Mother in Law and Husband

Question: Dear Luise: MIL is 85 husband is 54. FIL passed away in Feb. Husband works close to MIL home. Daily he calls her before he heads home. Checks in to see if she needs anything. If he does not call by a particular time she calls here looking for him worried something happened. He goes there after work on the about 3 days a week. Gets home anywhere from 6:30pm to 7pm. I wait for him to get home for dinner and to carry on with our evening. I am resenting this. I bringit up he calls it loyalty to his mother and tells me how fragile she is right now. She refuses to move to assisted living. Insists on living in the home she has lived for 32 yrs. Large home on 2 acres. Husband winds up doing many projects there. Can’t keep up two homes. She has money but doesn’t like to spend it. If she wants to stay there she needs to hire someone to come to help her maintain ability to stay. Sensitive hot topic. We don’t make a move without MIL knowing. Ihave asked husband to respect my privacy and refrain from telling her when I go to doctor appts or my every move. He disregards my request. When I am upset he tells me he will do better but fails. I feel there are too enmeshed. His mother has always been nosy asking questions I just wouldn’t. My husband gives her any information she asks. Since his father has died this has escalated. He can’t replace his father but for some reason feels he needs to be so vigilante. It is causing problems within me yet I don’t want to come across as uncaring.  I am not sure what normal is but this does not feel normal. Today I brought up that I was not happy he discussed a medical test I had. The usual sorry I will do better arose. I was frustrated and wanted to why he won’t respect what I ask. I pushed him for answers. Finally said I was badgering him. I stopped the discussion but am left feeling frustrated and discounted. When he felt pushed to examine this issue he got mad as a way to deflect and stop the talk. Siblings seem to have a more independent life. T.

Answer: Dear T. You aren’t going to like this but my take is that their relationship is none of your business. You husband and his mother get to create any kind of relationship they want to that works for them. He has lost his dad and is worried about his mom. Their relationship is escalating and he is not going to do anything about it. You have proof of that. So be it.

Your husband has also pretty much decided where he would like you to fit into the picture. That is not his business, that’s your business. You can’t change either one of them but what you can change is how you want to live your life.

I honestly doubt that there is such a thing as ‘normal’. I am 85 years and my son is 57 and we are really close. However, he lives in Kauai and I live in Washington State. In the summer when it’s too hot for them over there, they have a little place over here that is about seven miles down the road from me. I see him/them maybe once a week and they don’t call. That’s because we like email. My DIL is wonderful and has no issues when my son and I go out to eat and have a great one-on-one discussion. She just wants equal time with me. And, by the way, I moved to a retirement center of my own accord and there are both assisted living and nursing facilities here when I need them. I don’t feel I should be my son’s priority and either does he. For us, all of that is ‘normal’.

What do you want to do with the time you are left alone and what about the tasks that probably don’t get done around your own home? You are free to choose, too. Your husband isn’t the only one who has that option. You are not helpless and you don’t have to leave things the way they are.

I could suggest some things to get you started thinking…if you want to stay married to a guy with two women in his life and two homes to maintain. For instance, ask him what three nights he is going to be coming home directly from work and let him know that you will prepare supper and will look forward to spending the evening with him on those nights. The other nights you will eat alone and watch TV and he will need to prepare his own meal (there won’t be any left-overs) or you will eat out and go to the library, see a movie or visit a friend. You have the right to create a life for yourself, just like he does. Also, let him know that you don’t expect him to do all of the maintenance on both places and you will be hiring work done on your place as you see fit.

I wouldn’t fight with him about any of it. I’d accept his choices with a smile and make my own. Blessings, Luise



One Response to Mother in Law and Husband

  1. T. July 17, 2012 at 9:44 am #

    Thank you. I have previously thought about some of the things you have
    said. I did start using the time to meet up with friends and cultivate other interests.
    I do miss the married life times together we had. We have always enjoyed each others company a lot. Kids are gone so it was even more enjoyable. He lost his father, she lost her husband and so have I in some aspects as he attempts to be his mothers surrogate spouse. I would appreciate his mother to now create a new life as she enters a new season. I am trying to have some boundaries when he gives her a key to our home without me knowing and invites her to stay here on the weekends. We both work all week long and I miss my own space. Don’t feel like I should have to check into a hotel on the weekends. Many of the new ideas and new ways of doing things are not consulted with me yet very much impact my life. We are not able to plan a vacation that does not include his mother or we will not make any plans if it means leaving her alone. I did book a trip for me to go see a longtime friend, alone. I do like my mother in law and we have never had any falling outs. I do equally like autonomy. I have suggested he move into her home temporarily until they both feel okay to move on.T.

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