My husband and I moved in with my FIL two weeks ago; who is 62. He lost his job either earlier this year or last year, and although he is working again, he is making less than he used to and can no longer afford his mortgage. From what my husband has told me, he also didn't manage his money well throughout his life, and his ex wife (my MIL), took a large chunk through their divorce; he may have to live with us for the rest of his life. Also he will be having hip surgery soon. Since my husband's name is also on my FIL's house, he figured we should move in. I agreed, but now I am thinking we did not plan this move very well and didn't talk about it enough!
My husband is working with his brother and uncles to renovate the basement of my FIL's house to turn it into an in-law suite. The plan was for him to then move into his space and us to move upstairs. However this renovation has already taken longer than it was supposed to. Since my husband is resistant to hiring outside help (non-family), and his family is working for cheap/free, they are not taking it all that seriously. I don't get why we don't just hire a contractor, who is not his brother, who has a history of not showing up for jobs/not finishing jobs in time or well. He says that we would have to drop a couple thousand "instead of just waiting another couple weeks."
For context, before this we lived in a duplex that my husband owns. The duplex is intended to be a rental. We worked hard to renovate that place, and it took forever (altogether about 4 years; I moved in at the beginning of last year), once again, because he hired his brother, who also has depression issues and didn't feel like working for about 3 years, during which my husband supported him but that's another story. Anyway, for a while, we lived in the bottom, while his brother and girlfriend (who was abusive and is now his ex) lived on top. It took a while to get comfortable in this place due to the crazy ex, and his brother coming and going into our space as he pleased. But generally, I loved our apartment.
The point is we have been married for a year; I'm 26, he's 30, and we have never had the chance to live truly by ourselves. We did the whole "separate but together" thing with his brother already, and I feel terrible and selfish, but I'm ready for us to have a home of our own without other people. I feel like somehow we got cheated out of that or skipped the part of the marriage where it's just us. I really like his dad, but right now I feel like we are too close for comfort. He does help us with our dog, which we really appreciate, and he helped us re-paint the living room and bedrooms...but in his day to day, he seems depressed. He didn't put much effort into packing up or dwindling down some of his hoard so that we could move our stuff in. He does work but leaves after us and comes back before us. In the morning when I leave for work, he is sitting on his chair watching TV- loudly because he's losing his hearing. When I come back from work, he's in exactly the same place, watching TV and simultaneously playing on his phone, and he stays like this all evening, only taking breaks to go to the bathroom, which, when he does number 1, he won't flush. I doubt this has something to do with cognitive decline since he does flush after number 2. I think he's just used to it. Finally he goes to bed, later or at the same time as we do, and basically my husband and I won't have privacy unless we are in our bedroom, or if my FIL leaves the house which he occasionally does...I think because he intentionally wants to give us some space. I worry most because we haven't discussed the long term plan for his dad. What will happen if/when he needs a caregiver? Why didn't his brother, who is single and seems to be staying that way for a while, move in with his dad instead? Husband seems to think they wouldn't be able to survive together alone. I'm tired of the renovations. Looking for insight on all this.
Sit down with your husband RIGHT NOW and talk about the 'long term plan' for his dad and for YOUR lives. Otherwise, I feel like you're gonna be stuck living in this situation for life and caring for your FIL as his health declines. His hearing is already going.......what's next? If you wait TOO long, it will be TOO LATE and you'll find yourselves unable to get out of being his caretakers. If your FIL is having hip replacement surgery, some people never walk again afterwards, especially if there's no impetus TO walk again. I had THR in 2016 and was back at work in 3 weeks........it's all about mindset and what HE wants for himself. Not knowing him, it's hard to say if or how he will come out of that surgery. What is HIS plan to rehab himself? (For me, no formal rehab or PT was required; only walking outside 2x a day and inside every couple of hours; first with a walker then a cane). Ask him.
The past couple of days, I've been trying to make the best of the current situation. I'm spending time with my FIL and getting to know him better. We at least get along well and I'm grateful for that. I started packing up his things (because he hasn't packed ANYTHING for his move downstairs, nor thrown out ANYTHING over the several months he has had to do so). He's not making any decisions. So, I'm making some choices and packing up things for him. It feels like things are progressing. I feel like maybe he should be the one to be doing this instead of us, and asking for help if he needs it, but whatever as long as it gets done. Because I just can't live with the hoard, with our things in the garage all while the basement gets finished. I just can't. At least if it's packed it can slowly be moved downstairs and he can deal with it there. I asked him to please start flushing. He is doing that now...I talked to my husband, and he's on the same page- we are not doing this long term. Our original plan was at least a year, and he said we do not even have to do that. He wants to help him through his surgery though (which will be in January). I am relieved.
As for my FIL, he keeps saying he can't wait to "get back to normal" after his surgery. He is actually moving in with his sister for the first few weeks after surgery. She is a retired nurse. FIL seems to think he will be able to get back to doing everything that he used to and get the job he used to have, because with his situation right now he says nobody wants to hire him as that...I really hope this works out for him and he feels better. I'm eager to see the side of him that cares about his life and his things a little more because sometimes it just really feels like he's apathetic 🤦🏽♀️
Even in good marriages it’s very hard.
After two weeks in a living arrangement you consented to, you're ready to declare it's just not working for you? Really? If you are this inflexible and resistant to change at 26, how much of a stuck in the mud you will be at your FIL's age of 62? I really do understand the adjustment is turning out to be harder than you thought it would be. You're right to identify what is causing you problems, but your first step should not be getting others to change to accommodate you or running away. Your first step should be determining either if something really needs changing or how you can change to adapt.
"...basically my husband and I won't have privacy unless we are in our bedroom.." For me, only having absolute privacy at times (behind a locked door) in my bedroom is just normal. I was the youngest of my parents' children and more than a decade younger than my older brothers, so grandchildren "invaded" my parents' home while I was in high school. When my oldest nephew was an infant and toddler, he shared my twin bed for sleep overs. How much privacy do you think you're going to have when your own kids come along? You're going to find your young children will "invade" your bedroom at some very inconvenient times, but you will probably come to enjoy their joining you in bed most mornings. When my parents married, Mom moved into Dad's home where her FIL and my father's younger sister lived. My uncle moved his new bride into a basement apartment with his parents and 4 siblings living upstairs. Although moving in with the family was more common in the past, a significant number of people still do it today too, many for the same economic reasons.
I'm assuming when the basement renovation is finished FIL will have his own sitting area that includes his chair and a TV? His own bathroom? Maybe a kitchenette area with a sink, small fridge, and microwave? When FIL is not sitting in front of the TV in the main house when you leave and enter the home will you feel more comfortable? When the toilet that doesn't get promptly flushed is in the bathroom he cleans downstairs will it be less of an irritant?
Although money is one issue (with work equity being a fine way of raising net worth), I suspect your husband wants his brother to complete the work as a way of helping his brother too. Depression is a difficult hole to climb out of without some help; productive work and feeling capable and useful are some of the tools most helpful for the climb. The involvement of your husband's uncles and your husband standing by his brother and father indicates your husband is family orientated and loyal. His frugal resistance to avoid spending money he doesn't need to may mean he learned from his father's bad example and it's more likely there will be funds available for a few long weekend get-a-ways with total privacy.
Although your FIL will need some help (mostly your husband's) for a few weeks following hip surgery, that shouldn't mean real care giving is in your futures anytime soon. There should be time enough for that discussion.
I suggest you commit yourself to making this new arrangement work for at least 6 months before you begin considering an exit. Time enough for FIL to recover from his surgery and for the basement apartment to be completed. Try to stop measuring your living arrangements against an ideal or your dream situation. Your husband sounds like he has weathered his parents divorce and his brother's issues to develop strong coping skills. You could do worse than to imitate him.
I'm glad that my husband wants to help his family when they need it, but I think you can absolutely enable family members too. I don't think this is the case with his dad, but I think it's what has happened with his brother. My brother in law is a great guy, and depression is very difficult, but his depression wasn't my husband's to carry for 3 years or thereafter. He refused to get help for a long time, and that wasn't anyone else's responsibility. He's irresponsible with contracting jobs. What does my husband say about it? "Better the devil we know than the devil we don't know" - which I don't agree with. I know he is also trying to help his brother by hiring him, but, there's a line, and we need to think about what's best for us as well. Waiting around on a renovation that should have been finished months, or even years prior (as has been the pattern in the past) is not fair to us. I think that my husband is beginning to understand that after the conversations we've had. That's another issue though. As for the long term care with my FIL, we talked about it- there is still plenty of time to make that decision based on how things go for the next few months and how my FIL does.