A reader writes in:
So basically I got married 2 years back. My wife is from a wealthy family. Her mom and dad got divorced after our marriage. And she started dating her personal trainer after that. I wasn’t really happy about that because that guy was even younger than me. It felt like he’s dating her for the money. But it became a problem when she started acting really weird. She made jokes about how hot her new boyfriend is. They sometimes did PDA. It was all big embarrassing moments for me and my wife Because of my job I and my wife moved to another place last year. It was a big relief because we could spend our time together without their presence. For our first wedding anniversary they came to our house
Then she and her boyfriend stayed with us. The weirdest thing in my life happened that night. She started moaning really loud after we went to bed. It was a special night for us since that was our first wedding anniversary. And she ruined it for us. I was really disgusted. I think they are having some weird porn fetish. She wanted me and my wife to know she’s having a great sex life at her older age.I feel that she wanted to make me and my wife to feel jealous about her new relationship. I stopped talking to her after that. She still calls my wife. And she’s still dating that guy. I know she’s my mother in law. But I lost all respect towards her. Now my wife wants me to talk to her again.
Also one another problem is I’m afraid that guy will exploit her for money. They have been buying lots of luxury recently. We’re originally from the Maldives and she sold her properties there and bought a mansion here in USI have no idea how to move forward with the situation. Should I care? or should I just let them do whatever they want?
I feel like I’m in the reddit relationships AMA with this one. Appreciate such an interesting question.
You are right to be concerned about what’s going on between them, and almost certainly this personal trainer is using your mother-in-law for her money. I also agree it’s very “on the nose” (as the brits would say) that she would have loud, kinky sex on your anniversary — hard to perceive this wasn’t at least somewhat deliberate.
And yet, what are you to do?
Your mother-in-law is having a mid-life crisis.
I don’t know what transpired during her marriage, but it sounds like the classic “real housewives” kind of situation: rich, absent husband and a neglected wife who is desperate to capture any last bit of sexual attention she can muster.
The timing of your mother’s affair with this guy was not a coincidence. You are likely an attractive, successful man in your own right (with more self-awareness than your father-in-law) and I imagine your wife is a beautiful woman. You are a happy, enviable couple… and your lives are just getting started.
Your mother-in-law’s romantic potential, in contrast, is in its twilight hours.
She is jealous of what you and your wife have.
Think about it:Your mother-in-law probably feels she wasted most of her life with golden handcuffs in a glass cage. She sees her beautiful daughter marry this great guy and thinks — why can’t I have that? Why does my daughter get this experience and not me? Am I not hot enough anymore?
She doubles her effort at the gym and starts flirting with her trainer to see the response she can still get. He sees an opportunity with a rich MILF and makes a move.
And now she’s showing off to prove to you and especially your wife that she’s still got it. Sorry to disgust you further, but in many ways it’s a competition with her daughter to show off her version of you.
This is a classic situation you see with rich middle-aged guys, but only occasionally (yet increasingly) with rich middle-aged women: age-arbitrage. Sugar babies getting a financial fix and luxury experiences in exchange for providing their youth, beauty, and vitality to sugar mommies and daddies.
It’s easy to judge from the sidelines — and it’s understandable to be grossed out when you are on the receiving end of this projection.
But if she can get this experience, and it’s what she wants, why shouldn’t she?
Around here we would not judge men in similar situations. She’s got the money and limited years to entice a young guy to make her feel desirable. You can’t take it with you — might as well enjoy it.
So as far as how I’d suggest you respond to this whole thing… stop taking it so seriously, and treat her behavior with a little more humor.
Unless she is literally burning through all your inheritance on bottles of Veuve Cliquot and first class flights, there is nothing that you can say about her choices that would not sound petulant. Keep perspective: this is an old woman going overboard to show off her sex appeal. It’s like a Madonna music video. You can either laugh or cry, I recommend the former.
Moreover, why give her any satisfaction of knowing this bothers you? “Freezing her out” makes it seem like her sexuality is threatening; that you may even be jealous of her porn star sex. Which is what she wanted to do in the first place, right?
Don’t give her more power than she deserves.
If you’re really worried about the financial outcomes of this dalliance — that this guy is in it to win it — keeping your distance is less likely, not more likely, to prevent it. You need to be involved so you have more information, objectivity, and relational leverage to actually intervene if and when the time comes.
Ultimately your mother-in-law — like all women — wants attention. I know you expected better as she’s older, but not every woman processes aging gracefully.
Treat her behavior with jest. Next time she has loud sex make fun of her and tell her to keep it down next time. Two can play the game.
It’s a weird family, but you married into it. Make the best of it.
Anyway, if you want help with your own complicated family matters… apply to work with me here: www.patstedman.com/application