My mother in law, 80 years old, has dementia, steady moderate stage, been 6 years since diagnosis and lives with us (we are both working, in our 40s and have two little children). Due to cultural circumstances, we will never put her in a care home. She is in very good physical health but has the delusions, constant foul language and accusations of stealing, complaints about food which is geared towards me primarily. She loves her five children to death but hates the two daughter in laws like hell. I do everything I can to take care of her including cooking fresh food, cleaning, laundry, taking her for shopping etc., My husband is a highly dedicated caregiver, spending most of his free time with her, feeding her food and snacks 8 or 9 times a day (resulting in me cleaning the toilets every day), taking her for walks, putting up with her delusions and agreeing with anything that she says or does. When my mother in law yells and curses me and complains about anything I make, he does not utter a word. I try my best not to retort but once in a blue moon, if I lose my cool, he comes at me fiercely. I feel I am always fighting for myself and nobody to defend me. On top of that, my husband does not like to maintain a relationship with my side of the family, and tries to restrict them from visiting me or me going to them (they reside in another country). I cannot like my mother in law mainly because of my husband’s attitude. Also, I feel very frustrated that my whole life is dedicated towards my husband's family whereas my own widowed mother is not getting any care or attention from me in spite of me being the only daughter apart from my brother. I wish that one day when my kids are grown up, I can leave this guy and escape this living hell. But by the time, I don’t know if my mother would be alive. Any suggestions how to navigate this?

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
Please consider what kind of people your children will grow up to be after observing the patterns in your home as they grow up. They are witnessing a mom who’s daily disrespected, cursed, yelled at, and a father who does nothing to defend or support her. Quite the opposite, he piles on with the criticism. They’re seeing a grandmother with a sickness control the whole house, their needs aren’t being given the priority that children need, and their father caters to his mother above all others. Your children will grow up with a very warped idea of what family should look like and mean. They will resent their father choosing his mother above them and their mother. Your husband has shown you who he is, believe him. Your mother in law isn’t capable of change. The only one that can change this picture is you. I hope you’ll be brave enough to do so, long before your children grow up in this madness
Helpful Answer (10)
NeedHelpWithMom Nov 2020
Unless your feet are nailed to the floor. Unless he chains you to the house you are free to "escape this living hell"
You pack your bags and you leave.
My guess is that you have little access to your own spending money but gather what you can.
Contact a Woman's shelter if you have no friends or relatives that you can stay with. You will say.."A Woman's shelter is for abused women, not for me" I beg to differ, you are being abused. Maybe not physically but emotionally you are. Probably financially as well.
You sound more like an Indentured Servant not a wife.

By the way I am not one to jump to "Divorce the person" as a first option but it truly does sound like your husband will not change and he would not accept change from you. Because of that no matter what is suggested here your attempts to try to get him to change will fail. At that point the only things you can do are.
1) Leave the situation
2) Accept the situation.

I am in agreement with NHWM, I do not mean to disrespect you, your culture or his. But the reverse side of the coin is respect and it does not seem that he respects you or your family. You and your feelings are just as important as his and his family's (would you want your son to treat his wife like this, would you want your daughter being treated in this way? At some point even with cultural differences being treated fairly, respectfully are more important)
Helpful Answer (6)
NeedHelpWithMom Nov 2020
You took the words out of my mouth! I am glad that you mentioned a shelter because I thought about a shelter as soon as I finished my response.

We are on the same page, Grandma!
See 1 more reply

Read the entire thread above. This situation seems to come up a lot. Taking care of MIL, it becomes too much, no-one listens to you.

There IS a way out but it does take action on your part.

Seriously, read that whole thread & I sincerely hope it helps you get some ideas.

I wish you strength for your journey.
Helpful Answer (5)

The city I live in is exceptionally diverse. If there is another city of any size in our country that is as diverse I don't know what city that might be. I have long lived here. I worked as a nurse here my entire career. I am familiar with many other cultures.
I must say that it is my experience that when older immigrants come to our country there is little change for them; they stay steeped in their own culture (middle eastern cultures especially) and their ways. The second generation and younger first generation immigrants are often quite tormented about what to do. They are very torn.
In almost ALL other cultures, the cult of the male in not questioned. Nor is his dominion over all family choices for himself, his wife and his children.
Few of us who are third generation Americans at the least can even begin to imagine the turmoil of being hobbled by this fact. By the third generation most children have adapted to America in ways their grandparents cannot have imagined, cannot recognize, and don't approve of.
It is quite easy for us to say "Go to a battered woman's shelter". But what we do not recognize is that this is not a battered woman. This is a woman who is living what amounts to another culture while in our own country. The likelihood of leaving with her children? Well, let me say, in my experience that is NOT very likely without a risk of real violence and/or trauma to this family.
I think what I am trying to say is that it is easier said than done in this case. That if you have little experience of other cultures you often cannot imagine the inner workings of mind and heart well enough to advise.
Melissa is going to have to make her own choices here IMHO, and her choices may be more dangerous, carry more repercussions than we can know. They will be made the more difficult from the fact she wasn't raised with the "Frontier mentality" (look it up; it's a THING).
I wish her luck with all my heart. I cannot imagine being a woman and thus handicapped to an extent that I am almost imprisoned, my only choice to set forth, likely without my children (or risk real violence in taking them and trying to support them).
Helpful Answer (5)

Im concerned of the regret you'll feel if you can't be with your family while they are alive, like ur mom.

Do what's best for you and your children. Break free now.
Helpful Answer (5)

You say cultural differences are the problem here. Do you come from the same culture? You say when your kids are grown up you "can leave this guy and escape this living hell". If you are not of the same culture I would think coming to ANY agreement on this whatsoever is hopeless. For myself I could not sacrifice my life to this, and I am not speaking only of your MIL. You seem to have no support from your husband. With the attitude he exhibits his children are being raised to have little respect for their mother, his wife. Your MIL is 80. There are likely 15 more years in his life with his good and loving care. Your children will be grown. Yes, you will then be free. If you choose to wait that long. I am so very sorry. This isn't a problem easily addressed at all. Would your husband consider family mediation at all?
Helpful Answer (4)

Oh my gosh, my heart breaks for you! I am so very sorry that you are enduring this pain.

First of all, let me say that you are equally as important as your husband and your mother in law.

I do not know what your culture expects of you and I do not wish to disrespect your culture in any way. Since you have reached out for help, I will respond to your posting.

You say that you want to leave when your children are grown. Why wait? Why show your children that you aren’t an equal to their father or grandmother? This isn’t a healthy environment for your children.

Don’t you want your children to know that you are an equal to your husband and mother in law? You are not ‘less than’ they are!

Your mother in law is disrespecting you. Yes, she has medical issues but you are still being abused and not appreciated for your kindness and incredible caregiving.

Your husband feels that you should accept this. Honey, pack your bags. Pack the children’s bags and go! Is it possible for you to leave soon?

Do you have your own money? Can you get alimony until you are able to find work? He will have to pay child support.

Why does he not want a relationship with your family? You deserve to be a part of their life.

Wishing you all the best. Please keep us posted. We care.
Helpful Answer (4)


I see what you are saying. No one wants to confront an elderly woman with a debilitating condition. No one wants to see their children go through a divorce. Children survive divorce. Yes, it is painful but they will come out ahead and thrive.

I am glad that you are weighing the pros and cons. That’s smart!

I will share a little bit more since you did reach out for answers.

I am not trying to offend you or your family in any way. I am looking at this through objective eyes. You are right smack in the middle of it all. Perhaps too close to see things clearly.

Your husband is not being a good father regarding how he is treating you. The best gift that a dad can give to his children is to show love and respect for their mother. By doing that he is showing them how to love.

Now is not the time to ‘keep the peace’ or ‘not make waves.’ Now is the time, quite frankly, to shake things up!

I realize that you will need time to process the information that you are reading from myself and other posters. We truly wish you all the best. I don’t see a ‘fairytale’ ending here.

In the end, I sincerely hope you will find the strength to move forward in your life. You and your precious children deserve a happy and peaceful life.

Take care.
Helpful Answer (4)

You are in an abusive marriage. And why leave your kids ina home with constant cursing and yelling? That is not good for children to witness. I’m a child advocate and am telling you your children will suffer because of this toxic environment.
Helpful Answer (4)

Melissajoseph...I do not think your husband is a "good father"
He is teaching his children to treat their spouse the same way and or he is teaching them to be subservient to their future partner.
He does have a bad habit. He repeatedly treats you with disrespect.
He may be a good provider. But is it for you and his children or to his family? (I almost do not think he considers you and the children as "his" family)
If you can not leave him now then it might be a good idea to just step away for a bit. Take the kids, visit your family, let the kids get to know another Grandma and Grandpa and the other relatives they have.
Take that time to recharge and refocus.
Your husband will be able to care for his mom. And may be more willing to accept help that he can hire that will help you with day to day things.
I doubt it would work and I hope the time you spend with your family would be a step to make the transition permanent.
Helpful Answer (3)
NeedHelpWithMom Nov 2020
Well said! I agree. In these situations the entire picture must be looked at. There is no justification for his behavior.
See All Answers
This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
Ask a Question
Subscribe to
Our Newsletter