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Elderly Mother in Law

(59 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

LauraNorderr Mon 25-Jul-22 12:38:56

Could you go with him at the weekend and share the chores, do it cheerily and together then sit and have a nice cuppa with his Mum. At least that you’d be spending time together and he’d love you all the more for it. Having a bit of help would cut down on time spent so more time for the two of you. A nice meal out on the way home or collect a takeaway and snuggle up on the sofa.

GrannySomerset Mon 25-Jul-22 12:40:57

I think you will have to have the argument - or at least a discussion about the way forward. Plainly you can’t go on as you are so could you be involved too so that you do the weekend jobs and then go and do something together? MiL may have to have some carer support imposed on her if she can’t be persuaded that it is unfair to depend so heavily on your OH. Good luck!

Lucca Mon 25-Jul-22 12:45:15

weekends are spent shopping for her, cleaning her flat and other chores

Sorry but how much cleaning is required of a flat where one person lives ? Ditto shopping ? I’d have thought that could be whizzed through in a morning and if you follow Lauranorderr’s advice then definitely.

Oopsadaisy1 Mon 25-Jul-22 12:46:05

Lauranorder an excellent idea.

You don’t say how old his Mum is, this could go on for years, it would be better for any carers to go in to her during the week, leaving weekends free for just a ‘pop in’.
The common thing about elderly parents is that they don’t want carers, they want their ‘children’ to do it and their ACs are either retired and getting on in years or they are still working, time for your husband to sit his mother down and tell her that she Has to get help.

I makes me quite cross that elderly parents demand that their ACs look after them, is it a money issue I wonder?

Smileless2012 Mon 25-Jul-22 12:47:34

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

Your m.i.l. is I'm sorry to say being selfish and so is your H.

She's selfishly refusing to have some support from carers because she only wants him there, and he's selfishly putting you, and your marriage on the back burner because he wants to put his and his mum's wants over and above yours and your marriage.

You need to tell him exactly how you feel. That you're his wife of 7 years and yet you feel like his carer. Up at 5.00 am and asleep most nights by 8.00 pm isn't good for a man in his 50's.

Some compromises are needed here so you need to talk to your DH and then the two of you need to talk to his mum, when you've come up with a plan that will take into account everyone's needs. Your m.i.l.'s, your husbands and yours.

rosie1959 Mon 25-Jul-22 12:52:52

I feel for you OP your husband may want to care for his mum but doesn't appear to want to put the same amount of effort into caring for your relationship.
I do agree how much time does it take to clean a small flat and as for the shopping do that on line for delivery.
His mum if she has mental capacity is also being selfish with her sons time wanting him to do everything for her to the detriment of his marriage.
You will have to have a straight talk about this telling him how much this is affecting you surely you can come to some compromise

MargotLedbetter Mon 25-Jul-22 12:58:41

My partner was very involved in looking after his DM when we were in our 50s. He was the youngest and her favourite and it was always him she wanted. We talked about it, and about my feelings about it, and he put a limit on the time he spent there but couldn't always stick to it and in the end I realised that by putting pressure on him I was just making his life more difficult.

We managed to introduce a carer to MiL by taking the carer along initially and introducing her as a friend who was going to sit with her for a couple of hours while we went off to do something. Once she got to know her MiL was thrilled to see her and she went in for a couple of hours every couple of days. Elderly ladies don't tend to need much in the way of cleaning and shopping (you can always order a delivery) — so I presume that your husband is going round there to offer companionship as much as practical assistance.

I think it's rare to find men prepared to help their elderly mothers out. I'd always known my husband was a kind and caring man but his care for his mum confirmed I'd married a good 'un. Try looking at it that way. And bear in mind it won't go on for ever. It was only four years out of more than 20 we've had together so far, and I'm hoping for another 20.

Why don't you go to his mother's too, at the weekend, and help out with the shopping and cleaning? Can you go over there and do dinner for all of you once a week, so that you feel more included? Together you can do any work in half the time, you'll spend time together and perhaps you'll feel less abandoned.

It's probably also a good idea to start doing some things on your own at weekends to build your own independent support system. A walking group, maybe, or the WI or a hobby group? If you organise interesting activities for the weekend maybe he'd try to come along to at least some of them?

PollyDolly Mon 25-Jul-22 13:04:49

Have. you considered calling a family meeting with DH's brothers/partners? She is their Mum too and this work load should be shared equally.

Can you establish just how unable she is to do all her own housework etc? Is she disabled in any way?

The rate your husband is going he will burn out long before his Mum and it is unreasonable of her to demand his time like this.

Firstly, discuss the meeting with your husband and explain your reasons why, secondly, go with him to your MIL's and take note of all he does - that way you can document it all and present it to the family meeting.

This is really the only way forward if she is refusing to have carers in my opinion.

StarDreamer Mon 25-Jul-22 13:07:45

Could you have the shopping ordered online by you, delivered to you on Friday, then it can be taken by either him or both of you at the weekend, thus not only cutting out the need to travel to the shop, go shopping, queueing at the checkout etc. for him but allowing you to participate in the team by doing the online ordering and dealing with the delivery of the order to you?

DillytheGardener Mon 25-Jul-22 13:17:01

This sounds very familiar my own situation. A very demanding mil, husband goes around at least every two days. We managed to convince her to get a cleaner in, but refuses a carer. She calls and demands him to come in everytime mail arrives so he can read it for her, if she fancies a different dinner to what she has available. What she actually needs could all be done on one day a week but she demands he go over for every little thing. Drives me nuts, turns on the waterworks if he ever refuses. My parents weren’t like this, even when they had cancer/strokes.

I wish I’d nipped this in the bud years ago. However I don’t let him get away with not doing housework. DO NOT do everything. Do your share then give him a list of what he must do, same with cooking, cleaning etc. Go out on the weekends and see friends.

I do not understand these selfish elderly parents at all.

Piperly Mon 25-Jul-22 13:19:13

Thank you all for your kind and very helpful opinions and suggestions. I'm very grateful and not one of you have called me 'selfish' which was what I was called yesterday :-( I'm not a selfish person at all and that really hurt me. You've all given me a lot to think about. I'll pick my time as to when I broach this again as I'm a bit tearful today and it may all 'come out wrong' and it will all start again! Self preservation today 😌 😉😉

M0nica Mon 25-Jul-22 13:26:00

Was your DH always the favoured son? I ask this, because this sounds to me like a mother emotionally blackmailing her son, with explicitly/implicitly batgaining help now against favour shown in the past.

He needs to explain to his mother that he is now a grown mature man, with domestic responsibilities. Whether you have religious beliefs or not, the bible puts it quite succinctly Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. He has a respobisbilty to his mother, but his relationship with his wife comes first.

He and she need to realise this. He and his wife need to discuss, not argue, about this. Decide what is possible and then talk to his mother and if she is unreasonable, tell her what you two have decided and if that means accpeting carers or not having somethings done the choice is her.

But I do think more knowledge about her age, and health come into this. For the last 18 months of his father's life, my DH did a 120 mile round trip every weekend he could, in order, more than anything, to help his mother, cope with living with a seriously disabled husband. I usually stayed home with pur young children, and I did not begrudge him one weekend. He was an only child, so had no one to share care with and I knew how ill his DF was. If we had thought this would continue for years, we would have to have rethought things.

Casdon Mon 25-Jul-22 13:38:08

I feel sorry for your husband, this situation isn’t fair on him either. You need to get into the driving seat I think. I’d employ a really simple solution, I’d go with him every time he goes to his mothers, whether she likes it or not, and split the work with him, so it will only take half the time to clean. I think the online shopping order idea is a good one too, have it delivered whilst you’re there so you can put it all away. If you go on a Saturday morning, have something pre-planned for the afternoon for yourself and your husband so you can tell her when you arrive that you’re on a schedule. This way, she won’t forget he has obligations to you too, and can’t manipulate him so easily.

Ilovecheese Mon 25-Jul-22 13:39:43

Suggestions that Piperly goes with her husband might be a good idea but perhaps the mil, does not want that, wanting her son on his own.
I wonder if he was single for a long time and she got used to him being available, or perhaps did she prefer his previous wife.

MargotLedbetter Mon 25-Jul-22 13:56:41

I'd just like to chip in again and say that although my DH was definitely the favourite child, there was no emotional blackmail. He had a very happy childhood with a loving mother who gave him a secure and home and helped make DH the kind, loving man he is. He wanted to support her because after my FiL died his mum was emotionally vulnerable, starting to lose her memory and very lonely.

OP has talked about feeling tearful and lonely and abandoned and expecting support and everyone has said yes, she should expect her husband to spend more time with her. Imagine being very old, alone and (possibly) experiencing memory loss and confusion, as perhaps the mother is. His mum probably just wants someone she loves and trusts to take care of her. I don't think this narrative of selfish parents is helpful to anyone.

Piperly Mon 25-Jul-22 13:57:00

Mum is 85 and her mind is still very sharp. It is her body that is failing her. She has heart and mobility issues. I'm not sure what the answers are but when I suggested organising a day club for her so she wasn't so lonely and got out in the week, I was very much told that she did not need or want that option. I'm at a loss really.......

Casdon Mon 25-Jul-22 14:05:00

Ilovecheese

Suggestions that Piperly goes with her husband might be a good idea but perhaps the mil, does not want that, wanting her son on his own.
I wonder if he was single for a long time and she got used to him being available, or perhaps did she prefer his previous wife.

I don’t think either of the reasons you suggest would prevent Piperly going with her husband to his mothers though Ilovecheese, because his mother has to understand that he has to put his wife first, and his time with his mother has to be limited. She does have two other sons as well.

MargotLedbetter Mon 25-Jul-22 14:08:52

M0nica

Was your DH always the favoured son? I ask this, because this sounds to me like a mother emotionally blackmailing her son, with explicitly/implicitly batgaining help now against favour shown in the past.

He needs to explain to his mother that he is now a grown mature man, with domestic responsibilities. Whether you have religious beliefs or not, the bible puts it quite succinctly Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. He has a respobisbilty to his mother, but his relationship with his wife comes first.

He and she need to realise this. He and his wife need to discuss, not argue, about this. Decide what is possible and then talk to his mother and if she is unreasonable, tell her what you two have decided and if that means accpeting carers or not having somethings done the choice is her.

But I do think more knowledge about her age, and health come into this. For the last 18 months of his father's life, my DH did a 120 mile round trip every weekend he could, in order, more than anything, to help his mother, cope with living with a seriously disabled husband. I usually stayed home with pur young children, and I did not begrudge him one weekend. He was an only child, so had no one to share care with and I knew how ill his DF was. If we had thought this would continue for years, we would have to have rethought things.

I'm presuming, Monica, that you have daughters lined up to look after you when you're elderly and vulnerable — because obviously your sons will be off cleaving to their wives... What sexist nonsense that is.

What domestic responsibilities does the OH's husband have? If husbands are under obligation to be home to do the washing up or the bed-making or lawn-mowing then please let me in on it, because my husband's out most evenings — cycling, going to the gym, meeting up with mates. I'm often out too, doing my own things. OP and her DH don't have young children. He's home at 8pm, presumably with enough time for a chat and a bite to eat before bed. (They sound like Charles and Camilla). This won't go on for ever, things can change very quickly with elderly relatives.

pinkquartz Mon 25-Jul-22 14:10:54

I am amazed that there is a lack of sympathy for the aged MIL.

I agree with MargotLedbetter

"OP has talked about feeling tearful and lonely and abandoned and expecting support and everyone has said yes, she should expect her husband to spend more time with her. Imagine being very old, alone and (possibly) experiencing memory loss and confusion, as perhaps the mother is. His mum probably just wants someone she loves and trusts to take care of her. I don't think this narrative of selfish parents is helpful to anyone."

Some years back my partner at that time spent almost all the time with his mum who lived about 100 miles away.
I thought it was lovely that he cared so much for her though I was sometimes fed up I ended up going with him.
I believe his mum appreciated that. Despite dying of cancer her last weeks were peaceful and I am sure it helped DP to know he had done all he could for her becaus he loved her,

Some grans might end up in the same situation in the future.....we don't know yet do we?

Piperly Mon 25-Jul-22 14:11:52

My dh was married for 25 years to his first wife, so I expect my MIL does prefer her as she is the mother of her grandchildren. MIL has always been very nice to me, but can be thoughtless with what she says sometimes, perhaps its an age thing? Yes my dh is her favourite son, she does not hide this 🙂.

Piperly Mon 25-Jul-22 14:18:44

I am actually a Gran myself. I know I may probably get old and infirm! I also know that I will not expect or demand my sons come and care for me! I will ask them to source suitable carers for me if I can't do that myself. I have already requested that they organise a hairdresser for me too, as I'm anal about my hair lol!! 😉

Piperly Mon 25-Jul-22 14:25:35

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? 😕😕

icanhandthemback Mon 25-Jul-22 14:27:07

Calling someone selfish when they are expressing their needs is a very good way of shutting them down and not very fair. However, in order to reach an agreement, you both have to find a way forward.
Have you thought of making a visual to show how much time is left for you as a couple. I say a couple because this is not just about you, it is about your relationship and marriage being successful. If you could colour in the various times he and you are not together showing different colours for each of his ties, eg, work, Mum, sleep, etc, it might show him instantly where the imbalance lies. Then perhaps you could go through the times together and see how you could bring more balance to it.

MargotLedbetter Mon 25-Jul-22 14:33:04

I've said the same myself, Piperly! I've even written an Advance Directive that says that if I develop dementia I'd like a DNR notice and, preferably, the right to be put quietly to sleep. If that's not a possibility I've had conversations with my husband about putting me in a home, because I know from my childhood experience how dreadful looking after someone with dementia can be. Even so, I suspect that when I'm old and frightened and lonely and confused I'll still want the people I care most about to be the ones looking after me. It's human nature.

Can you look to your children and grandchildren for a bit of attention and occupation to fill the gap while your husband's busy with his mum? In the kindest possible way (because I've been there and I know that feeling of being the one left to cope on my own) you sound a wee bit needy and dependent. Could you take off for a weekend with the grandchild/ children? Could you — I don't know — help with the childminding over the summer holidays? Just to take the pressure off of him. It's hard trying to cope with a needy elderly parent and a needy partner.

pink quartz, it's nice to encounter another woman who thinks that a man taking care of his mum is a positive thing, and one that makes him more lovable.