My wife of 20+ years is POA for her father who has been in a nursing home for 18 months. I pay his bills because she cannot handle the added stress. Her father has dementia and is largely bed ridden. My wife visits her father at least four times a week. She quit her job in march due to stress. Yesterday, she started a new job and has already told me the job is to stressful and she will likely quit.

Two months ago I was offered and accepted a promotion that requires us to relocate to another state. I discussed moving her father to a nursing home near our new home, she flatly refused. She has also refused to move saying her dad needs her. She is now planning to move into his home which is near his nursing home. While her father has five children and two living siblings, my wife is largely the one who cares for him. The rest of the family rarely visits, like once a year.

This situation now has me moving and her staying, for what could be a year or more. In the beginning she said she would come visit me, she is now asking me to come visit her instead.

I am totally lost. The stress is unbearable. I do not see how she can choose caring for her father over our relationship and marriage.


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The "logical" solution is to move Dad to a care center near your new home. Wife would rather live alone and near where Dad is now than to take this logical step. So, what else is going on? Has your marriage been strained on other issues in addition to the care of her father? Would she have objected to moving for your career even if her father weren't ill?

To give up a job and to essentially give up a marriage in order to care for a parent in a nursing home is (it seems to me) excessive sacrifice, especially when there are other options.

I think that you both could use some counselling from an objective third party -- separately and/or together. Your marriage is in trouble, and the vibes I'm getting make me wonder if there isn't more to it than Dad's health.
Helpful Answer (16)

If I'm reading this correctly.....
- FIL is living in a NH which is a skilled nursing facility with 24/7 staff
- FIL in the NH for at least a year & 1/2
- FIL is bed-fast so he is not getting up and doing
- FIL has 5 children & still-living siblings
- FIL still owns his home
- Knotpc is paying for FIL NH stay
- Knotpc is financially supporting wife who doesn't work to "take care of Dad"
- wife has quit 1 job and about to quit current job to "take care of Dad"
- Knotpc has taken a new position with more $, status & is willing to move FIL to new city and continue to pay for everything.
- wife plans to stay & move into FIL house & not go to visit DH in new city

So Knotpc if the above is in a nutshell correct, and you have been paying for all things for FIL and carrying the substantial economic load for your family in this most difficult economy and dealing with a physically & emotionally absent spouse, you are a gem and deserve better. For whatever reasons, wife has chose her dad over you and for your role in her life is to be paying for all. If she won't do couples counseling or be willing to go to the new city to visit, then there is no relationship.
Her relationship is with dad, there is no room for you.

For me, the ?'s are just what is going on with her? Does she have emotional issues or other backstory that it the bigger problem and "dealing with dad" is the current excuse. FIL does not need her to be there to be his caregiver. He is a NH for Christ's sake. So just exactly what "caregiving" is she doing? What "stress" is she having? Just what is she spending her time at?

In your soul is your marriage is worth continuing? and if so, are both of you willing to work towards that? She has drawn her line in the sand (she stays, you go and you have to come back to see her). So my suggestion is, you have to do the same...tell her what you expect her to do and you are willing to do. I'd be tough on the financial aspect on all this. No more paying for FIL. The house can be sold to pay for FIL. Just who is paying for the upkeep on FIL house?

Could it be she had intended to move into dad's house all along? That she agreed with the new position and the move but really it was never her intent to go with you. Think hard if this could be the situation,look at her spending to see if she has been buying things to make FIL house more comfortable, repaired, etc. Because if that is the case, then find a good pitt-bull of a divorce lawyer.

Most people live to their 80's and do you want to spend your next decade or two in this situation? It's a life half-lived and half-loved. No way to live. Good luck.

Jeanne - glad you're back!
Helpful Answer (13)

Welcome to this site. Are you paying his bills from your money since you are not the POA? Sounds like your wife has needed to see a therapist to deal with the stress of her father being in a nursing home and balancing that with work as well as family. Is she someone who has always been close to her dad? It sounds like her siblings and her dad's siblings don't care that much about him. I assume she was in favor of your taking this promotion? Maybe some others will have some ideas for you, but I think that you also would benefit from seeing an objective third party like a pastor or a therapist to talk about all of this face to face. I can only imagine the heartbreak and sense of abandonment her decision has brought into your life. I hope you can find a solution to this.
Helpful Answer (12)

Thank you all for your comments and different view points. To clarify, I pay the father in laws bills from the father in laws accounts because my spouse has been unable to handle the added stress of managing her fathers affairs. Basically, she is POA but, I take care of the paperwork.

The last 18 months has been a roller coaster of emotions as many of you have been through at some basic level so you can at least understand. The emotions make the whole issue complex.

My concern has always been my wife's health and our relationship. These last few weeks have me second guessing our relationship as I cannot comprehend her determination to stay behind and care for her father, who I believe is well cared for by professionals. I guess I should be questioning what else is going on between us.

Thank you all for your comments.
Helpful Answer (12)

Dear Knot: Thank you for acknowledging all of our responses and concluding that there are relationship issues between you and your wife that you also need to examine. You sound like a very level-headed and sensible man. However, the way you describe your wife's behavior, leads me to believe that she has some significant emotional issues in that she does not seem to be able to accept her father's condition, and believes she has to be with him on a daily basis. In truth, all his daily needs are attended to by the facility staff, so for all practical purposes, your wife is just keeping him company and maintaining a strong emotional bond. I believe she is having a really hard time letting him go. It does not sound healthy. It seems to me she is suffering with an internal struggle (almost obsessive?) over her attachment to her Dad, and has completely lost sight of her vows/attachment to you and your marriage. I do not think it's intentional - I think she can't get past her feelings to act rationally. I agree with everyone here that counseling is needed. Perhaps for yourself first (to help you put the situation in perspective) and then most certainly for your wife if you can persuade her to participate with you for marrage counseling and/or for herself individually. I pray this works out for both of you.
Helpful Answer (12)


The promotion was a career move. It was either take promotion and move or be out of work.
Helpful Answer (11)

I am relieved to know that I am not the only one with a spouse who is choosing parent over marriage. He visits his mother at the nursing home everyday but Tuesday (his golf night) and twice on Sunday. He dislikes doing this but can not see a way to tell her he can not visit this often. He told me that she has been telling him she'll be glad when his golf is over so he can visit her on Tuesdays. He is stressed, surly and closed off to me. If I tell him there is something I need him to help me with he responds that he is busy in an unkind tone. I rarely put forward a need as I know what his response will be. This is particularly stressful because I fractured my pelvis two months ago today and I'm still on crutches. The responses to this posts has convinced me to contact EAP at work because I'm on the verge of walking away - walking away almost makes me laugh, it would be crutching away.
Helpful Answer (11)

sonswife, I am sorry to read that your husband is so emotionally and physically absent. Sounds like he is more emotionally connected with his mom than he is with you. That is not right or fair, but sounds like is how it is.

No you are not alone for I've read painful stories like yours on this site where a son has chosen mom over his wife, or a wife than basically abandons her husband for her mom, but not many of these situation like the one presented here where the wife is choosing her father over her husband. It is all about having healthy boundaries in marriage which is lacking in situations like these which could all benefit from counseling.
Helpful Answer (8)

So sorry for your situation maybe a professional counsellor could help you both I understand your wife wanting to care for her dad but you have to think of your future aswell. I would agree that moving him to a NH near your new job would be the ideal solution especially as her other siblings dont help. I think a counsellor would be best for both of you as this is a very tough situation and very hurtful for you im not married but would feel so hurt if my spouse chose his parent over our marraige. " for better, for worse"?? Is she afraid that the move would be too stressful for him seems he is late stages and a move may not even register with him? I would understand that if other family lived there and would not be happy he be moved but this dosnt seem to be the case. Im fairly new here but maybe someone else here has been in your position. Dementia really tears people apart especially families but I cant understand her reason for not moving and having her dad close by in a new NH. Sorry im not much help and can only suggest a marraige guidance could help. Good luck and let us know how you get on.
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On Sept 17th I posted in response to Knotpc's original post saying my husband was choosing his mother over our marriage. It helped to vent. I returned to the thread this past week to look at new posts. Our computer evidently locked up andI didn't get logged off My husband read my post. It has turned out to be a very good think. He told me he loves me and doesn't want me to leave. He owned (when we met with our pastor) that he has been taking out his frustration about the situation with his mother and unhelpful siblings on me and apologized to me. He has cut back on his visits to his mother, we are looking for ways to be a couple again. We are not our of the woods yet but we're at least unstuck.
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