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MIL...have had an in-law apartment for 20 years and MIL living with us...but now it's to the point I'm ready to move her to senior housing. This woman waits for my wife to leave to work ( I work from home, office in lower level ) then she enters our home and snoops through everything she can see without going upstairs to bedrooms. She opens desk drawers, searches my wife's office, opens kitchen cabinet doors, refrigerator etc. etc. all the time I'm watching from the lower stairs...she's so loud I know when she enters. If my son leaves laundry that needs to be ironed ...she irons and then brings upstairs to his bedroom closet ( this was the exception)....if my wife tells her to not come in she takes it that she's not wanted and cops an attitude and doesn't speak to anyone. This woman is now 85 she's been with us since her husband died 20 years ago....she attends church each morning to wash away the sins of snooping....I'm getting tired of this, what can I do, my wife won't confront her.

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Can you put child safety covers on your doorknobs, at least to the rooms to which you would like to deny her access. You might find some she cannot figure out..
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cmagnum: No I haven't moved out..lol...I go about my business and told my wife that MIL is her total responsibility and not to include my name and her name in the same sentence. My wife still goes upstairs each day after work and has lunch with her and listens to her ....but any support which I handled is now my wife's with her own mother.

My wife has gotten tough over this since I haven't spoke to MIL since Jan. and since I do not bring her name up in any conversation....when my wife asks a question pertaining to her mother , I say figure it out I had to....there are alot of support departments at the senior center.....go up there with your mother and ask questions.

As far as I'm concerned I can play the same game MIL plays...black or white with no grey area for reasoning....I was hoping MIL would have moved out on her own to the senior housing and got a real taste of how small her world could get...here she has family from Canada come and stay for weeks on end , sleeping on my side and all over this place...she wouldn't be able to do that in her 500 sq. ft. or so closet.

My wife knows that I'm finished dealing with the guilt and the "think that I'm still in control" MIL of 85..!!!
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It is good that your wife confronted her mother, but what consequence did she tell her mother would take place if she did not respect that boundary? If not, then there needs to be a concrete response to this like moving her out to live some where else or calling the cops over the next time she goes snooping. How has your wife put up with her all these years or is she that enmeshed with her mother that she just gives into her mother's drama? By moving on, just what do you mean? Have you left your MIL and wife?
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MIL lives in our home, separate in-law apartment...but snoops around my side of house.update


Well....I figured I'd update everyone on this topic:
Answered a question 1/4/2012 at 8:06 pmMother-in-law lives in our home, separate in-law apartment but snoops around my side of house. How do I get her out?
Bottom line is...she either respects our privacy or takes up residence at the senior housing whereas she can complain to her peers of how cruel and abusive it was to live with her daughter and ...Read More
Bottom line is...she either respects our privacy or takes up residence at the senior housing whereas she can complain to her peers of how cruel and abusive it was to live with her daughter and SIL...and they all will agree with her because that's the same reason they are living at the senior housing....lol

Thank you all for your assistance ....many many great ideas...chow !

Well MIL has taken the low road on this subject when confronted by my wife and explained to her that "we need our privacy" and would appreciate that you wouldn't just walk in unannounced to our side of the house.....and that the questions and interigation has to stop.
MIL has stated "I will not walk past your threshold again" ....okay, thank you for being realistic on this....my wife said. MIL then went on a tirade of contacting every "senior living" association and filling out applications and making "statements that she should have never moved in with us" .....and basically blowing up this situation sky high....she also stated that I ruined the family....etc. etc. unbelieveable.
Once the dust settled she states that she will continue living in her apartment ( let's see 850 sq. ft. 10 year old apartment overhead cost $300 bucks per month ) vs. 350 sq. ft. studio apartment where you have to go outside to change your mind and costing every peenny she earns.
Bottom line....I've had my fill of this old woman ...she was able to see her grandchildren raised in front of her, been inter-active with family, friends, lived in two new homes, drove new cars and had all inclusive care taker plus watched her daughter and SIL bust their asses to make everyone comfortable and successfull all within a 20 year span....so when we need some separation this is the thanks we get.
I have moved on and now see it as black and white just the way MIL sees it....I'm through with her and she's my wife's responsibiltiy the rest of the way.
I took care of my father, mother, uncle and aunt.....I'm through with old people.....
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Bottom line is...she either respects our privacy or takes up residence at the senior housing whereas she can complain to her peers of how cruel and abusive it was to live with her daughter and SIL...and they all will agree with her because that's the same reason they are living at the senior housing....lol

Thank you all for your assistance ....many many great ideas...chow !
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Boundaries are crucial plus you and your wife being a team will be the key or the boundaries will not work of be able to be agreed upon. Sorry to say, but beneath this probably a need for some marriage counseling for I think her lack of team work with you and putting her mom ahead of you and the children is far more of a problem than being older and older people getting on your nerves. Frankly, your wife needs to read the book Marriage and Boundaries for she seems clueless about marriage having some boundaries that she is just not getting or does not want to get. Ya'll are husband and wife with children which means that one day you two will have an empty nest. What you don't want is an empty nest with an empty marriage. If your wife will not go with you to see a marriage counselor to help ya'll set some boundaries, then you need to get some therapy for yourself for it sounds like you are the healthiest person in the family system.
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This issue is really not limited to someone who is old or young. What is lacking here is a basic lack of respect for boundaries. My mother-in-law was truly atrocious about respecting our privacy. I agree that the situation needs to be first explored by the MIL's grown child with his/her parent. Expect anger, but try avoid direct confrontations and approach the issue with the concept that we are all getting older and probably need to check and see if any unspoken rules need to be changed or created. Write them down as if you are writing them for yourself but make two copies and leave one for the MIL. Cooperation probably won't last if it exists at all. That's when you do have to become tough and explore options ranging from changing locks to changing your MIL's residence. My husband and I established some minor limits such as please do not use your key and enter our house when you know we are there. She liked to do that at 6:00 am to borrow something from our kitchen. She became angry that I was nursing our child instead of using bottles because she expected for us to leave him with her when she wanted him. In the end, she built herself a MIL's apartment in the country at my sister-in-law's house. They fought daily because my MIL would respect privacy for a short period of time before becoming difficult again. On the other hand, there may be a situation in which someone is just lonely and wants to help. Good luck with making changes. Rebecca
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The reason why I've put up with this for 20 years or so...was that I traveled alot more a few years back and MIL worked more and when she got home she rested in her apartment more....she always "snooped" and questioned everyone in order to get to know everything that was going on....but I wasn't as "tuned in" to it as I am now and I was younger...now I'm 58 I ...old people bug me more.
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I would love to install a lock on the entrance door to our house...in-fact I suggested that I install a insulated and locking door....and my wife hit the roof.
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Our house was designed for the in-law apartment to be a total separate enity with separate entrances ( 3 ) we learned on the first house ( which was MIL home that we re-furbished ) she would wander around the entire home ( again once was her's she felt it was still her's ) so we moved and built a new home 10 years ago which is "ours" . She's a woman who was always in charge and my wife who is a ( only child ) and who did everything for her...which my wife hated but had to let her do it or MIL would cop her attitude and make life miserable. FIL enjoyed being "pampered" and didn't do a damn thing but let his wife wait on him ( dead for 19 years ). I have been very independent all my life and I do not like anyone taking a backseat and not "pulling" their own ...my children all tow the line and hate when she intefers with laundry, or questioning them over and over again.
I think it's time she spends all her time with people her own age...senior housing is the way to go...in-fact she brought it up in conversation...and I replyed "not a bad idea, put your name in ".
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Is there any way to block her entrance into your house from her in-law apartment? If so, I would change the locks on the doors.

Your wife really needs to confront her mother because it is her mother. I made the mistake of trying to fight my wife's war with her mother for her. To put it bluntly, it sounds like your wife has never really left home and is relating to her mother more as a little girl than as an adult child. This is not fair to you nor is it being faithful to her marriage vows. I feel your pain for I've been there. I know this sounds extreme, but I think for your own well being and probably for your son that you need to set some boundaries. I told my wife that for my well being and that of our boys, that her mother was no longer welcomed in our home. My wife agreed to that out of her inner adult so to speak, but her inner child started feeling fearful, obligated and guilty and invited her into our house to spend a few nights. Well, my therapist told me that such boundary breaking needed a consequence. Thus, I told my wife that the boys and I would go to a hotel for as much time as her mother was visited and we did. It took one more time for that boundary to be broken for my wife to 'get it'. She has since set some boundaries with her mother about her and the boys. Now, we all feel that my wife is so much in the present with us at home than with her mother in her mind.

I'm not sure if what your MIL is from dementia, a personality disorder or criminal, but I do not it is not right for it is obviously intrusive, disrespectful, ect.

I think you need to document her snooping with a camcorder. I don't know how you have put up with this for 20 years. It sounds like it is time for your MIL to go to a nursing home for people with dementia. Has she been evaluated by a doctor recently? Take her to see her doctor and tell him in advance about this snooping behavior and her sense of abandonment when she is told no. Nothing is going to change until ya'll let MIL deal with her own emotional issues. Stand your ground when you say no. Let her cop and attitude and not speak for she is using that as her tool of emotional blackmail.

I hope your wife already has durable and medical POA for your MIL. Remember, she is a guest in your house and you are not her prisoner.

I hope there is something is what I wrote that is helpful.
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Dementia ruled out, I'd go to the police station and ask for tips to help her respect boundaries. If that doesn't work, tell your wife you're going to have her arrested. What she's doing is borderline criminal, and old age is no excuse for it.

Still, I'd confront Snoopy as she goes through the drawers, fridge, etc.. Ask what she's looking for. If the answer is "Nothing," tell her you're calling the police next time she breaks in. ... Or have her clean around the house since she's already there.

A little extreme? Perhaps.
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I feel your pain, My Mom not only snooped thru our personal belongings but took quit a few things back to her room to hide, Plus she was neurotic about folding our laundry...I was aggitated beyond belief until the Dr. confirmed dymentia...She is now in a NH because of yet another broken bone and the dementia, but wow takes a toll on you after time...I know if i confronted my Mom she denied denied denied and no point arguing, Doesn't matter if you are confrontational or not, she will see it as a personal attack against her, wish i had the answer for you, and I wish you the best, try to understand where your wife is in all this, I know from my experience it's terrible to know your Mom is driving your hubby and kids crazy, but hard to be in a situation where you feel like you are going to have to open a can of worms w the Woman who raised, and feed nurtured, comforted etc. you for years, As far as the laundry goes my Mom is 86 and was just obsessed w folding, ironing the laundry because it is something she is doing to help therefore she is needed, and we all need to feel just that "needed". I wish you all the best, hope this helps....
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Why is she doing this? Is she feeling left out from the family? Or is this a dementia type thing? I'd sit her down and ask her. I'd say, 'mom (or whatever) I've noticed that you're going through drawers etc. and I was wondering why? Are you feeling left out? Are we neglecting you?" I'd put the ball back into her court, and I don't expect your wife to necessarily talk to her about it either. You're the one that sees her, you can be the one that asks the questions. I don't understand why it has to be a 'confrontation' that puts her on the defensive. Just talk normally to her and don't be judgmental. See what she says. Maybe she just needs to feel helpful, I don't know. Neither will you till you ask her. Good luck.
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