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How to deal with attached mother in law

JohnDoe17351JohnDoe17351
Name Dropper First Comment
member
edited March 2016 in Family Matters

Hello everyone,
I am writing on here in hopes that I can get some feedback on how to deal with a tricky subject.  I've bolded and colored red my actual questions or concerns I'd like feedback on.  

My wife and I have been together for 10-11 years (married for 6 months).  She is extremely close with her parents - particularly her mother.  I've seen a lot of evidence that suggests this may cause some serious strain in our relationship down the road as it already has caused a few arguments when the subject comes up now.  Here is some history about our relationship which pertains to my concerns:

We started dating towards the end of high school.  Her parent's refused to acknowledge me for the first couple years.  She is their only child.  After high school, my wife continued living with her parents all the way through the end of college.  She was actually interested in going away for college, but her mother sort of manipulated her into staying at home by saying "We can pay for your college if you stay here, but we can't (or won't) if you leave."  My MIL might claim that this was a miscommunication after the fact (English is her second language) stating that it is because they couldn't afford to pay for her to go out of state with the added expenses of boarding and such.  Though I understood that, I knew in my gut the entire reason behind that was to keep her daughter near her.  

I moved into my own apartment a couple months after graduating high school, worked, saved up money, and went to film school, then graduated, and spent a year living with friends afterwards.  By this time, we had been dating for 5-6 years.  I was considering proposing to her.  I wanted us to live together first though.  Moving out of her parent's house was a bit of an ordeal.  She'd never lived away from them at the age of 24, but eventually they came to accept this realty although I could tell it made them sad.  After a few months living together, I began asking more seriously if my wife (girlfriend at the time) was absolutely willing to move to Los Angeles (which was over 2,000 miles away. We lived in the midwest) mostly because my line of work would pretty much require it if I wanted to have the career I went to school for.  She was torn because of her parents, but agreed that she'd come out to LA as it would be good for her career as well.  The only issue was she wasn't very secure in moving across the country with just a boyfriend.  

Shortly after this, I got her parent's blessing to ask her to marry me.  After we became engaged, we figured we'd hold off on the wedding until our future residence was more certain.  About 6 months later, I got a job transfer to Los Angeles where I could more easily pursue my career.  She went back and lived with her parent's while I moved out to become established and help pave an easier path for my wife (finace at the time) to move in with me.  During this transition, my wife's father was looking for a new job since he was laid off from the automotive industry.  Her mother never really worked before.  Much to my surprise, my wife's father got a temp job 1 county away from Los Angeles.  Though I was never there for any of the conversations during his extensive job hunt, I'm sure that was no coincident. But hey! I wasn't moving to LA to get away from anyone. So I thought that's great. They'll be not even a few hours away from us. So like me, my father in-law packed up and moved out this way not long after I did.  My wife and MIL stayed because my wife's grandmother was very sick and she could not be transferred from her nursing home out of state.

A few months later I was coming back to the midwest to visit for the holidays.  Things were not very financially stable yet for my father in-law since he was providing for himself in California, and his wife and daughter back home in the midwest, but he too wanted to come back home for the holidays to be with everyone.  So despite money being very tight, he got himself a ticket to come back to the midwest for the holidays.  My MIL got so upset over this "pointless" money spending, she FORCED him to get a refund on the tickets and told him just to stay in California by himself for the holidays.  So I arrived back home on Christmas Eve and have my wife and MIL come to my parent's home.  Somehow with money being tight, my MIL managed to spend more on gifts (including an expensive bike) for me and for my wife than the cost of a round trip plane ticket from California for her husband.  This made me furious.  The man literally drove across the country alone so that his wife could be near their daughter once she moves there.  He made some extraordinary sacrifices, but was denied permission to be with his family on the holidays because that money in her eye was better spent on gifts.  To this day it makes my blood boil.  I would NEVER tolerate behavior like that.  It made me believe that my MIL was only interested in what makes HER happy, which is being with her daughter and spoiling her however she can.  No regard for how her husband feels.

About 4 months later, my wife got her job transfer to Los Angeles.  After my wife's grandmother passed away, my MIL came out to California as well.  Fast forward around 2 years and my wife and I are married.  

Things are good, but I have my concerns about my MIL.  She is very stubborn and spoils us when ever she can with gifts and all kinds of stuff we don't want or need. It got to a point where I actually asked if they'd stop bringing so much stuff over.  Every time they'd visit it was like 3 trips up the stairs of groceries and gifts.

We see the in laws every few weekends.  Sometimes I'm not really in the mood to go out and spend the whole day or weekend with them even though my wife already made plans to do that.  Anytime I suggest that maybe I'd go out and catch up with friends or do something else, my wife gets mad at me.  I always make sure to greet them and perhaps get breakfast or lunch with them, but I figure it's ok for me to spend my day off doing something else for some of their visits, but I'm looked at as being anti-social or rude for this.  Her parents are very generous and caring, but to be honest, I'm not completely myself around them.  There's not much common ground between us and I have a completely different sense of humor.  So our conversations are usually limited to small talk type of stuff, which bores me to tears. Thankfully though - they're not strict and they are very open people.

Sometimes we will go out and visit them.  They rent an apartment with a spare bedroom just for this reason.  I often try to make our visits on a Sunday since we work Monday-Friday because I'd rather not spend the entire weekend there, which always becomes a suggestion if we go on a Saturday.  My wife rarely ever drives out there on her own mostly because her mother hates to have her drive on her own.  My dilemma is not knowing how to politely communicate that I'd like to be able to make plans to do something other than spend the day with the in-laws without being considered "rude" or "unappreciative," to my wife.  I don't always have an excuse for why I can't hang around all day other than the fact that I just might not want to all day.
There are other reasons I am deciding to post this now and not years ago. 

1: My FIL is not in the best shape of his life.  He's got bad knees, is getting older, and has a few other health issues.  I'm sure their previous financial struggles has made his ability to retire anytime soon very difficult.  If his health somehow or another prevented him from being able to provide for my MIL, I wonder what would happen.  If the day is to come where my FIL wasn't around anymore, my MIL has never tried to do any kind of work. She's not educated or skilled in any field to get work except maybe cutting hair?  I fear that my wife would expect me to welcome the idea of us living with her or even both of them if some circumstances created that scenario.  We are likely buying a house in the next year or 2.  And as far as I'm concerned, my door is always open to friends and family that need help getting on their feet or whatever, but not as a permanent solution.  I'm not sure if my wife will agree there.

2: I have parents back in the midwest still.  My mother is going through a separation right now with my stepdad.  Her mother (my grandmother) was just diagnosed with terminal cancer.  And my mother, myself, and older brother are struggling to cope with the loss of my younger brother who died unexpectedly 2 years ago in Northern California.  My older brother has decided to move back to the midwest from Portland - partially to be with my mother and partially because he was already considering it anyway since his career isn't bound by a pricey city.  I mentioned the news to my MIL that my brother was moving back and she PANICKED! She immediately started addressing her concerns to my wife asking if we were going to move back too - nearly begging us that we will not do that to which my wife reassured her, we are not.  I have no intentions on moving back to the midwest, but hearing this made me feel as though I have to be concerned with the anxiety that my MIL has when she is away from my wife before we could consider moving anywhere outside of driving distance from where they are now.

Sorry for the extremely long rant, but I believe all of this information is important to my concerns.  Please give me your feedback and tell me what you think. I have a hard time thinking of how to approach these concerns to my wife since we've already had disagreements about weather or not I need to spend the same amount of time she does with them.

Re: How to deal with attached mother in law

  • Hello everyone,
    I am writing on here in hopes that I can get some feedback on how to deal with a tricky subject.  I've bolded and colored red my actual questions or concerns I'd like feedback on.  

    My wife and I have been together for 10-11 years (married for 6 months).  She is extremely close with her parents - particularly her mother.  I've seen a lot of evidence that suggests this may cause some serious strain in our relationship down the road as it already has caused a few arguments when the subject comes up now.  Here is some history about our relationship which pertains to my concerns:

    We started dating towards the end of high school.  Her parent's refused to acknowledge me for the first couple years.  She is their only child.  After high school, my wife continued living with her parents all the way through the end of college.  She was actually interested in going away for college, but her mother sort of manipulated her into staying at home by saying "We can pay for your college if you stay here, but we can't (or won't) if you leave."  My MIL might claim that this was a miscommunication after the fact (English is her second language) stating that it is because they couldn't afford to pay for her to go out of state with the added expenses of boarding and such.  Though I understood that, I knew in my gut the entire reason behind that was to keep her daughter near her.  

    I moved into my own apartment a couple months after graduating high school, worked, saved up money, and went to film school, then graduated, and spent a year living with friends afterwards.  By this time, we had been dating for 5-6 years.  I was considering proposing to her.  I wanted us to live together first though.  Moving out of her parent's house was a bit of an ordeal.  She'd never lived away from them at the age of 24, but eventually they came to accept this realty although I could tell it made them sad.  After a few months living together, I began asking more seriously if my wife (girlfriend at the time) was absolutely willing to move to Los Angeles (which was over 2,000 miles away. We lived in the midwest) mostly because my line of work would pretty much require it if I wanted to have the career I went to school for.  She was torn because of her parents, but agreed that she'd come out to LA as it would be good for her career as well.  The only issue was she wasn't very secure in moving across the country with just a boyfriend.  

    Shortly after this, I got her parent's blessing to ask her to marry me.  After we became engaged, we figured we'd hold off on the wedding until our future residence was more certain.  About 6 months later, I got a job transfer to Los Angeles where I could more easily pursue my career.  She went back and lived with her parent's while I moved out to become established and help pave an easier path for my wife (finace at the time) to move in with me.  During this transition, my wife's father was looking for a new job since he was laid off from the automotive industry.  Her mother never really worked before.  Much to my surprise, my wife's father got a temp job 1 county away from Los Angeles.  Though I was never there for any of the conversations during his extensive job hunt, I'm sure that was no coincident. But hey! I wasn't moving to LA to get away from anyone. So I thought that's great. They'll be not even a few hours away from us. So like me, my father in-law packed up and moved out this way not long after I did.  My wife and MIL stayed because my wife's grandmother was very sick and she could not be transferred from her nursing home out of state.

    A few months later I was coming back to the midwest to visit for the holidays.  Things were not very financially stable yet for my father in-law since he was providing for himself in California, and his wife and daughter back home in the midwest, but he too wanted to come back home for the holidays to be with everyone.  So despite money being very tight, he got himself a ticket to come back to the midwest for the holidays.  My MIL got so upset over this "pointless" money spending, she FORCED him to get a refund on the tickets and told him just to stay in California by himself for the holidays.  So I arrived back home on Christmas Eve and have my wife and MIL come to my parent's home.  Somehow with money being tight, my MIL managed to spend more on gifts (including an expensive bike) for me and for my wife than the cost of a round trip plane ticket from California for her husband.  This made me furious.  The man literally drove across the country alone so that his wife could be near their daughter once she moves there.  He made some extraordinary sacrifices, but was denied permission to be with his family on the holidays because that money in her eye was better spent on gifts.  To this day it makes my blood boil.  I would NEVER tolerate behavior like that.  It made me believe that my MIL was only interested in what makes HER happy, which is being with her daughter and spoiling her however she can.  No regard for how her husband feels.

    About 4 months later, my wife got her job transfer to Los Angeles.  After my wife's grandmother passed away, my MIL came out to California as well.  Fast forward around 2 years and my wife and I are married.  

    Things are good, but I have my concerns about my MIL.  She is very stubborn and spoils us when ever she can with gifts and all kinds of stuff we don't want or need. It got to a point where I actually asked if they'd stop bringing so much stuff over.  Every time they'd visit it was like 3 trips up the stairs of groceries and gifts.

    We see the in laws every few weekends.  Sometimes I'm not really in the mood to go out and spend the whole day or weekend with them even though my wife already made plans to do that.  Anytime I suggest that maybe I'd go out and catch up with friends or do something else, my wife gets mad at me.  I always make sure to greet them and perhaps get breakfast or lunch with them, but I figure it's ok for me to spend my day off doing something else for some of their visits, but I'm looked at as being anti-social or rude for this.  Her parents are very generous and caring, but to be honest, I'm not completely myself around them.  There's not much common ground between us and I have a completely different sense of humor.  So our conversations are usually limited to small talk type of stuff, which bores me to tears. Thankfully though - they're not strict and they are very open people.

    Sometimes we will go out and visit them.  They rent an apartment with a spare bedroom just for this reason.  I often try to make our visits on a Sunday since we work Monday-Friday because I'd rather not spend the entire weekend there, which always becomes a suggestion if we go on a Saturday.  My wife rarely ever drives out there on her own mostly because her mother hates to have her drive on her own.  My dilemma is not knowing how to politely communicate that I'd like to be able to make plans to do something other than spend the day with the in-laws without being considered "rude" or "unappreciative," to my wife.  I don't always have an excuse for why I can't hang around all day other than the fact that I just might not want to all day.
    There are other reasons I am deciding to post this now and not years ago. 

    1: My FIL is not in the best shape of his life.  He's got bad knees, is getting older, and has a few other health issues.  I'm sure their previous financial struggles has made his ability to retire anytime soon very difficult.  If his health somehow or another prevented him from being able to provide for my MIL, I wonder what would happen.  If the day is to come where my FIL wasn't around anymore, my MIL has never tried to do any kind of work. She's not educated or skilled in any field to get work except maybe cutting hair?  I fear that my wife would expect me to welcome the idea of us living with her or even both of them if some circumstances created that scenario.  We are likely buying a house in the next year or 2.  And as far as I'm concerned, my door is always open to friends and family that need help getting on their feet or whatever, but not as a permanent solution.  I'm not sure if my wife will agree there.

    2: I have parents back in the midwest still.  My mother is going through a separation right now with my stepdad.  Her mother (my grandmother) was just diagnosed with terminal cancer.  And my mother, myself, and older brother are struggling to cope with the loss of my younger brother who died unexpectedly 2 years ago in Northern California.  My older brother has decided to move back to the midwest from Portland - partially to be with my mother and partially because he was already considering it anyway since his career isn't bound by a pricey city.  I mentioned the news to my MIL that my brother was moving back and she PANICKED! She immediately started addressing her concerns to my wife asking if we were going to move back too - nearly begging us that we will not do that to which my wife reassured her, we are not.  I have no intentions on moving back to the midwest, but hearing this made me feel as though I have to be concerned with the anxiety that my MIL has when she is away from my wife before we could consider moving anywhere outside of driving distance from where they are now.

    Sorry for the extremely long rant, but I believe all of this information is important to my concerns.  Please give me your feedback and tell me what you think. I have a hard time thinking of how to approach these concerns to my wife since we've already had disagreements about weather or not I need to spend the same amount of time she does with them.

    Your wife needs to cut the apron strings.

    She also has to understand that you and she are now THE FAMILY and a family unto you and her.

    She also needs to stand with you; if she cannot make it to see the parents that day, neither can you. If you cannot and she can, you cannot see the parents. It is all or nothing at all.

    Nip this in the bud now --- get counseling. She can learn to stand up to her parents and cut the apron strings with a counselor's health....

    And you and she need to work as a team and to be in the same ballpark with all of your decisions. They need to be joint decisions and like I said: an all or nothing at all.

    Tell the parents: "Sorry but we cannot make it that day; we have prior plans." If they do not like that, let them go and pout.
  • What kind of relationship does your wife really want with her parents? You seem to imply that you both are trying hard to appease them. You make it clear that you want more space and freedom from revolving your life decisions around them-but you aren't clear what your wife wants. Would she want her mom living with you both if she is sick? Does she really want to go see her parents all of the time? You should be able to be very honest with eachother, and if you can't be, then you should definitely pursue counseling.

    I am very close with my mother. She is my best friend. Occasionally, as all moms do, she does get a little bit needy, and then I need to draw the line in the sand. DH embraces my relationship with my mom because he knows that spending time with her makes me happy. Is this how your wife feels about spending time with her mom? Still, it isn't fair of her to expect you to drop everything anytime that she wants to see your parents. You should be able to plan your days off in ways that make you happy too.

  • Thanks, @mkjacobsma. My wife's relationship with her parents is very close. 
    • My wife loves seeing them.  Every 2 or 3 weekends is ideal for her, but a bit much for me.
    • My wife wants me to be more on board with going out with them when they do come in town. She wants me to engage a little bit more in conversations and join them for when they are here.
    • She doesn't want her parents living with her, but I'm fairly certain she would allow it and expect me to be ok with it if her mother was alone since she wouldn't have a way to support herself. Her concern for her mother's loneliness would probably trump her concern for what I'd want because I think she'd see me as selfish. My wife would probably ultimately say it is what she wants given whatever circumstance would arise. How does one compromise something like that?
    • She doesn't want to see them ALL THE TIME. But every couple weekends becomes like a major percentage of my free time. I think she sees her parents more than any friends we have and we have a lot of friends - we are also quite young (late 20's).
    • We are very honest with each other.  My expressing my desire to do my own thing has either come out wrong or just makes her think I'm rude.  If anything I've been TOO honest.
    • Yes. My wife also loves spending time with her and it does make her happy just like you.  My main concern is how to politely say, "I'd rather go out and do something else this afternoon after greeting them." or whatever.



  • Thanks, @mkjacobsma. My wife's relationship with her parents is very close. 
    • My wife loves seeing them.  Every 2 or 3 weekends is ideal for her, but a bit much for me.
    • My wife wants me to be more on board with going out with them when they do come in town. She wants me to engage a little bit more in conversations and join them for when they are here.
    • She doesn't want her parents living with her, but I'm fairly certain she would allow it and expect me to be ok with it if her mother was alone since she wouldn't have a way to support herself. Her concern for her mother's loneliness would probably trump her concern for what I'd want because I think she'd see me as selfish. My wife would probably ultimately say it is what she wants given whatever circumstance would arise. How does one compromise something like that?
    • She doesn't want to see them ALL THE TIME. But every couple weekends becomes like a major percentage of my free time. I think she sees her parents more than any friends we have and we have a lot of friends - we are also quite young (late 20's).
    • We are very honest with each other.  My expressing my desire to do my own thing has either come out wrong or just makes her think I'm rude.  If anything I've been TOO honest.
    • Yes. My wife also loves spending time with her and it does make her happy just like you.  My main concern is how to politely say, "I'd rather go out and do something else this afternoon after greeting them." or whatever.


    If she sees them every 2-3 weeks, then you can say that you will be available for a set amount of time during their visits. Then, you want to do other stuff. Also, maybe you need to actually make plans the two of you and/or with other people weeks in advance so there is no conflict the day-of or the weekend-of. This will only get more difficult to navigate if/when you two have kids.

    You say, "Spending time with you alone is important to me because we need to keep up a good marriage. Also, spending time with people we know is important to me too because I value those relationships."

    Here's the thing though. If the weekend comes and you have made no plans with her or with someone else and you wake up on Saturday morning and say, "Sooooooo what do you want to do today?" And she says, "Well, I want to hang with my parents," I don't think it's fair for you to get upset. If no plans were set ahead of time and no planning was done prior, then she should absolutely have the liberty to be with them.


  • Thanks, @mkjacobsma. My wife's relationship with her parents is very close. 
    • My wife loves seeing them.  Every 2 or 3 weekends is ideal for her, but a bit much for me.
    • My wife wants me to be more on board with going out with them when they do come in town. She wants me to engage a little bit more in conversations and join them for when they are here.
    • She doesn't want her parents living with her, but I'm fairly certain she would allow it and expect me to be ok with it if her mother was alone since she wouldn't have a way to support herself. Her concern for her mother's loneliness would probably trump her concern for what I'd want because I think she'd see me as selfish. My wife would probably ultimately say it is what she wants given whatever circumstance would arise. How does one compromise something like that?
    • She doesn't want to see them ALL THE TIME. But every couple weekends becomes like a major percentage of my free time. I think she sees her parents more than any friends we have and we have a lot of friends - we are also quite young (late 20's).
    • We are very honest with each other.  My expressing my desire to do my own thing has either come out wrong or just makes her think I'm rude.  If anything I've been TOO honest.
    • Yes. My wife also loves spending time with her and it does make her happy just like you.  My main concern is how to politely say, "I'd rather go out and do something else this afternoon after greeting them." or whatever.



    Well I also think this the bolded is really all you can do right now. Like @MommyLiberty said-you need to make plans. DH isn't a planner either and I too would be upset if he had no plans and just didn't want to do what I did make plans for. I think you need to have a real honest conversation with you wife about how you want to work on  your relationships with your friends as well. Hopefully she understands.

    As for everything else-I wouldn't worry too much about your MIL having to live with you for a while. At the end of the day, if something happened to my dad and my mom was unable to support herself, I would hope my DH would be able to let her live with us. She's my mom and she took care of me both financially and personally for 20 years.

  • Thanks @MommyLiberty5013.
    Part of the difficulty in just making plans way ahead of time is just that.  It seems a bit nuts to try and think of plans for my friends and I to do in 2 or 3 weekends away just to have a plan when the in-laws are going to be here.  I feel as though it'd be easier if my wife could just understand and accept that I do not always need to be around for the entire duration they are visiting.

    If I've made no plans and the weekend comes and I ask my wife we she wants to do, it's not very often that her she'll decide to hang out with her parents.  They usually plan their visits at least a week or more ahead of time.  And even if she did say she wants to do that the day of, I believe she can plan to do anything she'd like.  But why on earth should it be automatic that I will want to do the same? I've never once said she couldn't spend time with her parents anytime she wants to.  I just prefer to do it less than she does. My ideal weekend is to do things more adventurous and exciting with like minded people than just relaxing with in-laws.  So yeah - again, the problem isn't that I want US to not see them as often.  I want my wife to be okay with me not being around the entire time & every time they want to see each other.  That's not how it worked with my parent's so why would anyone expect that's how it should work for me and my in-laws?
  • @nkjacobsma, thank you.

    As for everything else-I wouldn't worry too much about your MIL having to live with you for a while. At the end of the day, if something happened to my dad and my mom was unable to support herself, I would hope my DH would be able to let her live with us. She's my mom and she took care of me both financially and personally for 20 years. 

    It's not something that I foresee happening anytime very soon, but it's not how I want my life to be if it does happen.  Her mother is extremely involved in everything.  So I know if we were living together it would be this battle of trying politely say we all don't need to go out and hang out every day and I'd like us to have our own alone time in our own house.  This is the reason I shared the story about the "going away to college" ordeal.  She's extremely clingy in that sense and I would feel sort of trapped in my own place if my MIL were living with us.  When we stay over their place, she is with us 100% of the time.  If someone needs to go to the store for something, the FIL goes or goes with me.  He'll go to sleep around 9:30 - 10:00pm but the MIL will stay up til 3:00am with us if we are still up.  She doesn't really make friends with anyone or do anything socially or explore any passion.  It seems her only true interest or passion is being a mother.  She has never taken a vacation with just her husband since they had my wife.  She also is capable of working and providing, but she just doesn't. She's been a house-wife & mother for 30 years, but her one daughter has been grown for the last 10 years.  Even in the midst of their financial struggles, she did nothing to try and help financially when their house was foreclosed mostly because I don't think she wants to try to work.

    I would certainly do what I could to help with housing TEMPORARILY if it came down to it, or possibly financially if we were able to, but to inherit parents or a parent as roomate(s) is not something I would enjoy.  I married my wife. Not my wife and her mother.

    This article is one I relate to, except my MIL isn't some monstrous person described here.  I just see a lot of similarities in how the writer describes their situation:
  • @nkjacobsma, thank you.

    As for everything else-I wouldn't worry too much about your MIL having to live with you for a while. At the end of the day, if something happened to my dad and my mom was unable to support herself, I would hope my DH would be able to let her live with us. She's my mom and she took care of me both financially and personally for 20 years. 

    It's not something that I foresee happening anytime very soon, but it's not how I want my life to be if it does happen.  Her mother is extremely involved in everything.  So I know if we were living together it would be this battle of trying politely say we all don't need to go out and hang out every day and I'd like us to have our own alone time in our own house.  This is the reason I shared the story about the "going away to college" ordeal.  She's extremely clingy in that sense and I would feel sort of trapped in my own place if my MIL were living with us.  When we stay over their place, she is with us 100% of the time.  If someone needs to go to the store for something, the FIL goes or goes with me.  He'll go to sleep around 9:30 - 10:00pm but the MIL will stay up til 3:00am with us if we are still up.  She doesn't really make friends with anyone or do anything socially or explore any passion.  It seems her only true interest or passion is being a mother.  She has never taken a vacation with just her husband since they had my wife.  She also is capable of working and providing, but she just doesn't. She's been a house-wife & mother for 30 years, but her one daughter has been grown for the last 10 years.  Even in the midst of their financial struggles, she did nothing to try and help financially when their house was foreclosed mostly because I don't think she wants to try to work.

    I would certainly do what I could to help with housing TEMPORARILY if it came down to it, or possibly financially if we were able to, but to inherit parents or a parent as roomate(s) is not something I would enjoy.  I married my wife. Not my wife and her mother.

    This article is one I relate to, except my MIL isn't some monstrous person described here.  I just see a lot of similarities in how the writer describes their situation:
    Bolded. I hear you, but you knew all this about your wife's parents BEFORE you married her. And, when people get married, they do really end up marrying the families as well.

    It seems like she is a nice woman, but like you said, she is clingy.

    Why don't you try to be in the driver's seat more with the spending time with them? You work harder to set the times to hang with them and plan it out. Then, once those things are planned, ideally you won't be roped into being with them as much because you will have fulfilled your "obligation" as a son-in-law. Then, you fill in the schedule with dates between you and your wife and outings with the friends.
    short+sassy
  • True @MommyLiberty5013 - I did know my wife's parents before I married her.  But we also got engaged knowing we were going to move out of state... To live OUR life.  However, I can't say I am completely shocked they moved out this way too.  But this concept of me being there every time they hangout is relatively new.  Basically since we got married.  My work schedule prior to my wedding had me frequently working on the weekends or at least on call - so many of their visits I couldn't or wouldn't join because I had to be ready to drop whatever I was doing to head an hour away to work.  This has since changed and I more or less work the same exact schedule as my wife.

    I think in time, my wife will understand that it isn't totally necessary that I participate in all of their hangouts.  I just wish it didn't put her in a strange position to have to explain to my MIL that it's not because I don't like them that I'm not there every time they go out, but rather I have other things I'd like to do by myself or with some that are more like-minded as myself. And not all the time. Just some of the times.  I don't want to feel guilty for choosing to do something exciting or fun for me for a little while during some of their hangouts instead of aimless shopping at the Grove or some mall, making small talk about something I quite honestly could not care less about.

    Guess I'm confused by your driver's seat suggestion.  You mean to say if I give more effort and show enthusiasm for the times that we do hang out, that should fulfill my "obligation."  Thus making it more acceptable that I don't join them in all of their visits?

    Still feel like it practically needs to be spelled out to everyone that it is totally ok to not be there during there visits for the entire day all the time.  I imagine they'd still question why I can't join every other time they visit even if I try your suggestion.  They're visiting to see their daughter (and me only by extension).  My MIL and my wife text about 10-50 times a day everyday and talk everyday at least twice on the phone.  I talk to my MIL only when she is texting me to get ahold of my wife or wish me a happy holiday, birthday, etc. I say this only because it would seem to me that they wouldn't question why I can't or am not joining them to go out some of the times...

  • PPs have made good points/suggestions.  I would set up more of a schedule for your all's free time.  Plan which weekend(s) or weekend day(s) you'll be spending with the in-laws.  If you are more comfortable with 1 weekend/month, than do that.  I think that sounds perfectly reasonable for in-laws who live (I'm guessing) 1-2 hours away, including traffic.  If your wife wants to visit more often, than she needs to toughen up and get more comfortable driving in So. CA.  It's a challenging place to drive.  I get it.  I grew up in Orange County.  But if she wants to visit on two different weekends in a month and you want to only visit on one, than she needs to get outside of the box she created for herself.

    And there is nothing wrong with a weekend that has no plans.  Other than for you and your wife to just spend some time together in your own home.  Light weekends are my favorite weekends, lol. 

    Not quite related, because it sounds like your wife drives locally, but I do have to share a story.  My grandmother and her family moved to So. CA from Hawaii in the early 60s.  My grandmother was about your all's age at the time.  She took one look at the traffic and told my grandpa she was too afraid of the traffic and wouldn't drive there.  And she never did.  But it really sheltered her and closed in her world.  It also made life tougher for my grandpa.  In fact, when my mom turned 16, he bought her a car and said, "Now it's your job to drive your mom around."

    I feel for you worrying about your MIL's future.  It does sound like your wife will insist your MIL move in with you all when the time comes.  And I can understand and sympathize with where she is coming from.  But, at the same time, it's very unfair to the two of you.  Her parents were the ones that didn't plan well for the future, yet you all are the ones who will end up paying for that.

    You all are fairly young.  You need to be preparing for your OWN future and retirement.  I don't know if you all are planning to have kids but, if so, those future children are by far your first priority over your MIL.  If, when the time comes, supporting your MIL will be at the sacrifice of either your all's own retirement and/or your children's college fund, that's a big deal.

    • Is your wife going to her parents house alone an option? Tell her, "why don't you go up to your parents one weekend and maybe do a day of mother/daughter time together. You haven't had much one on one time with her and I'm sure she would love it. And with as much as your dad works, having a day to himself might be a nice break for him." And then you can stay behind and hang out with your friends
    • In regards to the gifts, I think the only thing you can do is repeatedly tell them that when they visit they don't need to bring gifts because the time you get to spend with them is what the important thing is.
    • When you plan to move into a house, maybe look for a location that has senior living / assisted living very near by. This way when the time comes, they can move there. Because that way they (inlaws) can still have their own private space but be close enough that if wife wants to visit often, it's not a big issue. If they live close, there is less guilt for only stopping by for a 30 minute visit. Things to mention to your wife beside having space is that if they need care where they can't live on their own, does she really want to work full time and have to come home & then take care of them & what if you have kids by then? The two of you would never have any down time to relax. Or you will need to plan when buying a home with a budget to live on a single income in preparation of her giving up her job to because a 24/7 caregiver to her parents.
    • What about making plans that they come to visit the same weekend every month? Like, the first weekend of every month either you go visit them, or they come and visit you. Maybe you can alternate who travels each month. But with the understanding that if you get plans for something special like invite to a wedding, a concert that you are both dying to go to, that the weekend will be rescheduled. This way if it's the same weekend every month, it makes it easier for you to make plans to do things with your wife or friends.
    • Sit down with your wife and go hey "let's do some fun things and one weekend a month play tourist in the area?" Where I live you can get coupon books for resturants & different activites like golf, sporting events, special events in the area. Each of you pick out things in the area or things within a distance for an easy day trip & go explore new things. How many of us are guilty of going to different places on vacation, but never exploring the things near our home? By each of you picking something out, each of you is getting to do something you want to do, but you doing something new together.
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