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Exploring Womanhood > Relationships > Articles

Everybody Loves Raymond But Hates His Parents
By Jenna D. Barry

Why does everyone love Raymond? I'd like to smack him upside the head.

To set the record straight, I love the show "Everybody Loves Raymond" (because I can relate to it) and I'll bet that in real life Ray Romano is a wonderful, loyal husband and confident adult. But his character on the show is a gutless wimp who constantly ignores his wife's needs in order to please his narcissistic parents.

While most of us cringe whenever Raymond's mother, Marie, manipulates everyone with guilt, we don't realize that Raymond is the one who allows her to have such a destructive effect on his marriage. He listens to his mother gossip about his wife instead of saying, "Mom, I'm not willing to listen to you talk about Debra behind her back." He remains silent when his parents criticize Debra's cooking, cleaning, parenting methods, and clothing. He is so focused on being a parent pleaser that he rarely tries to be a loyal husband.

My husband used to be a "Raymond," but now I call him "Super Husband of the Universe." It took nine hellish years, but he finally transferred his loyalty from his parents to me. If you are married to a "Raymond," then here are five things you can do to gain his loyalty:

1. Model healthy behavior so that he will notice a contrast between your behavior and his parents' behavior. Don't give him the silent treatment or try to control everything he wants to say, do, eat, drink, wear, and buy. Don't volunteer him to do things for or with your friends or parents without asking him first. Don't manipulate him with guilt trips or dirty looks. Communicate that his needs and opinions are just as important as yours.

2. Instead of calling him a disloyal husband, calmly tell him specific things that you would like for him to say and do whenever certain situations come up with his parents. For example, "Honey, the next time your parents invite us to visit for the holidays, it would be really great if you would discuss it with me before committing us."

3. Instead of telling your husband what jerks his parents are, communicate directly with them. On some occasions, it's your responsibility to speak up to your in-laws instead of expecting your husband to take care of the situation. For example, if you're tired of your father-in-law teasing you about your weight problem, then tell him that you expect him not to do that anymore (and if he continues to do it, leave the room or hang up the phone). Don't pressure your husband to tell him to leave you alone.

4. Turn to an encouraging friend for support. You aren't a robot, so you will have some negative feelings toward his parents and you'll need to vent them to someone other than your husband. It's a bad idea to complain to your own mom about your husband because you'll forgive him long before she does. Find someone who can listen to you vent, but then encourage you to love your husband more than you hate his parents. Don't just gossip and let it end there; have your friend hold you accountable to being assertive with your husband and his parents. Behave in a dignified, respectful manner so that you can have a great marriage in spite of having in-laws from hell.

5. Read some books about how to cope with difficult in-laws. My two favorites are Susan Forward's Toxic In-laws: Loving Strategies for Protecting Your Marriage and Nancy Wasserman Cocola's Six in the Bed: Dealing with Parents, In-laws, and Their Impact on Your Marriage. The more you learn, the more confident you will be in dealing with your husband and his parents.

Don't wait around for someone to improve your marriage. Do what is in your power to do. Love your husband more than you hate his parents. You can have a great marriage even if you have in-laws from hell.

For more helpful information about coping with in-laws, please visit my website at http://wifeguidetoin-laws.blogspot.com.

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