So... first... most of this is my fault and hindsight is 20/20. MIL has since the beginning of our marriage been a sore subject. The day we announced our engagement to her. Her statement "I was afraid this was going to happen. I guess I can't change it now" First 15 years of marriage she was married to her 5 or 6th husband not sure what the number is, but he served a purpose. He drew the heat from us (wife and I) Their lack of finances.. poor living conditions.. poor state of affairs were his fault. Myself and wife (responsible 1 of 4) children took it upon ourselves to help her get divorced and even assisted in funding/finding/suing her husband to try to find a way out. Fast forward.... death of MIL's mother and ensuing estate battles etc all assisted by wife and I to get her possession of family home. Basically fighting over very small scraps but nonetheless, more than what MIL has to her name. Always running short on cash to pay bills. Other 3 siblings not responsible and some taking money from MIL who has nothing to give.. but nonetheless gives what she has (commend her for affection... but can't pay for stuff herself has no financial future... so wow.. hoard every penny right??? ) Wife and I make decision.. to give her some living money.. we buy property from her. Then she has money. We move her in with us so she has cash to live out her golden years. Wife works VERY hard to make her mom comfortable. Trying hard to do everything for her cause I would do the same. Sorry.. interject. Wife and I are hard workers. Never miss work.. run our own businesses save all our nickels so we can have the better things in life. We don't party.. we don't buy extravagant things even though we could. We buy a larger house so that MIL can live with us.. my thoughts.. peace of mind that she is okay... not falling.. etc. We know she is okay etc. Wife doesn't have to go to her house to bring her pharmacy etc.. just know she is there. In my minds eye.. it is going to make things easier on my wife. My wife knows that I don't "love" her mom because of her way of life but I want this to make our life better. Less work for her, and I think... well if we see her every day she will take on our lifestyle of hard work... and become happier healthier and better off and my wifes life will be better. How wrong I am ... it is a constant source of tension between us. And I am mostly to blame.. but small things bother me and I have let them build up and become big things. Stays up all night watching old movies.. then sleeps till 3 or 4 in afternoon. Wife does her laundry, Wife washes her dishes, Wife does her pharmacy, Wife does her grocery shopping. She occupies HALF the house.. for one person. Me wife and daughter occupy the other half. Run two tv's one in bedroom one in downstairs so she never misses a show. Has one bathroom to her self because daughter doesn't want to move grandma's stuff so 3 of us use 1 upstair bathroom. ** my issue** I came from modest Catholic family that never saw my mother or father in anything except clothes.. never saw in night gown. She walks around in leopard skin pajamas all hours of day.. Poor diet of donuts, candy, coffee and diet pop.. and wonders why she doesn't feel well. Constantly complains about her health but does nothing to change it. I have asked... nothing changes... I got upset (I was wrong) and said things to wife. I know that my wife loves her mom.. and if I put myself in her shoes.. and this was my mom.. I would probably protect her just like she does. But my point is that my mom would not put us in this situation. What do I do??? Just swallow hard.. make the best of it??? Speak to MIL personally??? I love my wife... but this is killing us and we are now ... or at least I am.. a prisoner in my own home. Lots more to the story... but these are the bullet points

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I have read your answers and your questions... and just reading them helps me see with some introspect the issues that I am creating. I think I am making a lot of assumptions and creating part of the issues... "I think" only my opinion that she is able bodied.. "I think " that all of her ailments are self inflicted or imagined. But I am not a doctor. The reason I think this is because if I ate, drank and slept and did nothing all day... I would feel horrible too. But perhaps she really is ill and the doctors are not finding it.

I have a very poor relationship with her... I work almost non stop because that is the way I was raised. Our poor relationship is because I do not agree with the way she leads her life. Again, "my opinion" is that she would rather curse the darkness than light a candle. Why change when she is so used to complaining about things and that is now her life. Just because I am not that way, then all I am is judging.. and I shouldn't be that way.

My opinion is.. that she should be doing laundry, cooking meals, cleaning mostly because she is at home all day and able bodied.. instead of my wife coming home after 8 hour day and then having to do it. But if she "really" is ill... then I am being an a$$.

ultimately.. I have not done what I need to do for my wife.. and that is support her. Be there for her. take care of her... and be responsible for my marriage and relationship to her and our family. I have done the same as what her mother is doing and that is.. dumping the responsibility on her for making the changes. I think I need to be her partner.. hold her.. help her... be there to work with her to support her decision making and not be such a judgmental a$$. Regardless of my dislike for MIL life choices we have made.. and I have made.. the decision to care for her in her later years. That decision comes with high responsibility and high cost... I can't allow one of the costs to be my sanity or my marriage. I love my wife. I need to support her. We have been together for 28 years and I can't allow this to continue coming between us.
Helpful Answer (37)

Your wife's enabling behavior makes me wonder what is she trying to earn from her mother? approval? love? I think it would help greatly if you and your wife sought out a marriage and family therapist to help you two sort things out.

Y'll are sure paying a high price for having bought the family home just to give MIL some money in her old age. She likely still views the house, emotionally, as hers and your wife as her little girl once again.
Helpful Answer (35)

Do you think your wife knows how you're feeling?

Do you think you know how she is feeling?

You need to talk. To each other, to begin with, might be difficult.

Which reminds me - I'm so glad you came here! Here you can safely vent and get any problems large or small off your chest - nobody is going to think badly of it.

So, back to talking... Does your wife have moral or emotional support from friends or other caregivers?

First guess - neither you nor your wife knows what to do; your wife is chasing her tail looking after MIL at least partly so that there'll be less conflict and you'll notice less that she's there at all; one or the other of you is going to break.

To repeat - good move to come here!

What would you like to happen next?
Helpful Answer (29)

Kandula9999, if Mom-in-law is mobile, if she is still sharp, then she can do her own laundry and her own dishes.

Time for your wife to stop enabling her Mom. Wife needs to practice saying "i can't possible do that" over and over in front of a mirror until she is comfortable with that sentence. Or "not today, Mom, maybe tomorrow or this weekend".

As for groceries, who is buying the donuts, candy, and soda pop? Again, your wife shouldn't be enabling her Mother. If her Mom wants that stuff, then she should go with your wife grocery shopping, use her own grocery cart, and her own money to pay for the things she need. She needs to put laundry detergent on her list. I assume Mom-in-law gets social security and maybe alimony?

Does your wife clean your Mom-in-law's area of the house? Vacuuming, dusting, emptying trash cans, cleaning the bathroom? If yes, time to back off of doing some of those chores. If your daughter is old enough to help, make a deal with Mom-in-law that she pays grand-daughter to vacuum and dust. If Mom-in-law balks at that, well get her her own vacuum and some swifter dust cloths.
Helpful Answer (28)

I suspect neither OP nor wife knows that he or she is safe to admit to the other that this is not going well. Who'd want to be the first to say "screw mother. In spite of everything we've tried this is not working."?

First thing to do first is find out what else is available. Having a positive choice to offer as an alternative might make all the difference to the conversation.
Helpful Answer (28)

This dynamic is destroying your marriage, and family life.

Have you calmly discussed with your wife what you feel? Is she trying just so hard to be the "not crazy" kid that she has lost sight of what's real and important.

Your MIL's poor decision making is not YOUR problem to fix.

How old is MIL? Is she able to drive, to work, to function? Or is she content to live off you and your wife?

My DH wanted to move his sick father in with us. I said "He can live here, you have to be his primary caregiver". It didn't happen, of course, b/c we were not in agreement on this. I did do a lot for his dad!! But not in my home, in his.

You may need a mediator to sit down with you and your wife and hash this out. Sounds like of the 4 people living in your house, only 1 is happy.

What is YOUR relationship like with your MIL? If you can talk to her, do so. But sounds like she does what she wants, and lets the chips fall.

Good Luck---don't let her guilt you in to a situation that is unlivable.
Helpful Answer (26)

Kandula if it helps at all I think your MIL sounds absolutely ghastly. She also sounds as if she's got your wife thoroughly, stickily enmeshed; and as though she herself is in a terrible downward spiral.

Your wife is a lucky lady to have a husband who is so committed to her happiness. Disentangling yourselves from MIL will be difficult and painstaking work but I wish you every eventual success with it - and may it be to the ultimate benefit of you all, including MIL.
Helpful Answer (21)

why not just kick her out. To me, this type of personality will not change.
Helpful Answer (20)

Nowhere have you told us how your wife feels about this change to your home life. I agree that the two of you need intervention and to see a therapist about this issue. And you need to be a team and get on the same page or you may very well have a marital issue.
Whenever we become a caregiver whether it’s in one's own home or not, life as you knew it will never be the same. It will definitely bring a level of stress. Add to it a toxic personality and dysfunction in a family relationship and you have even more problems.
You can not expect an elderly person to suddenly get a work ethic just because she witnesses yours. It’s time to lose the surprise that she didn’t change. She won’t. So accepting her as she is is the first step. Setting boundaries is incredibly important. But it sounds to me from what you’ve written, your wife may not know how or know that she has the right to set them. She is definitely enabling her mom.  You are also teaching your daughter that this is how "boundaries" are not set. Hope that makes sense.
As Dr. Phil says..."whose home is this?"...and "you teach people how to treat you". This is where a therapist can help sort out what is going on and to help in getting you two as a team, sorting out the issues, and learning healthy boundaries. And hopefully how to get your MIL, who so far can make her own decisions, in a place where she can be on her own. You deserve to have your life, marriage and home back. 
There is hope...but only if you take steps.  Your MIL is not in charge, you two are. But get outside help on this. 
Helpful Answer (20)

Im so sorry its going badly. You and your wife need to borrow a page from recovery wisdom, and first, give yourselves permission to admit that the arrangement "as is" isnt working for you. If you feel resentful and crowded, i imagine your wife feels overwhelmed and overloaded and feels she needs to try to run interference between you and her mother. Then you need to vow to be firmly on each other's team and solve the problem together, rather than let the problem tear you apart.

The next step is to make a list of what you can and cannot change. Unfortunately, "other people" fall squarely in the "cannot change" column. So you are unlikely to perform a successful personality or lifestyle transplant on your MIL (believe me, I have tried with mine, also uncomfortably in residence with us!).

What you CAN, and desperately need to, change are your boundaries. Like you, I thrive on privacy, modesty, order, and personal responsibility, none of which are in my MIL's vocabulary. I have to live also with her insistence on living on diet soda, snack cakes, salt, sugar, and DQ Blizzards, her refusal to take her meds appropriately, and the constant barrage of complaints about not feeling well. I DON'T have to indulge her hypochondria by taking her to the hospital every five minutes. We have set very firm boundaries with her. Her bedroom is hers to keep as she wishes. She is welcome to join us in the rest if the house but when we go to bed the TV goes off and she retires to her room. Our situation is complicated by by the fact that we live in an old farmhouse with an odd layout. She has to walk through our bedroom to get to hers, and the only bathroom accessible to her and my husband is also in our bedroom. (Im the only one here who can climb the stairs, lucky for me I have an aerie to which I can retreat!).
She is nosy and disguises her snooping as "cleaning". She can clean her room till the cows come home but the rest of the house is mine. (It was hers for 60 years, so this took some doing). She can not take pictures off the walls, go through the drawers, or inflict frilly curtains in odd colors on me while Im at work. If she wants food besides what I prepare, she makes a list, I shop for it (she no longer drives) and she pays for it. That includes her heavily scented laundry soap Im allergic to. She does her own wash. I keep her meds under lock and key (after an addiction/abuse seige) and administer them as directed. I make her appointments and take her to them. When she tries to monopolize conversations with gossip and slander, we leave the room. I spend a lot of time in the barn.....

You get the idea. Its not a perfect arrangement, but establishing boundaries has at least prevented homicide!
The establishing of the boundaries is difficult and requires firm commitment and resolve, and stout refusal to engage with manipulation or emotional blackmail, but once you get them set, life gets better. It also helps to come here and unload every once in a while!
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