardless of what Lisa feels. Karim’s mum seems to live life through her sons now and doesn’t see how her heavy involvement and demands impacts Lisa and Karim’s relationship.
Karim agreed that it was difficult to keep his mum happy but felt that as she was now a widow, it was part of his responsibility as a son to be there for her as much as she needed – even if this meant leaving Lisa with their three kids to be with his Mum for weeks at a time. She also stayed for months when she visited and would want Karim to stay up with her and watch movies, whilst Lisa took care of the children.
As a result of the mum’s influence, Lisa and Karim found themselves arguing a lot more and spending more and more time apart. Their emotional and physical intimacy had diminished when they came to me and both felt disrespected.
This clearly highlights how parental involvement if not managed well and as a team, can divide a couple. However, in some cases it’s not the parent pushing themselves into the relationship, it can be a partner who is so attached to their parents, that they need and seek their approval and opinion on everything. This was the case for another couple I helped.
Darren and Emma had been together for three years and married for one year when I met them. Darren knew how close Emma was to her family, but he only began to realise the real extent of Emma’s reliance on her family when they moved in together after their wedding.
Whenever there were important decisions to be made as a couple, Emma preferred to call her dad and ask for his advice. Initially, Darren was okay with this but when it began to affect their ability to make decisions as a couple, it was beginning to annoy Darren and make him feel insignificant. For example, Emma was offered a position in a new company and instead of talking it through with Darren she turned to her dad first. She called her Dad several times on the subject before interviewing with the company, her Dad researched it with her and she shared the offer with him first for his opinion and suggestions. By the time Emma discussed this with Darren she had more or less made up her mind and was merely informing him of her discussion with her dad. This also happened when things went wrong in the house and DIY needed to be done, Emma would call her Dad and ask him how to fix things and what to buy or do. Darren felt undermined and not seen as man, he wanted them to make decisions together and only if needed then as a couple, they can discuss it with others.
This made Darren was worried what this would mean for the future, when they have kids. Emma’s parents had already joked several times that they would be there all the time for their grandchildren and they wouldn’t be able to leave them alone, as they love children. They also asked probing intimate questions about their intimacy and Emma hinted that she would discuss the school choices with her dad. So, Darren wanted to delay having a family until Emma could see his point of view and made change. This is why they came to me. Emma felt that Darren was punishing her by holding back on the family plans and being controlling.
The tension between them was high, so we outlined some actions they could take to become closer and a plan for joint decision making. Emma was to make Darren the first person to discuss things with, then her Dad. Darren was to work on his confidence and to not see Emma’s parents as a threat to him, instead to embrace their kindness and interest.
Things changed very quickly for them and they agreed if it continued to be as good as it was then in 6 months they would start trying for a baby.
When working with couples like Lisa, Karim, Darren and Emma, I go through a range of steps to help overcome the differences and become closer, more of a united partnership than against one another. As well as to understand the parent’s needs. In most cases the parent’s want to feel important and needed and I explain how you can give them that without compromising your relationship. In my work as a counsellor in Dubai I work with couples every week that live with their parents or where parent’s stay 3 to 8 months a year with them and so finding a harmonious way of all getting along is essential.
Here are main points to consider if you find yourself in a similar position. (Of course more personalised support is available for those who book me for both online marriage counselling and marriage counselling in Dubai) –
With couples I go through the top 25 relationship needs and look at what each need in order to feel loved, respected and valued. Having a strong foundation will support you to manage these conflicts.
This is something that is super important for all couples to do, even if there have been no issues that have cropped up. Having both partners express how much involvement they would like their family to have in their life can be important.
For example; some people I have supported want to have dinner with their parents once a week and for their spouse and any children to join them. Others want to go to church or the mosque with their parents weekly. Some expect that public holidays and summer holidays will be with their extended family. Outlining expectations can help to avoid misunderstandings or conflicts. Some couples also find it useful to express what is healthy and what is too much when it comes to visiting and staying with one another. I always suggest that couples make an agreement to before saying yes to any family member that they discuss it first. This includes financial commitments and gifts, the key to trust and connection is involving one another and valuing each others opinion.
The relationship between you and your partner will get stronger the more you are able to love, support and connect with their family members that mean the most to them. Having your own relationship with them and making an effort to understand them will help if any conflicts do arise. It will also mean they are more likely to value and listen to you and your wishes. Of course this is not always the case, there are always exceptions to this. However I really believe that if we see others involvement in our life as too much or they are too reliant. It is often a cry for love and to feel needed and important. When you can approach the parent / family member with empathy and compassion, that they probably feel lonely, upset and not needed you can then involve them in things where it would benefit you to have some input or help.
When you work together as a team, everyone benefits. When you show care and concern they are more willing to listen and hopefully respect your boundaries when communicated.
In some cases, I have had women and mum come to me for support to accept the parents involvement and to be at peace with it. They share that their relationship is very strong, they love and respect their partner and their wishes to be there for their parents. They come to me to be able to just let their frustration, hurt, irritation go. They want to not feel less important and don’t want the parents to bother them, they want to be more at peace and accept things as they are. So I create personalised deep meditation / hypnotherapy audio recording, that encourages a person to be at peace, to feel calm in their in-laws presence, to see the good and to focus on all the good in their own life. This creates more harmony and positivity in the home. It dissolves negativity and resentment and many use it time and time again when triggered to restore balance.
If you would like to know more about my personalised marriage counselling in Dubai and online, you can book a free 20-minute Breakthrough call with me here.
I am so happy to share that in addition to the above, I am now facilitating life coaching training for people who want to become a life coach, which provides individuals with the tools and techniques they need to create healthier, happier relationships and can go on to work as a certified marriage coach.
If you want to know more about how to become a relationship coach, drop me an email on email@example.com and we can get you on the right path to an amazing future.