I'm feeling so trapped and resentful. I want my life back.

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I have been my father-in-law's caregiver for two and a half years and I honestly do not think I can take much more. The hospice nurse feels that he has possibly six to eight weeks left, but she jokingly said that he could be here another year. He has end stage copd/emphysema.
I do not love my father-in-law and he is so manipulative that I just end up resenting him more everyday.
I am at the point of just doing what I need to do. Every suggestion I have made, i.e., sitters, medical alert system, hospice volunteers, he has just refused. He receives a decent check every month, so he could afford this, no problem.
He tries to micro manage everything I do. I am so stressed out that my doctor put me on Klonopin. I am always sick to my stomach, headaches, body aches.
My husband works in Landscaping ( more hours in spring and summer ) and now has started to spend every saturday with his son and now wants to spend week ends at his cousin's horse farm.
I just feel that they both are treating me unfairly.
I have not had a paycheck in over two years and my clothes are literally falling to pieces. I am use to working, and having my own income. I cannot remember the last time I have had anything new, or even had my hair cut.
I am really trying not to sink into self pity, but I am just so angry! My father-in-law gives me $20 a week for all the work I do.
I just feel like running away.
The last time I broached the subject of getting more help from my husband, he exploded and stormed out of the house.
He is not my father and I know my husband should do more. even when he is home, he is either working in the yard or on the computer.
As more time goes by, I dislike the way my husband is handeling this and I have lost some respect for him. I feel this whole expierence may ruin my marriage.
What else can I do? I am at my wits end.

116 Comments

You need to stand up for yourself and demand help. Your health and well being depends on it. Does hospice not provide a daily aide for you? Have you spoken to your FIL's dr? Since you are apparently the primary caregiver, you should have some say in the quality of his care. There are also home health aids available that medicare or medicaid will pay for. Call a social worker at the hospital. They can at least tell you where to get started. You might call your local Senior Services center and ask if there is some type of home evaluation that might open up some opportunities for help. There is absolutely no reason for you to go thru this by yourself. There are people out there to help. Is your FIL totally against nursing home care or assisted living facility? We have a hospice nurse that comes once a week and a hospice aide that comes every day to help with bathing, etc. We also hired a lady to come in one day a week while my mom goes out. It is well worth the money. It may sound harsh, but if you aren't so readily available to help it might prompt them to get someone else. Good luck and God bless.
He is totally against NH care. We live in tourist area, on the coast, so anything in town is super expensive.
we do have an aid who comes in three times a week to bathe him and a nurse that comes once a week. The aid can only stay 45 minutes. My fil makes too much money for medicaid. We live in his home ( his wish ).
I have called Elder Care, they do not work in our county. It all just seems hopeless.
I think I am just going to have to leave periodically, so that both my fil and husband knows that I mean business.
Getting ready to call Social Services to make sure that I am not held responsible if he falls. I have been asking him to get the medical alert system for the past year. I believe he does not want it, because I may have a life outside of his every demand. He is mobile, uses the bathroom by himself, does his own breathing treatments, etc., so I do not see any reason why I need to be here 24/7.
Thanks
oh i read your post and thought SNAP. my fil even gives me 80 euro towards me cleaning up for him each month, and this allows him to treat me as his servant, because according to him, he pays for it. the arguments in my house have gone beyond sane, as my husband also escapes whenever he can, his brother is blissfully oblivious ( i have told him exactly what is going on).
i have panic attacks, take anti depressants and am working daily through my seething mass of resentment. when i asked for more help, my husband accused me of not being supportive. i felt used and abused. it was a vicious circle.
what do we do? first things first: he is not our dad. not our responsibility. we have a choice here, even though its hard to see. marriage doesn't give them the automatic tight to expect us to do this and then treat us like absolute dirt when we do it and continue doing it. we do this out of choice, not obligation.
second thing is: make our husband hear us. take the emotion out of it, be clinical and factual, be very clear of the situation, the problem areas and propse specific solutions. i realised that when i asked for help, i was waiting til i was angry, exhausted and exploding with anger, so my husband felt criticised and attacked each time i asked for help, and so he just either escaped or exploded back. but when i gave specific problem areas and possible solutions, he listened.
get mediation if you must, so he has to listen to you. find an imago therapist in your area who will mediate, its the most effecive therapy for this kind of discussion/ conflict resolution.
find other people to vent to. i found i was 'in it' all day and everyday, so when he came home i would pour out my day, which of course was all about his dad. our conversations ended up always about his father and what mean lows he had stooped to today, and my husband couldn't / wouldn't hear it, because it was his dad. i had to vent, he didn't want to listen, and so i felt unheard. vent here, we understand.
plan an escape! I told my man in no uncertain terms that i needed to recover some strength in order to look after his dad, and to do that i need time off. if i was working a full time job, i would get leave, and so i am taking leave next week to go spend time with my mom in scotland. my man is shocked and gobsmacked, but he finally realised i was deadly serious. he doesn't like it but he finally gets that i am worn out. organise care to come and take over while you are away. if they don't like it tough. if it costs money ... tough. they need to see and feel exactly what it is we do for them, and sometimes thepurse strings need to hurt a bit before the message sinks home.
lastly: a friend of mine told me to do this, and i didn't want to because i was so angry with my husband, but: seduce your husband again. act sexy, be sexy, get his attention very firmly on the fact that you are a woman, his woman, and not just the caregiver/wife/drudge. get your relationship back to you and him, and get this old man out from between the two of you, and into his rightful place, where thetwo of you are the team who deal with him together. in order to become a team, get your husband firmly back by your side, and seduce the hell out of him and remind him how good he has it with you.
i am sending you big hugs and lots of love, because oh boy, we are in the same boat ...only difference is mine is a mean dementia patient whose body is healthy and yours is a horrible and painful physical illness. much love to you, xx
Susan26,
Boy, are we in the same boat. I am a very clinical person by nature, so when I did ask for help, it was in a calm state ( i think that made him more angry ) and my father-in-law can be very mean, in a passive-aggressive way most of the time, but I have been yelled at, he's been in my face. Most of the time he is in denial about anything he does.
Seducing my husband.....been there, done that. Most of the time I do not even want him touching me, cause I am so hurt by his actions. I think my husband is very selfish.
Just called social services and they told me that i am not responsible if any type of falls, as my husband has complete power of attorney, healthcare proxy, etc.,
By the way, my husband promised me that when his father got worse, that he would spend more time at home.
The aid feels that my fil can do more for himself, but just refuses. And part of the problem ( a big part ) is that we are southerners, where the women are to do all the cooking, cleaning, etc., I have told both of them that I need breaks.....goes in one ear and out the other.
I think the first thing you need to do is have the family meeting. You need to sit your husband down and tell him EXACTLY how you feel.

You need to explain the physical toll on you (the Klonopin), the emotional toll and how you feel about him spending weekends at the cousin's horse farm (complete BS if you ask me).

From what you have said, this is the only way to save yourself now and your marriage later.

As for him exploding at you, it is tough to say what to do because I wasn't there and didn't see things. I don't know makes him "tick" and "sets him off". The advice I would give you is to stay calm in explaining things and try and get him to match your tonality and voice inflections.

God bless and good luck.
I hear you absolutely ... my fil is very old school german when men were men and women were ... well, there to look after men. I hope you get your break soon .. if you are up for it, join me in scotland next week!!!!
dinagrey, it can be the plight of women, I'm sorry to say. It may be that your way out of the situation is to start earning your own money. Men respect money and they tend to devalue "women's work." It made me sad to hear how hard you're working and that the men in your life don't even see that you have decent clothes on your back. And, like Tony said, those times spent on the horse farm are pure BS. You probably tolerate it, because you feel like you don't have any resources of your own. If I could, I would plant my cowgirl boots firmly in your husband's hindquarters. This is his father and you are his wife, and he's out at some horse farm having a good time. You have every right to be mad. No one wants to be a doormat, particularly for someone with horse poop on their boots.

I don't know how old your are, but I would say to take your credit card and go charge you some nice clothes, then find a job. It will do several things for you. First, you'll have your own money. Second, it will make you less available. Third, it will surprisingly make the men in your life respect you more. Old-school men respect money and devalue women's work. If your husband can't handle it, it seems to me it would be saying he doesn't love you enough or that he needs to take time to work on his marriage.

You take care of yourself, gf. You are a wonderful woman who is not being treated right. If they are not going to take care of you, then you'll have to take care of yourself. (Maybe you should get yourself some cowgirl boots.)
I would leave. Seriously. Move and let these selfish men figure it out.
Dina,
Have you ever thought to look at your situation in a philosophical way? Ask yourself what might you gain from this experience in terms of self-growth and strengthening your weak areas?
I started asking myself these things when resentment and sheer frustration set in. I am default caregiver for my Mother, who was not my idea of a loving mother or role model. My older sister absolutely refused to participate giving lame excuses, and only does what "appears" to be her part. My brother barely takes care of himself, our other brother died young, so that left me with all the ambition and responsibility.
The saying," when the going gets tough, the tough get going" is apropos in regard to caregiving. We have to look for the best we can derive from it for our benefit. Why not? It is hard and unfair and you think you are losing your mind, so why not look for aspects to make you survive victorious?
When I have found myself feeling sorry for myself for any situation I have fallen into, eventually I get angry. This is a great motivator.
Only your personal circumstances and your motivation to resolve it will make it better. Maybe it will take leaving, maybe you need to ask for $500 a week from the guy, but whatever, your attitude toward doing something different and definitive will change the dynamics. You have nothing to lose, right?
I believe you two women have done MORE than enough talking to these so called men in your lives. "Dear" Husbands? WHAT? Are you insane? Does he treat you like a Dear Wife? No. Then he is NOT a dear husband. Grab your purse with ALL the credit cards intact, give them a call and say, "you were warned, bye bye". Do it on a day when the help is there, tell her you need to run out for a moment as soon as she steps in, but don't tell her what is up.

You do what Jessie Belle says, charge up some nice clothing, and don't go home, find a nice hotel and pay for a month in advance just in case he should decide to cut off the credit, and then get a job so that you can stay gone as long as you NEED to. Because this is about your mental health now. Perhaps you should even take out cash for this. Don't go home until he shows RESPECT, AND HONOR to you and your vows as husband and wife, and kicks the mean old fart to an assisted living arrangement.

If you think he might get nasty and file for divorce, then you get every kind of proof of his treatment of you that you can before you leave. Do you think I am being silly about that part? We had a husband in here who was every bit as awful as your husbands and had his wife taking care of his mother. The things he expected of her, he acted as if he was married to his mommy and not his wife. He was a very disturbed man. We never could talk sense with him, he had come in looking for direction on how to straighten up his wife. Boy was he barking up the wrong tree, and you know me, I had no problem telling him so.

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