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My wife is primary care provider for her 88 y/o mother. we are a military family so my wife has essentially moved away to care for her mom. She has a sister that also lives away from town but much closer than we do. Our children are in college and I am coming off 13 years of deployment cycles that was very difficult. I finally landed a non-deploying job for the next 3-4 years and my wife and I were like newlyweds again and reconnected after enduring over a decade of deployments to Afghanistan, Iraq and other places. Her Dad passed away 12 years ago. Her Mom is by al accounts healthy but has mobility, pain and incontinence issues. She recently had major issues with her back and hips. She underwent major joint replacement surgery. My wife has essentially been living with her for the last year. She is able to come visit when her sister's schedule "allows". I have offered to have her move in with us. She has refused to leave the house that her husband built and continually resists any suggestion of bringing a professional into the picture, saying she does not want a stranger in her home, On my daughters last visit she told her she didn't need an outsider because she has my wife (her daughter). I understand the difficult situation this puts my wife in and I resisted my selfish desire to have her all to myself. I know this part of life and we have moral obligations as family. I love her Mom dearly and have a great relationship with her. However, with her overall health being good with the exception of pain and arthritis etc, this could easily go on for another 10 years. I am considering retirement from the military, though I do not want to. There are few jobs in her Mom's town for someone with my skill set. I would likely have to return overseas as a contractor injecting more separation and the stress that comes with constant risk to life and limb. We need to have the discussion, but every time I try to bring it up, I feel like she thinks I am giving her an ultimatum, so I terminate the discussion and simply try to be thankful for the little time I get with my wife (maybe a week every 2-3 months). I don't want this to be the thing that ruins our marriage. Any advice from others who have gone through similar long distance care scenarios is appreciated. I have a couple friends who have been through this in the past and it just seems there are no really good solutions.

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I may be missing something here. Is your wife unhappy with this situation? If she's not, then your marriage is in need of some professional help. If your wife is happy seeing you every couple of months, she may feel that this is the pattern that you have both had long term, given your deployments. You two need to sit down with a therapist and talk this out in a safe, non-accusatory place. Most of us feel as though a spouse's first loyalty needs to be to under-aged children and to spouse , then to elderly parents. Is this your wife's assumption?
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Maybe marriage counseling would wake your wife up. If my husband announced that we need to see a counselor, that would make me realize there was a problem.

I am not for codling a parent who has the ability to take care of herself. My sister died at age 70, doing that. I couldn't get her to walk away from Mother, although Mother had the means to do for herself. Your MIL may outlive your wife, at this point.
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I agree with the other comments - don't leave the military and work on getting your wife to understand her first obligation/priority is you and your marriage. It sounds like your wife hasn't made the mental transition from child to adult in her relationship with her mom. Is her sister the same, or does she understand that there are better options for mom than breaking up your marriage by having sister live with mom instead of you? If she gets it, maybe the two of you can work on your wife to see that her mom is being unreasonable.

Do you go to church? Maybe a pastor or close friend can talk to your wife about her priorities at this point in her life. Her mom is pretty danged selfish to expect her grown daughter to live with her full-time while leaving you high and dry. Even more so since she's in relatively good health. You have every right to feel the way you do. You sound like a wonderful man and your wife is lucky to have you. Too bad she doesn't see that. Good luck and keep us posted on how things go.
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Mom needs to be advised that her daughter's first responsibility is to her own family and because of their needs she will be moving back home at the end of the month. The two sister's need to make arrangements for Mom's care and you two need to enjoy your life together after all these years. Wife can visit every couple of months and call her Mom daily.

It's not always easy but there are many other options available other than your wife living away from home. It is all about Mom have good care and being safe and the elderly are not always the best judge of what that means. It certainly does not mean children are to disrupt their family and their lives just because Mom says so!
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ODA, your mother-in-law has made her choice not to move from her home, and made her choice not to have outside help, thus it is HER responsibility to live with those choices on her own.

I bet if you wife told her Mom that she was moving back home at the end of the month to be with her husband and children, that your Mother-in-Law would eventually reconsider either moving or hiring outside help. This has to be a win-win solution for everyone involved. It shouldn't be just a win for your Mother-in-law.

It would be a whole different story if your mother-in-law was seriously ill with limited time left.

And what ever you do, do not resign from your job. You would resent it for the rest of your life. You need to have enough funds so that your daughter doesn't wind up having to move from her future husband and kids to take care of both of you.
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ODA, you are right that there are really no good solutions when the loved one won't compromise. Many people as they become older become very focused on their own wants and needs, often ignoring the sacrifices that they demand of others. Adult children still see their parents as the boss, so will comply with the parent's wishes even when they are harmed personally. Marriages can break up and in some situations the adult children can end up in poverty trying to please the parent. That is a very high price to pay for a parent who doesn't want to move or accept outside help.

You sound like a wonderful husband who deserves having his family with him. You and your wife need to decide what you personally want to do, then set up a care plan for her mother. You won't be able to make her mother do things if she is still mentally competent to make her own decisions. However, you can influence the decision by not making it so easy for her to refuse to change at all. The MIL sounds like a good candidate for independent or assisted living in a senior community. Really, at the moment your MIL is in assisted living, but it is your wife who is her helper. That is not fair at all to your wife (and you) when other options are available.

I would say not to quit your job. Why would you want to give up everything so she won't have to move or make a change? I imagine you are going for 30 years, which will make your retirement so much better financially. Don't give that up. There are too many other options. It isn't easy. You may not be able to change your MIL, but you and your wife can make decisions for yourself about what you will and won't do. Good luck! I know what you're going through.
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