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husband visiting his mother

(37 Posts)
glutenfreegran Mon 02-Sep-13 13:10:01

This dates back about 12 years to when we moved back to our home town after living away for about 26 years. At the time DH said " we will not live in her pocket" and we intended to live further away but for practical reasons we now live 25-30 minutes away. It soon became apparent that he was visiting her every Saturday evening leaving me to babysit our 10 year old DS who was an avid Casualty watcher. However as DS grew up this continued and I started to accompany him not least because MIL obviously "pushed DH's buttons" and he would be very niggly on his return. I returned to fulltime work and after a time asked him not to go on Saturday as it was the one day of the week when I was not tired after work or mentally preparing for work. I had about 12 hours travel as well. I was also made aware that she felt that Saturday was the day he had to go as she didn't do anything then. His response was that it had started because I watched "crap" on TV. I am now retired (60) and he works 4 days a week but he still expects us to go on Saturday. MIL was widowed at 59 and she does something most days of the week but she does expect others will run around her. She babysat for our 4 children on about 4 occasions. She visits her 94 year old sister alternate Sundays and I fear that when she dies we will be expected to fill in the gap. This Saturday we had a lovely day going walking and the DD2 and DGD called in(they live about an hours drive away) I then made the meal and then turned on the laptop and DH said "if you are doing that I'll go and see my mother". I am afraid I lost it and we are now hardly speaking. My former work colleagues, friends and my offspring don't think I am being unreasonable but am I? I could go on with other things(last Xmas!!) but this is long enough!

gillybob Mon 02-Sep-13 13:34:03

Oh dear glutenfreegran I do sympathise but can see both sides. I have lost count how many times (thousands probably) I have had to leave my DH mid meal, mid walk, mid sleep etc. to dash out to my grandma or my mum (both of who live only a few miles away). He is very patient and understands the predicament I find myself in and although he probably does get p*ssed off at times he never puts me in the position of choosing. I often wonder what I would be like if the shoe was on the other foot? I do hope I would understand.

One thing that sticks out in your post is that your DH felt the need to cover up his visits to his mum and I can't for the life of me understand why that would be?

JessM Mon 02-Sep-13 13:51:26

No not unreasonable. Give and take is surely part of being married and your MIL does not sound housebound or vulnerable.

kittylester Mon 02-Sep-13 13:56:47

Big difference I can see gillybob is that you are doing it because of their specific circumstances and it would be unreasonable of your DH to complain. It strikes me that glutenfreegran's MiL is just yanking her son's strings.

Some straight talking, as opposed to non-talking is required, I feel and compromise on both sides. Could you go to see your MiL on alternate weeks and DH go on his own another time? Or, dare I say it, now you are retired could you go on your own sometimes? shock

By the way I'm GF, too. There is some lovely GF clementine cake in soop's kitchen at the moment if you're quick. smile

glutenfreegran Mon 02-Sep-13 14:12:43

gillybob he never covered up his visits. I have never said he shouldn't visit I just feel Saturday is our day and his mother is indeed very capable i.e she goes into the city every week, does her own shopping, goes for coffee with a friend, goes to a craft evening with a neighbour etc.

When we were first married she and FIL would appear at our house about once a week and take DH for fish and chips and to the pub and I would be left babysitting.

When I was visiting my mother in hospital for nearly a year and then my father he got annoyed and told me I was never there. We only run one car and really need one where we live.

His father worked away for quite a time from when DH was about 12 and he took on his father's role doing decorating etc. I feel she sees his place as replacing his and she was always very resentful of me although she has now rewritten history although she told my daughter I was too independent.

I guess I am worried as to what will happen as assuming she is as fit as her sister it will be an issue for many years. We have talked of getting a motorhome when DH retires but he keeps stalling and I can't imagine him going away for any length of time. We had children early but then had a later one so I have spent most of my adult life child raising and I would like to do things before I am too old.
Thank you for your responses

glutenfreegran Mon 02-Sep-13 14:31:06

Kittylester on my way to soop's kitchen! I have gone on my own but some recent incidents have really annoyed me and I find it hard. Also I have shoulder and arm problems which mean that driving for much more than 10-15 minutes can cause me problems. Last Xmas we invited her to come to us and she gratefully accepted whilst playing the lonely older person saying how she would have been on her own otherwise.
2 weeks later she said she had forgotten that BiL had invited her before we asked her so she would be going there. Then when she came to us at New Year she went on about how SiL sets a beautiful table etc.

BiL invited her to have a few days in his work flat in London and my son took her to the station to show her what to do. BiL was supposed to bring her back but decided he had something else to do so she came back on the train by herself but rang DH at work as she said she didn't know how to get out of the station(there are ticket barriers) and he had to leave work to get her which as the work situation is a bit iffy at the moment was not good.

She is showing signs of memory loss which doesn't help but if I suggest it to DH although he does seem to accept some of what I say he comes back a little later with a dig about my memory (which winds me up as my mother had dementia).

gillybob Mon 02-Sep-13 14:32:12

Sorry Glutenfreegran My mistake. I thought that when you said "it soon became apparent.........." you meant that he was covering up his visits.

I wonder how your DH would react is you asked him outright not to go? Perhaps he is being emotionaly blackmailed (as I often feel that I am) which will make it very hard for him to say no. It would seem your MIL is using your DH to fill in the Saturday gap in her busy diary which is unfair. The very hard thing for you is going to be persuading your DH that this is the situation. Again apologies for misinterpreting your OP. smile

glutenfreegran Mon 02-Sep-13 14:46:15

Thank you gillybob I meant that I didn't at first realize he was going every Saturday. You are right that it is emotional blackmail and she is very good at it. We are going on a holiday at the end of October and when it is mentioned she goes on about how she would love to go there and she doesn't suppose she ever will. She was probably used to FIL doing things for her but she was younger than me when she was widowed and didn't try then. She hasn't cooked me a meal since I was diagnosed as coeliac 27 years ago as it is too difficult!

gracesmum Mon 02-Sep-13 14:52:14

Oh dear, I am going to ruffle feathers, because, much as I appreciate how you have had to take second place to MIL over the yewatrs, she is now presumably of an age and if my DS and DIL lived 30 mins away I would hope to see them once a week - especially if my memory was starting to go. How about a compromise? You go over on a weekday one week and he goes the other week. If he only works 4 days a week he could go on his free day, or you/he could bring her over to you. Perhaps he is under her thumb, but why must Saturday be your "special" day especially now you have retired? I am afraid I fear a power struggle here and frankly if ti came to that it looks as if his mum would win - so compromise . We'll all be old one day and possibly alone.

gracesmum Mon 02-Sep-13 14:53:00

That should have read "over the years" - I have no idea where the extra consonants came from!

gillybob Mon 02-Sep-13 15:21:21

Oh glutenfreegran your MIL is in no way unusual. I get emotional blackmail all of the time, sometimes I manage to rise above it, sometimes not. Some gransnetters will remember my recent dilemma about going on holiday. My DH and I hadn't had a holiday in years and all I wanted was for my mum to say "yes you must go, have a nice time". Instead I was like a naughty child who was literally terrified of telling her that I was going (sad isnt it?). My gran expects me to drop everything to go and get her some bananas! You couldnt make it up.She knows exactly what she is doing too. She is a minx. Like your MIL she often says things like "I would love to go to XXXX, but no-one will take me". I do agree with gracesmum that a compromise is probably the best only solution. Good luck.

petallus Mon 02-Sep-13 15:23:15

Is there something going on between you and DH regarding how much television is watched or how much time is spent on the laptop?

gracesmum Mon 02-Sep-13 15:36:01

You may have a point there, Petallus - is DH feeling ineglected? I definitely sense a power struggle - careful strategy is needed which may include temporary retirement of laptop and TV at critical times. If she can travel into town - arrange to meet her there. If jobs need doing round her house, fair enough, but otherwise, how about a day out for the 3 of you? Do your BIL and SIL live within striking distance - how about a family get together? All of these would stop her having grounds to complain she is being ignored. ("Don't get mad, get even") Does she see much of the DGC? They might share the "burden" of the Saturday visits - but you won't get anywhere by putting your foot down, you will have to out think and outmanoeuvre her!

gracesmum Mon 02-Sep-13 15:36:27

Fat fingers again - neglected

gracesmum Mon 02-Sep-13 15:41:02

Just another thought on Petallus's suggestion - rereading the OP, I see that DD and DGD came and you say you "turned on the laptop" - is it rude to ask why?? If the positions were reversed, I would expect the laptop/mobile/TV to remain off and I would just want to enjoy their company. Perhaps your DH is telling you something. Sad theat for your DS, Casualty came before Granny too.

susieb755 Mon 02-Sep-13 15:45:08

I would take a Saturday night as an opportunity to go out with friends, or ask them over for a girls night in, or have a pamper session - he sounds a bit spoiled, so don't let him see it upsets you, just have a good time without him.

Can I add, that - and this is my pet hate , you can't baby sit your own children...neither men or women - you just happen to be at home with themsmile

glutenfreegran Mon 02-Sep-13 16:06:26

graces mum DD and DGD had gone as they had to feed their cats. I had made the meal and it was eaten and cleared up afterwards and then I went on the laptop. DS saw Grandma as I visited with him during the week. He lives nearer than we do and sometimes drops in on her during the week now, studies permitting. Our other children live 1, 2 and 24 hours away. It is fair to say that they are fond of her but did feel that she was quite uninvolved as she felt she was too young to be a grandmother when we had them and she wanted to live her life with FiL.

Fair point about the laptop but DH often works at home on his laptop.
DH hasn't told her that he is only working 4 days. He is quite highly paid and it helped the struggling departmental budget.
I rarely go into town as I hate shopping apart from charity shops and she has a germ phobia!!
BiL is now divorced and works in London.
DH is not very handy so at least I know she would never ask him to do things in the house she relies on his brother for that.
Thank you to everyone who has responded it is really helping me to see the problems more clearly.

j08 Mon 02-Sep-13 16:38:28

Couldn't you both go and see her for lunch on the Sunday's she doesn't go to see her sister? Or Your DH could sometimes bring her back to yours. Every Saturday evening seems a bit unreasonable.

A fortnightly visit should be enough.

Flipping' screens always cause trouble! grin

j08 Mon 02-Sep-13 16:40:16

Poor woman with a germ phobia!

Aka Mon 02-Sep-13 16:54:31

Yes, you could both go for lunch, or take her out for lunch, when she's not seeing her sister and your DH could go the alternate Saturday nights.


Eloethan Mon 02-Sep-13 18:11:26

gluten I'm sure there are several people on here that we will able to identify with some of the things you experience - from both sides of the situation.

Your husband may find it very difficult to go against his mum's expectations and he may well feel very torn between his own and your needs and those of his mum. It's difficult, particularly if you have a parent who has always thought the world revolves round them, to break the habit of a lifetime of trying to please them. Also, of course, though we may find our parents demanding and irritating at times, they are still our parents and, mixed with the guilt, resentment and irritation, is love.

The holiday dilemma is one I've experienced too. Mum and Dad often used to come on holiday with us in the UK. When my dad died, mum came abroad on holiday with us (from the age of 82) for eight years. It was difficult because she tends to find problems with everything and would not be happy if we, say, went for a walk without her. By the time we got home, we were more tense than when we had left. In the end, my husband said he wasn't prepared to share our holidays any more. I took her on holiday on my own (in the UK) this year and it was very tiring. So, being the dutiful son or daughter is not a bed of roses either.

Sadly, as some people get older they tend to focus more on themselves - perhaps it's a survival mechanism. However, given that your mother in law seems to be perfectly capable of getting about and organising her social life, I feel it's a little much to have such a rigid arrangement every Saturday.

I agree with what others have said - perhaps you could try and break the routine and all go out together for an hour or so. Your husband will no doubt appreciate your support. My own husband promptly falls asleep when we get to my mum's and I find it hurtful that he doesn't at least try to be sociable.

Aka Mon 02-Sep-13 18:19:25

There are those who say about a man 'look at how he treats his mother' .............

JessM Mon 02-Sep-13 18:56:15

Is there a difference, though aka between a chap being genuinely kind to his mother and one who is emotionally blackmailed to pay attention to his mother? Or visits his mother out of a sense of resentful obligation.

annodomini Mon 02-Sep-13 19:08:08

Apron strings can be dreadfully elastic. My granny kept my uncle on them to such an extent that when he married and converted a couple of rooms in her house to a little flat, when he came home at midday, granny had his lunch ready downstairs and his wife had it ready upstairs. An extreme example, I admit.

petallus Mon 02-Sep-13 19:21:54

Yes but is DH using visiting his mother as a threat?