Help! Month long visit only half over....

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by ScentofCedar, Feb 18, 2007.

  1. ScentofCedar

    ScentofCedar New Member

    husband's mother is here for the month.

    I am actually basically still functional?

    husband is a basket case.

    He is frustrated, locked into chilodhood power struggle kinds of things, and resentful. (We knew he would feel this way going in. As much as he did not want to do this, he felt that he SHOULD have his mom here and out of the really cold Minnesota winter.)

    We still have ten (count 'em, ten) days to go.

    Initially, husband was as cold and nasty to BOTH his mother and myself as I have ever seen him. Last night, that particular dam broke, and I got him to admit his true feelings about everything. Today, he seems more focused.

    He is just so resentful ~ the other side of that is that he feels he SHOULD do this for his mother.

    What I told him is that we are in it now, but that next year, the visit will be for only ten days.

    What I need from you all are your experiences in these matters.

    I set my computer up in my closet before the mother got here. I just come in here and close the door. I go practice karate and am soon to begin a Tai Chi class. So, I am providing time for myself to myself. husband refuses to do this. He grits his teeth and spends every minute either resenting that he is with his mom or trying to escape. He admits that he needs a day (at least!) for himself, but refuses to do anything about it. When I ask him why, what he says is that he has alot on his mind ~ money, food, activities. I told him (this was last night) that tomorrow was Sunday. There IS nothing to do about making money on a Sunday, we were having turkey for dinner, and we are staying home today and doing nothing because it is cold out.

    He refuses to go out without the mother, and is focusing his resentments on me to the extent that I am thinking about what I need, and what I am not getting, in this marriage.

    Any suggestions?

    Barbara
     
  2. WhymeMom?

    WhymeMom? No real answers to life..

    Is your mother in law demanding attention? It doesn't sound like it from your post, but couldn't tell. Why don't you check and see if there is a senior's center in your area. She might like to get out of your house and be around others, and maybe even find an activity to keep her occupied. Your husband needs to figure out he doesn't need to occupy all of her time. She may just like to sit and read, knit, whatever. If she lives by herself? most of the time, can't she get along for a few hours each day without direction?
     
  3. rejectedmom

    rejectedmom New Member

    Barb, My mother in law was a horrible person. She did so much emotional damage to her children, grand-children, and to me that I pretty much was done with her around my 17th wedding anniversary. I would book her a room at my expense at the local bed and breakfast when she wanted to visit. This was the consequence of her own actions. She refused to not smoke in my house when my son was so very asthematic that he would end up at the ER as a result. She thought I was horrid to do this to her but I did not care. If she wasn't complaining about that she would have found something else to fault me on anyway. The bed and breackfast was a beautiful place and it cost me a pretty penny to put her up there. Nothing I did was good enough and nothing I gave her was ever she wanted and she had no qualms telling me so. Consequence? I stopped shopping for her and just sent flowers.

    I didn't telephone her after she told me my kids didn't count because they were either feamale or adopted but I reminded husband to call her once a week. I went to all family functions regardless of her presence or lack of. She often told us she was the matriarch of the family and she should choose which family gatherings we attend. She talked about everyone behind their backs.

    I found I could survive her if I just never had any good expectations of her. I had given her my heart and she trampled all over it so I took it back. I have no regrets. My philosophy is when you are damned if you do and damned if you don't then do what is right for you. Eventually husband began to feel the same as I did. We were never rude and we always included her in family functions. We just didn't bend over backwards trying to please her.

    She had to have one final dispicable act toward us though. She was on her death bed and we got a call to come to NY because it was time. I had a very very importand legal proceeding involving the school district and their treatment of my youngest difficult child the next day. it was scheduled first thing in the morning. I couldn't cancrl it as the distress call abut my mother in law had only come at 11pm the night before. So I packed up my husband and sent him up immediately telling him that I would follow in the morning with the 4 children. My husband drove 5 hours alone, rushed to her side and when he went to kiss her she turned her back on him and refused to acknowlege he was there. He has never recovered. I was spared. She died before I arrived. Consequently it irks me when her daughters talk about her as if she was a saint. I witnessed first hand her emotional and occasional physical abuse of them throughout most of his younger sister's life (husband's younger sister was only 8 when we began dating ) but I don't argue it. I let them live their fantasy it has nothing to do with me.

    So in that light I say tell your husband to get into therapy to help deal with his mother issues. And as for you, don't do anything you don't want to do. Taking responsibility for your mother doesn't necessarily mean taking her into your home. -RM
     
  4. hearthope

    hearthope New Member

    Barbara, does husband usually take time out for himself? If so remind him how very important it is to continue that with mom there.

    I know you two have drinks in the evening, why not suggest the two of you go out for drinks? If he feels guilty leaving her, maybe find some activity she can do while you two are out.

    I don't know the condition mom is in, but my mom is happy to be turned loose in my kitchen, maybe you do the grocery shopping for something that only "she" can make and you two leave while she works her magic, then return with praises of how only she can make it that good.
     
  5. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    I have siblings who feel that way whenever our mom visits us. H and I? We just go on with life as usual. My mom enjoys having part of her days alone and then sharing dinner and evenings with her. She doesn't like to be babysat or to feel as if she's intruding on our lives. Since you didn't say if your mother in law is demanding in anyway, is there a possibility she can be an alliance for you? You know, one evening have HER suggest that you and H go out to dinner or whatever?

    My in-laws are horrible houseguests and when they visit, I feel like I'm stuck on Hostess mode - it's so confining and H is absolutely useless because he's in such a struggle with his father to assert his own adulthood (even at 45).

    I need to give myself breaks. I will either go for a walk, do some weeding in the garden or watering, take a nap (aka read quietly in my room). When H sees me doing these things, he gets annoyed with me, as if I'm ignoring his parent's visit, which could not be further from the truth (I do all the cooking, cleaning and laundry for them, up at dawn down past midnight, it's exhausting). This past summer, H and I had plans when his parents showed up - we had to include them, which basically stunk, because it was our anniversary. I tried to get H to make them change thier plans, to no avail.

    I wish I had a suggestion for you, but I think that this is something only your H can tackle, perhaps with counseling. In the meantime, it looks like you've created an excellent way to live your life with mother in law is visiting - good for you!
     
  6. hearthope

    hearthope New Member

    Your not posting back, hope that means you are :smile: with hubby
     
  7. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    You didn't state how dependant mother in law is for "company".

    If she's used to living alone, then I'd say she's probably feeling pretty much the way you and husband are feeling. Crowded. She'd probably not mind at all if husband, or even you and husband, took an evening to yourselves. It would give her a chance to let down her hair while you're away, too. mother in law is probably ready for a break from the ongoing "visit" too.

    Does mother in law get around well? How about to ease husband into some time to himself you volunteer to take mother in law window shopping or maybe a movie? Call it a girl's outting so he hasn't much choice to stay at home. lol :wink:

    husband has no reason not to have time to himself. It's not like it's a short visit.

    My Mom used to do the long visits. I'm not sure who they were more stressful on, me or husband. (he got the lousy mother in law, I got the saint lol ) But once I got dear ol' Mom to realize she had no choice but to treat me as an adult, things relaxed alot. And there were issues between my Mom and me that I had to finally grow up and face the fact that we'd never come to an agreement on them, and then let them go. (that helped TONS)

    Now Mom can come and we pretty much have a fun visit. I actually think it's a shame she can't do the longer visits anymore. Although lately she's been hinting she'll need family to live with in the near future..... I just let her talk and keep my big mouth shut. :biggrin: Cuz although we get along now, I know we can never live together again. :smile:
     
  8. ScentofCedar

    ScentofCedar New Member

    It is like a spider web around here.

    This is the third posting I have made this morning regarding these issues, and do you know that with each post I lost, the next one was a little clearer?

    I am still confused about what I see happening here. But I see now that, far from leaping to protect the mother, I need to detach. Whatever husband and the mother are working out, it has nothing whatsoever to do with me. I cannot fix it, and I probably don't even really understand what "it" is.

    husband says he is responding to keys which are invisible to me because I was not raised as he was.

    One of them is that the mother constantly says she is hungry. Initially, we (husband even more so than me) felt guilty. We are both thin. husband's family is all quite heavy. We felt we had not been providing enough food frequently enough for someone whose enjoyment centered around what she ate. So, we laid in all kinds of food and acknowledged that any time we left the house with the mother, we would be going out to eat. (The day we brought her to the beach, she insisted she was hungry and wanted to eat dinner on the beach NOW, though it was only about three o'clock and a frigid, windy day absolutely unsuitable for eating on the beach. While it was easy for me to say "Let's come back next week when it is warmer.", husband got this funny, determined look on his face and dragged us all to a little open air restaurant that was at least out of the wind. Seventy-five dollars later, we left the beach. That is the kind of thing I am talking about. The mother insists she is hungry NOW. husband then ups her one by doing what she wants and ordering the most expensive thing on the menu. So, when neither of us are hungry at all? We all sit there and eat food we did not want and do not enjoy WITHOUT ANY CONVERSATION.

    It is the strangest thing I have ever seen.

    And so horribly uncomfortable.

    What, you may ask, did I have at our three o'clock in the afternoon full dinner on the beach in the cutting wind?

    Why, a marguarita, of course.

    Initially, I was not going to eat any food? But then, with both husband and his mother ordering full dinners?

    I got an appetizer of coconut shrimp.

    Next time?

    I swear I am going to just drink whatever is handy around here before we ever leave the house.

    Each of the children in husband's family of origin treats (and views) the mother in exactly the same way.

    But I absolutely think less of husband since I have seen first hand what he thinks of his mother.

    I am really upset with him.

    Now, where is all this coming from, do you suppose?

    What a mess everything seems to be.

    Barbara
     
  9. hearthope

    hearthope New Member

    Barbara ~ You are very correct in your statement that it has nothing to do with you. And also that you can't understand it because you were not there in the home and raised by her.

    in my humble opinion I think husband needs to seek counsel to be able to cut whatever strings mom still have on him.

    For him to react in a way that he knows is uncomfortable for you and him as well, is letting you know that he does not have a handle on this

    I can't remember the book you were reading, but I do remember answering a question about my mom and the dynamics of our relationship, maybe the book would shed some light on this?

    I do know that what happened so long ago to all of her children was significant enough to make them jump and respond to her request. Who knows, something regarding hunger or maybe how much she was spending to feed them all could have been yelled at them on a daily basis. Maybe that has something to do with husband spending 75 @ 3 in the afternoon when she was the only one that wanted something.

    Maybe guilt from feeling like she spent all she had on the children and nothing for herself? And maybe she reminded your husband of this on a daily basis?
     
  10. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    Barbara,
    My Dad and I had this kind of go round in the year before he died. He would make all sorts of unreasonable demands all the time. It was frustrating and maddening. The case manager at the assisted living facility explained that Dad was testing me to be sure I'd take care of his needs, no matter what, if needed. My job was to set boundaries and a hierarchy of care (Duckie then husband then Dad), it was Dad's job to adjust to this hierarchy. It helped me take some of the emotion out of it.
    Good luck. FWIW, my mother and I can barely get through an overnight visit.
     
  11. ScentofCedar

    ScentofCedar New Member

    I cannot believe how posting is helping me to see things differently.

    Thanks, guys, for listening and sharing.

    The other part of what is happening here is that the mother then complains about her stomach or her bowels or feeling fat or bloated.

    It is all so very strange!

    Of course she feels bloated or uncomfortable. She is seventy eight, and eats more food than I think I have ever seen anyone consistently eat in my life.

    I mean, we all overeat sometimes ~ but she does not seem to take any joy in what she eats.

    She just wants it there.

    Sometimes, she eats like she is starving (and I am not kidding ~ right down to the sound effects).

    Other times, after she has insisted that husband take her to the grocery stors to get what she likes (which have been pastries and doughnuts and chocolate and that kind of thing ~ oh yes, and a box of raisin bran) THESE THINGS SHE DOES NOT EAT, UNLESS I SET THEM OUT FOR HER WITH HER COFFEE IN THE MORNING.

    Then, husband makes her breakfast.

    OR SHE WILL NOT EAT.

    I make her lunch. (husband has been escaping from the house altogether for two to three hours and more every day). If I do not make the mother lunch? (Which I then sit with her and eat, although I have not eaten lunch as a matter of course in my whole life.) If I don't do that? She does not eat lunch, either. Then, she complains about how hungry she is.

    AND NO ONE SAYS A WORD WHILE WE EAT WHATEVER MEAL IT IS, YOU GUYS.

    What I have been doing is trying to do happy hour with my husband anyway ~ I just heat leftover chicken or something for the mother (since she is tired of salami, pepperoni and asiago cheese ~ and what she wants is dinner).

    The more I write, the more I see husband's point. This IS all about something other than providing hospitality and making a guest comfortable.

    The mother has destroyed Happy Hour, if you think about it.

    She has alienated my from my own husband, because I think he treats her terribly.

    I feel pretty silly now, alright.

    Cheesh, ladies.

    How am I ever going to make it through the next eight or nine days or whatever it is.

    Even the poor dog does not want to go near the mother anymore.

    husband thinks it is because she smothers it with affection and even the dog is sick of it.

    I don't even know what to think, anymore.

    Barbara
     
  12. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    I agree, H needs some counseling to learn how to put up some healthier boundaries with his mother...and possibly even his siblings.

    My mom is a food addict so I can totally relate to her demanding food at 3 in the afternoon on a windy beach! It's like round the clock feeding time at the zoo when she is visiting us. I have to hide food in my basement fridge/freezer otherwise mom would graze all day long. As soon as I walk in the door, her first question is not about my day, but "What are you fixing for dinner, I'm starved?" LOL - fortunately, I have many years of counseling under my belt and can just follow my regular schedule accordingly. I give her a little crackers and chees to tide her over and get on with my schedule. It works for us. She gets annoyed, but too bad. Your H needs to learn how to NOT jump everytime she tells him to (in her own special language)...

    My mother's favorite thing to say to all her children (she jokes about it all the time, in fact) is: "When I say JUMP, you jump, and on the way up, ask how high!" Ugh, I get physically ill just thinking of it. And that's exactly how she expects everyone to behave when she's with them. As of right now, I only have one sister who still jumps for her. ~hugs~ hang in there and keep focusing on you - this is H's issue, not yours.
     
  13. hearthope

    hearthope New Member

    I don't know how her health is or any medications she is own so I don't know if this has any bearing or not ~

    My dad who never ate sweets, is a junk food junkie!

    Mom can't do the grocery shopping any more and he makes the trips. He brings in all kinds of sweets and has "hiding" places for them.

    If he buys a pack of 20 doughnuts he takes out 2 or 3 to share and he hides the rest.

    He is in beginning stages of alzheimers and also parkinsons disease. The docs have put this strange behavior on his medications and also the diseases themselves
     
  14. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    <div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body"> "When I say JUMP, you jump, and on the way up, ask how high!"</div></div>

    I'm another kid raised under this rule. (taken to the extreme) It makes it really difficult to assume an adult role around the parent once your grown. So much so that my siblings, all older than myself, haven't been able to manage it. I swear, to watch them around my Mom is shocking. They all look at me in awe, like I've found some magic key or something. lol

    But then I spent the vast majority of the time with my grandmother while they had to live under her rule 24/7. The vast contrast between Grandmother and mother gave me a healthier more objective view on her behavior than I'd have had otherwise.

    If she was one of the martyr types, always telling the kids what sacrifices she made for them ect, on top of it, they would carry an underlying guilt with them. (my Mom again) And would feel that nothing they ever did was good enough or equal to the sacrifices their own mother made.

    It would at least explain your husband's reaction to her. His behavior reminds me of my siblings. And even myself, before I got a grip.

    mother in law's behavior could be being exaserbated by age. Now she's alone and afraid no one will take care of her when she needs it. Maybe that no one will be able to care for her the way she's used to living. And it could be being aggravated by senility, or some other cause.

    Regardless of the cause, you're right, this is between husband and his Mom. At the beginning of our marriage I used to tell husband to "just stay out of my relationship" with my Mom. It was something I had to work out with my Mom. No one else could do it for me. I know at times he thought my reactions to her were cold hearted and downright mean. He'd grown up in a non abusive, loving household. He had nothing in his experiences to help him understand.

    It was, put simply, a power struggle. My Mom was fighting for dominance. Because the only way she feels secure in a relationship is by being in total control. I was fighting for equality. Because I knew we'd never have a real relationship without it. I can see that clearly now. In the middle of it I just wanted to strangle the life out of her most of the time. lmao

    This is why I know that if my Mom becomes unable to live alone, I won't be the one to take her in. We have a pretty good relationship these days. But if she were to move in, it would make her feel volnerable. And that would start the war all over again. *sigh*

    As for mother in law not making her own meals..... That may just be how she was raised. I will not make myself "at home" in anyone else's home. Never. Not my mother's, siblings, friends, even my grown easy child's. I was raised that such behavior was the epitome of rudeness. (reinforced by both grandmother and mother) I can't overcome it no matter how hard I try. Weird huh? Those things do get ingrained. lol I won't even help myself to a glass of water at easy child's house. Annoys the heck out of her. lol

    ((((hugs))))

    Now I know how my own husband must have felt during all those visits. Just do like I used to, count down the days. You're pass the halfway mark. :wink:
     
  15. ScentofCedar

    ScentofCedar New Member

    Thanks, everyone.

    I feel so much better about how I look at husband now than how I have felt when I looked at husband during this whole visit that I can hardly believe it myself.

    And I do need to practice detachment from everything I think I am thinking, right now. It shook me a little to realize that I was viewing husband in the light I was viewing him in.

    Really, I did not have a clue about what was happening here. I thought I did though.

    I thought I should be protecting the mother, and that I was seeing husband as the person he really was for the first time.

    It was the strangest thing.

    After thinking all this through with everyone here, I was able to let go of whatever it was I was seeing when I looked at husband's behavior.

    We were discussing what we were making for dinner or something, and poor husband said something to the effect that I seemed different, this morning. All I told him was that I realized I had been too hard on him lately.

    And do you know what he did?

    Thanked me.

    You believe it?

    What a hard thing this has been, for both of us.

    Thank you again every one, very much.

    Barbara
     
  16. ScentofCedar

    ScentofCedar New Member

    Okay, so for anyone still hanging in there with me, this is what I learned last night.

    The more I have tried to pick up the slack where the mother is concerned?

    The more husband is resenting ME.

    I have never seen him like this.

    Night before last? When we were having the turkey dinner? husband wolfed his food, leaped up from the table before either the mother or myself had finished eating, and started SCRUBBING THE BROILER PAN.

    You believe it?!?

    Dean Martin was playing in the background?

    I swear husband was trying to drown him out.

    At least I have him to the point where he is able to laugh about how frustrating he finds everything.

    But I have never seen my husband like this ~ and we have been through some tough times.

    I think we are doing alright now, and I am so glad I can come here and post about these things.

    Thanks, guys.

    Barbara
     
  17. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    Barb,

    I'd believe anything when it comes to a visit of this length :faint:

    I'm sure it's been said here before, but it sounds as though husband is regressing to the little boy when mom is in the room. Almost like he cannot do anything right.

    So anxiety producing for both of you :surprise:

    I hope that husband can learn to relax during this visit; learn to enjoy the time he has with his mother.

    For you, this doesn't sound like a bit of fun :faint:

    Sending positive thoughts for a good day today, my friend. :flower:
     
  18. ScentofCedar

    ScentofCedar New Member

    Thanks, Linda!

    It is so much easier now that I have started to post about it.

    Okay guys ~ listen to this one!!!

    So, husband's mom slept in yesterday (partly, I am sure, in response to husband's behavior toward her in the morning ~ definitely implying that he needed a little private time in the A.M.).

    Okay, so the mother sleeps in until eleven o'clock. It isn't as though she has to go to work, or that we had anything planned where what time anyone got up made a whit of difference.

    husband WOULD NOT LET THAT GO. ONE OF THE LAST THINGS HE SAID TO HER LAST NIGHT HAD TO DO WITH HER GETTING UP AT A DECENT TIME THE NEXT DAY.

    Well guys? Can you guess who was up and waiting for husband when he awakened this morning? (Or should I say, when I finally awakened him at 9:15?)

    Yep.

    Should be a really interesting day, as husband has already expressed his surprise.

    And Mom has already expressed hers, that husband has awakened.

    Did I mention that Mom is sitting on the sofa, which is directly across from our bedroom door?

    Whatever would I be doing right now, if I did not have the site to come to?

    Seven days, guys.

    Seven more days.

    Though I have to admit, I think the mother was very clever to have played it as she did.

    Poor husband!

    Barbara
     
  19. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    Maybe a little humorous detachment might help you out. Could you think of the rest of this visit as a study on two primates living temporarily in captivity? You could be "Anthropologist Barbara", recording the instances of social dominance and passive aggression. You could pretend to be writing a paper for the Smithsonian Institute!:smile:
     
  20. Sunlight

    Sunlight Active Member

    boyfriend's sister came and stayed from thanksgiving for 6 weeks. ugh! she and her long time live in are a pain in the :censored2:, demanding, weird, and bossy. they barged in any old time at his house but stayed at his mom's (within walking distance). they ruled our world and boyfriend let it happen. apparently the sis is the boss of the family. they cower in fear of stirring her anger.

    they finally left. the last few days of her visit boyfriend stayed at my house to be distant from her. it was horrid.

    long visits are no good. next time have mom stay only a week.
    on the other hand, I do not think I can bear that even. God be with you and strengthen you!
     
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