Does anyone have any advice on how to make my husband understand the joy I receive in being with my parents and being able to be there for them?

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My husband and I are retired and have temporarily left our home over-seas to aid my elderly parents. My mother has Alzheimer's and my father is living with her and needs lots of help. I gladly gave up everything to go to my husband's country to be with his dying mother, but he complains non stop about being her with me, while I help my parents. He has even given me an ultimatum - him or my parents. We have been married for 37 years and have had a mostly wonderful marriage. Does anyone have any advice on how to make my husband understand the joy I receive in being with my parents and being able to be there for them?

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Hug. Very difficult for you.

When is the notional six month commitment up? I think it should be uncontroversial for you to keep to that, with or without husband. Estimating that this gives you three months to think what to do next, that's when it will get difficult. Are there more children than you and your brother? Is it time for the grand family summit conference? What are your daughter's circumstances now?

Very difficult, and much too complex a decision for casual observers to offer any really useful advice. It seems that you and your husband need to think about what's most important to both of you, and how well your many options can be adapted to those priorities. Meanwhile, nobody has to burn any bridges, do they?

I'm glad your parents appreciate your help. I'm glad your brother is pulling his weight. Yours sounds like a loving and supportive family; in which case you can perhaps be confident of understanding and acceptance when you reach your well thought-out decisions about the future. Good luck, keep us posted.
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My parents have moved into an independent retirement home. It was a compromise with the doctors for now, so my parents could stay together, and until my mother needs more care. My oldest brother shares expenses with my husband and myself in my parents home. I go help them in the mornings and my brother helps them in the afternoons/evenings. I come home and spend the afternoons with my husband, as well as the two days "off" that I have.

My husband is from Thailand, a country with enormous family ties. We moved there for the last five months of his mother's life and stayed there for nearly nine years. I gave up all my possessions the first time, and left our 23 year old daughter, who was living with us at the time. My husband wanted to move back to the US after our first three years abroad, so I gave up all my possessions again, but couldn't afford to stay on his low retirement, so we went back. We own a home in Thailand, and I have told him that I want to return, when I feel I can no longer care for my mother.

We had sat down together in the beginning and agreed to commit to six months here to help my parents, but before we even arrived, he had changed his mind and after only two months, already went back to Thailand for a month. Now he is saying we should take a vacation for another month, but I know he will want us to stay. I don't feel good about living a leisurely life on the beach, while my parents tell me they don't know what they would do without me.
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Have you spent all of your marriage overseas, or did you move there when his parents needed care? Where did you meet? What were your expectations about where you would live? If I'm reading this correctly he is complaining about being here with you. You mention that you are here temporarily so I assume you plan on going back overseas -- correct? Maybe this isn't as much about the time you spend with your parents, but about being away from his homeland. Would you say that is the case?
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Kitty, your husband obviously misses you terribly, probably hasn't eaten since you left and is totally out of clean underwear. We create these dependent spouses over the course of many years with our spoiling. Find a care manager for your parents asap and return to the man you vowed to keep.
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You have been married for 37 years and probably spent many years away from home or overseas. All this time you and your husband had each other to depend on. You don't mention how much time you spent with his mother as she was dying, I get the impression it was not a long drawn out situation. Now that your parents are in need of care, you see a chance to make up for all those years and take care of them, maybe to quiet your feelings of guilt. I have lived in the US all my adult life, was not there when my mom passed away suddenly, my dad has dementia now (he is 88) and is taken care off by a live-in person. Two years ago I visited and had the feeling he was wondering the whole time who I was. I live here, that is where I built my existence, I cannot imagine moving back home, even temporarily, and none of my siblings expect me to. My husband would not understand, our life is here. I am not sure if I can explain what I am trying to say, but regardless of how much care your parents need, you have to find a middle ground. He feels you have abandoned him after all these years, and even though it is immature, there might be some issues in your marriage that make him think you are distancing yourself.
Either way, I don't mean to be disrespectful or accusing, but you should reassure him that he is still the most important part of your life. When you get married, you do leave the nest.
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Hi Kitty, what would your husband want should he get into an accident or become ill, your help or a nursing home? Yes selfish could be the word for him, I agree. The true person comes out in situations like this, your husband, kids, relatives, siblings, on how they really are deep down in their soul. The only thing I can think of is moving them in with you, an inlaw apartment added on maybe, and hire part time help so your husband and you can still do things. Alz isnt going to get any easier, soon she will need 24/7 help and for many years, what then? I have my Mother in our home (6 years), and my husband has been absolutely fabulous. He helps with the cooking and cleaning alot as I am changing, bathing, or feeding Mom, and he helps me change her every night in bed because she cant walk (or talk). We have been married 38 years and I love him more every day for what he puts up with. You need to get help like 3 mornings and weekends to spend time with him if you want your marraige to last, thats "if" you want it to. I understand both sides I really do, but you arent going to change his feelings, you need to find a solution that fits both of you. I hired help 3 mornings and when I can, for saturday and sundays for 6-8 hours, although thats hard to find so its here and there. Makes you really appreciate when you do get to go out. Talk talk talk, it solves most anything. Bless you for doing what you are doing and hold your head high that you are in the right, you have a good heart.
PS this is a test also as to would he care for you, should you get ill?
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Unfortunately, it sounds like your husband isn't able to set aside his own apparently overwhelming needs in order to indulge your joy in being there for your parents.

In your place, my focus would be to figure out whether it's a case of WON'T or CAN'T. Just because you were able to make sacrifices for him, doesn't mean he is capable of doing the same for you in these circumstances. After 37 years together, this is something you should be able to assess.

If you are too emotionally involved to see clearly, then counseling may be a help. Just be sure you have a good fit with the therapist, that s/he helps you feel calm and comfortable and you trust their judgment.

Good luck and God bless.
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What you've got here is two people, each one of which is trying to convince the other to feel differently from how they actually feel. Doesn't work. Never has. Never will. Sad, because relationships die this way when two perfectly good-hearted people don't mean them to.

Plus, by "understand what you're feeling" you really mean "agree with what I'm doing." And vice versa. Never mind what's "fair" from the outside -- either party can tell their story in a way that would make outsiders think differently! -- there's two people feeling unheard, not getting what they need or believe they need. TWO. Not just you.

Nobody feels heard when nobody's listening, so someone has to start the listening. It doesn't have to be you who goes FIRST, but somebody does.

The way you phrase your question demonstrates that you're trying to get him to change, which is the opposite of listening. And whether you mean it this way or not, it's not a big stretch for anyone who is feeling unheard or frustrated to think that your phrase about JOY means, "I feel more joy with them than I feel with you."

To shift things, one of you has to stop trying to defend your position and change the other one's feelings, and instead get truly curious about what the other one is feeling and why. It doesn't matter which one of you starts this, but it might as well be you. If you stopped being sure you were right and started being curious about what's going on with him, you might find out some things that actually make sense to you, or that you could be compassionate about. It might totally surprise you. It might require only the tiniest shift for you both to be happy, or happier, or happy enough -- not to abandon your whole plan. No-one can know in advance. Find out. (This is what counselors try to arrange for. Get help, but you'll get where you need to go faster if you understand that this is what it's about.)
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First of all, you cannot "make" someone do anything they do not want to do (unless you have a gun to their head). Sounds like he is selfish, doesn't want to surrender to your wishes now that his mother is deceased, and you are the only one who can decide with whom you want to live. Giving an ultimatum like this proves he is needing something you cannot give him now, and like a child he is "forcing" you to make a decision. So whom will you choose? Remember your mother has a terminal illness...Good luck!
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Agree with CarolLynn strongly on the point of not placing any bets about which spouse will predecease the other. My DIL's grandfather, hale and hearty, took loving care of his AD-sufferer wife - wonderful and ideal set-up until he died without warning, leaving DIL's mother heart-broken and overwhelmed all in one go. Moral: cover all the bases.
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