Psychiatry & Psychology--General/mother in law syndrome


Hi im looking for some guidence..
I am a 49yr old single mother of a 13yr old son. I have been in a relationship with a recently divorced man and we have made plans to move in together. He may now be relocating to another state for work, approx 3000km away and has asked my son and I to move with him. He has family and friends there, I dont.
Shortly after his 25yr marriage began his wife moved her mother into their home, to his objection. The mother suffers from mental illness (schizophrenia). Over the term of the marriage the mother either lived with them or near them and was dependant physically, emotionally and financially. She was a constant burden and continually demanding upon them. As a result my boyfriend was only ever awayfrom this woman for a total period of approx 2yrs out of 25, and understandably has a problem when it comes to a mother-in-law.
Most of my family are either deceased or unknown to me. My only brother was a murder victim, my father passed from cancer 3 yrs ago and my only other child died due to medical negligence. I have 2 neices, one of which died 8 weeks ago in a car accident. The surviving niece lives with her mother on the other side of the country and I rarely see her. I have 2 cousins I am in contact with but rarely see as they live interstate.
Due to the situation, my son has no extended family. His father has basically abandoned him and he has had virtually no contact with the man over the past 4 years and only spoken to him twice on the phone in the past 12 months. He recieves no gifts, visits or cards from this man. They have no relationship and that mans family live overseas and are strangers to us.  All I have left are my mother and my son.
My son has been ill and my mother has been living with me for the past 6 months to help me and allow time for my boyfriend and I to spend time together as well.
My boyfriend lives approx 25 min drive from my place, but rarely comes to visit. He always get myself or myself and my son to visit him. He now tells me it is because he is uncomfortable about my mother living here.
When discussing the planned move interstate with my mother and the possibility of her buying a house in the area we settle in, probably in another town, so that she can be close by should my son and I need her, and more importantly, so my son still has contact with his only other relative in his life. My mother has agreed with this and feels it is important for my son for her to be nearby. My son has made comment previously that everyone and everything he loves always leaves him.
My mother is a healthy, independant woman of her own means and is not financially, physically or emotionally dependant on me. She never has been. She is her own person, with her own life and keeps to herself. She has never been a burden in anyway nor would she be. she is independant.
My boyfriend has "freaked out" about my mother moving interstate. He cant seem to understand that she will NOT be moving in with us, she will NOT be moving with us. She will be doing her own thing. I do not want her to live with us or "next door". I want to be able to carve a life out with my boyfriend and my son as a family, but not at the expense of my son and I being isolated from the last family we have.
My boyfriend has mad comment that we could put my mother in a house approx 200kms away. Now my boyfriend's mother is doing the same thing and telling me that i dont understand what it was like for my boyfriend during his marriage and that my mother shouldnt move near us. That having his mother inlaw with him so long has traumatised him and he will take it to his grave.
A little background... my boyfriends parents live approx 45min drive from him. He speaks with his mother on the phone almost daily and sees his parents a few times a month. He has a brother and sister inlaw and nephews, uncles and cousins living not far away as well. He has extended family both here and interstate where we will be moving to, including all his mother's extended family.
I have expressed to my boyfriend that I am not his exwife and my mother is not his former mother inlaw. That the situations are completely different. That the living situations will be completely different. That she is independant, not dependant on me.
My main concern is the welfare of my son. I dont want to see him hurt any further and I certainly do not want to feel like I am being isolated from my family.
It is appearing that he can have his extended family close by, but I cant.
The town we will be moving to is a small, isolated mining town. If my son needs specialist treatment, we will have to travel 3hrs or more. If my boyfriend and I are both working, this is going to be difficult and something my mother can help me with, as well as somewhere for him to go after school and I can pick him up on my way home from work.
Am I being unreasonable? How do I handle this situation without it blowing out of proportion which it seems to be about to do?
I feel like I am being railroaded somehow and being forced to be isolated from my family. Maybe I am being oversensitive, but I feel as though no-one is being sensitive to my needs and the needs of my son.
I am not engaged to this man. Marriage has been mentioned "in passing" a few times, but we have not discussed this and he has not asked me to marry him, therefore i have no real commitment from him.
I understand completely his trepidations and fears due to past experiences, but we are not those people. I dont know what to do.
Some guidence from you would be greatly appreciated.
regards Debra, Australia.


Thank you for your very thoughtful and heartfelt question about your decision, to move or not to move to be with your boyfriend.

This limited forum does not allow me to give your the fine tuned professional advice that someone who has had the opportunity to work with you in therapy for a period of time might be able to.

However, I would strongly caution you against making this move based upon the information you have provided.  This person evidently feels comfortable making a lot more controlling demands upon your life than he is willing to make positive commitments to you.  Plus he expects you to accept a hypocritical imbalance between his closeness with his family and you with yours, which is always a bad sign, made even worse by your account that his mother feels free to intrude upon your relationship with him and boss you around as well.

I would advise to say that you are not prepared to move under his conditions and perhaps you should consider letting him move first without you, then see how much he values the relationship and if the he will be more willing to give you the consideration that you not only deserve but that you should not so dramatically disrupt your, your son's and your mother's lives for without.


Dr. Elmore

Psychiatry & Psychology--General

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Andrew M. Elmore, Ph.D.


I can answer questions about: Stress. Headaches. Stress-related Disorders. Anxiety/Panic Disorder. Depression. Psychopathology. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Personal Problem Solving. Life in General. Relationships: Love, Friendship, Business Partner, Coworker, Family,Child/Parent. What makes us tick. The use of psycho-pharmacological agents in combination with psychological treatment. How to deal with evil people in your life. How to improve your outlook under duress. How to control stress. How to control mood. How to control headaches. I cannot answer: Questions about Eating Disorders. Questions about computers.


30 years in private practice as a psychologist in Manhattan. Dealing with people from almost every conceivable ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, and as many character types as exist in this country. Dealing with patients from 8 years old to 90 years old. Pioneer in biofeedback and the treatment of stress-related disorders. Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine since 1982. Treatment of stress-related, anxiety and depressive disorders with biofeedback and cognitive behavioral therapy. Developed personal problem solving, an extremely precise form of psychotherapy. Relationship therapy for couples, families, parent/child issues, business partners, coworkers, employers, and dealing with psychopathic individuals in your life.

American Psychological Association. Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback. Biofeedback Certification Institute of America. New York Academy of Sciences.

The journal, Psychophysiology. The book, Expanding Dimensions of Consciousness. The journal, Headache. The journal, Biofeedback and Self-Regulation. The journal Psychiatry Digest. The book, The TMJ Book. The book, Dental Phobia. The network, CNN. Parade Magazine. The newspaper, Newsday. The Manhattan TV station, WCBS. The national news program, The CBS Evening News. The newspaper, The New York Post. The national TV program, The Phil Donohue Show. The magazine, The New Yorker. The magazine, Glamor. The magazine, Redbook. The magazine, Health. The magazine, Bottom Line Personal. Web MD. The website, Healthology. The magazine, Newsweek.

Ph.D. SUNY at Stony Brook, 1979. B.A., magna cum laude with Honors in Psychology, Illinois Wesleyan University, 1974.

Awards and Honors
Who’s Who in Medicine and Healthcare, First, Second and Third Editions, 1997-2000. Appointed to the Training Faculty of the Biofeedback Certification Institute of America (BCIA), 1993. Senior Fellow BCIA. New York Academy of Sciences, 1987. Who’s Who in the East, 1983-present. Who’s Who in Frontier Science and Technology, First Edition. Citation Paper Author. Eleventh Annual Meeting of the Biofeedback Society of America, Colorado Springs, Colorado, 1980. Biofeedback Society of America Scholar, 1979. Co-author, USVA Grant, “Variables Affecting the Experience of Pain in Migraine,” USVA Medical Center, Northport, New York, 1977-1979. Biomedical Research Fellow, Department of Biomedical Engineering, SUNY at Stony Brook, Stony Brook, New York, 1978. NIMH Predoctoral Fellowship, 1976. BA, Magna cum laude, with Honors in Psychology, 1974. Danforth Fellowship Nominee, Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington, Illinois, 1973.

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Most of my clients are my private patients. However I have provided many seminars, lectures and workshops for: Columbia University. The Mount Sinai School of Medicine. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Museum of Natural History. The UJA Federation. The university, CW Post. The College of New Rochelle. Equinox Fitness. Travelers Insurance. AutoOne Insurance. Chubb Insurance. Metropolitan Life. Allstate Insurance. State Farm Insurance. Encompass Insurance. The public relations firm, Porter Novelli. The investment firm, Capital Re:. The Estee Lauder corporation. The law firm of Irwin Abrams. The National Insurance Crime Bureau. GEICO Insruance. Beth Israel Hospital.

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