More In-laws: Ray and Alaina

"The biggest issue with my mother-in-law is that she just interferes too much," says Alaina. She and her husband, Ray, have been living with his mother, Eda, since they were married 10 months ago and have 15-month-old twin boys. Alaina complains that Eda tries to take over her parenting duties by washing the kids clothes, cooking and feeding them. "When Edie goes near the kids, I can feel my blood boil. I just want to be able to do what I'm supposed to do as a mother and she just interferes."

Eda says she's just trying to help her daughter-in-law. "She's very defensive and very independent. She doesn't want help from no one," she says. Eda feels snubbed because Alaina will walk by with the twins and turn their faces from her. The women often scream at each other, and Alaina will slam the door in Eda's face.

Ray adds his opinion. "Alaina is very protective of the kids. It's all right for me to help, but no one else," he says. "Alaina acts like a 10-year-old. She needs to grow up." 

Alaina doesn't feel supported by her husband. "I feel like she's turning him against me. I'm trying to communicate and I'm not being heard," she says tearfully. "If my thoughts and feelings continue to be disregarded, I can't stay."

"Well, you feel trapped where you are, right?" Dr. Phil asks.

Alaina replies, "Definitely."

Addressing Ray, Dr. Phil says, "You said, 'It's hard to support something you don't believe in.' ... What were you referring to?"

Ray explains, "Over the past year, I believe Alaina has created this wall. Within this wall, there are certain people that she has accepted: the kids, her mother, her father, myself ... She rejects help from the outside." 

Dr. Phil points out that Alaina hasn't spoken to Eda in three weeks, and that Alaina will cover her sons faces when she's walking by Eda so can't see them. 

"That's what she said, but I don't cover their faces —" she begins.

Eda interrupts, "You turn them so I don't see them, and you walk right out the door."

Dr. Phil runs down a list of Alaina's complaints against Eda. "You get upset if she washes the kids clothes and does laundry, because you feel like that's your job ... You said you feel anger and resentment toward her. That you are appalled by her as a person. You think she is rude and abrasive, that she never has anything intelligent to say. You don't enjoy being around her, don't enjoy talking to her, and you do not want your children around her."

"I said those things," Alaina admits.

Dr. Phil notes that Alaina is saying this to a woman whose house she lives in and whose food she's eating. He observes that the problem isn't one-sided because Eda can be rude and abrasive as well. Turning to Eda, he says, "You've told her, 'If you don't like it, get the 'F' out of my house." 

Acknowledging that she does swear in front of the kids, Eda says, "They're only 1-year-old. Like they can understand."

Dr. Phil corrects her. "It's not good to be doing that in front of the kids, and they do understand, and they have good memories ... They understand the tone of what's being said. They understand that a word is emphasized and it's ugly. What's more, you'll be at the grocery store with them, and they'll repeat that for you when the preacher's coming by and shaking your hand."

Addressing Ray, Dr. Phil asks, "How old are you?" 

When Ray says that he's 40, Dr. Phil questions, "What are you doing living with your mother?" 

"I had a job and I lost it, and then because I was previously married, I am paying support for those kids," he explains. 

Dr. Phil sympathizes with Ray, but says, "You need to move. If you have to go to Home Depot and get a tent. This is difficult on everybody. You're going to damage things here in a way that is irreconcilable."

Eda feels slighted by her daughter-in-law. "She won't take any help, assistance you offer. Forget it," she tells Dr. Phil. 

"Do you know why?" 

"Because she wants to be in control," Eda says, matter-of-factly. 

Dr. Phil counters, "Because she's the mom. It's her family, it's her children. And she's a young mother who's wanting to stake out her territory. She says, 'It's my job to do the laundry. It's my job to clean the house, it's my job to make the bed.' And when you do it that's like saying she can't. It hurts her feelings."

He tells Eda that she means well and acknowledges that she's been gracious in opening her home. "You're being very giving about this. You're being victimized by the fact that you're in an untenable situation," he says. 

Addressing Ray, Dr. Phil warns, "You're going to wind up getting a divorce here."

Ray agrees. "That's actually the scratching of the surface. My mother, I believe, is the brunt of it." 

When Ray says that he doesn't think having his own place will help the situation between his wife and mother, Dr. Phil jumps in, "Oh yes, it will. It will help immensely. There are a lot of people who get along a lot better long-distance than they do standing next to each other."

Dr. Phil explains that "reflexive biting'" is causing Alaina and Eda to be at each other's throats. "If you overpopulate something with even the most docile creatures, they'll begin to reflexively bite one another, and that's what's happening here," he tells the women. "It's not that she's the evil daughter-in-law, or the evil mother-in-law. You're in an untenable situation."

Alaina needs to cultivate the relationship between her sons and Eda. Both she and Ray can decompress their situation by getting a different living arrangement. "You need to get some sort of employment, some sort of plan, some sort of way to give your marriage a chance to breathe ... You have no physical boundaries, and the only fences that are being put up are fences of hostility and resentment," he tells them.

Once Ray and Alaina have their own home, Dr. Phil predicts that tensions will decrease. "I really think you two might want to revise your relationship, look at this after you've been separate for 30 days," he says. "You don't need a lot of distance here, but you certainly need a different roof."

When Eda argues that Alaina doesn't want her to get close to her grandkids, Dr. Phil says, "Everything you're getting from her right now is distorted by the situation you're in." He reiterates that to Alaina, adding, "You've got to take the chip off your shoulder, and the only way to do that is to get your own place and space where you can be who you're supposed to be."

Ray needs to step up and be the leader in his family, otherwise, his marriage will not survive.