Follow
Share

My boyfriend of 3 years takes care of his mother (who is jobless because she is the care taker of her ex-husband), his step father who is his mom’s ex-husband and his sister’s father (he is bedridden from his stroke and can barely have a conversation), and his 17 year old autistic sister. He has made it clear he doesn’t want his sister to ever work and his mom can’t work because she will lose the caregiving check. He lives with his family and is the primary breadwinner. I am very much in love with him but I get deep anxiety about our future. Taking care of 1 person is enough but 3 people? I don’t want to be married at 35 and have children with this man and feel like our immediate family come second to his family. I also would hate to work so hard everyday to have a good portion of his check go to his family every month once we are married/all living together. I couldn’t imagine asking him to take care of my mother, father, AND brother. I feel so guilty and anxious about my potential situation. We are serious and I love him deeply but I don’t want to be robbed of my future. Are there any “in law” care giving stories or advice I can get?

Find Care & Housing
Sweetie--

You are so young (sick of hearing that yet?) and these family situations are very convoluted and challenging.

FINISH YOUR EDUCATION before you make ANY long range plans with this man. In fact, if you can be this strong--take a break from him completely and focus on you. Clearing your head about his family issues and look at them from a distance.

Watch and see where his priorities really are. Is he always 'on call' for mother? Does he place you firmly and squarely in place #1? If he doesn't NOW, that will not change after marriage. Are you expected to live with all these people? 45 is NOT OLD (my OD is 41!) These folks could easily live 40 more years.

Your first responsibility is to yourself. Then you have to set your own 'list' of people. (Your older brother is NOT your responsibility.)

If you were one of my daughters I would be VERY concerned about the future. My OD dated a young man for 5 years and just assumed they's get married--and his family was a hot mess. OD would complain about them, and she wasn't even engaged to this boy yet! Finally, I had a very serious talk with her and told her that people do NOT get married and suddenly change into stellar, wonderful people. They tend to be more like 'themselves'. I explained that her BF's smoking & drinking when he was stressed was NOT going to end b/c they were married. The BF's mother's 'hooking' out of their co-owned home (he lived there, she didn't) would not end, as BF didn't care. I said to her "I don't want you to marry this guy simply because you've been with him forever. I DO NOT want you back here in five years with a couple kids b/c you thought 'J' was the best option. You're miserable now. Marriage will not cure that."

2 weeks later she broke up with him and did not look back. Eventually met and married the most wonderful man in the world---20 years ago. Got her degree, supported hubby through school and now own their own business. She has seen 'J' in the past years and he has become exactly what I feared he would. An angry alcoholic with family problems you wouldn't wish on anyone. And yes, he's still supporting his mother.

The worst thing in the world isn't not being married. You need to take care of you and look at this situation calmly and clearly. Your BF may be an absolute angel, and that's great---but you are already concerned about things re: him and his family. Trust me, those aren't going to be made better by marrying. They will problems you will then co-own.
Helpful Answer (10)
Reply to Midkid58
Report
cherokeegrrl54 Apr 23, 2019
Oh i sure hope this young lady reads and truly takes your words to heart!!! Such good sound advice...i taught my daughter to make sure she got her education, to stand on her own two feet and be independent.....shes been in the Army almost 18 years...has a college education, already has her business set up for when she retires....
please take care of you and do whats best for you!!
(0)
Report
When do you qualify?

So he's planning to qualify next year, and then - move to a different town taking his family (SF, sister, mother an' all) with him, or move back to where they all came from, or what?

Bear with me a moment: I have rather late in the day got into a writer called Anthony Trollope. (Rattling good stories, by the way). A recurring theme among his otherwise excellent heroines is that often they have a choice of making a terrible marriage, or not. And I'll be yelling at my audiobook "NO! WHY??? WHY WOULD YOU EVEN DO THAT?" and yet sure enough these ladies, in their twenties usually, seem to feel that they have a binary choice. They can marry the shady adventurer/murderous psycho/crushing automaton, or their lives will be over.

But the world is FULL of choices. You have barely even started! Who knows where life and your profession will lead you, and what horizons will unfold for you?

You love this young man, and certainly he seems to have attractive qualities: he is bright, he has a strong sense of responsibility, and he is principled. But that does not mean that you have to superglue yourself to him right now; and neither does it mean that you have to mirror his good qualities. Other good qualities may be a better fit for you.

And if you ever get an inkling that that is exactly what he is demanding of you, and you are uncomfortable about it, you walk.
Helpful Answer (8)
Reply to Countrymouse
Report
realtime Apr 17, 2019
Oh, Countrymouse. I'm an Anthony Trollope freak too. I wish we could compare notes. Caroline
(3)
Report
OK, your are 23 and already have "deep anxiety" about this relationship. You have years ahead of you to figure things out. You are not engaged. He is not yet a lawyer, you are also not out of school yet and employed. If you are conflicted, take it slow and steady and see how it pans out. But do not commit unless you are sure you can. At 23 you have years ahead of you to see what you can and cannot do. My daughter is 31.. has been able to own her own house, travel the world, become her own person. If she had married at 23 into one of her exs screwed up families her life would be so much smaller. Just food for thought
Helpful Answer (8)
Reply to pamzimmrrt
Report

You
Your boyfriend
Your boyfriend's mother
Your boyfriend's sister
Your boyfriend's stepfather

Is the ex husband one and the same as the stepfather? What happened to boyfriend's father?

How old are you?
How old is your boyfriend?

It troubles me that anybody is saying that they "don't want" a 17 year old with autism ever to work. What kind of aspiration is that to have for her? Ask any specialist in learning disability: work can be an essential element in personal fulfilment.

I have many more questions but not all at once!
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to Countrymouse
Report
Needadvice7383 Apr 17, 2019
Step-father/mother’s ex-husband/sister’s father all the same person. His biological father has never been in the picture. I am 23 and he is 30. When he mentioned his sister having a job, he said he didn’t want to have a job to then be inappropriately harassed by a manager. He never talks about his sister ever having a formal job. My issue with this is even though his sister helps take care of her own father (feeding him, giving him his medications, emptying his urine bottles-whatever-you-call them), it’s very different than working outside of the home and earning your own paycheck. It’s doesn’t matter the size of it but earn SOMETHING, right?
(2)
Report
If I were your mother I would come and collect you this afternoon.

You think your boyfriend is wonderful. He makes life better.
Under his influence you are contemplating committing yourself to a future in which *the* *idea* *is* that you have no say and there is no compromise.
You feel guilty for having reservations about that.

I'm sure your boyfriend is a lovely bloke. God knows he must have had trauma in his years to date, and he is conquering it as best he can, and for that he has my sympathy. But overcompensating through control is seriously bad news for his potential partners, and it's not great for his kid sister either.

Fortunately, you are 23. Promise me, at least, that you will firmly decide that you will not commit yourself to anything until a) you are fully qualified and in a good graduate training program with a good firm and b) you are 25 minimum.
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to Countrymouse
Report
Needadvice7383 Apr 17, 2019
I am doing an internship right now while in school so I have full intentions of becoming a decent paralegal at minimum. Let’s say I am 25 and have a decent paralegal job. What do you recommend?

It bothers me it seems like it will never be OUR family. It will be his family and I am the add on. I still don’t know how to probably confront the situation because I am so embarrassed to say “I don’t what to pay for 3 people who don’t/can’t work unless they are my own children/minors” (which wouldn’t include his family). I have my issues too. I know I will have to take care of my brother when I am older but I will NOT tolerate him not having a job. I know because of my boyfriend’s situation, he will accept my brother. But his situation overwhelms me because it’s not only his sister but his parents (including his step father) that makes me have a panic attack. My parents are in their 60’s while his parents are in their mid 40’s. If anyone is getting any bit of my money in the future, I would prefer it would go to my parents (assuming they needed it, right this second they don’t).
(0)
Report
See 1 more reply
His parents are in their mid 40s?

And their financial plan is to rely on their millenial aged son to support a household before he's out of school?

Who made this plan? Do the parents have substantial retirement savings? What is his mother going to do when husband dies and the caregiving check goes away (who is paying her?)

Are you in the US?

This is ridiculously poor planning, just from the financial end. I would run, not walk away from a tribe with this little financial acumen.
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to BarbBrooklyn
Report
Needadvice7383 Apr 17, 2019
To my acknowledge, they have 0 savings. They can’t make ends meet if they don’t have their son/my boyfriend helping out. His mom doesn’t have a career so I don’t believe she would work if he died which is what worries me. So if I marry him, I am liable for supporting his parents and his sister? I will be slaving away to support his family? Yes, we live in the US.
(1)
Report
See 1 more reply
"Better than me"?

Where is that coming from?

Ssomeone who has a martyr complex is not " better than you".

His family's poor planning abilities are not your puzzle to solve.
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to BarbBrooklyn
Report
BlackHole Apr 18, 2019
Agree.
(0)
Report
You will be marrying his entire family if you marry him. He has made his stance crystal clear, believe what he has told you.

It is what it is and if you aren't all in for this type of arrangement then you should get out now.

You will never convince him to not be the man to his female relatives and it is not for everyone.
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to Isthisrealyreal
Report
Needadvice7383 Apr 23, 2019
Do you think his priorities will change after marriage or do you think it will get worse?
(0)
Report
Hello, Needadvice.

It isn't clear to me in what sense your boyfriend is his family's caregiver. His mother and sister actually provide the hands-on care for his mother's former husband, who is his sister's father. Your boyfriend lives with them and goes to law school.

Who owns the home? Your boyfriend, his ex-stepfather, or his mother?

Is his mother actually paid by someone to take care of her ex-husband, or is it rather that the ex-husband has some kind of income which goes toward their expenses?

Does the household depend on your boyfriend's financial contributions to survive?

This sounds like a very complicated situation. Please be very careful about assuming financial responsibility for this unfortunate family.
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to realtime
Report
Needadvice7383 Apr 17, 2019
I am told she gets a check from the government for being his caregiver. It’s her house they live in. They have 0 income/saving without their son/my boyfriend. He helps his step dad with mobility, going to the bathroom, and bathing. His sister/mom are home while he is at work/school so they do the majority of the daily “little” tasks.
(1)
Report
Honey, listen to Barb and Countrymouse. They're two of the wisest people on this forum, as well as among the kindest.
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to realtime
Report

See All Answers

Ask a Question

Subscribe to
Our Newsletter