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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi Everyone!

My bf and I are planning a future together. He is the most wonderful man I have ever been in a relationship with, and we generally have a great relationship.

However, there is one BIG issue that is worrying me to death! His mother's house is filthy. I wouldn't exactly call her a hoarder, but she is something along those lines. She seems to have some sort of mental issue that prevents her from cleaning up her house - the result is many years of squalor and filth. The living room is not too bad, but the kitchen should be condemned. She keeps her food in a heap on the pantry floor and I suspect there is rotting food underneath it all. She doesn't throw out old food in the fridge, or clean it. She hasn't ever cleaned the oven, either. The dishcloth that is dark grey, used to be white and she doesn't wash the dishes properly - there is still grime stuck to them afterwards. A path has been mopped through the middle of the kitchen floor, but the edges are literally black with old food particles and grease. When I go in to get my dinner, she has to put the serving dishes on the ironing board, because the kitchen table is permanently out of use due to piles of clutter. The rest of the house is bad too, but the kitchen is the worst (I haven't seen her bedroom - I dread to think!)

Despite persistent attempts by her daughter and other family members to get her to clean up, she flat-out refuses and gets in a strop. Anything that needs repairing, she neglects to do - the bath tap gushed for months and she refused to get it fixed. It ended up rusting a hole in the bathtub and leaking through the ceiling. So eventually she got a workman to fit a whole new bathroom. The previous one had walls that were completely black due to years of mold.

Whilst my boyfriend admits his mother's house is bad, I don't think he is fully aware of just how abnormal and harmful this situation is. He thinks it's her choice to live that way and it's not harming anyone. However, I disagree. I am APPALLED by the state of the house and am disgusted to go in there. I don't want to touch anything, much less eat the food she cooks (although I have done out of politeness on several occasions). I would love to never set foot in the place ever again.

His mother is nice enough and has been friendly and welcoming, as have other members of the family. But due to the state of her house, I have started to resent her, which makes me feel guilty, because they have been so welcoming.

My boyfriend knows how I feel about the house, but he is moving in with me soon, and he wants us to go and visit his mother as a couple. At first he wanted me to go every week, but I said no. Now he is asking for every two weeks. I said I didn't want to eat there, and initially he said I didn't have to, which made me feel better.

However, my birthday is coming up soon, and he wants me to go to his mother's house for dinner, to accept my present. I said I would visit, but that I wouldn't stay for dinner.

My problem is that my boyfriend is very stubborn and persistent and won't take no for an answer. He will keep trying to wear me down until I give in. If I do say no to something, it causes an argument.

My big issue is that when we have kids (which we are planning to) I am terrified to take them to his mother's house because it's really not clean enough, especially for a baby's delicate respiratory system. I know my boyfriend has the right to see his mother and the last thing I want is to stop him seeing her. I also want my future kids to have a relationship with their grandmother. Just not in her house. I have suggested that instead of visiting her house, we go out for a meal or something. However, bf didn't seem very keen about the idea. I suggested they come to my house to visit, but bf wasn't very keen on that either, since she doesn't drive and there are no direct bus or train routes, therefore getting there is difficult. We are 20 minutes away by car, but on the bus takes an hour and a half and three buses. Plus she struggles to walk due to being very overweight.

I can very well imagine that if I flat-out say NO to my kids going in her house, my boyfriend is going cause arguments about it. There is also the issue of Christmases, birthdays and new years day - She likes to have her family round to her house. However, if I refuse to go there, I will be preventing my boyfriend from seeing his family.

I am dreading that, if I have to say no to my children going in her house, it's going to cause arguments with my boyfriend, plus his side of the family will probably hate me. I really hate all the anxiety this is causing me and the future problems it could cause. I hate the fact that the whole family is forced to put up with her mess and filth and no-one can do anything about it because she's got a mental condition and these sort of people rarely change their ways.

I would like to know what other people would do in this situation? Does anyone have any advice on how to deal with this? If my boyfriend and I weren't such a great match in other ways, I might have left him over this. But as it stands, we do otherwise have a great relationship and it would be a shame to let his mother ruin it all.

Thanks for listening! x
 

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I have not dealt with anything like this, but here are some ideas that come to my mind as possible solutions you could negotiate with your guy:

- Agree to pick her up treat her to a meal out every two weeks as a new family tradition. It might put a small strain on the budget if you're strapped, but it gives him the schedule he'd like to see, and you can avoid spending time in the house.

- Agree that holidays will be held in your home or one of the other relative's houses. You can pick her up and drop her off.

- Recognize that her ways have always been what they are, and your boyfriend and his siblings all survived it and became okay people. Your children might catch a cold or two, just as they would in the classroom. I'm sure there's no bubonic plague in her pantry!

- Consider whether it would be helpful or harmful to discuss your concerns with her and see what she has to say. Maybe if she hears the same thing from someone who isn't family she'll realize the magnitude of the problem, but you'd have to do it in a diplomatic, tactful way that makes her feel supported instead of judged.
 

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OP,

I agree with you the state of this womans home is neither normal or safe. The vast majority of people will see that and simperthise with you.

Has your boyfriend told you how long his mother has been like this? where he or his sister still living at home? was their father still on the scene?

I had to deal with the problem from the otherside. When I was in my late teens my parents divorced. My elder sister had allready left home for Uni and I was due to leave for basic trianing (Royal Navy). So it was just my two younger brothers at home and as they wanted to stay with mum she got the vast majority of the assets from the divorce. The settelment gave my mother enough to buy a small house out right and my father got a homeloan and started agian. My mum had never bean very house proud (house was often clean but untidy) wereas my dad was very tidy (a place for everything and everything in its place) so without the older children or dads influance my mums little house soon began to fill with "stuff". As the amount of avalible space got smaller the standard of cleandlyness got lower. When I came on leave after 3 months basic trianing I thought the state of mums house was just down to the recent move and told my mum I would help her sort thing out as I was off for two weeks. By the time I left for my first deployment the house was looking good and to make life a little better for my mum and younger brothers I set up a stipend for mum from my salary. After that six month deployment I got some leave and of course went up to see the family. when I got to mums I was shocked to see it in a worse state than it had been before my last visit. I only had a couple off days there but did get the worst of the jobs done and my brothers now in there early teens agreed to help around the house more. This pattern continued over the next 10 years but with the boy moving out it got worse quickly. I would dread going there on my leaves not just because of the physical mess but also the money problems mum had gotton into. I would sort out the house and pay off the bills, it just became a part of my life.
By now my sister was married with a young family and was living 200 miles away so it was hard for her to visit and they did not have much spare money to help mum out, the younger boys were closer to mum and did help out but nothing any of us did could make mum change her ways.
The problems came to a head after I meet my future wife and I left the Navy ready to settle down. I dreaded taking my wife to be to my mums so arranged to pick mum up and take her out for lunch this went well until mum insisted we came back for drinks after. The house was the worst I had ever seen it and I could tell my WTB was shocked. To make matters worse I was no longer able to give my mum any extra money as I had just bought my first home.
In the end mum had to sell the house and downsize to a one bed flat which soon became jst as cluttered / dirty as the house had been.
We all still visited mum but would either eat before we got there or take mum out for a meal, We would have mum over to us for the weekend and when my own children came along this pattern continued. In her own way I know mum was happy and we all came to terms with her strang ways. When my mother died we had to sort out her "stuff" in it we found all our baby photoes, first curles, baby teeth, photographs you use all through the yaers and albums of photographs, christmas / birthday cards & thank you letters from the grandchildren. She had kept it all.
You can not force people to change but if you love them you will find a way to make things work.
I hope your boyfriend and you can find a way to get along with his mother but please try not to drive a wedge between him and his mother. Remember for most men (certianly for me) Mum is there first love and will always have a place in there heart no matter what strians that relationship comes under.
 

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Hoarding, dogs and a less than good work ethic.

Makes visiting mom a joy...one we celebrate as infrequently as possible.
 

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I have not dealt with anything like this, but here are some ideas that come to my mind as possible solutions you could negotiate with your guy:

- Agree to pick her up treat her to a meal out every two weeks as a new family tradition. It might put a small strain on the budget if you're strapped, but it gives him the schedule he'd like to see, and you can avoid spending time in the house.

- Agree that holidays will be held in your home or one of the other relative's houses. You can pick her up and drop her off.

- Recognize that her ways have always been what they are, and your boyfriend and his siblings all survived it and became okay people. Your children might catch a cold or two, just as they would in the classroom. I'm sure there's no bubonic plague in her pantry!

- Consider whether it would be helpful or harmful to discuss your concerns with her and see what she has to say. Maybe if she hears the same thing from someone who isn't family she'll realize the magnitude of the problem, but you'd have to do it in a diplomatic, tactful way that makes her feel supported instead of judged.
These are all wonderful suggestions. I can only think of one more suggestion. Could you and your boyfriend (along with his siblings) organize "clean up days"?

I also couldn't resist commenting on children getting sick from the filth. Many studies are now saying that some "filth" is good for young children's immune systems. Apparently super clean surroundings, hand sanitizers, and way too many antibiotics can do much more harm than good. That has certainly been the case with my children growing up here on the farm.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks so much to everyone for your replies. It was helpful to read Wiltshireman's experience from the other side.

I agree that a little dirt can be good for kid's immune systems - however, I do worry about food poisoning since she doesn't wash her hands or worktop much when preparing food. For this reason, I can't eat there when I get pregnant since pregnant women are more susceptible to infections, and catching food poisoning can kill or disable the foetus. It's not a risk I'm willing to take.

I do worry about the psychological effects of my future kids seeing the state of their grandmother's house. I would hate for them to grow up thinking it's normal or acceptable. I am terrified that this messiness trait might run in the family and that they might become just like his mother.

The suggestion of starting a new tradition of meals out is a good one. This would be difficult to pay for, since I don't have a lot of money. I don't know how willing his mom and her partner would be to pay for themselves. They may not want to, and then I would end up footing the bill, which I can't afford to do every two weeks.

To answer Wiltshireman's question, my bf remembers the house being clean when he was very young, but since then it has always been messy and his dad was apparently the same. His dad was abusive and his mom eventually threw him out when bf was 15. They have had nothing to do with him since. I suspect this led to his mother's house getting worse over the years. It is basically stuck in an 80's timewarp, which has fallen into neglect and nothing has been repaired since then, apart from the new bathroom.
 

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These are all wonderful suggestions. I can only think of one more suggestion. Could you and your boyfriend (along with his siblings) organize "clean up days"?
This won't work.

If she's a hoarder, she won't want to dispense with a single solitary thing. My mother moved and she almost cried and ripped my head off simultaneously when I threw out some BROKEN DECORATIONS.

So if she's insane...nope. Just will make things worse.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Members of her family have tried cleaning up for her, but she won't let anyone do anything and gets into a strop about it or just ignores them. So, basically the whole family his forced to put up with her mess - and I am expected to go round and sit in it to visit. :/
 

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LotusBlossom: I think you're deluding yourself about how "great" your relationship really is!
He is the most wonderful man I have ever been in a relationship with, and we generally have a great relationship.
My boyfriend knows how I feel about the house...I said I didn't want to eat there, and initially he said I didn't have to, which made me feel better...However, my birthday is coming up soon, and he wants me to go to his mother's house for dinner
Apparently, I am the ONLY person who noticed the BIG RED FLAG in the middle of your post:
My problem is that my boyfriend is very stubborn and persistent and won't take no for an answer. He will keep trying to wear me down until I give in. If I do say no to something, it causes an argument.
Your bf has NO RESPECT for your opinion. Sure you guys get along fine.....as long as you're doing what HE wants, as long as you're going along with HIS ideas, as long as you're toeing the line! Good luck with a lifetime of that!

If your BF is UNWILLING TO COMPROMISE *now* when he's trying to 'woo' you into loving him and promising him forever...then when do you think he'll EVER compromise with you on ANYTHING (kids, money, where to live, holiday celebrations, vacations, retirement, the kids' hobbies, the kids' education, and on, and on, and on.)

You NEED to take a 2nd and a 3rd look at LETTING HIM MOVE IN WITH YOU! This is a VERY one-sided relationship. He considers you and your opinions 2nd-class to his. You WILL grow more resentful over time.

Personally, if you were MY daughter (mine's 15yo), I'd tell you to GET OUT of this relationship before it goes any further. You will NOT have a happy future with an uncompromising, emotionally bullying, rigid man. Ain't gonna happen.
 

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I'm struggling with how I want to respond to this.

I understand your concerns and to some extent they are fair.. But what are you looking for? It's unlikely she is going to change for you if she won't change for her family. You need to decide either it's ok with you and you'll learn to live with it, or you won't. Then you need to tell your BF what you decision is and leave it at that. If your BF can't accept that, then is he really the man for you? As long as HE is able to see his mom as much as he wants, he should not have a say in whether YOU see his mom as much as he wants.

I will say that bringing kids that don't even exist yet and a pregnancy that hasn't happened yet into the argument is all a bit of dramatics that is completely unnecessary. I mean, I'm all for thinking ahead, but you guys don't even live together yet. Let's take one battle at a time. Playing the "but it's not safe for the kids" card when the kids don't even exist yet just seems like manipulation and dramatics. Sorry, gotta call it like I see it.
 

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Yeah, I'm not entirely sure what to say either. It isn't your place, really, to do anything about this, yet your boyfriends handling of the situation will not get you what you need either.

My suggestion is to take a real hard look at this relationship. I agree that the way your boyfriend is treating you is less than stellar.
 

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You said your bf is moving in with you, has he been living on his own or at his mom's place up until this point?
 

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LotusBlossom: I think you're deluding yourself about how "great" your relationship really is!


Apparently, I am the ONLY person who noticed the BIG RED FLAG in the middle of your post:


Your bf has NO RESPECT for your opinion. Sure you guys get along fine.....as long as you're doing what HE wants, as long as you're going along with HIS ideas, as long as you're toeing the line! Good luck with a lifetime of that!

If your BF is UNWILLING TO COMPROMISE *now* when he's trying to 'woo' you into loving him and promising him forever...then when do you think he'll EVER compromise with you on ANYTHING (kids, money, where to live, holiday celebrations, vacations, retirement, the kids' hobbies, the kids' education, and on, and on, and on.)

You NEED to take a 2nd and a 3rd look at LETTING HIM MOVE IN WITH YOU! This is a VERY one-sided relationship. He considers you and your opinions 2nd-class to his. You WILL grow more resentful over time.

Personally, if you were MY daughter (mine's 15yo), I'd tell you to GET OUT of this relationship before it goes any further. You will NOT have a happy future with an uncompromising, emotionally bullying, rigid man. Ain't gonna happen.

I am in 100% agreement with this post. If he is like this already, it will only get worse with time, as you give in again and again to avoid conflict. Your not wanting to dine in such filthy conditions should be respected. If he wants to do so, then fine, he and the rest of the family can tippy-toe around her forever, but you should not be expected to do the same. (The two of you can go pick her up once a month and bring her to your house, or out for dinner, a 20 minute drive is nothing!) But in the big picture here, your BF is an emotional bully.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
"Playing the "but it's not safe for the kids" card when the kids don't even exist yet just seems like manipulation and dramatics. Sorry, gotta call it like I see it.[/QUOTE]

I haven't "played this card" at all. I mentioned it ONCE and my bf promptly told me to shut up. So I left the topic alone. I do need to consider how I feel about my future kids going to her house, because the situation WILL arise in the not too distant future and I am worried how I am going to handle it.

With regards to my bf being an emotional bully - most of the time he has my best interests in mind and chooses to do things that will benefit me, without me having to ask. So there is a good side to him. He is very rigid-minded and has a hard time accepting changes, which is why me saying No, might be difficult for him to accept. However, I do agree that he has to learn to compromise and accept he can't have things all his own way.

I am currently testing him on this topic: for example, he likes to be in charge of the cooking and doesn't like me getting in the way. Which is normally fine by me, as I can relax with my feet up on the table and have a meal brought to me. However, the other day I picked up a sandwich he had made for me and went to put it in the sandwich toaster and he blew up at me and called me a weirdo for not letting him do it. I told him flat-out his behavior was unreasonable, insulting and out of order. I think if he gets used to me saying No to things more often, he will begin to accept he can't have everything his own way.
 

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What does your boyfriend's place look like? Does he keep it clean and organized. That's the first thing I'd worry about. Did he get his mother's habits.

My mom never could organize anything. So as we children grew up we took over most of the housework. There were 8 of us anyway so it was not too bad. My mom only did the laundry after a while and she never got that done.

After we all grew up she became a disorganized horder. Her house was always clean. She was fanatic about subing everything. But there were piles of disorganized papers, arts supplies, sewing supplies, etc.

It got to the point that we were concerned about her safety. So a few of us would go over to her place about once a year and get rid of the junk. What we did was to buy a a whole slew of those plastic tubs w/lids that they well at places like WalMart. We'd throw away what we could that was not of value when she was not looking. Then we'd organize and fill up the plastic tubs with her stuff so she could find the things she needed.

When we first started to do this she protested very loudly. But over time she got to accept your intrusion as it made her life much better.

Maybe you can get your boyfriend and his family to watch the TV show Horders. There are some others as well where they go into houses, clean them up, sell the unnecessery stuff and use the money to buy a few special pieces for the house.

I would never leave my mother to live in a place like you describe. It sounds horribly unhealthy for his mother. She is obviously not all there and needs someone to care enough about her to help.

For example when her bathroom had a leak that caused so many problems, why didn't one of her children do something to help her? They allowed it to go till she had a wall of black mildew for a long time? Black mildew is horribly toxic to humans.

If I were you I would be reluctant to marry the bf because of the way he ignores the obvious problems with his mother.
 

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Members of her family have tried cleaning up for her, but she won't let anyone do anything and gets into a strop about it or just ignores them. So, basically the whole family his forced to put up with her mess - and I am expected to go round and sit in it to visit. :/
Are he and his siblings really not able to stand up to their mother to help her for her own good? They will let her intimidate them into their having to go and tip toe around her and put themselves and their children in unsafe and unhealthy environment because they cannot sit her down, have a heart to heart with her and tell her that they are going to help her because they love her? Really? They are afraid to do that?
 

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"Playing the "but it's not safe for the kids" card when the kids don't even exist yet just seems like manipulation and dramatics. Sorry, gotta call it like I see it.
I haven't "played this card" at all. I mentioned it ONCE and my bf promptly told me to shut up. So I left the topic alone. I do need to consider how I feel about my future kids going to her house, because the situation WILL arise in the not too distant future and I am worried how I am going to handle it.

With regards to my bf being an emotional bully - most of the time he has my best interests in mind and chooses to do things that will benefit me, without me having to ask. So there is a good side to him. He is very rigid-minded and has a hard time accepting changes, which is why me saying No, might be difficult for him to accept. However, I do agree that he has to learn to compromise and accept he can't have things all his own way.

I am currently testing him on this topic: for example, he likes to be in charge of the cooking and doesn't like me getting in the way. Which is normally fine by me, as I can relax with my feet up on the table and have a meal brought to me. However, the other day I picked up a sandwich he had made for me and went to put it in the sandwich toaster and he blew up at me and called me a weirdo for not letting him do it. I told him flat-out his behavior was unreasonable, insulting and out of order. I think if he gets used to me saying No to things more often, he will begin to accept he can't have everything his own way.[/QUOTE]

I am sure that ou have told us only the tip of the iceburg about his ridgid and mean way of interacting with you. There are so many red flags in this post that it's concerning. Remember that anything that bothers you now will be magnified 100 times after marriage. What I see is you making excuses for his wrong headed behavior and treatment of you.
 

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Regarding how these future kids will view your MIL if she has a filty pig sty of a house.

Unless it is pointed out to them, they probably won't think anything of it until they get much older and even then, it will just be the way their grandmother is.

My brother & SIL have lived in filthy houses for the last 20 or so years. I went & still go to visit when I am in town, my kids always came, they didn't even notice the mess until they were older & even then, they just dealt with it.

Kids will go to friends houses & not even notice the state of the house, kids are more interested in the people in the house and maybe what exciting treasures they can find if there are piles of things around everywhere.

I would say you or your boyfriend are not going to be able to change his mother, you will have to find coping skills to work around her messiness or it will cause a huge rift between the two of you.
 

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Been there, done that, bought the tee shirt.

We didn't eat there unless we picked up pizzas. We didn't sleep there. We tended to visit more in the summer when we could have a "picnic" and the kids could play outside.

Fortunately for me, my husband saw the squalor and didn't want to go either. When the kids were crawling, we just didn't do it. They wanted us to visit, we told them to come see us because we didn't want the kids on the filthy floor. Before we had kids, we went to visit but didn't eat there...just our rule. We took them out for meals. I am sure they figured out that I had a problem with eating anything that came out of the kitchen full of flies and filth but I didn't care. I was not going to get some sort of poisoning in that kitchen!

Stand firm. If you are not comfortable eating there, don't. When you don't live in an environment that is full of the bacteria that kitchen is full of you have a higher chance of getting sick than anyone who is used to eating that. Just tell your boyfriend that you will only eat there if you pick up your food at a deli and bring it in. Quite frankly, when it comes to my health, I can be a bit of a witch. I don't have time to be sick. I didn't have time or patience for my kids to get sick after we had been there. If he won't support you in this little thing...you need to think long and hard about this situation for the future.
 

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I am currently testing him on this topic: for example, he likes to be in charge of the cooking and doesn't like me getting in the way. Which is normally fine by me, as I can relax with my feet up on the table and have a meal brought to me. However, the other day I picked up a sandwich he had made for me and went to put it in the sandwich toaster and he blew up at me and called me a weirdo for not letting him do it. I told him flat-out his behavior was unreasonable, insulting and out of order. I think if he gets used to me saying No to things more often, he will begin to accept he can't have everything his own way.
I have mixed feelings as I read this. I had the feeling when I read your first post that you might be introducing some drama, but I also thought "Ok, I can get where she's coming from."

Apparently others also sensed that it was premature and intense to suggest that kids who don't exist yet shouldn't be able to develop an open and accepting relationship with a grandparent.

I also agree with the post highlighting red flags, and then I see this post by you. You and your guy are developing some extremely unhealthy and destructive habits. While it's good to learn your partner before you get married, you are baiting him and this can only cause problems that might otherwise not exist. I think you both are headed for disaster if you're playing these head games, and it's likely to produce conflict that can make his own worst traits come out stronger than they would if you didn't do this. If he's a little controlling, it might be fine for one woman, but that woman is NOT you, because your way of "testing" him is likely to make him try harder for control and this will spiral out of control at some point.
 
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