HELP ME! My mother-in-law has turned into a Monster-In-Law.

Started by

My mother in law came to live with us in July. She was recovering from Open Heart surgery and a host of other medical probelms.

My husband and I took her in with the intention that she would only stay for a month or so and then moveinto her own place with the help of aging services, whcih provide everything you can imagine to keep elderly people in their own home.

But she is not going anywhere. The problem is that not only is she extrememly difficult to live with, her behavior upsets my husband to the point of him practically being unable to work. Yet he won't have her leave because of the guilt.

Things she does:

~ Ignores our house rules and preferences, doing pretty much whatever she wants
~ Ignores her health, fighting with hubby when she is ill and needs to go to the dr, And then doing crazy things like trying to walk out of the house or threatening to take her car (she is forbidden to drive by the Dr.)
~ Says awful things to hubby when seh is angry, basically implying that she wished he had never been born.
~ Is extrememly lound and disregards our rules for our children.

I could go on. My husband and I are at each others throats. I hate going home and feel like I am working myself into the ground to support her as well as to pay for a home that I can't stand being in.

I feel guilty because I hate her. Sehis abusive to the perosn I love, has ignored her own health to the point of serious illness and has a sense of entitlement like a 4 year old.

We are in counseling to help, but mostly it makes things worse as my husband tries to deal with years and years of abuse that he has shoved aside to care for her. I am bitter and angry and watching my beautiful life go down the tubes because of this awful person in my home. Hubby loves her and she has raised him to believe that he owes her because hse chose to bring him into the world. He is more like a father to her than a son, emotionally.

Please someone tell me there is a solution besides divorce. I am scared.


There is a solution. It's called assisted living. If that doesn't work, returning her to her own home as per your original plan is another solution. You can't tear up your family because of this. Hopefully the counselling can help your husband get beyond his guilt and see that alternative placement will be the best and kindest thing for all concerned. I know from personal experience that it is a terribly difficult decision to go the assisted living route, and being able to step back from your emotions to see that this is often the best way to go can be nearly impossible. Good luck and stick around. You have a lot of good listeners here.
Txmaggie, what do we do if she flat out refuses to go? Hubby has a POA but it is not a court issued one and all she has to do to revoke it is assign someone else, llike hubbys sister who doesn't agree that MIL should be in AL. We have to fight simply to get her to follow doctors orders on things that could ultimately kill her. I'm not sure wecan get her to go? Is there a way to force the issue, or people who can help?
You are in crisis mode right now because there is no breathing room for clear thinking.

First, you and your hub need to be on the same page and present a united front to your MIL. She sees a division between you two and it sounds like she is taking advantage of it by verbally abusing your hub with past "baggage."

Your hub can still do what he sees as his "duty" to his mother by providing an apporpriate environment that will ensure her safety and well-being. Your home is not the apporopriate environment. Do not allow other "voices" such as your sister-in-law's to sway your decisions...she is not the caregiver - you two are. BTW, could she take in your MIL for awhile until you can make other arrangements?

We are taught that once a person leaves his or her home and marries their primary responsibility is to protect and perserve their union and home life. If your MIL's behavior is threatening your home and even your husband's job, it is time for a change.

Is there someone whom your MIL respects who can act as an impartial intermediary: a clergy person, a doctor, another family member? Could you set a date in the near future when the move will take place and follow through with it? (and in the meantime bring your MIL brochures from assisted living centers so that she can get used to the idea? perhaps schedule a visit? the unknown is scary to all of us.) Are there elder-care counselors in your area who specifically deal with these tough family issues?

Stay calm...make a united plan...and follow through... If other family members object, then they can come up with a better solution.

Good luck.
Lilliput thank you and you hit the nail on the head. After todays events, which involved her hitting hubby and accusing him of abuse (?!?) she is currently at his sisters. This will give us time to clear our heads and figure out what to do from here. You are right we are the caregivers, not her.

and frankly, since she is now at the sisters, if she wants to give her POA and release us from the nightmare, fine. She can fight if she wants. However, we are going to calm down and develop a plan, just in case. United. That is needed!
If the deal was to be temporary, then I don't see the problem. Maybe I'm being naive, but you and your husband go to her and say "Mom, this was supposed to be temporary, you staying with us. We think it's time you found your own place. We're willing to help you find suitable accommodations, but the time has come." Give her the time you expect her to be out, make it cut and dried. You and your husband are a unit. You two are the most important relationship to consider right now. As long as she's taken care of by someone else, there is no reason for your hubby to feel guilt. He did his part, now it's up to her to get out and make a life (what's left of it) for herself. It's like setting the rules when you have teenagers. You tell them what time they are to be home etc. and then have consequences when they mess it up. Talk it over with the husband first, get a plan of action, and present a united front. Be courteous, but firm. No sense of anyone getting hysterical, her especially. But a deal is a deal right? Good luck.
I agree with the others if she wants to act like a child she needs to be placed and if she agrees to be an adult you two and the sister in law can help her find other living arrangements-I am sure the SIL by now has seen her for how she really is so the three of you can finally set the rules-do not take her back she will never change she gets what she wants from her behavior. I had reached the point I would not care for the husband any more in our home he had abused me for most of our marriage and 16 years was more than enough of me giving him care when he hated me so much-he died before he got on medicaide.
Has anyone considered that this lady may have dementia? Sounds as though she's often been something like this, but it also sounds like the behavior is escalting. A check up in a Memory clinic or other place that is capable of diagnosing the various dementias should be considered. Sorry, the the family doctor is often NOT capable of a reliable diagnosis. And the sooner the better!
Sounds to me like she needs some meds to cool her out. The best thing is if you can find a geriatric MD to consult with you. ALso sounds like you both need a support group or therapy for yourselves so hubby isn't trapped in old craziness. I used to say to the parents of unruly 3-4-5 year olds who complained they couldn't make him do anything - who is bigger? you or him? YOu and hubby are bigger than she is. If you find a place (and she can afford it), go for it. The only constraint on you now is to do your best to see that she is safe. (Which probably means going off with her car keys.)
Taking the car keys away is probably the wisest thing but be ready for ww111 they realy hate losing that privilege most of all but if she had an accident and hurt someone or herself you would feel very guilty.
oh i remeber takin my dad s keys away oh my lord was he madddd !!! he fight with me aruge with me threaten me , whew it was war but he got over it after realize that i wasnt goingto give it in . tol dhim i will drive him anywhere he wants to go cuz i dont want him riskin his life or runover some small child or who ever eles and created a bigger pblms .
man i drove him back and forth from fla to indiana back to fla . haha it was a trip i tell ya and finaly he got too sick to travel anymore and now is in indiana ,
finaly found the meds after a whole year that helps him mellow out is xannax . it calms him down and his axnity doesnt rise , he used to be hyperactive man , always on the go. glad dr prescribe it , its safer than other harsh strong meds .

Keep the conversation going (or start a new one)

Please enter your Comment

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support