Husband's grandma needs us to stay, but she is manipulative. What do I do?


She is seriously trying to drive a wedge between my husband and I. My husband and I uprooted and moved to Wyoming from New Mexico four years ago. At the time grandma was claiming she had about a year left. I have no way of proving that, but I am certain she made that up so we would move closer to help her. She demanded that we live with her, after a year and is half I got pregnant--we were newly married and we wanted a baby-- so we bought a trailer next door to her.

She has diabetes and doesn't take care of herself at all. We tried to get her a nutritionist, we discussed our concerns with her doctors the last time she ended up in the hospital after a sugar binge--she ate a whole double chocolate pound cake last Christmas and was in hospital four days. Twice a year, like clockwork, she decides that she is on her death bed, and calls everyone she knows and tells them good bye. Then she gets bored with it and is fine the next week. I know that I sound like I am being harsh, or that I am resentful, but that is not it. She is manipulative and she always has been. Yes, she is 81, she could be gone tomorrow.

Anyways, I am pregnant, and I have a two year old. While my husband is willing to stay here and help her. It kind of all falls on me because he won't even talk to her any more. The town we are stuck in, is not home. I have two kids and am thousands of miles from home--home is Alaska-- I am about to finish college and there are no opportunities here. Ironically I am getting a Bachelors degree in human services. My husband had to take a huge pay cut when we moved here, and honestly, I am burnt out. I am sick of trying to help someone that doesn't want my help, at all. I am sick of being broke, I am sick of caring for someone who's own children won't even talk to her, she is agreessive and manipulative. Also, and I mean this is the worst one,I am so sick of being disappointed when she wakes up every morning. That is not me, I hate myself for the way I feel about her. I just feel like we have been duped and that maybe it's time for her to move into a senior apartment complex, where she can be monitored a bit closer, but still maintain her freedom. Or maybe she could go live with her own children.

My biggest concern is my marriage. I have been stressed out enough that I almost want to just pack up and leave my husband. I wouldn't I love him, but if he wants to stay here and feels obligated to deal with her, I just know that it will all come down to me. I am finally hitting my breaking point. here is an example that may give this some context when I say she is mean and manipulative. I am 14 weeks pregnant and refuse to tell her. When I got pregnant with our daughter We were in the middle of buying our house. Then we told her--due to plumbing issues with the house we had to wait until after winter to move in--and she refused to talk to or look at me until after my daughter was born. She did break the silence to tell me I should get an abortion or give her up for adoption. Then we continued to live with her for six months.

Anyone have suggestions? Should we just leave her to the in-laws? I really don't know what to do. It isn't like she is in that bad of shape, she can drive still, she had people that do her shopping and cleaning for her. Compared to many elderly people she actually has it pretty good. I don't even know why she is so insistent on us being here. She doesn't ask for anything and she complains when we do things for her anyway. I am just starting to see this situation as a threat to my marriage, my career goals, my life, my daughter --who she gives excessive amounts of candy and then yells at me like a drill Sargent when I ask her not to. I can put up with dieing. I have been through the end of like process with many people, I am planning on doing my internship with hospice actually. None of that phases me, she is just not a good person, and she is dragging me down with her and i know that is what she wants.

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My grandma tried to do the same thing but my dad said he'd never live in her house if he didn't own it - that he wouldn't be a visitor, there. My parents bought the house, which turned out to be a good idea, and were then sort of in charge. It made a huge difference. However, that wasn't a great idea, either - she resented it.

My advice is to go live wherever best suits you. With two kids, you have a long life of things ahead of you and need to settle yourself in a way that you can support them and yourselves the best that you can. Invite grandma to living in a senior community in your new town. That way, you have some peace of mind that you can check on her and make sure she's safe.

With that said, even if she agreed to that, she might be demanding you go over there quite a lot so you will still need to set some boundaries
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My mother would have done the same thing. You and your family need to leave, believe it or not, you are not helping things by staying. My 96 yo mother is MUCH better off in a nursing home, than she was at home.
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I may be reading interpreting this wrong, but she may have paid the loans with the intention of having you two indebted to her and therefore, feeling obligated to be her carer. I've come to realize that sometimes what seems to be a kind gesture is really a controlling play to make you do as the giver wishes. Once you get on your feet (get your degrees and a job), you may want to consider paying her back to "release the hold".
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I agree with everything above. Your husband's first responsibility is YOU and the children. This woman is bad news for your young family. Possibly she would be better in an assisted living facility but that is her decision to make. Some folks are just unhappy no matter what and they want the rest of the world to be unhappy with them. Have you husband read these posts and contact her children with your move out date.

You have the face the reality that he may not want to leave her for whatever reason. Have they always been very close or is he just the only one that feels responsible for her? If he is not visiting her now, it would seem he could be ready to make whatever changes are necessary for your young family to have a successful live. The first step is always the hardest but if you are in this together, it will work out! Pick date and start the process. Best wishes!
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You need to exit and you also need to brace yourself for her next "imminent death" by NOT going to the ER, and NOT waiting on her hand and foot. She is a Narcissistic personality and will never change. She will call you at 3AM and wail that she is in agony. You respond by calling 911 and sending them. You stay home. Been there, done that.
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Key word here, EXIT STRATEGY !! You and hubby need to get out of this mess. If he won't you should consider a lone ranger approach. You're way too young to be saddled with this bs from your husbands family.
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Thank you all! Seriously I just needed to have someone else say it. I feel a lot of guilt for the way I feel, at the same time she is a toxic manipulative person, she has done some very nice things for us.

For example, she paid my husbands student loans off. Actually that is why we have stayed this long. Not that they were huge, and actually in coming here he has put off getting his teaching degree. Actually we both dropped out of school. I was working on my RN when we came down for a visit, she had had stomach surgery and we ended up going back to Albuquerque finishing out the semester and taking family leave. I decided after a few years of being here that I needed to do something or I would go nuts, hence the degree in human services, through university of Phoenix, it was one of my only options here.

I try to empathize with her, get her out of the house and in general be helpful and nice. On top of everything else, she has congestive heart failure at this point and is on oxygen. so it's not just diabetes, but, still I just feel like this is not our problem. As for my in laws. My father-in- law remarried, his wife is maybe ten years older than me I'm 28. they have a 3 year old and an 11 year old. Basically step mom doesn't think that this is a good place to raise the kids, it's a town of 3,000 people. Mostly elderly, I love the argument, because she actually told me that to my face, and we have a two year old. To top it off I feel like once she does die, if we are still here we will be expected to stay and run the small trailer park that she owns. Actually my father-in-law technically owns it and the house she lives in, no clue when that happened. Though they have offered to sell it to us.

I think she binges on sugar, makes herself sick, acts like she is dieing all because she wants attention. To keep us on our toes. The worst part is, my husband didn't even try to visit last time. Normally he will go over and talk to her, try to get her to seek medical attention. But this time I could tell he was done. Maybe we can come up with an exit strategy this time. 3 years ago we went back to Albuquerque. We moved in with friends, we had saved money, we decided we would move back. About two weeks in, she called us to tell us she had another stroke and was being life flighted to Casper. She needed us to come back right away. It took us about a week to get back to Wyoming and she had already been sent home by then. Looking back, I am pretty sure she made it all up. I let a lot of things go, didn't question them much, but all of a sudden I am thinking back and realizing she has lied to us constantly since we came down.
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Well I feel sorry for Gramma. She has such a poor view of herself she feels she has to trick people to be close to her and then she doesn't know how to interact with them when they are near. Sad.

I suggest you sympathize with her -- from as far away as you need to get in order to provide a healthy environment for your growing family. Send her cheery cards. Call her once in a while. For heavens sake, don't live near this toxic woman and expose your children to her.

My question in all this is how did your husband get roped into this situation, when the rest of the family has already been alienated from her. Is he just a nice guy? Is he pretty clueless about personal interactions? Is he, too, alienated from the rest of the family? Young man brings new bride hundreds of miles from their base to live with a manipulative batty old woman who then refuses their help. OK, mistake, correct it. BUT he continues there at a low-paying job and a miserable wife who is about to have their second child for TWO YEARS. Excuse me, but what's wrong with this picture?

You are perceptive. This situation is a threat to your marriage, your career goals, your life, and your daughter. Your highest priority should be changing this situation.

Please keep in touch here and tell us how it is going for you. We care.
Helpful Answer (5)

She sounds like a very unsavory person. Since she doesn't really need you, it sounds like it is time for you and your husband to start looking elsewhere. You've done what you can for her and she is so ugly to you. I thought grandmothers were supposed to be nice! It sounds to me that she was just pulling some drama on you to get some attention. Shame on her. Her children should be able to see about taking care of her or moving her into a better place. I hope you and your husband are able to put your lives back together quickly. It sounds like granny is mighty toxic.
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You've explained everything so well in your post -- your circumstances, your feelings, what you want your marriage, your family, and your life to be like.
1) Show your husband this post TODAY.
2) Figure out a reasonable timeline for moving wherever it is that will provide you with the ability to finish your degree, find a better paying job for your husband, and some social/family support if possible.
3) Notify her kids officially, either by phone or a group email, that as of such and such a date, their mother is all theirs.
4) Then GO, and get your lives back.
Good luck!
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