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MIL's dirty junk must go-Kinda long

First time poster here... Been married 3 weeks now.  But here's some background.  MIL lives w/ us because of health related issues, the reason DH moved back to the area, so the entire time we dated, I knew I'd be moving in w/ her.  But the house was/is a disaster. She does not clean, there's just junk everywhere in the kitchen, bathroom (which we've redone), etc...

 DH told her way before I moved in that things needed to go (in prep for me moving in as well as stuff just needed to go)  She dragged her feet in going thru things and getting rid of stuff (that she didn't even use).  I moved in a month before the wedding, and didn't do anything cleaning wise before the wedding. When we got back from the honeymoon, I had 3 weeks still off (being a teacher) to get things in order, go thru gifts and START CLEANING, which I want to get done before the craziness of the school year!! I don't think I've ever been that happy to clean.  So I started with the kitchen getting rid of expired food-2008, tupperware with no lids, random junk, and unused dishes.  Now, I didnt throw out any of the dishes-simply put them in boxes in another room.   I mean I'm not going to let our brand new nicely matching stuff sit in boxes unused (I know that might sound selfish).  But also, I want to keep a nice house for my DH (I know that's uber traditional) and I refuse to live in the mess that existed.  When I started cleaning, I'd double check with him before moving things to which he said I"if you like it I love it"-interpret-knock yourself out.

Now apparently, MIL feelings are hurt that I'm not involving her in the cleaning (from SIL-not her daughter), but when I've observed for 4 years that this woman does not clean-saw her clean once, literally, why would I ask to to take part in something the she doesn't do?  She feels her things are getting thrown out with out her input, but she was told to go thru things and set aside what she wanted because this was going to happen.  Now she doesn't come out of her room if we are home, has complained to DH and SIL, who are both on my side.

My question is-honestly, I don't want the woman to feel uncomfortable in the house, but I refuse to let dirt and old unused stuff stay (and to make things fair- I got rid of a TON of my stuff because I knew it'd just become more clutter, so I'm not unfairly targeting just "her" stuff).  How do I let her know I will continue cleaning, organizing, sorting etc...but am not doing it do make her feel bad or uncomfortable? 

Re: MIL's dirty junk must go-Kinda long

  • "MIL, I will be starting to clean the living room on Friday. Would you mind going through and seeing if there is anything that you want by Friday morning? Otherwise, I'll clean it through the weekend. Thanks."

    If she doesn't clean, her loss.

    [IMG]http://i45.tinypic.com/2czvlhx.jpg[/IMG]
  • Do you think she might have hoarding tendencies?

    If so, then that is a mental issue that needs to be addressed with a counselor. 

  • image stw_77:

    Do you think she might have hoarding tendencies?

    If so, then that is a mental issue that needs to be addressed with a counselor. 

     To a degree yes, DH. and other sibs think so to.  However, I watch the show-and I'm of the mindset-trash everything and I'll pay for therapy(abrasive and wrong I know).  But her slight tendancies can't over run a house where others live.

  • I agree. Give her the choice to go through it first and then you go through BUT I think that this has to come from your DH as she seems to not care for the situation wtih you and you dont want it to seem that it's just YOU that's getting rid of the stuff. it's BOTH of you-you and DH.

    DH: "mom lala and I will be cleaning out the livingroom starting on this friday morning. We know that some of the things in there are yours and would appreciate you going through and bagging anything you'd like to keep"

    that way you individually aren't the bad guy here.

    Friday, December 28 2012. The day I had emergency appendix surgery in Mexico and quit smoking. Proof that everything has a good side!! DH and I are happily child-free!! No due date or toddler tickers here!! my read shelf:
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  • I just had another thought. Does she have any real area of her own to store her things in the house?
    Friday, December 28 2012. The day I had emergency appendix surgery in Mexico and quit smoking. Proof that everything has a good side!! DH and I are happily child-free!! No due date or toddler tickers here!! my read shelf:
    Alison's book recommendations, favorite quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf) 
  • So let me get this straight.   Her brand new DIL moves into her house and starts throwing out her possessions without her input because that's how DIL wants to live?   Her items are being replaced by items picked out by DIL because DIL deems them nicer?

    Call me crazy, but I'd really have a problem with that too.  

    What are these health issues?  Who owns the house?  Is it MIL's house?   Is it paid off?   Are you paying rent to her?    My opinion might change if I know the answer to these questions.

    I get wanting to live in a cleaner/less cluttered house, but your MIL has to be on board, especially if it's her house.   

  • Go to your MIL.  Tell her that you and your husband are both her housemates now, and that you and he have a quality of life that you want to maintain for *all* of you.  This includes cleaning, and as things weren't done by *anyone* (including yourself and your DH) before the wedding, it *has* to be done now.  You are more than happy to do it, and assumed she'd have a more difficult time either emotionally or physically with the task.  

    However, if she has something to say on the matter specifically relating to you - hurt feelings, feeling confused, wanting to keep item XY or Z, then YOU are the one that she needs to speak with NOT DH and NOT SIL.  Present this that she is your family now, and visa versa, and there is no reason or need for resentment to build up or for her to lock herself away.  

    You have things which you are bringing into the home and she has things already there.  Explain your goal is not to replace every item she has, and certainly not things that are precious or meaningful...but that neither one of you are going to keep every single thing you individually owned prior to the move...it has to be balanced.  

    Boxing her stuff up and putting them in a room isn't really that great of a message to send. Neither is telling her to bag things up if she doesn't want them tossed - that's just so rude, I can't fathom it.  I'm assuming the missing lid-tupperware went to the curb, but perhaps her favorite coffee mug is still in the cupboards.  When her things are actually being packed, that is *more* than and *not the same* as cleaning and you have to know this - so should have your DH ...and she *should* be included in decluttering or placing items in a different area ...even if you are just calling her out to sit down at the kitchen table and you asking her if item A is something that should be kept, stored, donated or thrown away.  It should be done together, not you going after and tossing things.  Apologize if that is not how you've handled that aspect.

    Baby Birthday Ticker Ticker
  • It's DH's house, almost paid for. WE pay the mortgage.  She was told months in advance to start cleaning out things (by DH b/c he hates the mess just as much)  THe only thing as of yet that has actually gone in the trash and out the door- expired food still in cabinets etc..2008 stuff, food in jars that had turned color etc..  She has bad asthma, and now is on dialysis.

     As to PP question-she has her room ( we plan on refinishing the basement this year for her), the only space that has been cleaned/remodeled so far is the kitchen and the bathroom.  All the furniture was moved out of the "dining room"-pre me. 

  • The woman hasn't cleaned in four years and surrounds herself with clutter and uses old mismatched things. How did you expect her to react when you boxed everything up and replaced it with your stuff? 

    Why did you think she'd do anything other than shut down and bad mouth you?

    Bottom line: I am appaulled that your DH has let his mother live in filth all these years, moved you into a huge mess and has given you no more that a vague statment of support to change everything on your own and left his mother to retreat to her room in depression and frustration. If DH wants to be man enough to step-up and take care of his ailing mother, get married and move a wife into his home, he better STEP-UP with a big plan to get the house clean and blend 3 the goals and possession of 3 grownass adults.Otherwise, he's just a boy playing at being a man.

    My darling daughter just turned 4 years old.
  • Why wouldn't you ask for her help cleaning? Seems a good way for the two of you to bond.  If she's home while you are going through things why wouldn't you take a moment and ask for her input?
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  • image livinitup:

    The woman hasn't cleaned in four years and surrounds herself with clutter and uses old mismatched things. How did you expect her to react when you boxed everything up and replaced it with your stuff? 

    Why did you think she'd do anything other than shut down and bad mouth you?

    Bottom line: I am appaulled that your DH has let his mother live in filth all these years, moved you into a huge mess and has given you no more that a vague statment of support to change everything on your own and left his mother to retreat to her room in depression and frustration. If DH wants to be man enough to step-up and take care of his ailing mother, get married and move a wife into his home, he better STEP-UP with a big plan to get the house clean and blend 3 the goals and possession of 3 grownass adults.Otherwise, he's just a boy playing at being a man.

    100% agreement 

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  • Of course she is going to be uncomfortable.  You are replacing her stuff with yours.  (I know you are just boxing it up.)  If there is food there since 2008, she probably needs counseling.  Through no fault of your own, mothers-in-law usually don't enhance marriages when they live with the newly married couple.  I vote for getting her some counseling and maybe an apartment at an assisted living place.  If that isn't an option, can she get an apartment and have a visiting nurse come in to help her? 
  • This reply has been edited by a moderator.

    STOP SPAMMING THE BOARDS.

  • But your DH allowed the hoarding and nastiness and grossness to go on.  Why is that?

    I agree with the others who said to involve her in some way.  I'd also give her a space other than her room for her stuff, a legit storage space.  So she can decide if she wants to store it or put it in her room or toss it.

    image "...Saving just one pet won't change the world...but, surely, the world will change for that one pet..."
  • image kellbell1919:

    But your DH allowed the hoarding and nastiness and grossness to go on.  Why is that?

    I agree with the others who said to involve her in some way.  I'd also give her a space other than her room for her stuff, a legit storage space.  So she can decide if she wants to store it or put it in her room or toss it.

    And she should have some stuff in the common rooms, too, don't you think?  If the OP is complaining how the MIL is hiding away in her room...don't you think that's a cue from the OP's get your stuff packed or in your room?  This is the MILs home as well, right?   

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  • image chavayjakov:
    image kellbell1919:

    But your DH allowed the hoarding and nastiness and grossness to go on.  Why is that?

    I agree with the others who said to involve her in some way.  I'd also give her a space other than her room for her stuff, a legit storage space.  So she can decide if she wants to store it or put it in her room or toss it.

    And she should have some stuff in the common rooms, too, don't you think?  If the OP is complaining how the MIL is hiding away in her room...don't you think that's a cue from the OP's get your stuff packed or in your room?  This is the MILs home as well, right?   

    Agreed.  If MIL living there was part of the deal when OP moved in, then its MIL's house too and she gets to feel like it belongs to her as well.  

    For example, OP could ask MIL to pull out some family photos she likes, have them framed and put them in the living room.  MIL can have some figurines or whatever in the dining room and dishes she likes in the kitchen.  Old grody tupperware or food doesn't need to be around and there don't need to be piles of junk everywhere.

    It's possible to have a clean house but accommodate some of MIL's need to have some stuff out and about.

    image "...Saving just one pet won't change the world...but, surely, the world will change for that one pet..."
  • I find it to be interesting that all your criticism is of your MIL, when in reality your DH lived there in filth, too, and apparently still isn't doing any cleaning.
    image
  • Mess was contained to certain areas.  Behind cabinet doors etc...Not justifying that he didn't force her to correct it before, but now I'm taking no excuses and getting it done.  Plus she had some passive aggressive tendancies when she was forced to change things (i.e-stop taking meds, etc). So she isn't doing that now at least.  

    we're in the process of renovating the entire house so the larger spaces like the living room are not out of control, but that's where all of her "momentos" still ar untouched.  Seriously, this whole thing began over throwing out expired food and replacing a toaster over-which she said she wanted a new one, with one we got from the registry. 

  • I agree with Livinitup completely. This is a huge dh problem.

     

    SO SINGS MY SOUL *WHAM!* MY SAVIOR GOD TO THEE *WHAM!* HOW GREAT THOU ART *WHAM!* HOW GREAT THOU ART *WHAM!*
  • image Sue_sue:

    I agree with Livinitup completely. This is a huge dh problem.

    High praise, sue_sue. You just made my day.

    And to poster - you completely missed Kuus' point. Your DH ignored the problem with his home and now completely shifted it to you.  

    My darling daughter just turned 4 years old.
  • If my MIL lived with DH and I she could do whatever she wanted in her room (so long as it isn't a health issue or gross) the rest of the house would stay as is.
  • Seriously you are super nice for even living with your MIL in the first place. If it is your husbands home then it is now your home as his wife and since I assume you are a grown woman then your not stupid and throwing away obviously valuable or treasured things. She needs to get over it. I would probably ask my husband to remind her that he told her prior to you living there that she needed to clean it out.

    I hate old expired food and useless junk in my cabinets lol It would drive me crazy!

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  • She might not be like the people on television, but your MIL is still a hoarder.  As such, she really can't separate her "things" from her.  By boxing up her dishes, you're in effect telling her "you're old and not needed.  You're being replaced by something nicer."  I'm sure that's not your intent....but that's how she feels.  Even by throwing away things you see as "junk," you're giving her a feeling that she is trash and should be discarded. 

    Your MIL has a mental illness.  She needs counseling, but it's one of those things where unless she is willing to go, you can't force her and she's never going to change.  In the meantime, you and your H need to find some kind of support group for hoarders - or at least attend counseling to find ways to cope with her until she undergoes therapy.  I actually don't think your H is as bad as some of the posters - I think it's tough dealing with mental illness, he can't make her change.  But he needs to step to the plate now, b/c the three/four of you can't live together without resolving this issue in some way.

    You can offer to have her clean with you, you can set aside a time to go through her boxed up things and see what she wants on display - like maybe making a shelf for one place setting of her old dishes (or other knick-knacks).  However, I think she is going to keep feeling alienated until she gets help. 

     

    image "Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self esteem, first make sure you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes.
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