What is a reasonable amount of time to take care of mother-in-law's needs? - AgingCare.com

What is a reasonable amount of time to take care of mother-in-law's needs?


I've been with my fiancé for 16 years. His parents were older when they had him. He is the youngest of four siblings. They are older, have grown children of their own and live out of state. My fiancé and I have 3 children (from my previous marriage). He has supported them & helped to raise tbem the past ten years. He has been the main caregiver for both of his parents his entire life. His father passed several years ago and now he is the main caretaker for his mother, who is in her 90's. I have always felt that his mother comes first, and my children & I come last. He spends a good deal of time taking care of her needs on the weekends, does all of her house repairs, gets calls in the middle of the night when she hears mice in the walls of her older home. He has no time to do anything in our house, things go for years, not repaired or basic things that need to be done, because he has to take care of his mothers house. His siblings do nothing to help, nor do her grandchildren. They take care of their own families. What is a reasonable amount of time he should be spending on her care and her upkeeping of her home? She refuses to go into a nursing home or assisted living. The siblings refuse to sell the house. It is their expectation that my fiancé will eventually move into the family home when she passes or things become too difficult for her to live alone. I've told my fiancé I will never live in that house. I have my own home that I love and have raised my children in. The house would be a mousaleum to his parents- it would never be mine. There is so much resentment built up- I feel like we have not been able to live our life or truly be a family. We are not the priority at all- he won't leave her alone on holidays, won't go on vacations because she's be alone, won't consider moving, because there is no one to care for her. Calls her every night before bedtime, gets calls all the time at work because she needs something done, she gets her Christmas tree up first, gets her spring lawn care done first, gets her house repairs & renovations done first, while our house sits & falls apart. I'm so tired of it, yet I know she has no one else and he is a good son and good to his mother, but I know that I have always come 2nd in his life. He has never cut the apron strings. Is it selfish of me to expect this from him? When I talk with him about this he tells me I am selfish and that it is horrible of me to expect him to "abandon" his mother. He doesn't understand that we are a couple & a family, and should come first. His other siblings need to step up, and help
out more. They never visit and contribute nothing to help her. My fiancé feels like he is the only one who can meet her needs and do it right. He also has all tbe responsibilities to take care of her summer camp as well. When she passes all the financial responsibilities for the two properties will be split between the two properties, but he will still be expected to do all the maintenance and upkeep for two properties that no one will be living in! None of them will agree to sell the "family" home either. It will fit into the ground before anyone will sell it. Am I being selfish? Is it reasonable for me to want our family to be his first priority? Does he have mommy issues? She was a controlling, domineering, emotionally cold mother to him as he grew up.

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I agree that you are being ignored. If this were a short-term situation, then it would be okay. But this has gone on for years. It's time to say this is what I will put up with - you can, of course, help care for your mother, but you need to hire some in-home care for her or sell the house and find her assisted living.

What he is doing is excessive unless he had no other relationship. I know that this is tough for you after giving him so many years, and relationships need compromise, but you are the only one compromising. As someone here said, it may be time to cut your losses. You could suggest join counseling first but my feeling is that he'll refuse.

Please update us on how your are doing,
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This sounds like my ex and me, but the person in our case was his daughter. His whole life was spent doing things for her. Bad thing is that she and her own ex-husband bad-mouthed me all the time to him. It destroyed our relationship. Now we don't even talk and I hate what they did to me.

I would say to cut your losses and move on. The way things happened for me I lost everything when I got away from it. I wish you could have back the 16 years you spent on him. It sounds like a losing battle to me. Go for what you need. His ties to his old family are too strong and you come in a distant second -- speaks very poorly for this relationship. I've been where you are and there is no winning.
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Selfish is not a word that comes to mind in your situation.
I absolutely agree with JessieBelle's comments. His mother trained him well and he is still terrified of Mommy dearest so nothing is going to change.
Is your family living in a house you own? If so help "fiancee" pack. He has never taken responsibility for you and your children.
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First assess whether you can financially live without him. Most importantly, could you survive without his financial contribution got at least six months. If not, start an emergency fund for six months of your family's expenses.
But the real question is whether you believe he will ever put you first? My second question is what will happen to him when his mother dies. Will he fall apart? If so, do you want to pick up the pieces of his grieving?
Resentment can destroy your relationship and your soul. What are your children learning about relationships from you?
These are questions only you can answer. But I do that the person who decides to leave a relationship tends to suffer more before he/she leaves. Once she leaves, then that burden has been lifted. Your responsibility is to you and your children.
Best of luck.
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Just wondering--was the word "mousaleum" simply a misspelling or an allusion to the mice heard in the wall?
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I had a similar relationship my then-fiance - and his sister. He was raised by his domineering sister because their parents were very dysfunctional. His sister was always calling him, always wanting to know what he was up to, etc. He would drop everything - and me - race over to be with this sister if she needed something done. He wasn't putting me a priority - and that wasn't going to change after we got married. Even after we would marry, his sister would never accept me because she felt threatened by me from day one of my strong relationship with her brother. You've been with him for 16 years and how often has he put you a priority? What makes you think he'll ever change? He won't. You have to decide how much longer are you willing to be number two. Just imagine how devastated he'll be after his mother does pass away. He'll be inconsolable. Are you ready to handle this? Thank God I didn't marry my then-fiance because I realized I deserve so better. I deserve to be number one in my man's life just like he's number one in my life.
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JessieBelle, Your first answer was right on.
Dear Abby used to say, "There are few things worse than being alone, and you found one of them."
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This is so sad. I'm so sorry this is happening to you. It sounds like your fiancée will be ready to make a home and family with you when his mother dies and not before. If you are willing to wait, wait. If not, kick him out. I'm guessing he'll be back around after Mommie Dearies dies.
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I don't think you're being selfish. I think you're just very tired of playing second fiddle and you've had just about enough of it.

But to look at your question: "what is a reasonable amount of time to take care of MIL's needs?" That sounds like you're searching for the basis of an argument (argument as in case to make, not as in stand-up row, that is) to put to your fiancé in the hope that he will see the light and reconsider his priorities.

Well, now. There is reasonable, as the average person would see it - e.g. perhaps a couple of hours two evenings a week, and a day or two every weekend or every other weekend, something like that. But then there is normal and habitual in your own particular family's situation. And I can't see that any argument, no matter how diplomatically and reasonably put, is going to bring about the radical change you're aiming for.

There you are as a family, trundling along for over a decade, you see; and suddenly it's not good enough and you want to veer off in a whole new direction? It isn't that I don't agree that it's not good enough, it's just that it seems a bit late in the day to expect much alteration in your MIL's or your SO's habits.

So then it becomes a question of deciding whether you value the *whole* of your history with this man enough to stick it out with him; or whether you really can't take any more and you'd do better to call it a day.

I must say, though I'm in position to claim I know what makes a good relationship, that if this man has over the years combined being a good stepfather and being a model son pretty well, then he sounds like a keeper to me. Are there any small, significant things he could do differently that would make you feel better about the whole situation? Maybe baby steps are the way to go?
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You know, JessieBelle, I don't think it is a matter of being 'guilty'. We all probably have done things in our lives we wish we'd done differently. I just think as long as any of us think of it as an excuse to keep doing it, then we limit the quality of our life and stay stuck in the mud, doing it over and over till we are dead. When you think about what you'd want for your own kid, hold that in contrast to some of the decisions that you make for yourself. What would your advice be to a child that you wanted the best for? Do the same for yourself. Expect more and you'll get more. I have been married to the wrong person - twice. I was abused as a kid and therefore it was difficult for me to see when I was younger that I was worthy of more than I settled for, believing my own mother's nasty comments repeatedly in my ear. I had to go through counseling and apply what I learned to my self. I actually cannot fathom now what I was willing to put up with; I am actually a different person. I have been married to the love of my life for fourteen years now. He has also been married before. Both of us could have used the excuse that we had had such bad marriages we weren't willing to do that again. I would say if you feel that way (anyone) then they aren't worthy of living with you, having you cook for them or clean for them and most certainly, NOT taking care of their family members! My now husband once brought up living together. I told him no, that the love we have is the kind that deserves commitment and I am a woman who deserved that as much as he did. He tells me all the time that he "must have been nuts" to have suggested that and he is so glad I put my foot down. It is never to late to change the trajectory of one's life. It might be more difficult at certain times of life, but not impossible.
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