Mother-in-law's stroke is ruining my marriage.

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I really don't know whether to feel bad , guilty or be right . I'm not only married into a narcissistic family but the mother had a stroke 4 years ago , refused to rehab herself and demands that her children who has families stay with her along with care givers . She does have right side paralysis and can't talk but has her right mind trust me . She feels her kids owe her and their families aren't part of the importance to be taken care of before her . They refuse to put her in a nursing home which puts a strain on households time wise and fanatically . All kids are 50 to 60 years old . Some with small kids, college, grandparents and empty nesters who can finally enjoy the rest of their life but refuse to because some feel she comes before anything even wife's are left sick , kids events are missed and much more . Being a narcisstic son , I'm kept out of what's going on but required to except whatever and no questions asked . I guess my question is it wrong to feel it's my family that comes first along with trying to keep the quality of my marriage as to what's left of it a priority . All our kids are adults , in the military , college educated and we are grandparents of one 7 year old granddaughter . Our marriage is basically mute in many areas . He has only time for work and sit with his mom at nite when it's his turn and sleep at home leaving me to myself to travel and enjoy life at 50 . His mom does not need total care for anyone to stay all night and day . I'm I wrong to hate their situation to the point that I feel it's ruining our marriage and life ? 911 divorce is my next thought .


How old is your MIL? And while know one can say for sure how much time any of us have left - is this something that could go on for years or is there an end in site? My mothers care has almost completely taken over my life - there are days when she is my first thought when open my eyes in the morning and my last thought before falling asleep. My husband has been a saint and I can say he has done more for my parents in the past five years than both my brothers combined! That said, it dawned on me a few months ago that for the same five years I have put my mom first, my own family second and myself third. I am now trying actively to rearrange my priorities. But it took me a long time to get here and it will probably take a while to find my way back. Think about what you want from your spouse to be able to live with your current situation. I don't think you can expect your spouse to completely walk away from the situation - nor do I think you'd really want that. I am reminded of the saying: if you want to know what a man would be like as a husband, take a look at how he treats his mother. So get your thoughts and expectations in order and have a open, frank discussion with your spouse. Above all don't let this stew unsaid or you may reach a sad and lonely point of no return. There is a thread here under the "question" heading from a man who looks after his mom and it has caused much damage to his marriage. Take a look at it - it may give some perspective to "his" side of your similar situation. Best wishes.
Seems like MIL is really running the whole family, and everyone is expected to march to her tune.

I don't know how much can really be done about this if the adult children willingly comply, but I myself would be reluctant to participate since it seems they won't consider other options, such as a some type of nursing home, especially since MIL doesn't want to participate in rehab.

I also recommend reading the thread RainMom recommended; it's a post by Dagen...just searched but I can't find it, but others may have a quick link. It's well worth reading because of the damage done to his marriage by his caring for his mother.

There are also hits on other questions re MIL's involvement in marriages:

Just found Dagan's post:

It's well worth the read.
This is another post in which a man describes the frustration and damage to his marriage by his wife's devotion to her father, insisting on keeping him in their home. It's a good example of how someone has struggled to balance the marital needs as well as the needs of her wife for her father's care. Lots of insight to be gained that might help your situation.
Been there! Your husband cannot completely walk away BUT he needs to do much more walking toward you. Men are terrible at setting boundaries with their mothers. They do not relate to their mothers as women whereas we wives do. Many husbands would love it if their wives would help them establish healthy boundaries with their mothers.

You don't have to "accept whatever no questions asked." You have every right to insert yourself because this is affecting your life. Ask questions. Get involved. Go along with your husband and visit your MIL so that you start to be seen. It's the 21st century and you may have to drag your husband into it. Help him. Be gentle yet firm about what is acceptable and what isn't.

You have become invisible and must step out of the shadows if you want your husband's attention. Get busy making plans. And not just small plans but big ones like a vacation or special trip. Plan ahead...especially now with the holiday season approaching.

Communicate your expectations to your husband. It is not to much to ask for one standing date night a week for just the two of you. He should be planning "his turn" around what works for your family not around what works for his siblings.

Your MIL refused rehab? Has caregivers?? Sounds like she has a battery of reinforcements i.e. his siblings wrapped around her little finger. Stand up for yourself and your marriage because no one else is going to in that family!

If you married a narcissist then learn how to handle/manage one. They're...tough.

May I ask what culture your husband comes from? Because sometimes there's a big cultural divide between husbands and wives when it comes time to caregiver for a man's parents.

Continue reading this forum. The people on it have helped me learn and grow. And I wish you lots of luck!!! - NYDIL
She's 83 and doesn't look a day older than 60 and I'm a geriatric nurse for over 20 years . I love the elderly and have supported professionally with many families because it's heart breaking and the feeling of guilt over whelms families with admitting an ill and angeing love one . When she got sick all wife's where not consultant to help as well as other family and friends . Basically this family was disfunctional before she became ill . I've seen family destroyed over this . Families are not equipt to handling this . She's not in any threat of leaving us any time soon because of her stroke . She want even get up . Other than paralysis and her speech she's very healthy and able to do more for herself if she wanted to . Even the sitters and Drs say this . My point is i welcome the care that he gives but not at my family dissolving and us stop living . That's why care facilities are put in place . I just had cervical neck surgery and was was left because she's priority , I've had other illnesses and left to fin for myself . I think how a man treat his mom is over rated and circumstances plays a big factor . I'm not saying he needs to completely leave his mom care , then I would have to look at him as less as a man but I'm not heartless and I understand because I have a mother and I've worked where families who drop off their elderly and never come back until it's time to prepare for a funeral . But there are boundaries and professionals will tell you that you can't feel guilty nor over whelm your life with an elderly and I'll parents . It's hard not to seem heartless but I've seen how families put their love one in a facility so they can be better taken care of around the clock and they can continue to grow and enjoy their families with a peace of mind knowing their parent is in good hands . . I think people don't understand that a good care facilities is better equipped to handle 24 hr care and trying to keep an Ill parent at home is often worse in so many factors not alone the stress that's put on each one. We all love our parents and want the best but trying to take care of one at home is often distructive on so many levels . If my husband fall ill which he's a bad hypertension person and his BP is up all the time from stress . I'm hypertensive myself and had a stroke over 4 years ago . there's no one to help me if he becomes I'll and I do not want to burden our kids and take from their growing life . I've already told my kids , do not ever try to keep me at home . It's hard , stressful and even though 2 of them have medical back grounds ,I don't want that strain in their families . My point is families have to take care of themselves also and we all have to understand we have worked hard to get where we are and to back up fanancially and lose time that can end anytime , she's had 80 plus and I want the same . It's a very big blow that's all . Just when We have grown our family and we are ready to live some , we are put on hold not to enjoy the rest of what we have left . Boundaries needed . Venting too but thanks for any response .
We are Aftican Americans . I do plan trips but he's reluctant in coming and ruins the trip with his not wanting to he their attitude and the other 5 siblings really fight among themselves with a sitting scheduled and some font fit nor but gives orders from out of town and I tried to get involved and be seen as I was before she got sick . I was well like , took her to the dr 's , shopping etc . I was shut out . Their mom has always had a hold on all the kids , hold family meetings amongs themselves and didn't include spouses . It's hard to tell it all but as I said the entire family is narcisstic . They are the text book of it . It just took me 20 years to but my figure on their problem. To be honest this mother has ruin several marriages . I really want what's best for her because as I said I have a mother . I have spoken to my husband many times but all siblings feels that even though we are a family , we are not part of their family and mom will always be priority regardless . She raised them like that and punish them with a tongue lashing even tried to now if they don't come and sit regardless of what's going on in her children families . When I say if God don't come and fix this , we are in trouble for many years to come .
911, I'm going to be very blunt here. What is there in this marriage that's worth holding on to?

If he can't get away for a week's vacation once a year and not worry about her; if he can't say to himself "gee, my wife has had a stroke, I need to be there for her", what is the point in being married?

I'm asking you to ask yourself. I don't need an answer from you.
What ever happened to "for better or for worst, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health... from both sides?
I have to agree with Babalou - is there anything still existing in your marriage that was there before the MIL became dominant? I know it's not easy to just suggest considering some alternative, but it really does sound as if this woman has her family subordinated and treating her as if she were a queen.

Keep the conversation going (or start a new one)

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