Mother In Law and my Husband-I Need advice

Started by

Married to my husband for over 26 years. For the last 26 years all I have heard from MIL is she is dying. My father in law has the beginning stages of dementia. MIL weighs close to 300 lbs, diabetic, Lupus, etc. My husband's brother, nephew, nephew wife, and five grandchildren live with MIL and FIL. Husband and I have our own place. MIL is the center of attention and everyone, except for me, is at her beck and call. MIL will not get out of bed to make her food, get dressed, shower, etc. She has fallen several times trying to go to her potty next to her bed. MIL expects FIL and family to pick her up from floor and help her in bed. She is in the hospital at least three to four times a year. She will not do anything for herself. My husband is and has been sick for the last several years. He decided he would start making and taking MIL to her doctor appointments and fix her meds. She has several appointments every week. Keep in mind, my husband does not work due to illness. I am the sole provider of our family. My husband will not fix his own meds and not doing anything at all at our home. I can't even say what we have is a marriage. No intimacy or going and doing things together. But, if MIL calls, he jumps. I feel used. I am hurt. I have explained all this to him and he refuses to tell his parents and brother and nephew this is creating a huge problem in our marriage. My husband just had major brain surgery. MIL response to me when I called to say it went well was "o.k." and that she "fell again". Next day, MIL was in the same hospital as my husband. I blocked my husband's family on his cell phone so he could recover. Well, he unblocked it and now MIL is in a nursing home to which she DOES NOT want to be there. She has said she wants to be at home, even though her 100 lb husband cannot take care of her. My husband has now replaced his father. Keep in mind, I work full-time and take care of our home. My husband does not worry about me or my health (I am a diabetic). I feel used. I know he needs to be a good son but is he going too far? Also, I was the primary caregiver for my mother, who passed away from cancer. I never put our marriage on the back burner and was there for him 100%. Can you please give me some advice? Also, about a year ago, when this all started, my MIL made the comment that my husband helping her is going to mess up our marriage. Please help. I do not resent her but am so very angry at my husband.

11 Comments

Very frankly, is this a "marriage" you want to continue? I think some real soul-searching is appropriate to decide if you want to be the ignored, disrespected bread winner for the rest of your life.

It's not my intention to be cruel, but rather to put your situation in perspective based on what you've written.
No, I appreciate any comments. At times, I think I am the one with a problem. This gives me perspective.
I feel your pain--my husband went through a really bad patch of health, and amazingly, 12 years on the "better side" of it, he is a grouchy, difficult individual. I finally gave him the option of getting psychiatric TX or I was divorcing him. Already had called a lawyer.

This woke him up and he began therapy and new meds. I can't say he's a new person, but he's closer to being the man I wanted to be with. Now there is a ray of hope.

One of the behaviors he exhibited that made it so bad--he'd sleep for up to 4 days at a time. He's still working FT and loves his job, but he comes home and hits the sack and you don't see him for 24-96 hours. He felt this was totally fair and fine, since I am not currently working, why shouldn't I have to do all the rest of the stuff (including taking care of his nasty mother).

Only you can make this decision. Sounds like you have "given" out.

This is hard. Come back and let us support you--this forum has been such a great "venting place" for me.
Thank you very much.
I'm sorry to say that you do not have a marriage but you are married. Because you are employed and are the breadwinner, my advice to you is to seek legal advice from a divorce attorney. Protect your future, protect your assets, and protect yourself from these people who are severely mentally ill and have been using you.
I'm sorry you're going through this!! I will be blunt as well. Your MIL sounds like a narcissist. And I don't mean just any narcissist; please look up Narcissistic Personality Disorder. (Google 'halycon Narcissistic Personality Disorder'. The website that comes up has tons of great info; it was hugely eye opening to me.

The other thing is that Narcissistic Mothers (NMs) will absolutely try to destroy their childrens' marriages, and they have no qualms about taking over their families' lives in general.

Unfortunately, NM's train their children to be at their beck and call, OR ELSE. It's serious business, and wrenching you and your spouse away from that will be difficult, but it IS possible, if your husband is on board. It took me a long time to get healing and get away from my NM, and she is exactly like your MIL. (Always in the hospital, seriously overweight, is on tons of meds, falls, won't take responsibility for her own health, claims she has every health malady in the book, and can/will raise an enormous fuss/guilt trip if she doesn't get what she wants, etc.)

Oh, and the "Mother is dying" thing? I've heard it since I was 7 years old. (I'm in my 40's now.) My dad finally quit saying it when I put up some boundaries, but I swear the next time he says, "Mom could die" I will respond with, "Yes, everyone could die, pretty much at any time."

Next, get some counseling for you and your husband, immediately. There are also a lot of books that can help:

Boundaries - Cloud and Townsend
Safe People - Cloud and Townsend
Will I Ever Be Good Enough - Dr. Karyl McBride  (This book is geared towards the daughters of narcissistic mothers, but it can help sons, as well, and it can certainly help you, as the daughter-in-law.  It's tough being in that position.  You deserve better.)

Again, I'm so sorry that you're going through this! I hope your husband has a full recovery, and I hope that the two of you can somehow get on the same page, and start putting up some healthy boundaries.  Best wishes, and if you need to vent, we're here!
Don't see where husband
needs to do anything. She has enough people in her house to care for her. If u can support yourself, maybe a trial sepsration. Or let ur husband do what he wants and find out he can't do it. And if he does, tell him he can do his own medication. With what u have discribed, Mom may not be with u much longer. Her weight and diabetes does a job on the heart. Not moving around is even worse. Her circulation in her feet and legs will be so bad gangreen will set in and she will lose her feet and legs. At that point she will need a NH because no one will be able to care for her. Family members should not be picking her up. They should call 911.
Oh my! I am not going crazy! Thank you for your input! WhirledTravel, I have always believed she is a narcissist. My FIL looks like death but she pays no mind to it. She acts likes a child and throws a fit when told she needs to be placed in a NH. She gets upset and crying when my FIL yells at her, after he has finally had it with her. Yet, she refuses to understand he has the beginning of dementia. This is part of it. Instead, she wants my husband to take him to the doctor and have my FIL placed on Xanax...more pills. My FIL has taken her to family weddings, she chooses to sit in her wheelchair and play victim. My FIL danced the night away with his SISTERS at one wedding. She sat in her wheelchair. She called the next day and gave my husband a guilt trip that no one loves her, blah, blah, blah. Unfortunately, my husband buys into it. In the beginning, I bought into it. But, that stopped about ten years ago. I watched my mother's throat burn from radiation treatment and her waste away to 90 pounds because she could not eat. My mother was up and doing chores around the house until about a month before she passed away. I do feel resentment that my MIL has been blessed with many years of life, which she does not appreciate, yet, there are so many people who are ill that would do anything for another day, week, or year of life, and she is abusing it and others. I do feel anger that my husband just went through major surgery and she totally disregards it because she is...selfish. I do feel a lot of anger towards my husband that he is allowing our marriage to fall apart and is allowing himself to be sucked in by my MIL. She loves to put guilt on everyone. Mostly, I do not like that I have allowed myself to become a person who "dislikes" another person...to the point where I hate them. I do not like to use the word "hate" but that is what it is becoming. This crazy woman told me many years ago that she could not accept my BIL's baby as her grandchild (my BIL has fathered several children from several different women). She eventually did but of course, the grandchild was not her "favorite". Yet this grandchild, who is an adult now, fawns over this woman. And of course, my MIL tells me things like this when we are alone. She will call my husband to get him to call the house and tell his nephew/her grandson (lives with MIL) to do something for her. And of course, he does it. Bear in mind, nephew's dad lives in the same house and could tell him. She does not want to be the "bad" person. I could go on and on and on. Thank you for allowing me to vent. I need to start looking for and reading some books!
Joann29....I agree no one should be lifting her! They have called 9-1-1 so many times that EMS/Fire told them they will report them if they get another call to come to the house just to pick her up from the floor. EMS/Fire said they have real emergencies to handle and she needs to be in a home if no one can take care of her. I totally agree but everyone does what Mama wants...maybe it will change when they are charged criminally and then they will whine and cry.
And as for the diabetes, she has "perfect" levels. She checks them as soon as she wakes up and right before she eats.....not after. Well, your levels are going to be lower on an empty stomach. After eating a regular dinner plate plus a foot long Subway sandwich, your levels are going to be sky high. That doesn't include the four boxes of vanilla pudding along with vanilla wafers, etc for dessert. She will not check her levels after she eats because then she will have to say her levels are HIGH. This last episode where she ended up at the same hospital my husband was having surgery, her complaint to the nurse was she needed a dinner plate because she did not eat that day. I asked the nurse what her blood sugar level was and the nurse said "339".
Unbelievable. I have hit a level of 260 and I thought I was going to die. I will do anything and everything to have normal blood sugar levels. Unreal.
Wow, Lucy! Your stories only confirm that your MIL does indeed have NPD. I could post very similar stories about my mother - the guilt thing is huge with them, as is playing the victim.

I know that some people are telling you to take a long, hard look at your marriage, which you probably should do. But you've been married for 26 years, so maybe there's some hope? I have no idea what your marriage was like in the beginning; was it always affected by MIL? Here's a few things to know about the children of NM's, and it sounds like your husband is in this boat. He's not behaving this way to hurt you; it's simply all he knows.

~We are programmed from birth to only have one concern - Mother.
~Our needs mean nothing, much less our desires.
~If we don't do what NM says, we know that we'll experience her Narcissistic Rage. (See below)
~We are TERRIFIED of losing our NM, because our identity is tied with hers.
~We have been beaten down and told that we're worthless our entire lives, and have been made to feel a crushing amount of guilt if we don't give in to NMs demands. There's a part of us that keeps thinking that if we can please her, just this once, everything will be ok!
~Most NM's are married to an enabling husband, who himself is usually reduced to a shell of a human being over the years. But the NM cannot exist without the enabling husband and father, who never steps in to protect his kids, because he is afraid of the Narcissistic Rage.
~ Narcissists, every single day, need their Narcissistic Supply (again, see below). It's like us normal people needing air to breathe. If they don't get it, they literally panic, and make up some kind of drama, to get their supply again.

*Narcissistic Rage - When an adult narcissist blows up, throws a fit like a 2 year old, screams, yells, threatens, and sometimes even physically harms others, in order to get what they want. It's real, it's terrifying, and it's ABUSE, plain and simple. Keep in mind that the children of NMs experienced this rage as a child, which makes it even more terrifying, even as an adult.

*Narcissistic Supply - The need to be the center of attention at all times, whether the narcissist is at a wedding, a funeral, someone else's birthday party, or the grocery store. They will make a scene if they feel they aren't getting enough attention, even to the point of making up illnesses. It's common for NMs to constantly go to doctors and be hospitalized on a semi-frequent basis, even for minor things.

Ok, I know that was a lot, but does any of it sound familiar? I bet it does.

You've said a couple of times that you're more angry with your husband, and I totally understand that! But being in his position at one time, I also understand his side of it. My advice is to direct your anger to his mother; she's the one who deserves it!!

Again, this is something that really needs a professional counselor to help with. But your husband does have to be on board. Ask him if he WANTS your lives to continue like this. Tell him that he's worthy of having his own life, and that he deserves to be happy. (That's a big one. We aren't supposed to be happy, only our NM is allowed to be happy, which never happens, anyway!)

Seriously, look your husband in the eye and tell him, "It's ok for us to be happy, and live in peace." Without making demands yet, tell him that's what you desire. It's still up to him, though, to take the first step towards putting some boundaries up, and working on your marriage.

Lastly, there were a lot of things that I accepted as "normal" until I married my husband. You don't know any different than what you were taught as a child o f a narcissist, even once you're an adult. (We're also not "allowed" to learn different ways of doing things.) My husband helped me to understand that the way I grew up was not normal, certainly not acceptable, and that I AM valuable as a human being. I don't know where I'd be if it weren't for my husband. He showed me that love doesn't have to hurt.

I wish you the best of luck, honestly, and I hope things can change for the better for you and your husband!

Keep the conversation going (or start a new one)

Please enter your Comment

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support