My mother is fighting with my boyfriend

Chat at 1 p.m.

I am currently in a huge predicament regarding my boyfriend and my mother. Long story short, three months ago I was involved in a huge fight with my brother and we stopped speaking to each other. Last month, my mom messaged my boyfriend asking him to convince me to talk to my brother again, to which he replied that he can't control how I feel, and asked if she could not talk to me about this until after my exam that week. My mom replied with very insulting words after she misunderstood his message. She thought he was "trying to tell her what to do." I was not OK with her doing that and let her know.

I limited my contact with her for a month and gave her the cold shoulder because she refused to apologize to my boyfriend. Fast forward and my mother finally apologized, though perhaps not sincerely. She said, "I'm sorry I hurt you, but I hope you understand that I only do that because I see you as my son." My boyfriend does not believe that. Regardless, it is a huge step forward considering she kept denying that she was wrong for a whole month. However, my boyfriend doesn't want to accept her apology and demands a sincere one. He wants to keep going with the fight and wants me to still treat my mom coldly (silent treatment but with no disrespect – I still answer her when she talks to me, I just don't go out of my way to talk to her). The thing is, this has been going for a month now and I am honestly so mentally exhausted. I see this as a step forward and a call for truce. Things can start with a clean slate now. I made sure my mother knows that if this happens again, the same consequences will occur and she and I will not be OK again. But my boyfriend doesn't want this fresh start until he hears a sincere, heartfelt apology. I personally think you can't demand an apology from someone. It's also unrealistic to ask me to continue giving my mom the cold shoulder while I am still financially dependent on her.

Now my boyfriend and I are fighting because I think that he should drop it and just start anew, while he feels hurt that I "don't want to fight for him anymore." I fought for us for four years (my mother was very unsupportive of our relationship due to racial differences and tried to get in between us many times). He still feels wronged by my mom and wants his proper apology. I am torn. I just want this to end. I would keep giving my mom the cold shoulder if she still refused to admit she was wrong and didn't apologize, but she did. I don't want to demand more. I don't know.

– Conflicted

You're right about the apology. It doesn't make sense to demand a more sincere mea culpa from your mother if she’s not really sorry. It won't make anyone feel better. Your boyfriend will know deep down that she doesn't feel accountable.

It sounds like the more important apology – or explanation – is the one your boyfriend needs to hear from you. You say in your letter you had to fight for him for four years. That means he's known for a very long time that he has not been embraced by your family. Perhaps he needs to know that you understand why that's still painful, and that you have not forgotten that history. Maybe your boyfriend needs you to acknowledge that your mother's objections to the relationship make it difficult to trust her, ever.

Your boyfriend is probably thinking about the future and how he'll be treated if you stay together. What will your relationship be like with your mother when you're financially independent? What kind of boundaries will you keep? Maybe if you have that conversation, he'll know he's the priority. Or not.

Just remember that he's also exhausted. The slate isn't clean for him – nor should it be. Understanding that is a good place to start.

– Meredith

Readers? Would a second apology make this better?