MIL is super needy and paranoid - how to deal??

Nancy - posted on 03/13/2013 ( 3 moms have responded )

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My mother in law moved closer to us to help out with our two children (22 months and 3 months old). When she came it was initially supposed to just be for a month so she could help out when the baby was born. It became clear that she was hoping to stay permanently and after some discussion with my husband I reluctantly decided to see if it would work. We needed the help, he works outside the home and I work from home, and we can't afford daycare for our toddler right now.

My main concern in having my MIL here is that with the exception of having an extra set of eyes on my toddler (the little baby won't let anyone else hold her but me right now) MIL would be more work than help - and this seems to be the case. She is overall a decent person and tries to be friendly with me, but she is also completely incapable of doing even the smallest thing by herself due to a combination of various health and psychological issues (she gets fatigued very easily and is also extremely paranoid and anxious). When she first moved here I specifically said that I did not want her living within walking distance to our home because I was afraid that we'd end up seeing her every day. I constantly looked for apartments that were a couple of miles away so it would be just a little difficult for her to get here (she didn't bring her car when she moved) but she refused to see them, and told me that she'd contact the people renting the apartment but behind my back told my husband that she didn't want to live that far away. When she found an apartment three blocks away she jumped at it (I am still mad at my husband for not intervening here).

As I suspected, she is constantly in need of things from us. My husband has to drive her to her various doctors appointments even when she's feeling well, he has to drive her to the ATM because she's afraid to take money out alone, he has to drive her to the grocery store because she doesn't want to be by herself, she is constantly asking to spend the night at our place because she doesn't feel well or feels too tired to walk to her apartment. She does her laundry here, she eats here, she calls to ask if she can have lunch here on the days when my husband is home from work. All of this is justified by her 'health' issues - which my husband has been dealing with his whole life, and so he's used to it.

The problem is that I can tell often when she just doesn't want to do something not because she doesn't feel well but because she wants someone to do it for her - when you've been taken care of your whole life the line between what you can do for yourself and what you can't becomes blurred. But the times that I've said something to my husband about it he tells me that he can't not help her when she's sick or tired, that she has such and such problems, and then I end up feeling like the bad guy because I'm either essentially calling her a faker or being insensitive to her various health issues.

I feel like I'm in a no win situation. We need the help and can't afford daycare, but I hate spending my days with her when my husband is at work, I find her constantly irritating and we have nothing in common except for my husband and the kids. I find things to do throughout the day to put some distance between us, but that means less time with my older daughter, which makes me feel terrible especially when the new baby takes up so much of my time already. I guess this is more a rant than anything else, but I welcome any comments, etc.

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♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 03/14/2013

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Wow! I’m sensing a strong dislike of your MIL...I’d be ecstatic if mine moved closer!

Let me ask you one question: If the situation were reversed, and it was your mother who moved closer and was now in need of more attention and care, how would you feel when your husband expressed the same feelings?

You purposely tried to find her a place to live that wouldn’t allow her easy access to you and the kids. You felt that you had the right to dictate her living choices to her, even though she’s an adult. You’re mad at your husband for not intervening? What, was he supposed to tell momma “Sorry, mom, but my wife doesn’t want you living so close?” Wow, way to cut to the chase there...

“She’s constantly in need”...She’s getting on in years. We ALL will be more in need as we grow older, like it or not. My husband and I already take his mom to doctor’s appts, surgery appts, shopping, etc, and she lives 3 hours away from us (oh, the horror of the extra time commitment...). Not because we HAVE to, but because we can. We feel that, as children, we owe it to our parents to provide some level of care for them at some point. Your husband sees this, and is already geared to care for his mother. Most men aren’t.

Believe it or not, I’m only in my 40’s, and I take my husband with me to the ATM, and doctor’s appointments. I feel safer with him around. I bet she does as well. Not to mention, it’s always advised as you age to bring along someone to your appointments. If only to make sure that you understand what’s going on, and how to handle things.

And how dare she want human companionship! She’s raised her family, and is now ready to help with her grandchildren, and she is missing more consistent interactions with humans. You will, too, when you approach her age. I can only hope that your daughter/son-in-law is more understanding of your needs when you reach the same point.

You’re constantly irritated...well, I bet she is, too. She moved closer to help with the babies, and you’re more than willing to take advantage of that, but at YOUR terms. You won’t include her as part of the family, and you act put upon when her son takes care of his mother...I certainly wish you the best as you age, and hope that you will never experience the discomfort of the infirm elderly.

Try to find some common ground. I bet, if you look, you’ll find more in common than you think, or maybe you’ll find something that you’re both interested in, but neither has investigated. Some of my best, happiest times are spent with my mother in law. She’s taught me so much over the last 25 years, and I simply cannot imagine her being anywhere but here when she ages to the point where she needs care.

Volcano - posted on 05/14/2014

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I totally understand your situation.....

I had decent relationship with my in laws wen they live far away but things have changed once they moved closer. (without telling me, behind my back)

My husband is a slave and they think my husband is always flexible for them. It's true for certain things the elderly people need more help than us but they should not take it for granted. even parents - NEVER.

I think in your situation, your MIL is using grandsons as excuses to stay close to your husband so that she can use him like driver, negotiator, etc. It's wrong. Once he married you, he should put you as wife first and respect your opinion.

For those husbands who put his parents priority, they should not marry any girl. They should just stick to his parents and live with his parent without marrying anyone.

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Tonia - posted on 04/21/2015

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I know your pain...I have had an issue with my husbands mother for years. She is vindictive, miserable, nosey, needy, jealous, obsessed with her son, overbearing hag with no life of her own. She for some reason has in her crazy head that she is the "mother" to my kids and goes out of her way whenever she can to defy what I say. I hate this woman with a passion. I told her one day to leave me alone and never speak to me again. She has been finding any reason to talk to me....I dont respond because I just dont want to hear anything she has to say. She is trying to latch on to our family because she has absolutely no life of her own. She comes off as this very caring and helpful person when she knows she just want to be in every aspect of our lives. I have completely shut her out of my life and left my husband to deal with her ,which 95%of the time he doesn't want to be bothered with her either. She is emotionally draining and I just dont have the time or energy to put up with her nonsense. I am at my wits end and want her OUT!

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