Hello everyone. I've been subscribed for a long time but have never posted everything because I feel my problem is trivial compared to the Herculean struggles most of you face. This is my first time posting and I hope it doesn't go over badly since I don't have to care for my elderly parents on a daily basis. They live in Florida and I'm in Illinois. My problem is that my 84 year old dad can't stand my wife and lashes out against her but still wants to be friends with me. It puts me (I'm 51) in a really difficult position. I know I can cut him out of my life but would much rather have everyone reconcile. He says it's out of the question. He's always been a hothead and holds grudges. My sister is going through the same thing. He hates her husband and lashes out against him too. I don't know how much is Alzheimer's/dementia and how much is him just being an a**hole. It may be a combination of both but I'm not aware of a medical diagnosis confirming anything. I've been struggling with this for two years, talking to a therapist every week to no avail. I suppose I can say it's okay if my father and wife can't stand each other and play nice with him but it doesn't feel right. I just don't want to have any contact with him, to be honest and kind of hope he dies soon. But I feel guilty about thinking that and saying it out loud, even to strangers on the internet. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks:

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Dear mouche23,

I'm glad you decided to post for the first time especially after being a subscriber for so long. Please realize that nothing is "trivial" when it is happening to you. There is always going to be people with situations that are more serious than our own but, if we all compare our situation to theirs, no one would ever post!

First off, you are a grown man who has a wife. When you married and took your vows that means you leave your family of origin and cleave to your spouse. Secondly, you can never, ever MAKE someone like or love someone else even if it is your spouse. That being said, it would be nice if there could just be some civility and respect. However, some people just never click no matter how hard they may try and if that is truly the case, maybe the spouses need to just allow you and your parents to have your time. I would be curious to know how your wife and sister's husband feels about it. You are at least fortunate to have distance between you because you live in other states. And guess what, someone who has always been a hothead and grudge holder rarely if ever, changes. They must have the ability to self-reflect in order to make a change within themselves and most of all they have to want to change. It is very hard when you want reconciliation which is good and proper and he wants no part of it. You will never be fully sure how much is the Alzheimer's/dementia or just him being him as you can't get into his head or anybody else's for that matter. However, you must be sure to always have your wife's back. Next time you talk and he starts lashing out about your wife, you could just say to him "dad the way you are talking about my wife is unacceptable and I need to end our conversation - we'll talk another time" and then end it. You have to be consistent though just like you do with children. I agree with Llamalover47's comment - there could be jealousy involved on his part as he may be vying for your undivided attention and love especially since it's the same problem with your sister's husband. I've seen it before and have dealt with it in my life with my husband's family. Also in my case, his family didn't want the family dynamics to change from him marrying and that could be the case with your dad. Where does you mom stand in all of this? Does she accept the spouses and if so, what does she do when your dad exhibits this behavior? It is hard on you because you are caught in the middle which is never a good place to be. I know you say you hopes he dies soon but feel guilty about thinking that and then saying it out loud especially to strangers on the internet. I've been there too and probably many others have if they think about it. Maybe you could look at it like this - you really don't want "him" to die necessarily - you just want the "situation" to die (end). We are all human and feel or think things that show us how flawed we really are. As I like to do in unpleasant situations - take the high road and set an example - you can't go wrong with that! Good luck -
Helpful Answer (0)

You need to take care of your wife. You made vows to her. Tell your mother that you will talk to her on the phone for only 10 minutes a week. If she starts to bad mouth your wife, just say gotta go now, bye. Then next week 10 min etc. Your loyalty should be to your wife. I know I've been at the receiving end of a mad MIL without DH protecting me.
Helpful Answer (1)
tevincolorado Jul 2020
I reread it. I mean your dad.
Take it in steps:
Step 1 Don’t tell your wife the nasty things Dad says. It doubles the problem.
Step 2 Finish the phone conversation immediately Dad says anything bad about wife or you or BIL.
Step 3 Find someone to unload to, perhaps sister, then try to forget the problem. If there is no-one, send your bellyaches to us on this site. We can cope!
Step 4 Live a happy life with your wife a long way away from Dad. Forget the psychoanalysis. You aren’t a psych, and he’s probably incurable. Just minimise your contact to what you want yourself.
Best wishes!
Helpful Answer (5)

Imho, I don't profess to be a neurologist, BUT it could be that your dad (even though ill with Alzheimr's) is jealous of each spouse of his adult children. I've seen this happen where the elderly parent wants all the attention and when they don't get it, they often pout.

Also, patients with Alzheimer's lack the social skills that they may have once had.
Helpful Answer (2)

Dementia patients tend to lose their "social filter" and say/do things that are hurtful. You can't change his mind about your wife and trying to will be an exercise in frustration. I suggest you talk to your dad and visit him without your wife. Your sister should probably do the same thing as well. Never allow your dad to say mean/hurtful things about your spouse. If she does, tell him that his words are mean.... AND CHANGE THE SUBJECT.

My grandmother got into a negative mental do-loop about her brother-in-law over a situation that happened when my mom was a young girl. I got her to agree that we needed to forgive him and reminded her of the last time she saw him. Every time she brought up her grudge, I reminded her we decided to forgive and changed the subject. Eventually she moved on to other, more pleasant subjects as time passed.
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My advice, do not spend much time at all trying to figure it all out.

Do not even go there in your mind thinking it is you. Once or twice being treated poorly, you need to find some peaceful friends and drop the topic from your conversations. People cannot lie about you, if for years you have had no contact.

Because, if you keep discussing the issue, it stays a hot topic always on your mind. I know it hurts. Move on and heal. imo.

I do not know why a person with dementia or alzheimers will pick a certain family member and hate them, but it is quite common, so you are not alone. There is no rationale to it.

If you are that person that triggers their delusions, vote with your feet.

I am not saying that we should not talk about it, not vent our feelings, but a healthy you will put a time limit on that process and move towards love.

And generous heartfelt people like Midkid and JoAnn talk about their experience to help others who are hurting. Thank you!

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MaryKathleen Jul 2020
And some people are just mean, there is evil in this world.
This could be MY DH'S mother.

She HATES me, and thoroughly dislikes my BIL (DH's sister's hubby).

How do I know she hates me? She has TOLD me, secretly, for years, just a little whisper in my ear or a slight of forgetting my b-day or just being 'mean'--just a little in front of others, but when we were alone--all stops were pulled out. Pretty much hated everything single thing about me.

And what have I done to deserve this kind of treatment? I would swear on a Bible that I have done NOTHING.

My DH keeps insisting that I try harder, and I really would--but after myriad dinners out with her when she's hop in the front seat of the car and leave me in the backseat and not address a single word to me throughout the evening--I quit going out with them.

She's less aggressively mean to BIL as he will give back as good as he gets. I didn't stand up for myself, and DH wouldn't. so it just got worse and worse.

About 6 months ago, I reluctantly went with DH to her home to help fix a computer problem. I was not allowed to sit down, so I had to stand on a small throw rug until DH noticed and said "Love of heaven mother, let her sit down! So I sat and occasionally she'd ask me a ? and as I went to answer, DH would pipe up something about the computer and she'd cut me off with a "Oh, just SHUT UP!" I don't know what it was about that day, maybe the fact I had just finished chemo for cancer and I felt like garbage---she shouted at me to "SHUT UP, Just SHUT UP! Don't you ever stop talking? You make me crazy". I stood up, said, "V, I a going to give you the best gift in the world. I am leaving and I am NEVER speaking to you again. Enjoy. Took a Diet Coke out of the fridge (she had given DH one, but wouldn't allow me to have one). I SLAMMED out the back door and stomped the 3 blocks to my sister's home.

There I was loved and cuddled by my SISTER'S grandkids and eventually Dh came and got me.

For the FIRST TIME in 44 years, he admitted she was a 'difficult' person. Asked me to let it go, as he didn't like going up there alone.

Nope, sorry, I'm done.

She's 90 and the meanest person I have ever met. Poor DH, he has issues from having her as an abusive mom that he will never be OK about.

Wish I'd had the courage to WALK AWAY from her 40 years ago.

Some people are just mean. Period. Nothing I did or could have done would have changed anything. She's a sick, mean person who will live forever.

And yet, I do not hate her. I just feel really sorry for her. What a lonely and sad life when you have ONE friend, and most of your family has been offended and hurt to the point they can't be around you.

Probably TMI, but it does make me feel less 'horrible' to let out the sadness and anger that she dumped on me that I just took for years.

(She divorced FIL 30 years ago--I had ZERO issues with him. He loved me and told me so frequently.)

I don't talk with DH about his mom. Ever. She's 100% HIS PROBLEM.
Helpful Answer (7)
Sendhelp Jul 2020
{{{{ h u g s }}}} Midkid ❣️
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Mouche, What you don't explain is exactly how your father lashes out at both your and your sisters' partners. Do you mean over the phone, in conversation with you? I assume he doesn't communicate directly with your wife or your brother in law at this point?

To me, the really big clue here is that it is both of the spouses that he is lashing out at. It makes me think that the issue is that these people take away your focus from him. It's completely irrational and that makes me think it's the dementia talking. Also, you know that part of his personality has always been holding grudges and having a hot head.

Someone with dementia can no longer be asked to make changes such as reconciling relationships. I don't think their brains have the capacity to make those adjustments.

Stop hoping for the reconciliation, which is impossible. At this point, he is
'just' your elderly father with dementia issues. Your wife and your father do not need to have anything to do with each other any longer. Don't take it personally. This is not about your wife or about anything reasonable. No longer put them in the same room, ie, you should no longer require her to travel to Florida to see your father with you. You're on your own. Keep your marriage intact and relieve her of any burden to do with your father. When and if he brings her up in conversation, do not respond. Change the subject.

You can wish for anything you want in your mind. All thoughts and fantasies are legal, and that's all that they are. No one else need be the wiser.
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First off, I'd like to say that your issue is just as important as any other issue we read about here on the AC Forum. Just b/c others may have 'bigger' problems doesn't minimize YOURS, you know? I have a bad hip; someone else has cancer; their cancer doesn't make my hip pain any less painful b/c they're going thru a worse time than I am.

It's very easy to say 'oh just chalk your dad's behavior off to dementia and let it go', but emotionally, it's a very difficult thing to actually DO. My mother is 93 and pushes every button she's installed on me. Every time I speak to her on the phone or go to see her for a window visit in Memory Care where she lives, I leave feeling badly. As if I've done something wrong (guilt) or, worse yet, that I AM something wrong (shame). Some people have a way of making others feel 'less than', dementia or no dementia. Which brings me to my next point: my mother has ALWAYS been a pain in the arse, dementia or no dementia. So nowadays, with moderate dementia at play, she's just WORSE than she was before. The ugly traits she's always displayed all her life are ugliER, that's all. So she's just more insufferable of a human being than she's ever been before, meaning our contact must be short and limited. As yours should be with your father. If he wants to rake your wife over the coals, that's fine. But you will be ending the conversation EACH time he goes down that road. "Gee sorry dad, when you choose to speak badly of my WIFE who I LOVE, I will choose to end our conversation, goodbye." He may actually get the hint after enough 'goodbyes' on your part. If not, not. Then you've still managed to end an ugly conversation asap, right?

When I worked at a Memory Care ALF as a front desk receiptionist before the plague hit, we had a Catholic Deacon who'd come in on Sunday's to visit with the residents & hand out communion. One day, we got into a conversation he and I about our elderly mothers who are both afflicted with dementia & both living in Memory Care ALFs. Know what he said? He said, "Every day I pray for my mother to die." I was kind of taken aback at that statement, initially, because who says things like that out loud? We most of us THINK them...........he went on to say that why WOULDN'T he pray for her to pass, since the afterlife is a much better place for her than earth, with all the suffering and pain she has with dementia. So........that's how I think of it myself these days when I pray for my own mother's passing and end to her suffering.

Wishing you the best of luck with your difficult dad and NO GUILT setting down rules as to how much nonsense you're willing to tolerate!!!
Helpful Answer (12)
jacobsonbob Jul 2020
"...pushes every button she's installed on me" Thanks for what is a fabulous and accurate description! We need to come up with an "uninstall app" to protect ourselves.
Chalk it up to the disease, please. We had parishioner who did a lot for the Church. He eventually suffered from ALZ. He got it in his head he didn't like something the Church had done (not even sure it was warrented)and wouldn't come back.

Even in early stages of Dementia, there is no reasoning with them. He can't even explain why he doesn't like his DIL or SIL. And there is no re-training. You could try, but their short term memory loss keeps them from remembering. I know, but they remember not liking something. The brain is a weird thing. If you set boundries, they are for you. Don't mention ur wife. But if Dad gets started, no reason you can't say you will not allow him to talk that way about your wife and if he continues, u will hang up and do it. You don't have to answer his calls. If you visit, maybe get a hotel room for u and wife and you visit ur parents alone.
Helpful Answer (5)

It's interesting that dad hates BOTH of his children's spouses. Is this always, like from the beginning, or a recent thing?

I agree that if he lashes out over the phone, you say firmly " Dad, I can't hear that sort of talk against my wife. Goodbye".

Does dad think that you should be in Florida caring for him, and that its "only" your wife's existence that prevents you from doing so?
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You & your wife can each decide what relationship to have with your Dad. For her, that may well be 'no contact'.

You may decide the frequency of your own (solo) visits & phone calls, but I agree with Daughterof1930, do not put up with any venom. Warn him that's not ok, if he doesn't immediately stop, warn him you will hang up or leave & then do so. This will hopefully re-train him.

He is entitled to his opinions (fair or not) but YOU do not have to listen. If you truly believe that, hanging up feels right, no guilt at all.

Is you having contact with Dad causing problems for your wife? Does she feel badly treated & insisting you cut all ties too?
Helpful Answer (7)

No real answers but I'm in the same boat. 82-yr old Mom keeps bringing in packages from outside though we have told her many times and put up signs/ she's not to touch them due to covid fears. I don't know if this dementia or her just ignoring us. My husband is furious with her (Now we are putting extra locks on the front door).

Good luck to you and I know you will get good advice from others here.
Helpful Answer (0)
JoAnn29 Jul 2020
Your husband needs to understand that Mom's lack of short term memory means she does not remember what you keep telling her.
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It’s very true that neither of them has to like the other, and you have the wonderful gift of distance. A few things to resolve as absolutes- your dad isn’t going to change, unless it’s to get worse, so no expecting it. Your first loyalty is to your spouse, so no listening to any venom against her, not a word. The minute it starts you’re off the phone or out of his presence, no explanation needed or given. And no subjecting your wife to him, at all. If you choose to be a son, friend, long distance caregiver, those are all valid choices while leaving your wife away from the vitriol. If you decide not to be a part of it, that’s valid too. Only you know what you can handle. Thank you for considering your spouse, far too many don’t
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