We often talk about anger management in a relationship. But today we are talking about a couple who have taken anger management to an inspirational level.

“How I Dealt With My Mother Gaslighting My Wife”

couple story, anger management, gas lighting

We often talk about anger management in a relationship. But today we are talking about a couple who have taken anger management to an inspirational level, by showcasing their own life story and becoming LIVE examples.

Raj Spandik’s mother is a habitual gas-lighter by nature. Now, what is gaslighting? Let’s understand this on a serious note. Dictionary describes GASLIGHTING as ‘manipulating (someone) by psychological means into doubting their own sanity.’

And Raj’s mother would often do this to his newly married spouse. The same had been faced by his father, who had sunk into a deep depression in 2016. Thus, Raj didn't want the same to happen in the marriage, which even though was arranged by his mother’s choice, still was turning into a toxic daughter-in-law and mother-in-law relationship.

Raj’s wife, Sumita Nayak Spandik was fed up with the family atmosphere within one year of marriage. Plus, she could also see the mother not sparing her own son. Thus, she decided to act wisely and took Raj out for long drives to discuss how they must deal with the situation, rather than brushing things under the carpet. “The carpet had already begun stinking, and I was already ashamed of my mother. I had also realized with time that we as children and her husband, not countering her, had developed into a habitual gas-lighter spoiling not just our life, but also her ties with even the neighbors,” recalls Raj.

He adds, “My wife’s patience and maturity to talk it out with me and try to find ways to bring about the desired change made me confident towards the desired breakthrough.”

As Sumita recalls, “We spoke to the other elderly in the family, to friends, and even to our seniors at work. We realized that the first step was to maintain our own sanity, towards which we also decided to get psychological counseling both for the mother and for us. Unless we knew how to proceed, how could we lead her the right way?” 

Guided by our psychologist we decided to tread forward…step by step.

Understood Why She Was Doing This

“We knew my mother initiated this behavior as a mark of asserting her superiority over my father, when he made her quit her better paying job to raise my sister and me. She would avenge her thoughts by gaslighting him, and he, under his own guilt, never countered. And thus, it became her behavior. So we decided to engage her in tasks she loved to do before her marriage to my dad. We made her attend crochet classes. We made her attend art classes. And within two months, we could see the change. Later, we made her run an online social media page to sell her products; it made her calmer and saner because she had found her freedom back. 

We Set Boundaries

“As a young mother, I clearly told her that if she continued to pass comments and torment me, I would not let her spend time with the grand-child who would catch the same negative vibes. Initially, she would badmouth me in the neighbors, but when they decided to support us and she felt lonely, her behavior changed for the better," explains Sumita. 

We Maintained Distance

Raj adds that despite living in the same house, they decided to keep a distance from her. “We would leave her at home when out for some fun, to indicate our resentment after any certain negative acts of hers, while going for an outing. Soon she knew, it was role reversal happening and it was a silent punishment. Things began changing slowly, but gradually. She began thinking before blurting out comments,” Raj tells me. 

Don't Absorb What She Inflicted on Us

This advice came from our counselor. She didn’t say we ignore the acts, but she said don’t absorb the negativity. And the only way to do that is to share our feelings with each other and vent it out with our psychologist, who advised: "Stand your ground and let everything she says roll off you like water off a duck's back,” Sumita chuckles, who would love to divert her attention to phone-a-friend immediately when her mum-in-law would gaslight her. The reverse act would gradually repel her to keep quiet. 

Threatened To Cut Ties If Necessary

“It can be important to fully break connections and stop all communication if the relationship with your mother is so toxic that it poses a risk to your and your family's mental health and happiness. The choice you make about the well being of your loved ones is entirely up to you. I had realized the same. So, backed by my relatives, I told my mother that if she didn't mend her ways, I would prefer to live at some other home and look after her from a distance. This was the final nail in the coffin of her gas-lighting behavior. She started staying busy by making new art and crochet products. She started taking classes for tiny tots at home. And she is gaining back her good mental health. " Raj smiles. 

And Sumita culminates by saying that it's been three years since they began this journey to help her heal and emerge as a happier family. “Old habits die hard, but they do die. All it takes is high-level patience, it takes mutual accord, and it takes a lot of external help from an expert psychologist to stay strong as a duo and not leave your mentally-unwell loved ones behind. Above all, it takes acceptance to know the same and work together on it as a couple. "

If you would like to share your inspiring story with other couples, do drop us an email at hello@thebaelyapp.com

(The names of the above family members have been changed at request from the family, to maintain their privacy)


The opinions expressed within this interview are the personal opinions of the protagonist/protagonists. The facts & statistics, the work profile details of the protagonist/ protagonists do not reflect the views of Baely or the Journalist. Neither Baely nor the Journalist hold any responsibility or liability for the same. 

Image by vectorjuice on Freepik

About the Interviewer
About the Author
Mahima Sharma
Mahima Sharma is a Senior Journalist based in Delhi NCR. She has been in the field of TV, Print & Online Journalism since 2005 and previously an additional three years in allied media.
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