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My mom is toxic. What should we do?


INeedHelp
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My wife and I were living in Japan for quite awhile. We got married there and had two children. After the extremely lengthy visa process, my wife finally was granted a visa and we've moved to America.

While living in Japan, I barely made enough money to survive. The last couple years there I was only able to get by because of the US stimuli and the Japanese stimuli. Without those, we would have been in some hot water. Anyway, we made it to America, and I just got a job. It pays much better than my Japanese job, but I can't really afford much, due to inflation and all that.

My parents helped us to move to America, and we are living with them. My wife doesn't have a driver's license here, nor does she have a job. Even if she got all those things, we'd have to put the kids in daycare which, in Japan, was like $300/month total, for both kids. Here, it's around $1,000/month per kid. Crazy. So, she is just staying at home, cooking and cleaning, and taking care of the kids.

However, my mother is driving her crazy. She is insulting her cooking, insisting that she is raising the kids incorrectly, and just making nasty comments that hurts my wife's feelings. My wife ends up crying every night. At the same time, she tries to not let it show. So, when I said that I would confront my mother and try to get her to stop, my wife refused the help, telling me that she would be upset if I said anything; she just wants to leave.

Even so, I can't afford an apartment yet, with the crazy inflated prices. What should I do to deal with my toxic mother?

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Avoid your mother as much as possible and keep dialogue to a bare minimum.  Save money for your future apartment and when you and your family move,  enforce strong, healthy boundaries.  Don't see nor speak to each other often and if it's intolerable, halt any family togetherness with your mother until she behaves like a decent human being and properly. 

Tell your wife that as long as you remain silent and / or subservient to your mother, nothing will change for the better and your mother will not control her mouth.  In the meantime, either tolerate how it is living together under the same roof or do something to make co-habitation peaceful. 

 

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Can you move to a studio apartment?

This is putting a strain on your marriage and you are losing your wife because of it.

How long do you think it will be before you can afford living on your own as a family?

5 hours ago, INeedHelp said:

. So, when I said that I would confront my mother and try to get her to stop, my wife refused the help, telling me that she would be upset if I said anything;

No. The mistake would be NOT standing up to your wife. You don't need her permission on this. You grab your mom and give her the talk. You need to put boundaries with her and to draw a line on how she treats your wife. You let her know that if she mistreats your wife, she's mistreating you and she better get her act together. You do that ASAP. Your wife is the one you promised to live your rest of your life with, not your mom. You need to show loyalty to your wife and the mother of your kids. Do not let your mom walk all over you even if you live with her.

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I think you should talk with your mother anyway. But don't tell that your wife is falling bad. Say it's you can not see how she insulting your wife. Try to talk about your feeling hot your wife's. 

Another way could be to turn every into a joke if it happens in front of you. Try to exaggerate all her words to the point of absurdity. For example, your mother says to your wife: 'You cooked this soup badly' and 'yeah, we and all the street is going to be dead now. I have a bad imagination, sorry about that. If you want to try this way, tell your wife beforehand so she would know. Exaggeration can help you, so you can in a fanny way show your mother that you doing like she saying what she saying

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You should have never left Japan. Its not about how much you earn but how much you can afford. In Japan you had your own place, both of you worked and kids were in daycare. In America you need to live with your parents and you still cant afford to get kindergarden for your kids lol. With better jobs you could do fairly better in Japan.

But, anyway, move out. There is a running gag here how wifes and MiLs are sworn enemies. That proves to be true when you have 2 generations under the same roof. They clash and that is not good. So, get your wife a job and try to get a place on your own.

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I sympathise with your wife so much because I'm in the same position myself. It feels terrible. It is worrying that you can't necessarily afford to move somewhere else but honestly I don't think the things with your mother would get any better. This is how she wants to treat your wife and she obviously thinks this is OK. She might also have the opinion "my house, my rules". Some people are dominant and think they're always right. Telling them otherwise would probably just cause fights and issues. 

Is your wife actually Japanese? I'm guessing you guys don't really know that many people in America, since you lived in Japan for so long. Your wife might be feeling very lonely coming to America and just staying home all the time with your mother. She's not working or going out anywhere and seeing any friends or family, right? As you can imagine that on its own would be hard. Let alone being picked on by your mother all the time. If she cries every night she's obviously deeply unhappy. 

If there is anything at all you could do to move, I would recommend you move out. I mean, even if your mother was fine, were you actually going to live with your parents forever?

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8 hours ago, INeedHelp said:

, we made it to America, and I just got a job. 

My parents helped us to move to America, and we are living with them. 

Save up, get a second job and move out asap. You can't keep expecting everyone to bail you out especially since you two decided to have children and move to the US. In the meantime help your wife get a driver's license and some sort of job.

.If your mother is there why would you need daycare?  You don't need daycare to help your wife get a license or use public transportation. Your wife sounds quite unhappy in the position you put her in. So letting your mother go at her is not fair to your wife. When in fact you caused this problem.

You're acting passive like this is all your mother's fault but you two decided to do all this. It's understandable your parents feel crowded and put upon. It's time for you to step up.

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Until you can move out speak to your mother and tell her that it is her house her rules and you need for her to speak respectfully to your wife and let her parent the children unless the children are being rude/disrespectful to their grandmother or disrespectful to the house/stuff in the house.  Tell your wife you have her back but that you can't afford to move just yet. 

Stop having your wife cook.  You cook or you provide take out food or eat the food your mother makes if that's ok with your mother.  

For cleaning have your wife keep your space clean and help her.  You do the rest of the cleaning that would involve interacting with your mom.  Do a wash and fold service for your laundry.

Buy a mini fridge and a microwave for your bedroom and use that as much as possible, too.  Stay out of your parents' way. 

Do not assume your mom will take care of the grandkids if your wife works -that's not fair and then she might have methods your wife doesn't like.  

 

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5 hours ago, DarkCh0c0 said:

Can you move to a studio apartment?

This is putting a strain on your marriage and you are losing your wife because of it.

How long do you think it will be before you can afford living on your own as a family?

No. The mistake would be NOT standing up to your wife. You don't need her permission on this. You grab your mom and give her the talk. You need to put boundaries with her and to draw a line on how she treats your wife. You let her know that if she mistreats your wife, she's mistreating you and she better get her act together. You do that ASAP. Your wife is the one you promised to live your rest of your life with, not your mom. You need to show loyalty to your wife and the mother of your kids. Do not let your mom walk all over you even if you live with her.

This. That’s the first part of your solution. The second, and most important part is finding other living arrangements. Find a different roommate or roommates and move out of there. Once you’ve done that, limit or stop contact with your mother until she can treat your wife with respect. 

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How is your relationship with your mother? 

Can you talk to her in a non confrontational way? Explain how your wife is having a hard time and instead of "correcting" your mom, ask her if she can more emotionally supportive of your wife with encouragement. 

Explain that it's hard and until you can get a place you really appreciate her help. your wife is struggling and needs the kindness of her new family. 

You are her son. If you can't soften her, who can? 

 

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While being respectful of your mother to keep the peace, you need to support your wife and kids to the hilt. If you have a good relationship with your father, it might be good to have a quiet "Hey dad I'm trying to navigate this situation" conversation. He may be seeing things, and have a better grip of how to deal with your mother's tyranny.

Also when you do bring this up to your mother, make it about your observation not your wife's complaints of being cruely treated. If your mother has a heart, she will not want to upset her child as much.

I would also be very cautious about your mother caring for your kids, my grandmother really disliked my mom. To the point my grandmother physically abused me to get at my mom, that is until my grandfather and my dad caught my grandmother in the act.

At the end of the day moving out, even to a trailer park would be better than letting your wife suffer. Even if you have to double your commute, it would be more worthwhile to save YOUR family. Make sure your wife knows you will take her side when it counts, and start looking to do things outside of your parent's home more and more.

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Are you maybe at least able to stay with any other family or friends until you can save more money to get your own place? Or yeah get a small apartment or even granny flat/bungalow somewhere? The thing is I'm just not sure that confronting your mother will help in the long run. It's very clear there's a clash due to your mother's behaviours but she obviously doesn't think she's doing anything wrong. 

I understand it's her house but your parents obviously said that you can stay with them. Your wife is trying. She's cooking and cleaning and contributing to the household. Even if your mother doesn't enjoy your wife's cooking, it's rude to insult her about it. Also your wife is the children's mother so she is the one who should be doing most of the parenting. Your mother needs to respect that while she has her opinions, she is not the children's actual Mum so she needs to let your wife be a mother to them.

If you manage to get another place then you don't need to pay for childcare because your wife can stay home with the kids.

In any case though, you are a married couple so living with your parents probably shouldn't be a forever thing. It must be cramped in the one house with the six of you there. Surely you and your wife need your own space and privacy.

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