Unwanted Mother-in-Law

Posted on: 21 January 2008 by

John thinks his wife has put her mothers’ needs above his and now it’s threatening their marriage.

John Writes:

My wife and I are at each others throats, because her mother-in-law moved in.

She had to move from her rented property, because the owner was selling. She has applied for low cost living apartments for the elderly, but she has to wait for an apartment to become available.

I told my wife very firmly that I didn’t want her mother moving in with us, but she ignored me totally and moved her in. The fact she ignored me completely and didn’t take any account of my wishes has made me very angry.  

She says I’m selfish and have no feelings.  It seems that my feelings don’t matter and I am unimportant in her life.  I refuse to treat my mother-in-law with respect, now.  If I do, she may stay longer.  My wife has three sisters none of them offered to have their mother live with them.   Their excuse is that their lives are much busier than ours.  They have important jobs and we don’t matter.

Please, help me before I do something dumb, like leaving my wife.  She has said our marriage can't last like this.  Please help.

Andy Advises:

Obviously you can’t live like this, but you can’t put the old lady out on the streets, either. It wasn’t fair of your wife to move her mother into your home without your agreement, but then she couldn’t see her mother put out onto the street either, could she? You must realise the dilemma she was facing. I don’t think you are doing yourself any good in either your wife’s eyes, or your mother-in-laws, by being rude to your mother-in-law, just so that she won‘t want to stay. That‘s really childish behaviour, even in these circumstances. So, here’s my four point action plan and I hope it helps you.

1. You need to tell your wife that as much as you love her, you are absolutely not prepared to have her mother living in your home long term and that she needs to start making other arrangements.

2. Suggest that she should speak to her sisters as this is their problem as much as hers, no matter how important they think they are or how busy they believe their lives to be. You could call them yourself and tell them that they HAVE to share responsibility for THEIR mother, or they might find themselves with additional responsibilities not only towards their mother, but towards their sister who might end up as your ex-wife if things carry on as they are. If they are not prepared to have their mother living with them, even temporarily, then perhaps they could help with the hunt for affordable sheltered low rent housing for her or if they are so well off, they might pay towards finding her independent rented accommodation until things can be sorted out.

3. Suggest to your wife that she should involve the family doctor (both yours and your mother-in-laws). She should also ring Social Services and ask for their help in finding your mother-in-law somewhere else to live.

4. Contact one of the major agencies such as Help the Aged. You will find them at http://www.helptheaged.org.uk/default.htm or Age Concern. These people are experts at advising on family problems such as yours. Age Concern produce a special leaflet on ways of finding affordable rented housing. Why not look at the document on their Website. You will find it at http://www.ageconcern.org.uk/AgeConcern/Documents/FS8_0505.pdf

Age Concern’s general Website is very useful concerning problems facing the elderly, and includes guidance on all entitlements and benefits for the over-60’s.  It may well be worth giving them a call. Visit their main Website http://www.ageconcern.org.uk/ for easy ways to find your local branch. And that’s just Age Concern England. Age Concern has similar set ups all over the world.

Good luck.

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