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UNLOCKED Full Episode: "Confronting Your Mother-In-Law" | The Oprah Winfrey Show

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[music playing] [applause] It is the most fearsome rivalry in all of history. It still belongs to two types of women-- mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law. It's the showdown to end all showdowns. And we have, in this show today, a few examples of the hostilities. You wanted to share what with us? Yes. I have a mother-in-law who, number one, didn't want me to marry her son. I just was not her pick. So, therefore, she's not only never gotten to know me, so she doesn't know who I am. Automatically doesn't like me and will tell lies about me to the rest of the family-- my husband's family. Which makes them wonder who I really am. Now, I get along with some of the rest of the family members, but with her, nothing. We can't communicate. She doesn't want to. And she ends up taking things out on my children. Because they are half mine. OK. Your problem is? I'm a mother-in-law and I don't even know my daughter-in-law. She just stole my son. And-- She stole him? Well, I don't know. He left us. He didn't ever want to see us, again. They changed the wedding date from a date that was set for almost a year and a half so that there was no way we could be there. She did not know that he was seeing me and telling me about all this secretly. He told us to just come. And then, finally, he told us if we came to the wedding, we were going to be ejected. They would meet us at the door. My daughter was to be standing up in the wedding. She had to leave it. She made things so hard for her. His twin brother was to be his best man. And he called him two weeks before and said he didn't want him. We've not heard a word from him since. How long has this been? He was married December 8. And his wedding date was supposed to be the 15th. I called the minister. I thought maybe he could hide me in the church. I knew the date was that day. And the minister said they're not getting married today. And I said, I was told by my son that this was going to be his wedding day. He said your son told you that? And then he said I told them to mend their fences with their families before they ever got married. And her parents, I tried to get them to my home one night. When they came at 10 o'clock, they refused to come. So you think this daughter-in-law is doing this. Oh, I know it. OPRAH WINFREY: You know it. And my son is doing it, also. Your concern is? Well, my mother-in-law is right next to me and she always says that she can't see her grandchildren. And it's her own fault. She has the opportunity. I've tried for 11 years to make amends. And she just wants to have no part of me. I took her son away from her. That's what she thinks. Is that what you think? - No. No. What do you think? I think I should see my grandchildren. I've got five of them. And there's two of them-- one of them is out of the country-- at Alabama. And the other two are with her. And I got one-- So you all have been fighting for 11 years? - No. - Yes. Yes. Yes. OK. Well, we're talking about mothers-in-law and daughter-in-law today. I want you to meet Penny and her mother-in-law of 18 years, Dee. They've not seen each other now for over a year. Penny has banned Dee from her home for the last four years. Please welcome them to the show. We're glad to have you here. [applause] What's the problem? What's the problem, Penny? I feel that she thinks that I stole her son. I'm not what she wanted him to marry. But she said she wanted him to marry a Filipino doctor. I'm sorry, I'm not. I'm American. And I'm proud of it. I'm not married to her. I'm married to him. [applause] What is the problem, Dee? Well, I don't know where the Filipino doctor came in. That's the first I'd heard of that. But she just moody and she's pouty. She's been this way ever since I've known her. She tries to cause trouble in the entire family. And she's not happy unless every family member is bickering. And you get a little tired of it after a while. I'm trying to make your son happy so he can get along with you. He never has. Well, if she wants to have him to herself, I don't interfere. I feel I'm not wanted at their house. I don't go. And the kids, when they get to be 18, they have their own cars. If they want to come and see me, that's fine. But I'm not going to go against her wishes or my son. Have you tried to put other family members against Penny? No. She seems to think-- PENNY: You're lying. I have, but I haven't. They-- Wait a minute, right there, Penny. I hate your guts. You're an instigating bitch. That's what you are. - That's fine. That's fine. - Who are you? Who are you? I'm her brother-in-law. She married my stepbrother. You know, I don't like my brother Mike anymore because of you. You tore him away from our whole family. No. She tore him away from your family. Penny, you did, too. Look at your kids. Your son is the best kid. But look at you? Look at you, Penny. You're a disgrace to our family. And I really feel that. And if I ever see you, again-- Right here now. Your butt is mine. [gasping] [applause] OK. So you are her brother-in-law. So your brother is married to Penny. And so you don't speak to your brother now. No. I haven't spoke to him since last February. What is the problem? She's a witch. She's evil. She just starts so much trouble between everybody. Everybody in our family is sick of it. We try to make amends with her, but she just doesn't want it. I mean, I think she's happy this way.

I really do. OPRAH WINFREY: OK. What kind of trouble? Trying to get other family members to hate each other. OPRAH WINFREY: Other family members to hate each other. About three years ago, she came into a place where I was working. She goes, Glenn, how's your mom get all her money? I really do. OPRAH WINFREY: OK. What kind of trouble? Trying to get other family members to hate each other. OPRAH WINFREY: Other family members to hate each other. About three years ago, she came into a place where I was working. She goes, Glenn, how's your mom get all her money? And she goes, she sells drugs. Doesn't she? Now that hurt really hard. I mean, my mom's got a good job. She makes great money. And besides, it's none of Penny's business where her money comes from. Penny, you say you're just trying to make his brother, her son, happy. Yeah. He's never been happy all of his life. He's from a divorced family. He was treated bad. He really was. And I want to make him happy. He got married with you? I mean, look at the life you gave him. Hey, he must be because we've been married for 18 years. [applause] Are they 18 happy years, though, Penny? That's what counts. OK. And the problem, as you see it, Penny, is what? The family obviously doesn't like it too much. I don't care. I don't care. I'm happy. My husband's happy. My kids are happy. My kids enticed me to come on this show today. She uses the kids against each other, too. She has nothing to do with my daughter. My son is number one with her and you don't do that to kids. You treat them equal. You three might differ from Karen. And if you're so happy, what are you doing up there? Answer that. Let me ask you this, Dee. Your problem is what? Basically, I just felt like from the day they got married, things weren't right. They were in the service. They went back-- But what did he feel? What did her husband feel? We just don't get along. He doesn't feel comfortable in my house. And as far as me showing favoritism to the kids, the little girl is more withdrawn. The boy is more open. And I can relate to him. He's older. And the little girl, I just can't seem to even connect with her. And I haven't really seen her for over four years. And when I do see her, she turns her head and ignores me. I have a little granddaughter who's seven years old. She told her over Christmas sometime, she said you know, I hate Grandma Dee. And she doesn't know me. And only thinks she can say that she hates me is because of what she's been told. Because the girl does not know me. Because one time, Dee, when we were at your house, you told her you hated her. Now that just isn't true. OPRAH WINFREY: We'll be right back with more Penny and Dee in a moment. [music playing] We're talking about mothers-in-law, daughter-in-law. Penny is the daughter-in-law here. And Dee, you haven't seen each other in over a year? At her father's funeral. It was a year ago, the 12th of this month. A year ago. So you've just elected to stay out of their lives. So if you're out of their lives, why is it a problem, Penny? Is she out of your life? Yeah. OPRAH WINFREY: And so, you all just don't get along? No. We don't. OPRAH WINFREY: And you've agreed not to get along? I've tried. It just doesn't work. OPRAH WINFREY: It doesn't work. No. Do you want to get along? With her? OPRAH WINFREY: Yeah. Do you? - Yeah. I would love to have a family life. But I don't think it could ever be. OPRAH WINFREY: You don't. Why? Just, it doesn't work with her. She doesn't like me. I don't care. I'm not married to her. I'm married to her son. OPRAH WINFREY: You don't-- No. I like Penny. You don't like her? I do like her. I just don't like her moods. I don't like the way she treats me. I feel like I'm, kind of, like I'm nothing. When she would come to the house, she would just sit there. I couldn't communicate with her. I work at our local high school. And probably when her and my son got married, maybe I couldn't communicate with her like I would have liked to. Maybe I could have said something and I didn't see it then. I do now. Because I'm with kids every day. And I am a different person now. But I-- Did you think from the beginning, though, she wasn't good enough for your son? No. No. PENNY: She's lying. OPRAH WINFREY: You never thought that? She's a high school graduate. My son didn't even graduate high school. He got his GED, though. And I'm proud of him. Well, possibly. But I'm saying there was no put down to her marrying him. You thought it was fine that they got married? Sure, I did. OPRAH WINFREY: And you accepted her into the family in the beginning? - Yes. OPRAH WINFREY: And then when did it start to go wrong, Dee? I don't know. It just seemed like it was something that just slips up on you. And all of a sudden, you've got this monster looking you in the face. Did you think you were accepted into the family in the beginning? - No. I didn't. The reason I-- You said in the beginning something that this woman up here said. That Dee thinks you stole her son. She's never had a close relationship with her son, though. She never has. And I think I'm trying to take the place of her in his heart. Give him a secure family happy life. And so you think she stole your son? Or is that-- - No. I don't think so. Oprah. I would think that you would consider, as adults, that there are children here that are being hurt because of this. And that I know that in divorce that the children are the brunt of it. And I think in this kind of a situation, also, there are children to be thought of. And I think being adults that you should think of the children. And that you should try to make things work out for the sake of the children.

I know it's been a lot of years and I realize that it's going to be hard to heal the wounds over these many years, but the children are the ones who are really hurting because of your animosity towards each other. I know it's been a lot of years and I realize that it's going to be hard to heal the wounds over these many years, but the children are the ones who are really hurting because of your animosity towards each other. [applause] Let's talk about the children. I see the kids at school. I don't approach them because I felt like the parents wanted me to leave them alone. It's just the feeling I get. OPRAH WINFREY: And is that true? Is that true? No. Yesterday, my son came home from school and said mom. Grandma said why did you call the Oprah show? No. I did not. I said, did your mom really call the Oprah show? I thought it was a joke. And I went along with the joke, until I started getting return phone calls. And I thought this is for real. And I thought she wanted to see what was going on and see if we couldn't get something straightened out. I have three other kids. There's no Christmas get-togethers. No Thanksgiving. My daughter lives next door to me. And the way I understand, Mike and Penny's two kids cannot go to her house because I live next door. No. That's a lie. And this is the understanding I ha He said they can take him fishing. Whatever they want. But they just can't come around you. That's right. They can't go to Rhonda's house. I'm her sister-in-law. Mike said that yes, Culley, my husband, could see little Mikey. But he cannot come to our house because we live next door to my mom. But we can see him. He just can't come nowhere near grandma. And we live next door to grandma. OPRAH WINFREY: OK. Yes. What I would like to know from-- is it Dee on the left? What I would like to know is, does your mother-in-law treat your children and the other children, if you ever did get together, like, do they get the same kinds of gifts? Or do they get taken out on cruises and to Disney World and your kids get a $10 game? Is that what happens in your house? Oh, yeah. My children, my family can't even visit my sister-in-law if we want to, unless her kids have been told, now don't tell the other kids-- don't tell your cousins what Yaya did for you and what she doesn't do for them. Because-- and it doesn't matter. When we show up, my kids will still see the clothes they have or the items on their dresser. Whatever they have that Yaya gave to them. And then my kids-- Yaya, Nana, Yana, Nana. To me and say why doesn't she do that for us? We're going to try to resolve this. We'll be right back. Back in a moment. [music playing] [applause] Even before the days of Romeo and Juliet, in-laws have been making married life hell. Leah Averick is a clinical social worker who drew up on her own rocky experiences on both sides of the in-law debate when she set about to write her book called "How In-Laws Relate." It's all relative. We're glad to have you join us, Leah. And you've been watching backstage and you've concluded what? I've concluded that there's such raw emotions here, such deep feelings. I want to quote from a 16th century woman writer. A Yiddish writer who said, "peace will come to the world when mothers-in-law get along with daughter-in-law." When it's bad, it can be very bad. However, I talk to each of you before the show. And I must say that each of you had said you hoped it could be better or would be better. That's why you're here. Is that right? True. OK. The discouraging thing about this is that this has been going on for 18 years. So I know we'd like to have a solution to make things better, but we can't do what's been bad for 18 years, we can't make it better in five minutes. But we'll try to understand what goes on here. I'm wondering, what about your son, your husband. Where has he been in all this? Has he said anything to his mom? Or has he said anything to you? I mean, where is your son and husband? OPRAH WINFREY: Yeah. Where is your husband? What's this fight all about? What's he say? And I wish he would say what's on his mind, but he says it to me and not her. OK. So you're disappointed in your husband for not speaking up to his mother. OK. You know, very often, what happens, Oprah, is the son or the child allows the spouse to express anger or hostility that he feels. Do you think that you're talking for him when you-- Definitely. Definitely Express anger? Well, this is a very interesting point. I was saying I think it's really, sort of, like a power struggle. Isn't it a power struggle? No. It's a struggle to be important. I don't call it power. Everybody wants to feel good and important. And each one of them does, I think. And including the son. I was just saying to Oprah before that I think that many times, the husband and the son love this conflict between the two women. It makes them feel so important. And in many ways, they feed upon it and they encourage it. And they don't help in solving it because then they won't be that important anymore. So that might be a possibility here. That is a poss-- I totally disagree with that.

Because my husband is hurt by this whole situation. He would like everybody to be amended and be friends. And he cannot stand it because he's torn in the middle between the two of us. Because my husband is hurt by this whole situation. He would like everybody to be amended and be friends. And he cannot stand it because he's torn in the middle between the two of us. OPRAH WINFREY: Between you and your mother-in-law. Right. But the other thing is a lot of men are caught in the middle and they don't know what to do, though. Because they don't want to upset mom and they don't want to upset the wives. And so they choose to remain silent. Which is the exact opposite of what they should be doing. Right. I would encourage, theoretically-- but it's so easy to say theoretically what to do-- men to speak up to their wives and to their mothers. But you see, the basic loyalty is between the wife and her husband. And there seems to be a good relationship between the two of you. Except this-- your husband, though, is still tied to his mom. That's why you're unhappy. I mean, tied and it's not a bad thing to be tied to your family. We're all tied to our family. Our family is a part of our-- like our nose is a part of us. Our ears are a part of us. Your mother-in-law is still a part of your husband. That's good. Whether-- yeah. So let's tap into the good parts of your mother-in-law, if we can. But first-- if we can-- but first, look. Now remember, we're trying to understand an 18-year-old story, an 18-year-old history. I'm wondering why you didn't go for help to a minister, a rabbi, a preacher, someone, a therapist for some help in all this. Well, I'm wondering how it all started. Because Dee said she first embraced her and welcomed her into the family. Penny didn't feel that, though. Good point, Oprah. But Penny, you also said-- you told me something in the back room-- how you felt a little unsure of yourself. You wanted to be liked. Is that right? The thing I was telling her, I can't express affection like some people. I mean, some families are kissy kissy and they hug everybody. And it's just one great big thing. I am not that way. I feel the emotions. I can't display them. And then you also told me, dear, that you had your own mother and her mother-in-law were people that didn't get along. So you came from a history of people who didn't get along with in-laws. And she might have expected that. This is a, sort of, self-fulfilling prophecy. You expect not to get along with your in-laws. And that might have affected your attitude toward your daughter-in-law. What would have made you get along? What would have helped you to get along? I don't know. Maybe communication. I don't think we could talk. And you can't talk because what? You can't express? Or she can't express? Well, I think it was both of us. You were disappointed in your daughter-in-law, the way she treated you. The poutyness and sitting like this and wouldn't respond to nothing. And I just felt like she's bored. She'd rather be someplace else, rather than here. And I-- OPRAH WINFREY: Were you bored, Penny? Were you bored? You wanted to be someplace else? Can you see where you have contributed to this problem, Penny? Yes, I was bored going to her house. If you don't like somebody, how can you go to their house and not be bored? LEAH SHIFRIN AVERICK: OK, and you didn't like her because of what, dear? I think you have to put an effort forth. I mean, if you want to make it work, it's up to you. It's up to each of you individually, and you've got to, you know, it's up to you. LEAH SHIFRIN AVERICK: You see, it's easy to say, it's easy to say make an effort. But when people have hurt feelings, what happens is your hurt feelings are worse than any physical hurt. And so these hurt feelings start to accumulate and accumulate, and if there's no way of getting it out in the open, then they just fester and fester. So you have 18 years of festering hurts and hurt feelings on both sides, is that right? Uh-huh. True. So both sides have, as you pointed out, have added to this dissension. I'm wondering though, you said something else-- do you think you possibly were insecure and you wanted her affection and attention or approval from her as a mother-in-law? Was that your first daughter-in-law? Yes. LEAH SHIFRIN AVERICK: OK. I don't know how to act like a mother-in-law. LEAH SHIFRIN AVERICK: OK. I thought-- you know, you look at TV, and you watch all these things, you read the books, and everything's perfect. But I couldn't-- I can't relate to, you know, when I was younger. I can now, but the damage is done. I just heard this lady say she needs to put a effort forth. But I don't-- I wouldn't want to put an effort forth when all I see are three people calling her names on national TV. I mean-- I would constantly be on the defensive. I don't know who the-- I don't know, even know what you're doing here, jumping up, calling her names on national TV. She's acted like a lady so far through this whole situation. I'd feel the same way. I've been called worse than that, but I have broad shoulders. But you see, this name calling reflects what happens when people are hurt and enraged. Your brothers-in-law were enraged at you, you've been enraged at them. There's lots of hurt feelings, and that's at the bottom of most in-law difficulties. OPRAH WINFREY: Your point? What do you do when the hurt feelings aren't resolved and you haven't had a chance to talk to the in-laws? My husband is in the Persian Gulf right now, and his mom hasn't even called me since the war started, or anything.

I don't get along with her husband, and I understand that. I didn't want her to be here with me today, because I don't know if my husband even wants this whole situation to come out while he's gone. I don't get along with her husband, and I understand that. I didn't want her to be here with me today, because I don't know if my husband even wants this whole situation to come out while he's gone. I just wanted, you know, I just wanted a phone call. I don't know if I should call her, or you know-- I have an eight-month-old. She didn't even call on Christmas, you know? And I don't understand why, why isn't anybody reaching to me in this situation? You know, it's my husband, I understand. You know? I just want to know, what, what should I do? Should I reach towards them, or what? I want everything to be OK for when he comes home. LEAH SHIFRIN AVERICK: You know, I feel like crying myself from hearing you. No, it's really very touching. People are isolated and alone with their in-law problems, and they think they're the only ones who are hurting. And there's a whole world, or half a world, out there hurting because of in-law problems. And one of the things that you should do is just what you did now-- you talked, you told about your hurt. Find a friend-- OPRAH WINFREY: Everywhere you go, you go to Safeway, people gonna go, come here, give me a hug, girl. OK, I love my mother-in-law. I really do love her. We get along fine, it's just this one problem. But I don't get along with her husband, and I think that might be part of the problem. LEAH SHIFRIN AVERICK: OK, well hopefully she's watching you and she'll understand that you do want to reach out to her. And you are-- it's somebody has to take this first step, and maybe this program is going to help a lot of people take the first step, Oprah. OPRAH WINFREY: We hope this happens with you all, too, with Dee and Penny. LEAH SHIFRIN AVERICK: Yes. When we come back, we're going to meet a woman and her son-in-law who says he gets no respect. Back at the moment. Thank you. Joining us now are Bob and his mother-in-law Joan, who've been bitter enemies now for almost 10 years. Bob says he suspected in-law trouble was in store for him when his bride's mother boycotted the wedding. That's a sign. You boycotted the wedding? Yeah. OPRAH WINFREY: Did not go? Did not go. OPRAH WINFREY: And the problem is what? You don't think he's good enough for your daughter? Well, I just-- he's never been nice. He's been rude. LEAH SHIFRIN AVERICK: To who? To me. OPRAH WINFREY: Been rude to you? Yes. OPRAH WINFREY: OK, the real problem is what though? Let's get to the core of the real problem, because I think what happens, particularly over a period of 10 years, 11 years, 18 years, so many little petty annie things happen that you've forgotten really why you started to fight or dislike each other in the first place. So the real problem is what? Well, when they first met, when Wendy first introduced me to Bob, I thought he was OK. And then shortly after that I asked them to come to dinner, and when dinner was ready, Bob says, well, I don't eat at other people's houses. And I thought, well, why did he come then? OPRAH WINFREY: Yeah, why did you go, Bob, if you didn't-- so you've held that against him? That was the first thing, right? Yeah. That's when you said he's-- Well, I just thought that was a rude thing to say. OPRAH WINFREY: You thought it was rude? Yeah. OPRAH WINFREY: Uh-huh. And then Wendy was only 17 and he was a heavy drinker back then, and was taking her to bars. So that didn't help the relationship any. I went one night and took her out of the bar that she was sitting in with him. OPRAH WINFREY: And they've been married how long now? You've been married four and a half-- been together 10 years. WENDY: Been married four. So this is your mom? Yep. And she doesn't like your husband? Right. And Bob, you, you say she doesn't like you why? You know she doesn't like you, right? Yeah. OPRAH WINFREY: You know that? Basically. Well, I just, I think she's a real possessive person with her and the rest of her children, and tries to tell them what to do all the time. And you know, she wants to make-- don't want them to make the mistake she's made, and so she takes it out on me, you know, because-- not tonight, I didn't have-- I was going to bars, but I was going to-- I met Bob in a bar. So I was going to bars before I met Bob, you know? That's one point. Another point is, I don't really know how this is going to get resolved, because there have been so many hateful things said. Like her not coming to my wedding, and the reasons why, she told me. And you know, I had my kids, but it's my life, and I think it's time for parents to think, my kids are happy, so worry about their own lives, you know? That's my opinion. OPRAH WINFREY: OK. But Joan, do you think your kids are happy? JOAN: Yeah. I think, I think they are, yeah. OPRAH WINFREY: So if they're happy-- Wendy tells me that she's happy with him, and I believe that she is. OPRAH WINFREY: OK, then so? WENDY: And other people tell you, too, don't they? JOAN: Yes. But we have to get together. I want to get together on holidays and things, and it's hard because there's always something said. OPRAH WINFREY: Like? Well, I can-- at one Thanksgiving, we're sitting and eating and Bob says, I don't like turkey.

And I said, well Bob, last year when we had it, you said my turkey was the only turkey you ever tasted that you liked. And he said, well, I didn't want to come here anyway. OPRAH WINFREY: But those are all petty little things though. Yes. And I said, well Bob, last year when we had it, you said my turkey was the only turkey you ever tasted that you liked. And he said, well, I didn't want to come here anyway. OPRAH WINFREY: But those are all petty little things though. Yes. JOAN: Yeah, but it's hurtful. I know that it is hurtful, but it's a petty little thing. LEAH SHIFRIN AVERICK: But Oprah, this indicator, this is an example of hurt feelings again. When people's feelings are hurt, they-- first they get hurt, and then you get the anger and the fury in there. And so this is-- these are people hurt by little, little incidents and they've been added to more hurts-- OPRAH WINFREY: And so then a turkey can hold it up for years. LEAH SHIFRIN AVERICK: Yes. The hurts-- WENDY: But it's a two-way street. I'm not saying that he didn't say those things, but she has said things to me, too, and I've told Bob that. I can't expect Bob to grab her and give her a big hug when he knows what she's said to me. LEAH SHIFRIN AVERICK: But you see, very often, very often the, the in-law child, the in-law child is the one who gets the butt of the-- brunt of the relationship between the mother and the child. He speaks up, or he's repres-- it's easy to be mad at him then to be mad at you. Right? WENDY: But I don't think that's fair though. It isn't fair, but that's, you know, the basic difficulty with the in law situation. And I'm not saying Bob isn't rude sometimes, but he's, he's good to me. I don't care how he treats the rest of the world, I really don't. He's good to me. OPRAH WINFREY: Well, the question is, can Bob and Joan patch their 10-year feud? We'll ask Leah when we come back. Back in a moment. Your point is? OK. My point is that if these people-- they have a common bond. They have grandkids, kids, and a son or a daughter, and no matter-- like, when you're born, you love these people-- the moms, the sons, the wives, whatever-- and that's the common bond. No matter what is said, no matter how many hateful things-- that's the bottom point. You should get together on that, because life is short and you never know what's going to happen. OPRAH WINFREY: Good point. Thank you. This is a question for Bob and his mother-in-law. OPRAH WINFREY: Uh-huh. Bob seems to be like, like blocking it out. Like, she seems sometimes-- like right now, I feel that you don't want to let go of your daughter and let her be happy, so you take it out on your son. OPRAH WINFREY: Or let her be sad if she wants to be. Let her be whatever she wants-- She's really sad looking right now, but it seems like Bob says little things to you to get back at you for what you've done to your daughter. Because he's-- they're in love. They look like they really, like, love each other. BOB: A couple things I'd like to add is things that she did at the beginning of our relationship, like, I was a mechanic and she told Wendy that you should never marry a greasemonkey, because he's a dirty person-- JOAN: I never said that. --and would mess up the house, and you know, just things in that general. JOAN: Never. My wife is so intimidated by her that I've learned to be intimidated myself. Now, I'm not the kind of person that's usually intimidated at all, but for my wife's sake, because of what's happened, you know, and the way it's been for 10 years, I just, you know, I'm not gonna fight about it anymore. OPRAH WINFREY: And you're crying because what? You want every-- see, you're crying because what, Wendy? You want everybody to be happy? Everybody wants everything to be perfect. Is that it? Is that why? Because-- OPRAH WINFREY: Because, go ahead. You can say it. Go ahead. Because I've never said this stuff to my mom before. And because I just know that she's going to take everything the wrong way. LEAH SHIFRIN AVERICK: OK, this-- how it's so important to feel understood. And you, you don't feel your mom understands you, and you don't feel that, that he understands you, and all this criticism adds up. The criticism keeps eating at us and eating at us, and our self-esteem is the bottom line of what we need. We need to feel good about ourselves. And if you keep knocking each other, and-- I don't know how to stop the, the trend of knocking one another and, and depreciating one another. One of the things that happens is that we have, we have such grandiose ideas about our children, and we think our children should marry the most magnificent people in the world. OPRAH WINFREY: Filipino doctors and things. LEAH SHIFRIN AVERICK: And sometimes we-- you know, sometimes people have-- sometimes people-- the grandiose ideas for, not only for their children, but for the people their children marry. And I don't know what's going on in your life right now, but-- Well, a couple of things I'd like to add is that-- OPRAH WINFREY: Go ahead. --at times she's talked to my wife on the phone and said things to her like we dress our kids like bums. And, I mean-- JOAN: That was years ago. BOB: I came down with some stuff, I came down with some stuff I've had-- He doesn't forgive. JOAN: But I never said that.

I said I didn't think they kept-- We called and invited her to our wedding the day we got married-- --the kids clean enough was what I said, and that was years ago. --and I had been sober for five years then. I don't, I don't deny-- And I give you credit for that. I said I didn't think they kept-- We called and invited her to our wedding the day we got married-- --the kids clean enough was what I said, and that was years ago. --and I had been sober for five years then. I don't, I don't deny-- And I give you credit for that. BOB: I don't deny-- I don't deny the fact that I was an alcoholic once. I've been sober for over six years now. And somebody that I'm not going to drag into the situation, that hasn't been in a part of anyone in her family or our family's life for many, many, many years, more years than we've been together, and she made a point to go to his wedding, but she didn't come to our wedding. Regardless of what then-- I was sober at my wedding, by the way, too. You've got-- it seems to me, Bob, you're, you're a man who could get very angry, who really could get angry, and you've been trying to hold all this back. And so when the opportunity-- For my wife's sake because-- All right, but he's also exercised control. I wouldn't blame him for saying something about the turkey when what he really wants to say is, why don't you get off my case about my tools and my grease? BOB: Right. JOAN: I never said that. I never said that. I did not. But this is the point-- And the other thing is that I sense through all of this is that the older generation, whether it's a mother-in-law or a father-in-law, very much wants to correct things that went wrong when they were young, and they're trying so hard to make up for a lost opportunity, and they focus all that attention on sons-in-laws and daughters-in-law. I have to carry, in my family, the role of the only in-law that talks to the mother-in-law, and also I have to make up for the fact that there wasn't a man around in my mother-in-law's life, and she raised three kids by herself. So I'm made to pay for the transgressions of the would-be father-in-law who left, and at the same time worry about my sawdust getting picked up in my shop. OPRAH WINFREY: We'll let you speak, Leah, when we come back. So what we did was we decided to put Wendy on home base here so that we don't have to talk to her from the audience. And you were saying what, Leah? LEAH SHIFRIN AVERICK: I wanted to say that, that what Wendy-- what we're all seeing Wendy experience shows us that, that an injury to our self-esteem and to our feelings are worse than any kind of a physical injury. And that, that-- and she does, and you can't, you don't disrupt the feelings with her mother. The mothers are still important to us, as well as the spouse, and this is why in-law-- you know, there's a saying that peace will come to the world when mothers-in-law get along with their in-laws. And it's so critical. OPRAH WINFREY: I know, we have no reason to expect in the Middle East if you can't get it all in your own families. We have no reason to expect it. LEAH SHIFRIN AVERICK: That's the whole point. That's the whole point. OPRAH WINFREY: You can't. Yes. LEAH SHIFRIN AVERICK: I hope that, you know, parent, parents don't realize how important they are to their children, even after they're married. The spouse is important, but this issue, she needs your blessing, she needs your approval, she needs your understanding. And what's keeping you from giving it to her, mother? What's keeping you from being critical of her? OPRAH WINFREY: Joan, what's keeping you from doing it? JOAN: Well, I don't think I've said anything hurtful to Wendy in a long time. OPRAH WINFREY: OK, wait a minute. Let me just say this, you-- if, if you say-- so Wendy's sitting here, she's crying before the world here, so for you to say that you haven't said anything hurtful-- JOAN: I didn't say never, but I haven't for a long time. But you know, most of the time I didn't just come out and say these things. She would ask me what I thought about things, and I would tell her. But you know, the hurt feelings isn't the only thing that's been here. OPRAH WINFREY: OK. JOAN: Since they met, he's hardly worked. OPRAH WINFREY: Mm-hmm. JOAN: They've been on welfare just about all the time. He said when Wendy first got pregnant-- OPRAH WINFREY: OK, let me ask you this. This is what has to happen, isn't this true, Leah, if I'm reading this correctly? What mothers-in-law and all these family members are going have to do is put your feelings aside of what you think he should be, what you think should happen, and give them the support, and be there for her and for him to give them the support. Really. And I know that you don't like it that he hasn't had a job. I know that. I know that. But that's what's causing all the pain. That's when she needs your support the most. LEAH SHIFRIN AVERICK: She needs your approval, mama. She needs your approval. She wants your blessing. And that's what-- we never outgrow this need for our parents to approve of us and like what we do. And after they're married, you cannot-- you're on the sidelines, and the-- OPRAH WINFREY: Wendy, Wendy's bursting to say something. I'm sorry. LEAH SHIFRIN AVERICK: Go ahead, go ahead, Wendy. It's your turn, doll. Bob is not on Social Security. He had this stuff when I met him, and I fell in love with him anyway.

My heart did not ask for medical records. I fell in love with him, and I don't care about money. I could marry-- I could not be any more happy if I was with somebody who made $30 an hour My heart did not ask for medical records. I fell in love with him, and I don't care about money. I could marry-- I could not be any more happy if I was with somebody who made $30 an hour or $50 an hour. I don't care about money. JOAN: But when he was filing for Social Security, he sat on my desk and said, I'm going to get Social Security. I'll have more money coming in than I ever had and I'll never have to work another day in my life. WENDY: That's what they told us. And before that, they were always on welfare. And on Cherie's-- - I'll check my-- I'll check my fou-- I want to Cherie's third birthday, and on Cherie's third birthday. OPRAH WINFREY: OK. Shh, wait, don't interrupt. JOAN: On Cherie's third birthday, I went over to Wendy's-- They should be happy. They should be happy. They shouldn't worry about all that. That's not, that's not up to them to decide. BOB: And just in closing, I'm not gonna-- On Cherie's third birthday, I went over to Wendy's house and she told me she was thinking of leaving Bob because-- he had been working there for a few months, and she said she was thinking of leaving Bob because he was constantly asking her to get back on welfare so she wouldn't have to work. No. No! I was going to leave him because he was drinking and that was also a long time ago, and you got mad when something that you said a long time ago was brought up. He was still drinking then. We were-- he was not drinking when we got married. You went to Todd's wedding and she could have been a prostitute, you have never even met her. But you went to Todd's wedding, and that hurts. We'll be back. You're right. You wanted to say what? LEAH SHIFRIN AVERICK: First, I want to repeat what I might have said earlier, but it's so important that the hurts to our self-esteem hurt worse than any physical injury. She's hurt-- and how much we always need our parents, even after we get married. We need their approval. Your daughter's yearning for you to give blessing to her relationship, and to approve of her. It's not her she has a problem with though. I'm not even looking for approval. I'm looking for-- LEAH SHIFRIN AVERICK: Acknowledgement. If I make a mistake, it's my mistake, and I feel I should be supported. LEAH SHIFRIN AVERICK: Right. I don't even need approval. LEAH SHIFRIN AVERICK: OK, or respect. That's what you need, respect. I need to make my own decisions, and if I make a mistake, it's mine. And if I fall, I need support. OPRAH WINFREY: Yep. Yep. Bob, Bob, you want to say what? Yes. I want to say something that my wife told her the day she called her when we got wed. No, don't being that up though. When we got married, was that she told her mom, I'm, I'm happy, why can't you just be happy for me? OPRAH WINFREY: Yeah. That's what she told her on the phone. That's all I want. And she knew about our wedding way before time. I sent pictures to her house of the wedding so she would come to the reception. OPRAH WINFREY: Why don't you go to the wedding, Joan? JOAN: Things were really bad then. OPRAH WINFREY: OK. I couldn't go. OPRAH WINFREY: OK. One more thing and then I'm not going to say anything else. OPRAH WINFREY: OK, go ahead, Bob, go ahead. I'm tired of having to prove myself. And I'm going to do it in front of the whole world again, OK? Since the three years I've been on Social Security, all I've heard from my friends is that, how do you get on Social Security, Bob? What do you do? Three years ago-- and I might add, I got a $25,000 settlement because I should have quit working four years before that. I had almost $100,000 paid into Social Security at 26 years old because I worked with my dad for many years in a gas station. And I'm so tired of having to prove to everybody and question why I'm on Social Security, or why they put me on whatever they put me on before I won my case and stuff like that. And that's about all I want to say. LEAH SHIFRIN AVERICK: Do you see how important his self-esteem is, and her self-esteem? And what you're doing, mama, is knocking their self-esteem down. They want your approval. No, no matter what age we are, we really want our parents' approval. Pains and hurts accumulate and accumulate and accumulate unless they're aired and talked about, either privately with the therapist, or with a minister, with somebody-- OPRAH WINFREY: But, but-- --it never is cured. OPRAH WINFREY: But Leah? LEAH SHIFRIN AVERICK: Yeah. If you're fighting over the turkey, you're not fighting about turkey. LEAH SHIFRIN AVERICK: Exactly. It's not the turkey, it's hurt feeling. OPRAH WINFREY: Because why do you care if he likes turkey or not? I don't like turkey either, so, you know. I went out of my way to make other things. But the year before he tried my turkey. I always made something else with it so he could eat, too. OPRAH WINFREY: How many people here really don't like turkey? We hate turkey! We'll be back in a moment. I'll just tell you that Leah's book is entitled "How In-Laws Relate-- It's All Relative." You wanted to say what? I wanted to know why the mother-in-law will not hug-- The mother. or --or the mother will not hug or kiss her daughter on national TV. I mean, here she is crying and, and all upset, and she will not even put her arms around her and hug her. My mom is sitting right here. I love my mother, and I would, you know, kiss and hug her if she was crying. OPRAH WINFREY: And the reason is? I don't want anybody to touch me right now. OPRAH WINFREY: Yes? Yes? I see-- I just tried talking-- OPRAH WINFREY: OK, I want her to speak, because I don't want her to leave with everybody making her feel like a bad mother. Go ahead. JOAN: I, I've just tried saying things to her and it makes her cry harder. I don't want her to cry. I don't want anybody to touch me. If Bob touches me, I start crying. I'll hug her when we feel like it, not when you tell us to. OPRAH WINFREY: Yes? When people's feelings are hurt, there's no right or wrong way to treat them. I mean, we just have to acknowledge these hurt feelings and somebody has to hear and understand what's going on. I don't know if we have enough time. It's a 10-year accumulation of hurts. OPRAH WINFREY: Wow. Here's 18 acute years of hurt that have accumulated. OPRAH WINFREY: Yeah. Privately, perhaps, we could work it out after some time. OPRAH WINFREY: Well, certainly after this show you understand why there's war in the world. We can't get along in our own families! LEAH SHIFRIN AVERICK: Exactly. Peace will get-- come to the world. OPRAH WINFREY: Thank you.

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