My entitled 90 year old mother-in-law...HELP!

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My mother-in-law has lived with my husband and me for 10 years. We invited her to live with us when we got married as my husband was a widower and his teenage children had lost their mother 4 years earlier. Thinking she would be a wonderful female family figure for the kids, we thought her smiling face and super social personality would make a big difference in a positive way for a blended family.

During the first 5 years, the kids were in high school and hubby and I both worked full time while Mom stayed home and read or tooted around in her car. Then she had to have knee replacement surgery and life went downhill from there.

After surgery, she had to spend 6 weeks in a local rehab facility but she didn't like the dinners, thought the sheets to too harsh, etc. So we would go visit twice a day, take her freshly laundered clothes and sheets, bring her dinner, etc. She was overjoyed. We learned then that she can't take any pain, expects to be waited on and all the real entitlement of her rich girl upbringing came out of the closet. She bossed us around like the help, as she continues to do and manipulated us into giving her whatever we wanted. Then two more knee surgeries, one for infection, now a permanent infected draining wound, etc.

Present day, I had cancer 3 years ago and was forced to retire (I'm 66, husband 64, is a Catholic school teacher). My energy level is low and I have assorted problems leftover from harsh chemo and just can't keep waiting on her anymore. She has money "but I'm saving it for my boys (3)" was her response when I asked her to hire someone to clean her level (the grand main floor, we "live" upstairs, rather humbly). I realized that the woman I've been treating as a beloved mother actually just used me to save money. Truth is, she plans on getting to be 100 and wants to continue declaring "I'm still a millionaire" when her stock statements arrive.. She becomes enraged when she forgets something and is reminded of it, tell me "I never said that" and "You're making it up because you have chemo brain and you hallucinate" (totally untrue.) She is in total control of our lives and has a wide social circle from her hometown 2 hours away ; she calls them and complains mightily about us with her "poor me." I am sick of her entitlement.

My husband, like his deceased father, always giver her her way. He cannot stand up for me. We rarely go anywhere because when we come home we hear "While you were gone I had a terrible dizzy spell and almost fell." The manipulation is continuous because she does NOT want to be left alone and refuses to hire someone to help her because "I"m independent and never ask for anything." (She won't ask; she manipulates us into doing things. Example: "I just spilled coffee on my rug but I'll get it later." That's my cue to go do it. She never asks but all of her wishes are addressed.

There is a nice assisted living facility nearbyl. It is a flat fee $6000 a month. She has stopped giving us $700 per month toward her living expenses. She tells anyone who will listen that she would "have money to spend if I didn't give them so much every month (never mentioning the amount.)" Then she bought 10 summer tops at Lands End in one order. She has plenty to spend, just not on anyone else.

Any and all advice appreciated. I told my husband that if she refuses and nothing changes, I will go to live with my best friend in FL for a while. I am a nurse and a natural caretaker. I cannot have her here and ignore her; for me that's ethically and morally wrong. But I must be relieved of this someone.

Thank you.

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Thank you for this reminder that every decision has a consequence. Detailing those associated with my "demands" will be helpful in putting some momentum behind what I'm asking for. I'll try to leave her choices as much as possible i.e., moving to assisted living or hiring someone x hour/day/7days/wk. She wants to save that $ as she's planning on going to 100 and really likes having $$$ and a financial advisor.
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I would add that for each 'deliverable' (as they call these things in corporate America-speak), you also communicate a deadline. And have a consequence if the deadline(s) are not met. Maybe you can extend this to your husband as well, because I think his support is necessary. If he needs to get POA, then he should have POA in place by X date, for instance. If you want to charge her rent, then $ is due every month on X date. If it's late, then she has 30 days to move out... (I understand that eviction is a tricky process though, but this is an example). If day-to-day chores are once again falling on you, then you will remove yourself from the crazy (get away for a time, or hey -- consider staying married, but having separate residences. I'm all for this, actually) and let the inmates run the assylum, haha.
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Your advice is sound and in keeping with where I am right now. It is not my intention to threaten or end my marriage, just to get away from the situation and de-stress. Three weeks sounds about right and, if she refuses to hire help or go to assisted living, will have her thinking twice about being alone all day and working her eldest son into the ground caring for her every evening after work.
My therapist is wonderful and very helpful - I have an MFT and understand the family systems dynamics of our situation but, of course, can't remove my emotional self from the situation and see it objectively. I am my own worst enemy in this situation as I was raised to be a caregiver (like my mother) and "offer it up" and "always put others first" was a big part of my Irish Catholic heritage. My natural inclination is to be passive and accepting and "other" oriented however, my life clock is ticking loudly, demanding more focus on me and my marriage. Your suggestion about a list of non-negotiable demands is on target. I'll make it a "this is what I need" list and not discuss it in detail as she's clever, manipulative and will attempt to attack when she hears that it's about ME rather than my giving to HER. Thanks again. Please keep those ideas coming!
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Good for you you have the big girl panties on, order a few summers pairs from Land's End before you leave.
Don't make your trip to florida open ended, set a return date and come home early if you want. as others suggested talk to a lawyer about your situation and draw up rental or care plans for MIL Make a list of all household expences and divide by three. If you clean her space add whatever is the usual rate in your area.
if she becomes ill ther is no question of you providing nursing care. You are too sick to care for patients so the same applies to her. Write everything down and stick to your demands. It's easy to cave in the heat of the monent when she turns on the tears and hubby is upstairs wringing his hands. Don't exaect his kids to be nice about it either. Have a meeting with all the sons before putting it to MIL and listen to their input.
Does she have POA in place? Can hubby talk to her Dr who probably tells her she is wonder ful for her age. You need to know if there is anything other than personality involved here.
your demands are non negotiable, no threats involved. If there is other action needed adress that seperately with hubby. Right now I need a vacation. I am tired and need to recuperate. While you are in Florida try and arrange for some intensive psychotherapy while you are there. good therapists are booked way ahead so if your friend knows a good one have her book the appointments in advance. Aim for at least 2 every week, this is going to be hard work but well worth it. If you can understand what is going on it is easier to live with. if your insurance won't cover it the cost will be around $150 a visit but well worth the investment. MIL's rent will cover it. And enjoy your self. You can do it. go for it. You probably don't know me but i am a retired RN 75 years old and have plenty of opinions to share and sometimes a few laughs. blessings
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VTShan, good for you. Stick with your plan. Write back with updates! I'm rooting for you!
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If it is difficult to correct issues now, how will living elsewhere help push new changes into place when your Husband doesn't want to rock the boat in regard to his own Mother?

When you are visiting your friend in Florida for an extended time, your Husband will become his Mother's personal assistant, and probably the stress will push him into early retirement, at least he will understand what you were going through. Or he and his Mother will hire help while you are gone..... and let the help go when you return.

Are there any Erickson retirement communities in your area or in the State? They are like a 5-star resort where your Mother-In-Law would feel right at home.... look at all the new people she will be able to impress :)

Then that way you and your Husband can concentrate on your marriage, and you can finally get some rest. It takes a long time to recoup from cancer, I know personally how draining it can be. Having distractions helps you heal, and your MIL has been quite a distraction :0
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Sounds good. You tried to do what you thought was right for your family, back when she first moved in with you. That was very kind. You had no way of knowing what would happen.
Now you've done more than enough for monster-in-law. It's time to take care of yourself and make her somebody else's problem.
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I think your approach is good, especially since you're wisely not putting your husband in a situation where he has to choose between the two of you and making it an issue of your own health and stamina instead.

Stick to your plan, and good luck. I hope things work out that others step up to the plate and help, or that an institutional placement is considered, but either way, you're at the point where you have to stand your ground and consider your own health and welfare.
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You're right, in a way I did surrender the household but it was in the name of kids who lost their mother and loved their grandmother. Maybe what I live with now are the consequences of our good intentions. My husband is wonderful. He was raised to respect is mother (and women) and is impossibly torn and I've decided to not pursue that path as it will just tear him apart. I can't make this "her or me" but need to stand up for myself instead, which is in the works. She will be told by me, in a family meeting with his siblings, that I can no longer physically care for her and live my own life. Period. I will stand my ground. She will pay for help, move in with another son or move into a lovely assisted living facility. Nothing will make her happy . Too bad. Am I sounding determined enough? Thanks for your insights. I'll be sure to tell her that we're planning on that 100th birthday party and want to make sure she has 10 happy years until then.
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What you have is a marriage problem first, and a MIL problem second. From the start, you allowed your MIL to be the dominant female figure in your household. Instead of your husband leaving his mother and cleaving to his new wife, mommy dearest came along for the ride and started calling the shots.
You're surrending the battlefield to MIL if you go to Florida for an undetermined length of time. A visit is fine, as long as it's clear when you're returning. Otherwise MIL will convince your hubby that you abandoned him.
Give her an ultimatum that she pay rent or move someplace else. Insist that she pay someone to come in and wait on her. Better yet, tell her to move to a fancy assisted living facility and reclaim your home. You and your hubby deserve the freedom of being empty nesters.
Your MIL may well live another ten years. If you don''t take action now, you'll lose any chance of a peaceful retirement, and you may land in a nursing home before she does.
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