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My wife recently became a stay at home mom. It has not been a transition that has come easy to her. Going from a career woman to staying at home with our 2 small children has taken some getting used to for both of us. Her father's health has steadily declined over the years with multiple heart attacks and recently he has had to have 1 of possibly many surgeries to correct an intestinal issue. My wife is currently with him in Florida and we live in Pennsylvania, which means a flight both ways or a 15-17 hr Drive. She is already planning on going back down next week and for each follow up procedure in the future. I am trying to be understanding and supportive, but I also do not want her to neglect her responsibilities at home. We have limited to no options for childcare, which means if she is not here- I need to be. We cannot afford for me to not be at work week after week, so my question is when is it ok to say enough is enough? I would never want to tell her "no, you can't fly to Florida to be with your Dad", especially if something happened to him. My wife and her siblings get obviously offended when I mention preparing for the worst or offer solutions (maybe dad needs to move back to PA where people can easily support him instead of living in Florida by himself), but I feel like I see things a bit more clearly. Maybe I'm just venting here, but I do not want this situation turning into a bigger one with our family and our home.

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Thanks to both you and your wife for your service! That adds a whole new level of stress to the situation.

Would your wife possibly take a look at some of the very sad threads here, tales of adult children trying to get their parents to love them?
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I guess I should have chosen my words more carefully. We are both currently in the military and my wife has decided to stay home due to some issues within her career field (harassment). Before this decision was made, she was very torn about continuing a career that she had put 15 years into and staying home with her children. When the issues arised, her decision was pretty much made up. I supported that decision, but admittedly have my own expectations if she is going to stay home. I'm not talking 1930s here folks, just expectations now that she can actually directly care for our kids. I travel (deploy) quite frequently and to be honest, my wife staying home alleviates many stressors involved with 2 people working full time.

Enough is enough is not my approach at all. Just want to get others' perspective. My father-in-law moved away many years ago when my wife was in grade school and I think she has always been looking for that bond with her father she may have never been able to have due to the distance. I'm not going to attempt to psychoanalize the situation, but yes my wife feels she needs to be there at the first sign of trouble. Even the current procedure has to be extended over several procedures due to the weakness of his heart. Another frustrating aspect of this situation is that the doctors said he has ignored this issue (diverticulitis) for several months and this could have easily been treated earlier, but now it is extremely serious.

Update- first surgery was successful, but he will need to be cleared by cardiologist before proceeding in the coming months.

I appreciate everyone's responses. It was more than I expected. I will tread very lightly in this situation for sure. I just wanted to gain some perspective on an appropriate approach to this. This may be an ongoing situation or it may be spread out over the next year. Time will tell. Thanks again and god bless!
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I think Barb is right. Counseling is certainly a good option. But you need help now. 40 years ago, I couldn’t wait to quit my job and have kids. But it’s not that way anymore. It truly sounds like your wife has bigger issues than being there for Dad. Was it her idea to quit and have children? Before the kids came along, did she often spend long hours at work instead of at home? While he’s in the hospital, he’s being taken care of by doctors and nurses. There is nothing for her to do. Is his condition so unstable that she feels she must be there holding vigil?

Try speaking with her, but not with an “enough is enough” attitude. Calmly explain what you’ve told us. Don’t forbid her to go see Dad, but construct a reasonable schedule. Good luck and keep us updated.
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I agree with Barb, it isn't useful to talk to her in terms of "enough." I would also avoid language like "neglecting her responsibilities at home." Rather, talk to her about what you see working and not working for your family unit, meaning you and her and your children, while affirming that you want to be supportive of her bonds with her family of origin. And explore with her how she sees this playing out over the longer term.

Is she thinking that her father is fixing to die and she needs to spend every possible moment with him while she has him? Is she thinking he's going to get well and live independently for decades more and that this is just a little blip on the radar? You clearly see a progressive decline in his situation - are your wife and her siblings not viewing it the same way? Is she worried about putting too much of the burden on her siblings when she has a free schedule and a supportive spouse to take care of her children?

There are many possible reasons behind her apparent need to be present for each of her father's procedures and her unwillingness to discuss moving him back up north to be closer to family. Yet, she can't be unaware of the strain her absence is causing for you and the children and the family finances. I think you need to explore this together and look for ways that her father's needs can be addressed without putting such a strain on your family.
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I don't framing it as "enough " is useful. What might work better is framing this as a larger issue, which it is: how is your family going to survive financially if the only breadwinner can't work steadily due to her being out of town on family business?

I'm curious how you two came to the decision for her to give up her job and if there is some lingering resentment over that?

Is your wife's presence really needed there for each event, o does she come from the kind of family that thinks if you don't show up for every procedure, it means you don't care?

Can she take the children with her?

This is a bigger issue than just her dad being ill.
You may want to bring in a professional counselor to help you both sort this out.
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I think that speaking your mind is good thing, but, apparently not many people think that way, as a lot of people swallow their feelings and let things go unsaid. You can be sensitive about it, but, it is your family, children, wife and home, right? Does your wife know that there are professionals you can hire that go into the home of the senior every week, day or whatever you want and check on the senior. They check the fridge, chat and even take vitals to make sure they are okay. It's not as expensive as you might think. Plus, dad can pay for it.

Do you think that your wife doesn't want to stay at home? Maybe, if she got a job, she wouldn't be free to leave so often to go to FL. Just saying. I think you are entirely reasonable on this concern. Plus, with phone calls and video chat....why the need to travel so much?
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I’m in a similar situation except I’m the husband who has to make 12 hour drives to deal with my aging parents. Fortunately I’m retired so I can make the trip as needed.

I know as things get worse, my folks go into care, mom has a bad fall etc, I’ll have to spend some time there but I’m not going to run myself ragged. They will get in home help or go into care. They have the money for either. They will never agree to move here and I’m not moving there.

We should not be expected to sacrifice our marriages and families due to elder care. Your wife needs to start looking at the long game and enlist some local help or move Dad to PA.

Either way she should not make this a full time job at her age with a husband and small children.

I see some serious and difficult discussion for you and your wife coming up soon. You mention siblings. Are they pitching in?
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