Inlaw Relations/Red Flags?


Hi David,
 My boyfriend and I have been together for two years, and we have every intention of getting married after he finishes dental school in 3 years. My boyfriend is 22, and the youngest of three boys with the older two being 8 years ahead. His mom, while very kind to me, has become really clingy and almost territorial in recent months. My grandmother (probably the queen of all scary mothers-in-law) thinks that his mom may be making a point to me, as if to say: He's still mine.
It all started back in August. We graduated from college in May, and in August I went to visit him at his parent's home for his birthday and to help him move into his new place near dental school.The day before the move, he and I were going to get some groceries for his new place. His mother insisted on coming with us. (Because apparently, a 22 yr old who's been away at college in another state for 4 yrs, can't do that on his own???)After running a few other errands, my boyfriend decided to call her, and tell her thanks, but he and I would handle the shopping. We get to the grocery store and who pops up? His mom! Could it be that she just needed groceries? Maybe, but after we ran into her, she criticized everything in his cart, and got into an argument with him because he chose skim milk over whole. All this, very public, and with me by his side.
The next day as we were packing up his car, his mom kept trying to make him take things with him (half empty bottle of floor cleaner, vitamins, half a thing of butter, etc). He kept telling her that he had it taken care of, but instead of letting up, she started insulting him, calling him spoiled and silly for not listening to her, that he was going to regret it. She practically emasculated him right in front of me.
Something tells me that she is sensing that he and I are serious about each other because my boyfriend says she's become clingier than usual. When I invited him to spend Thanksgiving with my family this year, his mom told him no, that she really wanted him here, but his oldest brother is going to Japan for Christmas with a woman he's only been dating for 5 months. Our parents have met multiple times and seem to really like each other. Not to mention, he goes to school 1 hr away. He's home on weekends all the time. She also recently started baby-talking to him and saying "Who's are you?" The correct answer is obviously "Mom's", but he told me that he once responded with "Rachel's" and she got really upset.
My boyfriend is the greatest, but he admits that he is cautious of telling his parents that he wants to marry me because he's afraid that they might be condescending about it and ruin it for him.
My question to you is: Does this sound like a future "Monster-in-law" to you? Do you think his mom, who is usually clingy and controlling of my bf but has recently upped her game, might be doing so to make a point because she has sense that we have become more serious? Thanks for your help!!!


The why in why is this happening is actually not important. What is important is how your BF handles it. Because how he handles it now is how he will handle it if you are married to one another. If he is not able to handle it like an adult and give his mother clear boundaries then you should not marry him. If he is able to provide clear boundaries to his mother then you know your future with your MIL will be okay. If he gives in to her guilt trips etc... this would be something that you should see as a red flag. Be clear with him that your relationship with him will continue if he is able to give clear boundaries. It's not your job and if you try to do it, your relationship with her will be not work out well.

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Dr. David Simonsen


I can answer you questions clearly and straight. Let me help you get your in-law relationships figured out. They can really be challenging


I meet weekly with families that have in-law challenges.


B.A. M.S. Marriage & Family Therapy; Ph.D. Psychology

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