Semi-retired husband burn-out due to my mother living with us.

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My 86 year old mother has lived with us for 5 years. My husband recently semi-retired. He works mornings and he feels that he has become the care-giver for "conversation support" for his mother-in-law since he is the one that is home most of the time. My mother has never been very social and he feels that she should be doing something for companionship and she is lonely but he does not want to be the one to provide companionship. (I agree that he should not be the one). I have told him to greet her but he does not have to sit and talk to her. Her conversation is usually about the relatives and all their illnesses..gloom and doom.
It has caused a stressful situtation in our 30+ year marriage...even spoke of breaking up. Any advice.


I think your husband is giving you a initial shot across the bow...that he's wanting you to consider other healthcare for your mother. Care elsewhere...away from your home. He is trying to get you to start thinking about it.

Think about's been 5 years that he's gone along with this arrangement. (He may have thought at the beginning that it would not go on this long.) Now, he's home more, alone with her, and he doesn't feel comfortable with that responsibility. In addition, he is semi-retired which conjures up "free time" and having more flexibility to do what we want, when we want. He may be feeling that his semi-retirement is/may be hampered with your 86 year old mother under the same roof. (It's not what he had planned for or how he had imagined it.)

I am softening my words here in trying to not generalize about all men based on what I've personally had to deal with, but from my experience, similar to other stories you can read on this website from others, men are wired differently concerning patience, decision making, providing care for others (including their own family members) and nurturing. Simply said...they apt to be more self-centered. Often times, a situation like yours is looked upon as an obstacle at the least, and an unbearable hardship for other men. Some may go as far as to's not their job.

I may be completely wrong concerning your husband. Perhaps he misses how your marriage use to be and wants to see you more and spend more time with you instead of the time and effort to care for your mother. (I'm sure he would prefer you give him more attention!) And, perhaps he doesn't like to see the toll it undoubtedly has taken on you. However...

You have noted in your post: "a stressful situation"..."spoke of breaking up". I think he's saying...he doesn't like how things are and because this situation involves your mother, he thinks it is your responsibility to care for her.and to "fix it". He's wanting you to make changes. Now, he's being kind. But, if he doesn't see some change or action on your part, his actions and intensity will heighten, IMO.

I would weigh what is most important to the long run. If you want to vote for him and your marriage, then I think your mother needs to be out of the house more either visiting friends, family, senior center, adult dare care, spending a weekend or week or two at another's house etc or permanently in a senior care condo/apt or NH, depending on your mother's abilities and needs.

Good luck and please give us an update about what happens.
I agree, your husband and marriage should come first. Doesn't mean you don't love your mom and want to take care of her, but there are other ways to take care of someone without living with them. Take your husband out for dinner or a walk, or whatever and talk to him alone. Acknowledge his feelings and also admit to him that YOU also wanted things to be different when he got ready to retire. Then hatch a plan TOGETHER!! You are in this together right? You both want the same thing right? Start pulling together as a team towards a common goal.
I take it that your mother was home alone afternoons before your husband semi-retired. She apparently got along OK with her own company. He should not feel an obligation to povide companionship every day. I know you have already told him that, but I'd keep up that theme. If there is some common activity they might enjoy together -- a hand of whist and an afternoon beer -- that would be fine, but sitting around discussing her relatives probably isn't even very satisfying to her!

If Mom really is lonely and would like more companionship, look into senior day health programs or senior center activities. If she prefers to be left alone, respect that. But somehow you've got to get hubby out of the companion role.
I also feel the tug between husband and mom. Mom wants me with her, husband wants me with him. Mom is in an assisted living, but I spend most of my day with her. Feel so guilty leaving her for a day. I am going to have to though, weather is getting nicer and hubby wants to start doing things together. Know what you are going through.
I would like to thank all of you for your comments. You know all we want is our mom to be our mom and we do not want to be a caregiver ....that was her role. But it is what it is. Just so you all know I keep telling my husband that he should not feel obligated to provide her companionship. I said if you were not semi-retired you would not be home and she would be doing fine. It is her choice to be alone. I did look into adult day care and visited a facility today. I was actually impressed by the facility. So, the next step is to have a family meeting with my sister and my mom and explain that getting out a few days a week with others will do her good. Again, thanks everyone...sometimes the truth is hard to take but I have to work on making my husband feel better about his time in his own house.

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