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My wife and I have been married for 25 years. We have 2 adult children in college still living at home. 4 years ago my wife's father moved in with us after the passing of his wife. My wife also suffers from a chronic illness that is very debilitating for her. What I am about to go into might make you think that I am a terrible person for feeling the way that I do, but I feel like I have no support network and no one to talk to, coping with my feelings is difficult, and need to get some things off my chest.


The bottom line is that while our lives have dramatically changed over the last 4 years, I feel that my father-in-law living with us was the trigger that started to tear at our marriage, and continues to hasten it's decline.


My wife is 12 years my senior, she is in her early 60's, I just turned 50. She has had a chronic illness that we have dealt with for 20 years, with lots of highs and lows. When she was down, I was Mr. Mom. When she was feeling good, she was active with the kids and school activities, and we did lots of things together as a family as the kids were growing up. But her health has worsened in the last 2 years to the point where she is rarely able to leave the house and has little strength to do anything other than shower, get dressed, and sit on the sofa watching TV. She sleeps at least 12 hours per day, going to bed around 1-2 AM and getting up late in the afternoon.


Physically, we lost our connection about 2 years ago. She had been going through the motions of trying to maintain physical intimacy for about the last 5 years, and I give her a lot of credit for that, but it was evident that it was painful and taxing for her, and not pleasant for me. We talked about it and decided it needed to be given up.


Her illness also brings with it impaired cognitive ability, or a "brain fog" that almost has the same effect of drunkedness. By the end of the day the fog takes over and I cannot have a serious conversation with her about anything really. She often gets mean with me and accuses me of marginalizing her. As an aside, she does drink heavily (I think), consuming 1-2 bottles of wine per night, but says she does it because she hurts, and disputes the volume she drinks. I gave up trying to talk to her about her drinking because she would just get mad at me.


Now to my father-in-law. He is in his 80's, is physically independent and does not require hands-on care. Since he moved in he has become the center of everything - he is just always there and his presence sucks all the air out of the room. He has little self-awareness or respect for other people's need for privacy. I feel like he has taken over our household and I just don't like being around him. Don't get me wrong - I think he is a wonderful person, I just can't stand living with him. I told this to my wife about 3 years ago, and her response to me was that she hopes he dies soon. I know she didn't really mean or want that, and told her that was a horrible thing to say, but at the time I think she was just in some kind of marriage defense mode and wanting to make me happy. Keep in mind her impaired cognition as well.


My father-in-law does not contribute financially to the household, though he is able to. My wife won't hear of it. Even during a time of serious financial peril last year, I asked her if we might consider asking her father to help out with expenses. She was furious, and instead said that we should borrow money from my parents.


I am also an active volunteer and leader in our community. I very much enjoy these activities, as it gives me a sense of fulfillment, and recognition from others for the things that I do that I no longer receive at home. My wife thinks I spend too much time out of the house at work or volunteering, but I feel that I need to do something that I like because I don't like being at home. I know this is one sided, am I wrong for feeling the way that I do? Should my father in law go? Can my my marriage be salvaged?

This is coming from a 70 year old married 39 yrs. One divorce when in my 20s.

I think you know what needs to be done you just want someone to confirm it for you. LEAVE. Its too late to set boundries with Dad. Let him and her daughter take care of your wife. You have let ur feelings be known and no one cares. Actually, you are being punished for having them. See a lawyer and find out what your obligations are. I don't think this marriage can be saved. You've tried. Sorry.

You are still young. Eventually you will find someone else. Enjoy the rest of ur life. The situation ur in will only make you more resentful and angry.
After you see a lawyer and know where u stand, tell your wife that you feel invisible. You are not needed. You understand her illness but it doesn't stop her from doing what she wants when she wants. But doesn't seem to be with you. I know couples that have chronic illnesses in their marriages and they can still make each other happy.

Like I said, I think you know what you need to do for yourself. Do it and never look back. It was good when it was good but it no longer is. You have outgrown each other. Good Luck and come back with an update. We love them.
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Reply to JoAnn29
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tlf208, I'm sorry to read about your struggles. You have been carrying a heavy load pretty valiantly, so kudos to you for that. If you read other posts on this forum you will see that by no means are you alone.

Three things:
#1) explain to your wife that in order for you to stay in your marriage that your father must move out. Period. (Also don't let those kids linger too long, either).
#2) explain to your wife that for you to stay in the marriage she needs to go to treatment for alcoholism and successfully complete it.
#3) YOU must go to counseling for your co-dependency and enabling.

What is the chronic illness that is debilitating your wife? This info will help you get very good insight from others on this forum with similar situations and experiences. I wish you all the best as you work towards a better marriage and life!
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Reply to Geaton777
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tlf208 Mar 25, 2020
Thank you for your insight, and #3 is definitely something for me to think about too. My wife has lupus and fibromyalgia. From what I have found, the divorce rate for couples with that is upwards of 75%, I don't want to be a statistic but I really do understand why it can tear a marriage apart.
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"Should my father in law go?"

Yes.

Your wife sounds incredibly depressed. Hence the downturn in her health, hence her reliance on alcohol. The alcohol makes the depression and the downturn worse. It is a horrible vicious circle. She doesn't know what to do about it: she's too caught up to see any way out. Do something about it for her.

I should start by looking for alternative housing for him. Obviously this can't be a short-term solution, the timing is terrible; but knowing what the options are, costing them, making plans for consideration are all positive moves.

And - I'm glad you found us! This is a safe place to vent feelings, because I think most of us have felt and thought - not to mention said and done - things we'd rather not have in retrospect. No one is going to be telling you you're wrong.
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Reply to Countrymouse
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tlf208 Mar 25, 2020
Thank you for your insight and compassion. It feels good just to have started a conversation about this.

Yes she is depressed, and has been on medication for depression for some time. I would be depressed too if I felt terrible all the time, couldn't do the things that I used to do, and knew that my spouse was unhappy. The downturn in her health though is because of her condition and its progression as she ages, and that fuels the depression.

I am struggling to imagine how I can tell my wife that he should move out, without causing her, him, and their side of the forever resenting me for it.

I'm feeling like I'm the weak one because I cannot rationally cope with the things life has thrown at us, and I think my wife feels that way too - that I should just suck it up and deal with it.
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"Should my father in law go?" One of you has to go. Either he goes or you go.

"Can my my marriage be salvaged?" The physical intimacy is gone. Your wife is an alcoholic and takes her father's side against you. What exactly is there to salvage?

What do you want the next 20+ years of *your* life to look like? Start living whatever that life looks like to you. Start living your best life (sorry to get all Oprah on you) because life is too short to be miserable.
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Reply to NYDaughterInLaw
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tlf208 Mar 25, 2020
I want to be on the same life path again, but we have diverged so that I don't know how to get back there. I want to confide in her again. I want to do fun things with her again to the extent that she can. I want to feel good about doing things for her again. I want to be grandparents someday. I want to just find joy in her company. Losing the physical intimacy is hard, but it isn't everything. Our age difference has likely contributed to this too, and with her health condition she has physically aged at a much more rapid pace than me.

I have started to do more of my own thing over the last year or so, and she no longer joins me at community events. I think for the most part that is because of her health, but she makes me feel guilty sometimes. When I have several events close together she says things like, "you're never home any more," or "you're always at some dinner somewhere," or "you're always at the office on the weekend." Am I avoiding being home? To a certain degree yes - I just don't like being there under the circumstances. And there's my dilemma: is this just an avoidance behavior and I'm wrong for the way I feel?
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Wow, what a load you’re carrying. Most would have cracked under this strain a long time ago. You’re not wrong for wanting life to be better, please also consider that you’re modeling for your children what marriage should look like, and yours is definitely not healthy. Many people deal with chronic health conditions, your wife has become trapped in hers, adding alcoholism and depression to the mix. Unless she’s willing to deal with those issues, there’s little you can do outside of contacting her doctor and letting him/her know of the depression and excessive drinking. The FIL needs to move out, this shouldn’t cause guilt for you, it’s a normal part of life. Have an honest conversation. Above all, seek counseling for yourself. I hope you’ll find the courage and peace to change this misery. I wish you the best
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Reply to Daughterof1930
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Er, there is No Way On Earth that you have even a slight tendency towards NPD my friend. If you did, you wouldn't be putting up with this intolerable situation for ONE MINUTE never mind years!

Now that I've said that, I'll say more. Excessive alcohol consumption WORSENS both Lupus and Fibromyalgia, as your wife should well know. Not to mention, drinking to this degree can and does cause alcohol induced dementia and other forms of dementia such as Wernecke-Korsakoff Syndrome. So, your wife's brain fog is likely due to her excessive alcohol consumption; in other words, her own doing. She's an alcoholic.

Your FIL should be paying rent and sharing expenses to live in your home. In what universe does any person live free of charge? And why should they?? Has your wife any idea what it costs to live in Assisted Living, or even Independent Senior Living if he's not in need of help? Well, I think she's going to be in for a rude awakening once you go and collect lots of nice brochures on that very subject, because it's time to boot daddy out of your house now.

Enough is enough.

Lots of people have chronic health conditions, me included. That doesn't give me the right, however, to make my husband's life a torture chamber, or drink myself into oblivion, or to invite my 93 year old mother to live in our house and then spend the whole day either sleeping, lounging on the couch watching tv, or sucking down bottles of wine. Or complaining that he 'spends too much time out of the house at work' earning the MONEY that's required to finance my PARENT living in the house and my expensive alcohol addiction.

Come on! It's time to have a Come To Jesus meeting with your wife and lay down some new rules. Like nobody is going to unload cases of booze from the car anymore, for instance. And that daddy needs to move out. I'm not sure why you're trying to salvage this marriage at this point, but perhaps a therapist could help. But she'd have to be willing to do HER part here, which will mean going to AA meetings to get sober. Is that likely to happen, do you think? Because if your answer is no, then there is nothing left to salvage.

Save what's left of YOUR life, that's my suggestion. Your wife seems to have chosen her path and now you feel forced to stay on that path WITH her. You are not wrong to feel the way you do, not at all. My question is why have you put up with this for so long??

Wishing you the best of luck taking your life back.
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Reply to lealonnie1
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I think that you need to seek counseling for yourself and then when you are strong enough to face your wife force the alcohol recovery. Because you know that nothing will ever get better as long as she is a drunk.

Fibromyalgia has been proven to get less intense with physical activity. So your wife needs to make better choices for herself to get better, she is obviously using her condition to justify her bad behavior. Being sick sucks, but her choices only make it worse and add to the underlying problems.

As the man of the house you should tell your father in law that the free ride has ended and he needs to start contributing or find a new address. This is just ignorant of your wife to believe that your family should support her dad in times of shortage. Sorry but he doesn't sound like much of a man to live off another man. I would talk to him privately and make it very clear that he makes it right and starts paying his way right now or the consequences could be extreme, as in he now takes care of your wife because you are gone. He doesn't get to leave his other children money because he lived off of you, what?

I don't think that you should threaten divorce, but we all know that an alcoholic is a nightmare to deal with and she needs to get sober before anything can truly be fixed in your marriage. You are right to have stood by her through her illness, but drinking is a choice and it is detrimental to everyone around her. Your children are learning that alcohol stupors are a choice and an option for hard times or bad feelings. They are also seeing that you can use anger to keep anyone from questioning your behavior. Not something that anyone needs to see 1st hand every day.

Please seek a counselor that will help you find your footing and then you can be strong and address each issue one at a time. I know that your FIL paying his fair share will help you feel less resentful towards him, right now he is using you and has used up all your good will.

Kudos to you for trying to find a way to salvage your marriage, remember, it is a two way street so it will take both of you, but not her drunken self, her sober self will be the only way to really salvage the relationship.
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Reply to Isthisrealyreal
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I also have chronic illnesses - fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue disease. So fatigue is my middle name. I am also an insomniac, so there’s that.

Even with that, I do not sleep 12 or 16 hours a day, or stay on the couch. Yes, I have a limited amount of energy, just like your wife. So I might do some laundry, shower, and make a grocery run - but then I’m done until I’ve taken a nap. But then I can fix supper.

So, I think it may be depression and alcohol holding her down, not fibromyalgia and lupus. Those certainly limit her activities, but they don’t wipe them out altogether.

She needs a doctor appointment, and you need to be there with her, to make sure she tells the doctor the whole story. She needs an antidepressant or two and AA. Then her life will be a different story.

If she is willing to do those two things for you, your marriage may have a chance. I wish you all the best, you certainly deserve good things.

P.S. FIL has got to go!
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Reply to BeckyT
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You are not wrong for the way you feel. But what you're doing will not save your marriage.

You are free to leave the house and engage in all kinds of productive, useful activities which, to boot, are considerably more fulfilling and agreeable and sociable than time spent at home. No one can blame you for pursuing them.

Your wife isn't free. Partly because of her health, no doubt, but also, probably, because she feels trapped at home by her responsibilities and her situation. Demotivated, depressed, burdened by her father, and now abandoned by you.

This WILL separate you. The relationship will die. Mine did, with no blame attached to my then SO. He did his best, it became too much for him, he found other places to be and other things to do. I stopped caring whether he was around or not because it made no difference to my daily routine. When we concluded that we wouldn't be going anywhere together even after my mother died, it was a relief, really; and then when that happened and she passed away we went our separate ways.

Least of my worries, if I'm honest about it; but I didn't have a 25 year marriage and two children in common with him. The worst I suffered was disappointment. You are not in the same position, you have things to lose which you would regret losing, and you have children who - nearly adults or not, understanding and sympathetic or not - *would* be damaged if your marriage were to fail.

It is avoidance behaviour, yes; but it's not 'just' anything. Consider what you're avoiding: confrontation, resentment, anger at seeing a constant drain on your wife's limited resources. Better stay out of the house than batter the old guy's head in with a brick (metaphorically speaking, of course). And you don't want to hurt your wife, or put pressure on her.

You have to do the groundwork, and then you may also have to be the Bad Guy. But Get Him Out.

Meanwhile, pick something to give up, and give your wife that time instead. Watch a movie with her. Cook dinner. Talk (not about the home situation) to your FIL, and take his socialisation needs off her hands for an hour. Don't expect sudden changes, just begin.
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Reply to Countrymouse
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Forgive me if I missed it but how is your wife obtaining the 7-14 bottles of wine a week? That's a lot of alcohol, a lot of neurotoxins being ingested by an ill person, a lot of $ being spent.

And I'll just say it, are you really sure she's hopelessly ill with chronic conditions right now that just can't improve, or is it the alcohol? Is she under a doctor's care now and what does he or she say about how she might feel if she weren't drinking so much?

Another thought: NPD?

I apologize to all chronically ill people out there, the vast majority of whom I would estimate aren't behaving like the poster's wife but are doing their best with the hand they are dealt. Just food for thought in case anything resonates with the poster.
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Reply to SnoopyLove
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tlf208 Mar 25, 2020
She will usually get 6-8 cases of wine at a time from Trader Joe's when she does go out, or her father will get a case here and there. He drinks one small glass per day. I certainly think that the alcohol compounds the effect of her lupus and fibro. From what I have read, people often drink to dull the immediate pain, but it only serves to exacerbate it in the long run, sort of a vicious cycle.

I had to look up NPD, and admittedly I probably have a little of that going on myself. We were both very ambitious and successful people, and I still thrive on accomplishments both in our business and the community. For her, she had a hard adjustment period many years ago when she went from being involved in the business to being a stay-at-home mom when our kids were born. It was very hard for her to give up the sense of accomplishment and self-reliance that comes from being a breadwinner, even though she had always said she wanted nothing more than to be a mom. Ultimately she settled in to it, especially when she became involved in the kids' school. Now, I know she is struggling with the mental and emotional toll of not being able to do a lot of physical things or to be a contributor, but it gets taken out on me in passive-aggressive ways like telling me I am not focused on our livelihood if the business gets slow and cash is short, or that I am controlling when I say she overbuys food that ends up getting thrown away.

I certainly have my faults and my actions (or lack of) no doubt contributed to the current state of affairs - whether with or without meaning to.
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