Originally Published: March 25, 2017 6 a.m.
Dear Annie: My husband and I have been arguing over his family. His mother is very controlling and causes a lot of problems. Her husband died about 25 years ago, and ever since then, she’s just stopped living.
She won’t go out of the house unless she has to go to the doctor, and she does nothing for herself. She is now 86 years old, and this has been going on for years. She had to have a knee replacement 17 years ago, and since then, my husband has done her grocery shopping. She is so stubborn she won’t allow anyone else to do things for her. My brother-in-law “Thomas” lives next door to her, but he is in very bad health and can barely take care of himself. Thomas is the eldest sibling and refuses to put her in a nursing home.
To complicate things, she doesn’t get out of bed until 1 in the afternoon. My husband’s work schedule has changed, and he now works only on weekends. Since his schedule change, he has gone to the store every Wednesday after 1 p.m. No matter what our plans are, he makes that a priority. We have been working on our house — painting, etc. We have argued over this so much. I get angry because he gets nothing done in our home. I have done everything, even threatening to divorce him. He will not stop doing it. I am fed up.
Two of the other siblings live out of state, but three live in the area, yet my husband is the only one who does anything for her. None of his siblings will go against Thomas and his insistence on not putting her in a nursing home. She would be so much better off to be where she could be cared for properly. No one visits her because they are so disgusted with her. I am at my wits’ end. It’s terrible, but I wish she would just go. She has nothing to do with her kids, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I didn’t come into this family until after the passing of my husband’s father, so I don’t know what she was like before. I have nothing but resentment toward her and Thomas. What can I do? — Frustrated
Dear Frustrated: That which we resist persists. You might get better results if you gave up on forcing the situation. Try to be more understanding about your husband’s reluctance to abandon his mother. Though she sounds very difficult, she is still his mom, and she raised him into the man whom you married. I’ll bet that his loyalty and tenderness toward his mother are partly what attracted you to him in the first place.
At the same time, that doesn’t mean you must silently resign yourself to the status quo. Communicate with him that you would like to spend more one-on-one time with him, or work together to make a schedule of things you can both do around the house so there’s no resentment. You’ll get better results in the long run if you speak from a place of love, emphasizing your own personal perspective rather than making accusations and focusing on what he’s doing wrong.
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