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Wife is a BPD slave to her mother


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We've been married for nearly 20 years and in that time the first 2-4 were the most turbulent. That was because we lived within easy range of my wife's mother and her daily mental manipulation of my wife, making up stories, blowing up at her and constantly instilling a deep sense of guilt. This made my wife extremely volatile, loving and hating. At the time my wife sought therapy and although they were not definitive, they suggested she may be BPD and that to minimize exposure to causes of her stress, so we moved to another country and reduced daily conversations with the mother in law down to monthly and deliberately avoided being drawn into her family politics.


It worked well, we had children and although she was still more volatile than most, she made an effort to anticipate and avoid the outbursts or emotionally torturing behaviors... until her father died.


At that point, she let her mother into our lives again with weekly calls, getting herself drawn into the cruel world her mother felt she is facing alone. It got worse and my wife has insisted that we bring her over to stay with us for 3 months each year, because she's getting old and my wife "owes" it to her.


8 years later, we've had her mother hear every hear, for a quarter of the year (yes, that trying enough with someone who has no sense of personal space), but the bigger pain is the way her mother just takes her over, like a mater puppeteer. For a month before she's due to visit, my wife is on edge, explosive at anything, and immediately defensive on any topic.


Our guest (her mother) is pleasant and avoids her explosive side in our house, but that manifests in strong passive aggressive behaviors. With disapproving looks that destroy your self esteem and feel like your soul is being judged, to strong body language that screams the very opposite of what she has just said... it is torture.


Within days of her arrival, my wife is a different person. She's aloof toward me, like we're just old friends and anything is taken as an affront to our guest (her mother) that is met with anger and hostility. During this time she is hypersensitive and will misunderstand the most innocent of comments and turn it into something to be defensive about.


I have seen this control her mother has on her increase and remain longer with each annual visit. It's like a wider wedge is being rammed in between us and it doesn't affect just me, the teenage kids are now seeing and feeling it.


Most recently, as my mother in law jetted back home, my wife blasted all of us for being total little es to her poor fragile mother. Apparently, her mother tells her that the whole family seems to dislike her and made her feel so unwelcome and unappreciated that she's now too scared and offended that she's considering not coming back. Yes, I bit my tongue, but the kids tried to correct the story only to be met by the most severe outbreak I've ever seen her have. Clearly, she's now the protective parent in a weird role reversal with her mother.


Has anyone ever been through this kind of situation the BPD mother daughter dynamic actually strengthens later in life and becomes more important than the immediate family?

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In our case, the mother exacerbates these behaviors in both my wife and her sister, but given the opportunity to get close to each other (even by phone), they play games with each other minds, make up fake crises or lay thick guilt trips. It certainly gets worse as they spend more time together. I suspect all three are Borderline Personality Disorder.

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Opps, Father died eight years ago?


I'll take a stab at it.


There's more than likely nothing wrong with your wife.

She's not a biddy (gossip lover), and rejected that way of life.


Her Mom makes old insecurities bubble up.

That's not by accident.


Mom most likely spent her life creating/enjoying three-ring circuses. (Now you know one of the reasons some older women are so lonely)


You need to study three-rings, hookers (the hook), and other adolescent behavior.

Once you understand, teach the wife, help build her up, and limit biddies.


PS, It will only get worse. As you age the filters come off. :icon_sad:

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It makes sense that your wife would be doing more poorly right now with increased exposure to her mother (stress) and also the recognition of her moms mortality becoming more pronounced after her father died( more stress).

If your wife does suffer a mental illness, that kind of stress can really exacerbate her health issues.


Do you think your wife would consider speaking to a mental health professional ? I'd be concerned, not just for now but if she loses her mom in her current mental state it could be a real breaking point for her.

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He died ten years ago, now.


Oddly, at the time, on his deathbed he told his daughters that this was the way out he had sought and living with their mother had been difficult. He did also ask them to make sure they looked after her, so through that reinforced the sense of guilt and obligation. This infuriated both sisters with the mother and the mind games she played.


Now I look at it all and I can see the mental space he ended up in.

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See my above re-post.


Btw, There's a VERY high likelihood one of the sister's is a biddy. (ie, gossip lover, three-ringer, very insecure..., like mom.)

Be careful, sooner or later you'll be in the bullseye.


They're masters at throwing out hooks, which in turn start trouble.


It's how they hide from their insecurities and failures.


Once a week, take your wife out dancing.

You'll see immediate improvement.

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Very true on that three-ring circus, that's it exactly.


My wife has seen therapists and initially they though bipolar, but then suggested possibly BPD. That was within the first 4 year of our marriage and she was determined to eradicate that family influence. Now, I think the sense of guilt for an aging and alone parent has kicked in and she's not seeing herself or wanting to see herself anymore. It's like her primary focus is to look after and defend her mother against the many imaginary demons her mother seems to conjure.

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Mom's not alone by accident. She choose her life and your wife needs to understand that.


I personally think many emotional illness's can be helped or cured with love and understanding.


That is, YOU must learn and understand..., then help.


It's what husband's do, and can do best!

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