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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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Looks like your wife is choosing the person that NEEDS her more, and it seems to be her dad. Doesn't make it right, just the way it looks to me. How is her relationship with her siblings? Are they people that YOU can call and ask them to step up? But even then, your wife will most likely get defensive when anyone other than she helps dad, so maybe that's going to be a problem too. Your wife is causing herself all the stress in my opinion, by visiting her dad so many days a week. That will drive her crazy spending so much time in such a hopeless situation. It would me I know. BUT if you just unilaterally decided to take this promotion without discussing it with your wife, because you just assumed she'd leave dad and you'd be rid of the whole situation, then that sure didn't work out did it. I hope you didn't, since now you've painted yourself into a corner and you have no option except to leave for the job. Maybe she'll follow when dad dies, or she has a change of heart. Don't hold your breath. Sorry.
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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.
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Nancy,

The promotion was a career move. It was either take promotion and move or be out of work.
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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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I would suggest you have a discussion with a trained professional of the psychiatric kind. We women tend to be hard nosed but did you think that relocating would cure her of her obsession with caring for her father. I guess you have got to go now you have agreed to the job. Why wouldn't you come back to visit that's what most spouses do. That way you can sort out where your marriage is headed. If your position is senior enough most employers are very accommodating about you working out of the office a few days a month so you can spend more time with your wife. Do you have a problem with your father in law? I am sure there is more to this than you are telling us so tread carefully.
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Ooops sorry I didnt see that others had answered your question!
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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.
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I hope you two kids can work this out. God bless you.
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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.
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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!
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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.
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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.
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I feel bad for this horrible spot you are in. You must do what is best for you, in your heart you have the answers. I do agree that an objective third party should come in and mediate since everything is so supercharged. I'd look at as giving one last try at coming to some sort of compromise. I can understand her stress from dad being in the home, I can understand your distress. Maybe someone objective can help both of you, I wish you only the best and I hope for the best outcome for both of you, not a great emotional climate to start a new job in, hang in there.
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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.
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Dear Knot, let us know how you are doing
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While I understand and sympathize with you situation I will play devils advocate for a moment. Have you considered that there might be someone else significant in your wife's life and this is where her stress originates? As well as councilling I would consider a private detective. It is often the people who you think are the most loyal who stay and women are much better at covering their tracks
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I meant to say stray not stay sorry
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knotpc.. you sound like a smart, mature man and not a kid. I'm wondering if you moving away to take this new job may just be a good thing for your marriage. Perhaps your wife will realize what she is missing and how much of a support and help you have been to her. Also, if she is not willing to see a therapist, you can still see one, do it as a gift to yourself. If your wife doesn't want to make you a priority, I'm sure there are many women out there who would, good luck!!
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I have a very dear friend who care for her mother who is very ill and does not have much time to get together with her friends. Why? Her siblings refused to share the responsibility and help my friend. I am very concerned about her because she needs a personal time and a break. Perhaps, that is why your wife feels obligated to help her mother. In reality, there is not much you can do, except to make that career move for yourself.
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Knot, it sounds like your wife is caught in a grieving process. If possible call in the other siblings and get them to help carry the load. I went so far as to assign each one a day of the week to check on their mother and they accepted it. She is already burned out and really needs to get away. I hope the NH has family counseling available and can get her to participate in the group. Her indecisiveness about visiting clearly shows she is torn between her love for your and her obedience to her father. She needs professional help to sort it out.
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I agree with Orange Blossom's comment. It sounds to me like your wife is engaging in "magical thinking" - that if she's with her dad every day, she can save him. And she and she alone is the one who can make that happen. I had that with a friend who had kidney cancer. I felt like if I could just find the right information, I could save him. Of course I couldn't and your wife can't keep her father alive by her daily presence. Somewhere along the way, she's developed a need to try to control the situation and takes her role very seriously, hence all of the stress. You've probably seen these behaviors play out in other areas of your marriage...

I agree with the other commenters who recommend counseling. Ideally for you both, or just you if she won't go. She doesn't sound logical or reasonable, but I'm sure she's not able to step back and look at the whole situation of her life (including your marriage) and is narrowly focused on her father. I don't think she's thinking about what will happen when her dad is gone. Was her mom's death traumatic for her also? Please keep us posted on how things are going...
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Blannie, the "magical thinking" makes so much sense to me! I don't know if makes sense for Knotpc's situation but it gives me new perspective on my situation (husband obsessively visiting his mother daily at NH). My husband actually skipped an evening with his mother this past week. My SIL is suppose to be here for the weekend so that will give him a break if she doesn't bail on us. I hope things are going better for Knotpc. I am so grateful that Knotpc posted on his situation as I have benefited greatly from the shared wisdom!
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Knotpc- I do hope everything works out for you and your wife. So sorry for both of you to be in this situation.
This has nothing to do with you, I just want to point out to others that regularly visiting a parent who is in a NH is not always unhealthy and does not always indicate that one needs counseling.
My mother was in a NH for 8 years. I visited her almost every day after work and on weekends I usually took her out for a drive and brought her dinner. I was single so that had no negative impact on anyone else. Also, I worked full time and maintained a very healthy diet and exercise program. Some of the best memories that I have are from the time I spent with her there. I was very blessed to have had that time for healing and to develop a good relationship with my mom.
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I also was going to say that I thought it might be a part of the grieving process. I think she might be finding it hard to let go, and also, staying in her father's home is another way of holding on to him.
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It sounds to me like your wife may have some dementia or something. How can it be so stressful to work and visit her Dad in the NH? She's not the caregiver. The NH is the caregiver. She's supervising but this is not her full time job. It is stressful to lose a loved one to disease, but I don't think 'flatly refusing' to move is her option. Are you going to maintain two households for her to stay? If you're paying the bills then you call the shots. I'm confused about why she would even think she has any option but to go with you and take FIL with you, too. She needs a full physical and mental check up to eliminate those issues that may be interfering with her ability to handle stress. Then she needs counseling to clarify what her options really are. She can work full time to support two households or she can start packing. I think you may have spoiled her rotten and she needs some tough love to get back on track. I don't know but I wish you luck and wisdom as you make some difficult decisions.
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Oh for God's sakes, do what is in your heart and do what is the reality of the situation. You have had deep analysis of your situation from others, but let me remind me, you know your truth. Go with your truth, that deep voice within that tells you whether something is right or wrong. I trust that deep intuition, I hope you do. Remember that people come from their own perspectives as do I, but in reality they don't know what in truth what you are enduring. Do only what is best for you, I am sure you will do what is best for her, a place where she is cared for. Let it go.
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I think there is some unaddressed issues here. Sometime people don't want to face up to what is really going on. Time for a heart to heart. Recommend in the presence of someone neutral like counselor. Did you discuss the option of moving or no job with your wife before taking the promotion? Was she all for it?
If so, think about what that says? And if you didn't discuss it with her, think about what that says.
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Hey Knotpc: ask yourself if your wife's behavior has changed in the last few years. Has she shown signs of depression, getting lost, car accidents, money mismanagement, forgetfulness, unprecedented stubbornness, increased or diminished sexual desire, or compulsive behaviors? Does she stay up instead of sleeping, or can't hold jobs? These are all partially or even all encompassing symptoms where physicians' routinely diagnose and treat for depression. These are symptoms a neurologist could test and diagnose as Frontotemporal Dementia. If so diagnosed you will need to have her declared incompetent by a judge so you can arrange for other family members to manage her dad's affairs. I watched my wife diminish over ten years until diagnosed in 2010 where by then she had lost the ability to find words, write, and eventually speak. I care for her at home. With her stress levels alone you should get her checked out. Other than that I certainly feel for your situation. God bless the three of you.
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Try to have some time apart . Maybe you both need a breather. You will be busy with new position. I wish my hubby had been given a choice instead of Adios to his career of 40 yrs. Financial security helps to be able to handle some of this stress.
Maybe once you are apart she will feel like changing locations of father's NH when you see how the set up is in your new city. GIve her some time alot to deal with. My husband just wants more time when I'm at home.( dealing with my mom's illness and going between two households.) And I just want to decompress and
collapse he wants to be intimate and have cuddly time he says. I don't even want to be touched just uncounscious and sleep . We have been married 38 years and he never wanted to be close so much but now he feels I need to be there for HIM.
Kind of like he needs my attention and I can only have so much energy. YOUR WIFE is DEALING WITH ALOT. Nothing is wrong with your marriage. She just can't be everything for everybody. ENJOY THE BREAK FROM THE CHAOS.
Spend your energy on your career. I'm sure that is what she wants for Both of You
so when this is done you both have your SANITY and $$ to enjoy your life together.
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Hope this works out and I believe that it can. Sounds as if your wife is caught between a rock and a hard place (loving father, not willing to abandon him when there is no one else to care for him or to monitor the care he is receiving in the nursing home). Also sounds as if you love your wife and her father; take the job, continue to support your wife's caring for her father. She probably would not do this if their was an acceptable loving alternative. Leaving the father alone to the mercy of the nursing home is probably an answer she is not willing to accept. Dad will not live forever. This may be the greatest or one of the greatest challenges you have to deal with in your marriage; stay strong, don't take the easy way out. You might be in the same position as her father one day. Who will care for you?
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