Is my relationship with my caregiving boyfriend doomed?
Hi everyone, this is going to be a pretty long post so, for those of you who make it to the end, I would like to thank you in advance.
I have been in a relationship for the past two years to a wonderful man, however, I think he might be too close to his mother and it has been negatively impacting our relationship from the start.
His mother has always been dependent on his father, in fact, although she went to school, she has never worked a day in her life, opting instead to be a stay at home mom. She once told my boyfriend that she never got a driver's license so that his father would have to come home and take her to the places she needed to get to.
His father passed away a few years ago, and so now his mother is alone. She is showing early signs of dementia, but for the most part, she is still very independent. She goes out every morning to socialize with her friends, she is able to manage the house with little help and is still capable of taking care of herself in terms of bathing etc.
Before I continue, I just want to say that I acknowledge that caregiving is a very trying thing, and I do realize that she has dementia and needs more help than the average parent. The caregiving is not the issue, their closeness is.
My boyfriend lives about 10 minutes away from his mother, and he and I live in the same condo building. He works fulltime but manages to visit his mom at least four times or more a week and they speak at least three times a day on the phone. Although we live just a couple of floors from each other, we have now settled into a once a week thing mostly because I don't want to pressure him for more time when I know he hardly gets time for himself. If he goes more than a couple days without seeing his mother, she gives him the cold shoulder and only stops after he has showered her with time and attention to make it up to her.
His brother and sister both live relatively close by, but they are not as close to their mom which I am now beginning to suspect is because of how close she is to my boyfriend. It is no secret that he is her favourite so I think there may be some resentment there. In addition, his brother and sister are both married with children - my boyfriend, at 52 has never been married, so I guess naturally it is easily assumable that he would have the most time to give. He has tried to take steps to free up more of his time, but he is always met with resistance. If he mentions having a caregiver come a few times a week, she becomes ornery. Last month he decided to try to have gourmet meals delivered to her place because she wasn't eating enough, and for the whole week, for every meal, he was bombarded with complaints so he has gone back to delivering dinner for her personally. She tells him she feels bad and she wants him to live his life, but any effort he tries to make that will help him to take care of her and still have a life is shot down but he doesn't seem to notice what is happening. I am not at all implying that his mother is an evil genius, but I do think as much as she says she feels bad, she enjoys having him there with her all the time.
I have never met his mother but the first thing she had to say when she learned of me is that I am with my boyfriend for his money. That was the first dig. We got into an argument early on in our relationship and he told her all about it do for months after, even though things were really good with us, she would remind him of the argument we had. I once poured my heart out to him in a letter which he promptly shared with his mother. It made me sick. I spent a month planning an evening for him for his birthday last year, and told him about it a month in advance because I didn't want his mom to get in the way and guess what? He took his mother on vacation with flights leaving on the very day of my plans for him. Our first summer together we decided to go away for a weekend and when he told his mom, she told him to refrain from having sex with me, and when we got back to the city she actually called to make sure he had listened to her. He lied to her to keep the peace but how and why would a mother of a 50-year-old son, feel comfortable enough to control her son's sex life?
When he needs advice, he asks his mom first before asking me, when I compliment him on a shirt, for example, it is not uncommon for his reply to be "thanks, mom likes this one too," when we go out to eat, every waitress asks for his mom because they have only ever seen him there with her, and even when I order dishes sometimes he'll say "you'll enjoy that, my mom likes it a lot."
I feel like there have always been three people in my relationship, and I have always felt like the mistress. I understand his mom's care comes before my wants, but when it doesn't have anything to do with her dementia care, am I being selfish as he's lead me to believe, am I wrong for being mad?
Much more has happened that I can't fit but I'm asking, is this normal for dementia care?