I’m completely at a loss. 2 years ago my FIL passed away and my MIL insisted she did not want to live by herself so we sold both our houses and built a larger home we could all live in. She put more money in up front and we’ve taken on the monthly expenses. I used to have a very good relationship with my MIL but since we’ve shared a home it’s been horrible. We sold most of our stuff from our previous home so that she could feel at home but now I feel like I’m constantly walking on eggshells around her. Everything in this house is hers and I feel like I’m living in her home not our home. I have basically been given all the leftover areas which I still get dirty looks if I change something. My husband is almost daily apologizing for her attitude toward me even though he continues to enable her behavior. She’s 78 and is very spry but won’t go anywhere except Walmart or Kroger without him. She has no friends and so he feels obligated to stay in this situation because she he is the only person she’s got. If he tries to talk to her she just becomes defensive. I’ve told him he needs to require her to get counseling but he says he can’t make her. He knows it’s hurting me but we don’t know how to fix it. I feel as though I can’t talk to him about how I feel because that just puts more stress in him. I truly love my husband but I don’t know how much longer I can continue in this situation. What should I do? I just need some perspective for those outside the situation

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I have no answers, but I do completely sympathize! My mother, now 89, is total prima donna and queen bee around here. We did the same thing,..rented out our own home and purchased a home together with my parents. Since then my dad has died and my mom, let's just say she's a narcissist and it is exactly like walking on eggshells all the time. She controls everything. We have one small room, but the rest is her furniture her decorations and her everything. If we look at her the wrong way or say the wrong thing she goes to her room and refuses to eat and makes everyone miserable. This happens about at least once a week. She also has bowel problems and we spend a lot of time cleaning bathrooms carpets etc. It is a miserable situation. I don't know what to do either. Because of my religious beliefs, I can't put her in a home but that probably is where she should be. This has destroyed our own dreams of traveling and retirement plans, and our motorhome sits in a parking lot. All I can say is I'm sorry, and to try to take your momentary happinesses wherever you can find them. I pray for patience and harmony as best we can find it.
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Reply to Demi53

Houses are selling like hot cakes. It’s a great time to sell! Not as easy to buy.

DH will have to decide where he wants to hang his hat.
Im not against the therapy. Therapy is always great but it’s asking a lot to overcome what is wrong with this situation. If you can salvage a relationship at all after the move out, the therapy will have been a success.
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Reply to 97yroldmom

When I lived with my mom I had to accept her ways of doing things and her aesthetics because it was her home, and because she is conventional and I am not, it was difficult. I eventually came back to my own house and just went over to help her and the caregivers out. It seems you partially own the home the three of you are sharing. You have a say and should get your way at least 1/3 of the time, regardless of who put in more money. And it also seems your MIL doesn't need caregiving, except for being lonely? If there's a way to divide the house, that might work. Otherwise, you are in for a very long time of disagreements. A very frank sit down talk is needed. You should tell your husband and MIL that you want to run. It is that bad for you.
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Reply to ArtistDaughter

You and your husband need some self care, mainly therapy for both of you to help reduce your internalized stress and in developing some coping strategies in dealing with his mother. Try to see yourselves as a team. You aren’t going to change a 78 year olds behavior any time soon but u can change how u deal with her behavior. However, I think both of u need mental health therapy, not saying u r crazy, just really stressed out. I know when I moved my mother into my house after just 3 months I wanted to run down the street screaming and also felt
like I was walking on egg shells. Best decision I EVER made was going to a therapist. It helped me make better decisions as a caregiver and saved my mental and physical well-being. Mother’s behavior actually got a little better as I was able to make boundaries and maintain them and also helped me with a lot of misplaced guilt. Hugs for both of you. This is a great site to learn and ventilate. Keep us updated ..
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Reply to Violet2021

It's difficult, but you have to have a discussion with your husband about the situation and how you feel, so he knows.

Then its up to him to decide what to do. Stick with you or mom.

If he chooses you, you together make a plan, like moving mil to assisted living.

If he chooses her, you mention that doesn't work for you, and you need to move on.

I wish you all the best. Big hug.
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Reply to Lvnsm1826

MY YB moved my mother and dad into his home about 24 years ago--his choice, all the other sibs were opting for Independent Living---

Dad passed 17 years ago and mother is still there, frail and barely able to creep about at age 91. She requires FAR more help than she thinks she does.

SIL barely speaks to her and the dislike between the two is palpable. What started as a lovely co-mingling of families quickly deteriorated into a power struggle.

It's 'better', now mother cannot go upstairs to the main living area and SIL can go days w/o seeing or speaking to mother, but the tension is strong.

And yes, YB has struggled with placating BOTH the 'Queens' in his life. Taking care of mom is his 2nd job and he's exhausted. SIL does nothing for mother, nor do we expect her to. Mother pays for the cable b/c SHE wanted it. YB didn't care. That is all she pays for, and all she has ever paid for. And you hear about it ALL THE TIME.

Mom's dining & LR furniture are in the common LR. She makes a stink about SIL havng people sit on 'her' couch or have family dinners on HER table.

Small potatoes, really, but bad enough that SIL feels like an unwelcome visitor in her own home.

Brother has stated MANY times he wishes he had not added on to his house and brought the folks in. I know it caused a LOT of drama between him & his wife.

YB will inherit exactly the same amt as the other 4 sibs. Less than $10K. So he didn't do it for the money--very sad, really.
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Reply to Midkid58

Who actually owns the home you're sharing? If you own it, even just partially, you have the right to sell it. And yeah, your husband needs to take your side and help resolve this mess.
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Reply to Slartibartfast


I don't think counseling is going to have any effect on your 78 year old MIL. At that point in life, a person's "ways" have become set in stone and they're not going to be receptive to the possibility that they may actually be at fault in some way. Nobody here is living together because 'together' implies some kind of equality and shared environment. You and your husband do not have that. The two of you are living WITH MIL, in her house, among her possessions. Your domestic situation is not going to change no matter how much counseling is involved. If you remain living in this situation you will also be positioned to become MIL's caregiver at some point. If you think MIL is needy now and living with her is tough, just wait.
You and your husband need to tell MIL that the three of you will no longer be sharing a residence. Give her the choice of buying the two of you out of your share of the house, and then find a new place. Or the two of you can buy her out and she can go. Bottom line, you and your husband cannot live with her anymore.
If you all stay together, your husband loses his relationship with his mother. Even if it was great, loving and supportive all of his life. He will grow to resent and even hate her if the three of you continue living together. You will grow to hate and resent her too.
The hard feelings that might ensue from you and your husband breaking away from this living situation with MIL will be a lot better than both of you growing to hate and resent her.
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Reply to BurntCaregiver

I would suggest family counseling for all to set up counseling. This is something I would never have set up in the first place. My home is sacrosanct. But it is done, so now you are left with a solution. Basically you have TWO. Stay or go. In the interests of the first option ask for family counseling. Of course once the MIL has any aging dementia this will be of NO USE whatsoever.
Next would be family Mediation. Try the following sites to access: (Academy of Professional Family Mediation. (Assn. for Conflict Resolution.
Read Henry Cloud's book, Boundaries. You will need GOOD ones to continue in this.
Let one and all know that you will stay if these options are "tried". And that if they do not help, you will go. But before you say THAT, be certain it is not an idle threat, but the truth.
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Reply to AlvaDeer

A castle needs not 2 Queens.

The Dowager Queen must bow to the reining Queen & graciously move out - or be moved out.

Mr Minor78 will assist to regain the castle for himself & his wife, his Queen. Or, if under a family spell, chooses his Mother the Dowager & is left an enslaved & single man.

Either way, the Queen has power (even if she doesn't know it yet).

That's how this tale usually goes anyway.
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Reply to Beatty
BurntCaregiver Jun 4, 2021

That's true about two queens in a castle.

There's an old Italian saying, 'Better a viper in you bed then two women at your table'.

Either MIL has to go, or Minor78 and her husband have to.
Sounds like you may have to cut your losses, and move out and get a place of your own, or pay off your MIL for her investment in the house, and get her out. You nor your husband are responsible for your MIL's happiness or entertainment. She could easily live for another 20 years. Surely you don't want to live like this for that many more years do you?
It's time to first have a serious discussion with your husband, and then the 3 of you need to sit down and talk, and make a plan for the future.
At this point, there is no reason your MIL can't live by herself. And because she has no friends, she may do well to move into an independent living community, or even an assisted living facility. That way she will be around people her own age and will have the opportunity to make friends, and you and your husband can get on with living your lives the way you see fit.
You tried your current living situation, and it's not working for you, so time to make some changes. I wish you the best.

P.S. After you get several responses, I would recommend letting your husband read what others have written, as it will give him unbiased opinions on what needs to be done.
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Reply to funkygrandma59

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