Father-in-law moved in and struggling.

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My mother in law passed away 1.5 years ago and 3 months later my father in law moved in with my husband and I. We have no children. We ended up selling our house and buying a bigger one. My husband is an only child. I am so depressed because the life we had is no longer. I have no privacy and find myself sitting in the furthest part of the house to be away. I regret the decision and my marriage is falling apart. My father in law is 75 and in very good health. I have talked to my husband about my feelings as well as seeing a therapist. My husband is unwilling to budge and think it is unfair to change our minds. I am ready to walk out on our 16 year marriage. My father in law is not a bad person which makes me feel so guilty. I cannot sleep or eat. I applaud my husband for wanting to take care of his dad but he has done so at the expense of us. All of our intimacy is gone and it is very difficult for us to even talk because my father in law is always here. I hate having to leave my own home to have a conversation with my husband. I feel like we are now roommates. All I think about is that as he ages it is going to get worse. I feel so guilty for being so angry and selfish. Before we bought the bigger house I told my husband I don't think this is a good idea and he said the bigger house will give us more privacy when in fact it has caused more of a divide. I feel just sick about this. Even when I look at my husband all I see is his dad... They both are very similar in looks and personality. I am at a loss.


I'm so sorry that you are dealing with this and you are right - your FIL could live for many years. Would your husband accept mediation or counseling with you? If you are unhappy - he doesn't just get to say "I'm not going to discuss". At least start with counseling for you. Let us know how everything turns out.
Counseling is a great idea. That way, you can both voice your feelings on what the problem is. Is it likely that your husband will go? What if you explain how strongly you feel about the matter?

Did you agree for FIL to move in when he first came? Was the reason so that he would not be lonely after the loss of his wife? Does he get out and socialize much? Would it be possible for him to get out and have his own social life? Would that make matters better?

Is there anything about him that is the problem, other than the lack of privacy?

Is sad that you are so miserable. I hope you are able to work it out together.

Your husband thinks it would be unfair of you to "change your minds."

Hm. Does he.

Your husband, I assume, feels that even to discuss alternative possibilities would be to tantamount to telling his father "Dad, we're putting you in a home. Sorry about that, but too bad."

What he has so far not understood is that what he is doing instead is tantamount to telling you "not risking upsetting my father is of more concern to me than your happiness, so I'm not even prepared to discuss it and I'm not interested in considering other possibilities. He's staying. Like it or lump it."

Your FIL is at the moment being a big fat gooseberry. "Two's company" and all that. But I wonder how content he is, really, to rely solely on his child for the whole of his emotional and social life?

You can see why your husband thought the bigger house plan would work. To my regret, I for one could have told him that space is not just a physical issue. In a marriage, it's also about alone time, and intimacy, and the proper order of priorities. In other societies four generations do live sixteen to a room and manage somehow - good for them! But in our western culture, yes, we do have a well-established sense of entitlement to privacy in adult relationships. You are not being selfish when you feel angry. Your reasonable expectations are being dismissed out of hand. It won't do.

As a first step, get together a portfolio of options, so to speak. Find out what else *might* hypothetically be possible. You could even go on a few visits, if anything looks promising, and see if there are places where, knowing your FIL, you genuinely believe he would thrive.

Because once you're armed with information about positive, good alternatives, you can then go to your husband and say "I do not think we are doing the old guy any favours by isolating him from his peer group and turning him into our helpless dependant. Here are some excellent facilities designed especially to sustain quality of life for older people where I think he might be very happy.

"And this time I would appreciate your having the courtesy to take my carefully considered opinion into account."

You don't have to add the last bit. But I expect you would quite like to!
Also addressing your husband's opinion that it's "unfair to change our minds", not only is he speaking for both of you, but he's reflecting an intransigence to dealing with changing conditions that will prevent him from adapting as your FIL needs additional or different conditions of care in the future.

(And this kind of unwillingness to think ahead, or think outside the box, isn't unique to husbands in a caregiving situation. I'm sure most of us have met someone who is very rigid about life and won't change his/her mind, even when caregiving isn't a factor in life's considerations. These people cling, often obstinately, to beliefs formed at one time and that's how they'll live the rest of their lives.) Hopefully your husband isn't like that. I do suspect that he feels the obligation to his father and doesn't want to feel as if he's letting him down.

What's your husband's occupation? If he's in business, he should understand "mid-course corrections." Engineering, marketing, legal, medical and other professions all incorporate this principle one way or another. If underlying factors change, the method of addressing them often must change as well. And it's a basic method of coping in life's varied situations.

This is one of those changed situations. Sneak away and spend some time alone, figuring out what solutions (short or long) could be implemented. Perhaps hiring a caregiver so you can have a night out, or a weekend away, and regain your privacy might be an option.

If he refuses to reconsider anything and remains staunchly adamant, then I think you have some short and long term serious considerations to make about whether or not you want to remain in this relationship.

You might even have to take a vacation yourself just to get away and decide how you feel about this unsatisfactory situation, what you want to do and how far you'll go to regain the lost privacy, independence, etc.

StaceyB is another well informed and helpful poster who has been dealing with the issue of a live-in FIL for some time. She could offer some wise advice. I'm P'Ming her to ask her to help.
So, if I'm reading this right FIL has been living with you for over a year. I think it's safe to say you haven given it a fair shot. It's also fair to say FIL could live at least another ten years. Is your FIL social enough that he would do well in Independent Living- and does his finances allow for that? I think it's a mistake when adult children dismiss that option without fully thinking it through. Chances are once FIL adjusted he would like it. FIL would gain back some independence and while everyone is different- I would think that would feel better to him than being dependent on you and hubby. Many IL places offer lots of activities, gyms, pools, dining options etc. Your FIL would have age appropriate peers to interact with and given the male to female ratio in most retirement communities- would be very popular with the ladies. Would you hubby not want that for his father? Talk with your therapist- but maybe do a little leg work on your own, investigating some retirement communities- get some brochures. Tell hubby it's time to take you seriously as you are indeed - serious.
I have a big question -- Did FIL contribute anything to buy the bigger house. If he did, you do indeed have a sticky issue. It would be unfair for him to help pay for a bigger house, then to be turned out of it.

I wonder if the house could be adapted in any way to give you separate quarters. For example, I live in two rooms in my mother's house. We share only the kitchen. When I'm in my rooms I have a lot of privacy. My mother usually is in the living room. Staying separate most of the time is the only way it would work, because we don't get along if we spend too much time together.

If your FIL didn't contribute to the new house, deciding what to do will be a bit easier. The thing is that your husband would have to choose between his father and you. That is a tough one.
Shelly, may I ask what health issues does your Dad-in-law have, if any? Why I ask is that 75 is considered young in the world of elders... heavens, he's only a few years older than myself. What was his reason for moving in? That would give a better idea of what is going on.

If there aren't any health issues that would require your Dad-in-law to have someone in place every day, then as others had mentioned Dad probably would do well living on his own, per say, in either Independent Living or senior apartments where the rent is based on one's income.

Hello and thank you everyone for your comments. My FIL has no health issues and is financially set up. He did contribute to the down payment of the larger home and name is on the mortgage. He has joined a local senior centre where he goes out to play sports. Outside of that he has no social life. When he moved here he left a city where he had a social network and other family. I did agree initially for him to move here as I felt sad however 24/7 is far different then a two week visit twice a year. My husband and I are going away this week on our own for a vacation and I hope that he and I can get things sorted a bit. We are also going to set up couples counselling when we return. My FIL could easily manage on his own I have no doubt he just does not want to be alone. This places a great amount of pressure on us especially my husband. I also work from home which adds more frustration. My husband works for the government and is Mon-Fri regular hours. When he gets home I try and greet him at the door but so does my FIL... Gives us no privacy to check in with each other. I am so conflicted as the guilt I have for my feelings eats at me. I was raised to respect my elders and I do as well I always treat my FIL with respect mostly by biting my tongue. My husband won't talk too much about it as he is afraid I think to upset his dad or me. We haven't spoken to my FIL but I would be surprised if he could not feel the tension in the house. I am hoping our time away will help us reconnect but I am also mindful that when we return life will also return to stress.
My husband and I had a fairly nice vacation but strained due to the above. We have started counselling however I am not optimistic. I carry a ton of guilt for how I feel still and the stress I am placing on my husband. Hopefully counselling will help resolve some of this. Sometimes I think just leaving would be easier than putting everyone through this.
Don't feel bad about wanting your home and your life back. There is nothing incompatible about respecting and loving your elders and wishing at the same time to enjoy a normal lifestyle.

You are not putting stress on your husband. He created this situation - with your willing assistance at the time, sure, but still it was his doing. Just wishing it would go away so that he doesn't have to think or talk about it is not going to work. That isn't your fault.

What did your husband have to say about how he felt? Did he open up at all?

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