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Elderly Mother in Law

(61 Posts)
Piperly Mon 25-Jul-22 12:34:19

As I'm writing this I'm feeling guilty ? however I'm feeling as if I need someone's else's opinion please. Me and dh are in our 50s and married 7 years ago, second marriage for both of us. We both work hard and have children now all grown up from our 1st marriages and we all get on well. However my dh's Mum is becoming increasingly dependent on him for all aspects of care. My dh is one of 3 brothers/sons and they are not helping out at all. My dh says it is because Mum only wants him there. Now it's got to the point that I'm hardly seeing him at the weekends and when I do he's knackered with working long hours too. We had a horrid row at the weekend over this. I've suggested carers not all the time but just to give him some help but Mum will not entertain this. My dh says he wants to help his Mum while she is still here, and while I really admire him for doing this, this situation is really affecting us as a couple. I feel very alone and just like his carer really as he is asleep most nights by 8pm, up at 5am for work the next day. Weekends are spent shopping for her, cleaning her flat and other chores. Everything at our home is being left to me. Sorry for the rant but I just don't know what to do without causing an argument. I so miss him. Your advice would be so appreciated, thank you

nandad Mon 25-Jul-22 14:33:19

I agree with Casdon. My DH is an only child and as his mother became more unwell he would be there every other day doing jobs, paperwork getting shopping, or just having a coffee. I generally didn’t mind as he was retired and I wasn’t. When we were due to go away DH told her that he would be getting a carer to go in everyday for half an hour to make sure she was ok and get her her lunch. She refused and made a huge fuss. So I went round there and told her she was selfish, that her son needed a break and couldn’t go away knowing that she wouldn’t have any one to look in on her during the day. I did eventually wear her down and yes there were tears but she ended up getting on really well with the carer that she was sad that she no longer visited.
Manage her expectations now. Your MiL has 3 children, if she has already started saying she only wants your DH to help her, her emotional blackmail will get worse. What will happen if she has hospital appointments, will he be expected to take time off work?

NotSpaghetti Mon 25-Jul-22 14:36:09

"I so miss him" start by telling him that Piperly

This came through loud and clear to me too.
This is where you start. You must have a chat about it with him from this angle...

I also think you should go with him to your mother-in-law's (I do this with mine). She can do her own grocery shopping now too as she has got used to phoning the Morrisons shopping line (set up during Covid I think) which delivers whatever you order the following day from her local store.

Maybe your mother-in-law would like a bit more autonomy and phoning is easier. Now my mother-in-law is doing her "telephone shopping" she actually enjoys the little chat she gas with the terrificly patient call team - and we just buy the things she has run out of that Morrisons may not have (eg, odd size light bulbs or cuphooks or a particular cheese or whatever).

We go one day at the weekend now and sit and have coffee/tea and a chat and together we do any jobs that she can't. She has a cleaner come in one afternoon too which suits her - and my husband visits at least once more, usually mid-week (but only briefly) to just "check" on her - he "saves" the jobs up for the weekend when we are there together which is, he tells her, easier.

We have been finding that this works for us.

Good luck.

The cleaner and the Morrisons delivery are good for her as she feels in control.

Good luck.

Elizabeth27 Mon 25-Jul-22 14:38:48

8pm seems very early to go to sleep, could he stay up later so that at least you could have evenings together. You say he visits over the weekend, is that both days?

NotSpaghetti Mon 25-Jul-22 14:39:52

This is the number and info for the Morrisons service I mentioned:

Morrisons are offering a dedicated telesales shopping service aimed specifically at helping to ensure vulnerable and elderly people can get the groceries they need. Customers who wish to place an order should phone 0345 611 6111 between 8am and 5:30pm, and select option five.

There is a small charge. The drivers are happy to carry the shopping in.

MargotLedbetter Mon 25-Jul-22 14:44:50


I just miss my dh! We used to have such fun together. Now it's work, sleep, MIL, arguing over outstanding chores and time. I like going out with him. I can go out with my girlfriends but then I'd never see him so what would be the point of being married? ??

Yes, I know that feeling too. I guess trying to turn something difficult into something positive by suggesting going along to his mum's and having a laugh while you clean the oven or the gutters or whatever. This won't last for ever and he'll have the satisfaction of knowing he did what he could, and will treasure you all the more for supporting him through it. (That's the theory, anyway)

grandtanteJE65 Mon 25-Jul-22 14:44:54

You didn't mention the distance involved.

I had a three-hour journey each way to my parents when they needed help, so helping can easily take all day if this kind of distance is involved.

How you tackle this is hard to say - it depends on whether an almighty row with your husband would clear the air or lead to a divorce!

I would try going with him and helping first. If he or MIL don't want that, your next option is to sit your DH down and quietly explain that you are worried that working full time and helping his mum every weekend is affecting his health as well as your relationship.

We latterly did my father's shopping once a month, filling his freezer with meals I cooked while at his place and put in the freezer, but he did have a home-help doing some cleaning and his washing, and the district nurse in to help him take a bath.

I assume as you are both in your 50s the MIL is in her 70s, so this could go on for the next 20 years.

How does you DH get on with his brothers? If they are fond of each other, I would suggest they divide the tasks to be done for mum between them, and simply tell her that this is the way it is going to be, as none of the three of them can do it all on his own.

If your MIL is in the terminal phase of an illness then obviously that would change matters somewhat, but it does not sound as if this is the case.

However, if your husband will either not discuss matters after the row, or refuses to see your point of view, you really only have two options: put up with the situation because you love him and pick up the pieces when he cracks up (which is sadly likely to happen) or sit down and work out whether this is the end of your marriage.

Callistemon21 Mon 25-Jul-22 15:17:59

LauraNorrder's suggestion is a good one.
And, as Lucca says, just how much cleaning does a flat need when just one person is living in it? Surely not much.
She can't have that much washing either - could you do that for her?

Can you organise a grocery delivery so that he doesn't have to go out shopping?

If she needs carers for personal care, or to pay a cleaner, then she will just have to accept that this is the way forward for some of us when we get older.

It would be nice if you could both visit socially just to make sure she is ok for a couple of hours at weekends.
In fact, I saw more of my MIL than DH did.
She will have to manage if you go on holiday and, if everything was set in place re groceries, cleaning etc then you could go off with a clear conscience.

It's lovely to be able to help elderly parents but for for it to dominate your DH's life.

Callistemon21 Mon 25-Jul-22 15:26:19

The common thing about elderly parents is that they don’t want carers, they want their ‘children’ to do it
Actually, Oopsadaisy, I think they want company. sad

A day club would be a good idea but if she won't go then she can't expect to rely on her son for companionship.

He will feel guilty if he doesn't help but a compromise has to be reached.

Piperly Mon 25-Jul-22 15:33:56

Thanks for all your advice and suggestions. Some more helpful than others. For the record I'm not selfish or needy! I was looking for some advice not criticism. I've taken everything on board and will Tey my best as always. I'll leave this post now

MargotLedbetter Mon 25-Jul-22 16:42:58

I was the one who used the word 'needy' so that's me... Sorry, OP. As I've said, I've been in a similar position and appreciate the difficulties, but we're different people and we see things and experience things differently. I hope you all find a positive way through this.

Hithere Mon 25-Jul-22 17:06:30

This is a dh problem - he puts his mother first

His mother can live for decades and the older she gets, the more dependent on your husband she will claim to be

I would drag my husband to therapy to save the marriage

Casdon Mon 25-Jul-22 18:06:54

Good grief Hithere I’m glad I’m not your husband! Seriously I think you’ve added two and two together there and made five.

Lucca Mon 25-Jul-22 18:12:58

Therapy ? For what ? So he can spend more time out of the home ?!

rafichagran Mon 25-Jul-22 18:39:34


Therapy ? For what ? So he can spend more time out of the home ?!

Quite, I find what Hithere said very odd.

V3ra Mon 25-Jul-22 19:13:52

I think the two of you together need to have a heart to heart with your mother-in-law.
Make her aware how much your husband is struggling trying to be the one that "has" to do everything. If his mum really loves him she won't want him to be suffering.

If it means she has to put up with her other two sons, or professionals, taking some of the load off his hands then that's what she'll have to do.

Surely his mum doesn't want her son making himself ill trying to do everything himself? It's a mistake to rely on just one person.
If he collapses where will that leave her? Reliant on other people anyway ?

I understand your husband wants to help his mum, but that doesn't mean he has to do everything personally and he needs to understand this.
Setting up a support network for her, preferably one that's future-proof, is very important too.

Callistemon21 Mon 25-Jul-22 20:33:50


Good grief Hithere I’m glad I’m not your husband! Seriously I think you’ve added two and two together there and made five.


His mother can live for decades
Goodness, can we expect to see her on the news as the world's oldest woman?

Callistemon21 Mon 25-Jul-22 20:35:32

My dh is one of 3 brothers/sons and they are not helping out at all

You all need to get them to take their turn too.

Pammie1 Mon 25-Jul-22 20:40:40

You need to have a family meeting and get the others involved. I think it’s admirable that your husband wants to look after his mum but he has to realise that it’s affecting your relationship. Perhaps if the whole family get together you could arrange a local authority assessment to see what’s needed, and make it clear to MIL that she needs to take some responsibility herself.

annodomini Mon 25-Jul-22 21:11:17

Message deleted by Gransnet. Here's a link to our Talk guidelines.

Callistemon21 Mon 25-Jul-22 21:51:23


*Hithere*, you really should read the preceding posts before you spout nonsense. The MiL is unlikely to live for decades, as the OP has already mentioned that she is 85. hmm

As I said, she's going to be famous as the world's oldest woman!

MercuryQueen Sat 06-Aug-22 04:42:03

Your husband needs to put some boundaries in place. Between work and his mom, he’s got two jobs! He can’t keep that pace up. Caregiver burnout is real, and far better that he puts his foot down and insists his mother accept help from others now, than he becomes ill from the stress and finding another caregiver becomes an emergency.

Preferences are lovely, but not when it’s detrimental to others. Your MIL is simply expecting too much from one person, especially since she has other sons, AND has been offered a caregiver.

karmalady Sat 06-Aug-22 06:05:05

piperly, go and help him, stop nagging him. He is doing a lovely kind thing, by looking after his mum, while he can. He is probably seeing a side to you that is not nice and which is not going to help your marriage going forward

Chardy Sat 06-Aug-22 08:10:54

A friend married an only child who loved 200 miles away from widowed mum. As Mil approached her 90s and infirmity, they spent many weekends dominated by her needs, and many hours in the car up and down motorways.
She was a nice old lady, but not the easiest to spend a lot of time with.
I'm full of admiration for what they did.

Lathyrus Sat 06-Aug-22 09:25:30

I know the OP said she would leave the thread but in case she pops back to take a look this is my suggestion.

That one part of the weekend is sacrosanct couples time. For me this would be Sunday morning -a long lie-in (!) follow by brunch somewhere nice. I would then probably accompany him to his mums, have a bit of a chat, do a bit of cleaning or whatever and then take her out somewhere. But on,y if it suited me.

Saturday can be his day with her. Mine to do whatever I want. He can go there Sunday afternoon too but Sunday morning would be ours.

If he or she won’t agree to this, I’m afraid I would question how important the relationship was to him. Every relationship needs to be nurtured and cared for.

henetha Sat 06-Aug-22 09:34:52

I'm the mother of sons and I will be 85 next month. I would never expect any degree of caring from them, no matter what. I've told them to put me in a home when it becomes necessary.
Your MIL is being selfish, and your husband is in a difficult position but he really should put you first.
As others above have said, there are ways of improving the situation, especially at weekends.