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My husband and I have been married 17 years and we have two kids. Until about 2 years ago we had a good marriage. Most of our friends would have described us as one of the best couples they knew.

My husband is an only child and his parents (and family, his mother is one of 10 that are all very close) and I have never gotten along well. We are nice enough to each other, but they simply don't care for me and do little things like exclude me from conversations, ignore me when I talk, negate everything I say (tell me that what I am saying is not accurate, no matter what I am saying from major news issues to whether or not there is milk in the fridge), point out that I didn't do the laundry or finish the dishes at my own home despite anything else that I have accomplished, and little things like that. I am not the only one in the family they do this to, they tend to treat most of the in-laws that way, husbands or wives and I can't say for certain that they are responsible for a couple of broken marriages, but they have definitely not helped. I mostly ignore it all but it has always bugged me.

Two years ago my husband's parents became ill (his father has been having trouble keeping up with their business and his mother was diagnosed with dementia). So my husband decided to leave his lucrative job to help them with their business and to take it over. We decided together to move them in with us. We bought a new house, gave them the master bedroom so they would be comfortable and took an area upstairs that I thought would give us some separation from them. I knew it would be hard, but I also knew my husband wanted to provide for them so as much as I was worried about it, I agreed to it all out of love for my husband.

The next two years were really difficult. The dementia put her into our affairs 24/7, always asking what we were talking about constantly, defending and fighting for the children when we disciplined them, getting up at night and coming up to our area to turn on all the lights. We had to always keep our eye on her to keep her from injuring herself, we had to stay on her to keep up her diet and so we ate most meals with them, took vacations with them, it seems like we hardly had a moment alone or with just our kids. This year I had had enough and told my husband I wanted a trip without his parents and with just us and the kids. We agreed that we needed this time to get our relationship back on track, so we planned a month long trip this summer. I was going to leave early with the kids (driving one way with a friend and her kids) and he was going to fly to meet us, stay and then we would all fly back together. We arranged everything for his parents to be taken care of, I rented an apt in a big city for us and have been planning for months.

The kids and I were supposed to leave this coming week. 7 days ago, all of a sudden, his mother became ill. We took her to the hospital and it turned out to be encephalitis, a serious brain infection. The diagnosis was not good and the odds of survival for a healthy person are only 30%, let alone an 80+ year old frail woman. Things looked dire. But in the last 7 days she has almost completely recovered to her normal self. She has to stay in the hospital for another 14+ days for IV medication to fully recover, but for the most part she is almost entirely back to her old self and every single day shows more improvement. My husband would be due to fly and meet us about one week after she is done with the medication and then she should either be home or will be in physical therapy (skilled nursing) unit afterwards. Today he tells me that he thinks we should cancel the trip OR I can go ahead and go but he doesn't think he should.

I know that his mother has a serious illness, but all signs point to her getting better! How much more of our lives can we sacrifice for these people? He says we can plan it another time in the future. When? They are 84 years old and not in fantastic health, although for 84 they are pretty-darn-good. What will happen next time to prevent us from going? We will lose over 60% of the money we paid for the apartment, the airfare which is non-refundable, not to mention that I have been planning for months and am beyond excited that we were going to get a break away. I have been waiting for this for two years! I can't see going on the vacation with the kids without him, while he sits here taking care of his parents, but I can't believe he won't leave them for even a couple of weeks or any time at all.

I even came up with a modified version of the trip that would just have him come to meet us for 3 days and then we would all come back together early and still he said he didn't think he could do it. I can't understand this and we can't talk about it because we just fight. I can't imagine how we can get through this without hating each other. Him hating me because I can't understand his devotion to his parents above everything else and me hating him for not caring more about his wife and kids and my own sanity.

Am I being insensitive? Some of my friends say "they won't live forever." But whose to say they won't outlive us?! His grandparents on both sides lived to be 100, no one in my family has lived even close to that. No one knows when their time is and just because they are in their 80's doesn't mean we don't have 15 more years of this, when my husband and I will both be 60. Whose to say we will live to be 60?! Lots of people don't. I don't want to wait until I am 60 to finally take a vacation with my husband after my kids are gone. Am I being insensitive? I don't know how our relationship can survive this.
 

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You are not being insensitive. You have done a lot for his parents and seriously need a break.

I also understand his point of view. Unfortunately his point of view is detrimental to your marriage. Like you said, you have no clue how long they will live. IT could be years with these sort of emergencies going on constantly.

You said that your MIL has 9 siblings. Is there any of them who can help out? At least that way there is family with them as well as other help.

If he will not go with you I suggest that you go with the children. You all need the break.

If it were me, I would write him a letter the stated what I need, not want but need. I need a break. I need time with my husband. Our marriage is in trouble because we have no time for each other anymore. Your parents will be fine. etc etc... if you do not come, I am going with the children as i'm near a breaking point.

The reason I would write it is to avoid a fight and to make sure that I got a chance to clearly state my point.
 

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Her siblings are half the problem. They were here when the whole thing happened and have helped us until today when they had to go back home (all together) in another state. There is one sister and a brother left here, but other than that, it's just me and my husband. The sisters want her to have a sitter 24/7 to ensure she is taken care of in the hospital, despite the fact that the nursing staff said that's not necessary. They also pitched a fit because we talked about hiring a sitter for the evenings, which we may still do. They only want family to stay with her. They don't want us hiring "a stranger." Then they drove off to go home. The sister remaining here will help, but she works part-time and has her own life going on. So starting tonight the plan is for my husband and I to alternate sitting up there through the night and then coming home during the day and doing our usual routine. I am scheduled to leave on Tuesday and then he will have to do it on his own or hire someone, as I suggested we should do.

I think the letter is a good idea. I don't know what is right or wrong. Maybe I am being insensitive to this situation. I only know that I feel like he is choosing his parents over me and the kids, yet again, and if he doesn't join us at any point, I don't think I can forgive him. A week ago I understood, when it was so serious, but now she is recovering at a shocking rate and still he doesn't want to go and he wants to do all his family asks of him despite how unreasonable it all is, but he won't do anything I ask.
 

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The one thing I will say in his defense is that he is getting a lot of pressure and feels very responsible. That's not all bad. At least he is a responsible man. That alone is worth more then you know.



How convenient for his siblings to show up for a bit, insist that only family be with her and then they leave dumping it all on you two.

There are times in a marriage when we have to let the other person do what their conscience tells them to do. I caution you about harboring anger at him if he does not join you this time. He's the father of your children.This sort of anger breaks up marriages. He sounds like a good man. At least from what you have said.

If you harbor anger it will be just one more obstacle to over come.
 

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If the siblings insist only family should care for her, then tell them they all need to come back and help because there is no way you and your husband can do this by yourselves. If no one will come to help, then they can shut up about you hiring someone to care for her.

Tell your husband he'll be no good to his mother if he's all burnt out from taking this on by himself without any help. Caregiver burn out is a big issue - there are few things more stressful. He might think he's doing the best thing for his mother, but not if he makes himself sick in the process. He needs to take time away, too.

Caregiver Stress & Burnout: Tips for Recharging and Finding Balance

Go online and look up support resources for caregivers, and support organizations and forums. Just google caregiver support or caregiver resources. There are also likely support organizations in your community, church, senior centers, etc. Start looking for some.

Caring for Your Parents | Caring for the Caregiver : Support Groups & Services | PBS
 

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I know that his mother has a serious illness, but all signs point to her getting better! How much more of our lives can we sacrifice for these people?

I can't imagine how we can get through this without hating each other. Him hating me because I can't understand his devotion to his parents above everything else and me hating him for not caring more about his wife and kids and my own sanity.
I truly am sorry for the situation. These are the things that all of us face in life. Your husband loves his parents, and I want you to know from firsthand experience, if his mom was to pass away while you were on this trip there could be more problems to wade through than if you were to reschedule it. I know you are disappointed. I know you want this for your family, but I don't see this as him "not caring about his wife and kids" and I think if you think about it you will come to that conclusion as well.

Air fare may not be refundable but the tickets can be exchanged for future use. You can choose to get bitter about this situation or you can choose not to pressure your husband over something that he has no control over (the health of his parents). I am not insensitive to your circumstances, my mother was ill for several years, but when she was gone she was gone permanently. I hope what I have said makes sense, and I truly hope you and your husband will draw closer together in this time and not let a wedge be forced between you.
 

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He says we can plan it another time in the future.
You already have your answer.

The resentment over this kind of thing lasts for many years after they are gone, and for you it is much worse because of the years being treated badly prior to them moving in.

I can predict with high confidence where this is going. Years down the line after they are gone the husband finally turns to you and says "now I can treat you like other men treat their wives", which may not be the words - but that's the way you'll hear it.

Instead of relief and happiness it is going to be rage. Because the "till death do us part" marriage pledge was not for you, but to his parents.
 

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Hello randomly,

I feel for your situation and believe you are not being unreasonable or insensitive at all. I hope your husband wakes up and becomes mindful of your feelings.

Sadly reading the following;

"but they simply don't care for me and do little things like exclude me from conversations, ignore me when I talk, negate everything I say (tell me that what I am saying is not accurate, no matter what I am saying from major news issues to whether or not there is milk in the fridge)"

Is exactly like, how my wife (who is 43) is treated by her mother (who is 80) and siblings. At the moment we are fortunate in the fact we now live a very long way from all of them so seldom have to see them.

I'm sorry I can't offer any helpful advice, I just hope you are able to express to your husband how you this situation hurts your relationship with him. So that he can remember that you should be the most important person in his life. Not in a selfish way of course just in the matter of fact that, it should be that way.

Of course his concern for his parents is very understandable, however he should always remember you no matter what happens.
 

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You are not being unreasonable. These people have treated you like dirt from day 1. I would feel exactly the same way.

I however would not be spending my precious nights sitting with my MIL (horrid woman she is) in hospital. If hubby wants to, fine, I would never stop him...but me alternate with him? Not a chance in h ell after the way that b itch and her husband have treated me.

If I were you, I would stop taking care of MIL and start taking care of you. If your husband won't go with you, go with the kids on your own. If you force the issue, make him go and she dies while you're away, you'll have far more problems than you have now. If he wants to stay behind, let him.
 

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You only get one life. Self inflicted misery is no way to live. Most moral codes and the christian Bible dictate that a man takes care of his wife and his family and does not abide a man allowing his family or origin to destroy his marriage and family. I would tell him two things. 1. If he doesn't show up on this trip, you are not sure whether you can stay married. 2. His parents need to be out of your marital home within 4 months.
 

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I think kicking the parents out at this age is a bit harsh, Hick.

But I do think letting him know that you would fully expect him to not go if she weren't making such excellent progress, and of course he should call twice daily for updates from the nurses, but it's time for siblings to kick in and he should at least give you those 3 days, lest you find it quite happy just being you and the kids.
 

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Okay, my family was in a situation somewhat similar last year. My great grandmother was ninety three and had been going downhill for some time. Being a mother of sixteen with all but three still living, plus grandkids and even great grandkids old enough to help, there was family with her at all times, we did it in rotating four hour shifts. Unfortunately,that doesn't seem to be an option for you. What is, however, is hospice, or something like that. Let's face it, there's no coming back from dementia, and as a woman who's own dad suffered from encephalitis three years ago, the infection may have healed, but the long term damage is still there. Knowing how my dad changed after his month long stay in ICU, I would wager that it's going to get to the point where just having family helping out isn't going to be a safe move for anyone involved. Her state of mind may completely change, the way she reacts to things, she may even become violent at some point.

How are your kids handling this? Did they see how grandpa an grandma treated you in the early years? If so, surely they can feel the tension in your marriage. This is the point where I would take matters into my own hands and tell my husband that you and the kids are staying elsewhere until the matter is resolved by him and his parents siblings, because you've done what you can to improve the circumstances and he's not even attempted to meet you in the middle. Don't forget, your kids need this vacation as badly as you, and if it's cancelled then they'll resent him and the situation as much as you do.

I hate to say this, but I think you're losing this battle, and unless you do something drastic and fast, nothing is going to get his attention in time to fix this marriage.

Hope this helps, good luck.
 

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Like WolverineFan, I lost my dad after a long and lengthy illness.

OP, I think what you and your husband have done for his parents is highly admirable. Care-giving, especially to the degree that you are doing, is incredibly difficult even for loved ones; your effort here seriously borders on heroism in my eyes, given your past relationship with his family. You are in the trenches here and have been for two long years.

Truly, this is one hard, dark, period of time in an otherwise great marriage. It feels like it will last forever- it would be so much easier if we were given a time card, if we knew how much longer we (caregivers) had to hold out, had to keep going. It can feel endless.

Just know, it is not endless. In fact, one day it will end abruptly. Even if the day is known, if a plug is pulled, it will end abruptly. The entire landscape will change. And once the smoke clears, everything will look very different, including this period of time. Your actions now will have a very different appearance then (regardless of what your actions are, it is just how time/perspective works once the stress is gone.)

Your MIL has dementia; if she manages to survive this current bout, she regardless has limited time left; your husband in particular has limited time left with her, where there is meaningful conversation, where there is still a 2-way relationship.

It is actually not that uncommon for someone to be gravely ill, then suddenly, almost inexplicably, appears to get better, then to die very soon thereafter. My grandmother died two days after being returned to her nursing home after a hospitalization.

My dad also died within 48 hours of his hospital discharge. He was released on a Friday morning; my husband and I were off to a Bed and Breakfast to celebrate our 1st anniversary, and to celebrate a friend's son wedding. My dad was doing so much better, that I opted out of going to see him Friday afternoon and figured we would stop in on our way home on Sunday.

I didn't get to see him again; he died Saturday afternoon, despite all appearances of being on the mend.

Like WF fan said: when they are gone, it is absolute. There is nothing else. Whatever chance you had to treat your mom/dad well, it is now gone. All you have left is the past accounting. I will never, ever forget that I opted out of seeing my dad on the last full day of his life. I am proud of the time I spent with him before that, I am glad I was able to be with him and care for him. I know how much my being there meant for him. But my dad's last words to me were, I was hoping you could stay a little longer, and when I told him I would see him over the weekend he said, OK, I love you. I now really wish I would have stayed a little longer with him, and I very much wish I would have stopped in on that Friday afternoon, even if just for a Hug, a "Congrats on being sprung from the hospital", and one last "I love you, Dad."

When you look back on this period of your life, you can be proud of your sacrifices. You have handled the situation with love and grace, even for a woman who didn't show you the same. This kinds of work causes a lot of pain and struggle. Your husband is in pain and struggling, too.

Please try as hard as you can not to make your battle- the very real struggle and sublimation of Your Needs vs Their Needs- a battle for your husband, also. Your husband is trying to make the best decisions he can. He has a real and legitimate fear of losing his mother at this time- at this precise time. Not too many children, no matter how old, would want to leave their parent when they are recovering from a very serious illness and are still hospitalized. I don't think his concern is overblown.

I think the hardest thing about caregiving is that everything revolves around the patient; the caregiver's needs are not considered.

So my recommendation is to definitely, absolutely go on your trip. It is imperative that you take care of yourself and give yourself the rest and consideration that you need. Same for your kids. I love the idea of the letter, expressing your feelings and needs.

At the same time, try to work with your husband to get to a "win-win", to the extent that one is possible at this time. Does the decision re: 3 days need to occur right now, or since you will be gone for a month, can it wait until a week or two passes, and he can re-evaluate based on his mom's condition?

Try to hang in there. Know that you are doing an amazing thing for your husband and your children. When you are at your MIL's funeral, you will be a source of comfort for your husband, you will be able to tell your children that you truly went beyond to do everything possible for her. The pain and struggle and anger and resentment will become only faded memories over time. Instead it will be a moment to your character and your caring and love for your husband. This is one of those "better or worse" times and you have truly stepped up.

Take care and enjoy your well-earned and much-deserved vacation! Hopefully your husband is able to join you with a clear conscience, maybe even for the last week or two weeks. Fingers crossed!
 

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I was thinking about this some more.

Unfortunately, my experience is that your MIL's relatives reactions are par for the course. My mom and I experienced something similar. My grandmother's other children and my dad's siblings (same group) talked a big game about what my dad and my gram needed for "good and proper" care but had no interest in actually helping to make it happen.

My MIL took care of her father, along with my RN SIL, at the end of his life until he died. My MIL's sister/SIL's aunt and husband had lots to say about their care and were very happy to criticize, but would not watch the father even for a few hours. The fall-out is that my MIL/SIL/DH have absolutely zero contact with the aunt, and haven't for over a decade now.

My FIL's wife has undergone something similar. She lives across the country from her mom, her siblings live nearby her mom, yet only my FIL's wife was willing to go live with her mom to help take care of her. She stayed as long as she could via the Family Medical Leave Act, then her mom had to go into a nursing home. No one else was willing to step up.

Even my younger sister (in her 30s at the time) was just not able to be much of a caretaker for our Dad. She came home when he was hospitalized- she loved him dearly, and vice versa- but she couldn't handle the caretaking part. She couldn't handle helping with eating, bathing, etc; in her words, "there are things that a child just should be be asked to do for a parent", including seeing my dad's private parts via helping with toileting.

I think at the heart of it is: many people just aren't capable of being caregivers. This is why, OP, I truly do look at you in heroic terms. I could take care of my dad, but I am not sure I could do it for any period of time for someone who had mistreated me.

Part of the "win-win" for you and your husband will involve setting up boundaries for what you are, and are not, willing or able to do for your in-laws. For instance, unless she is on her death-bed, there is no need for family to be at the hospital bedside 24/7. Your husband might need some help navigating his pain to help establish these boundaries.

One of your boundaries might be, "This is the end of the line for what I can do." With dementia, it is very likely that she will need to be in a 24 hour, secure institution such as a nursing home or dementia unit. As another poster noted, encephalitis is just another hit to her already damaged brain, so the day where she will need 24 hour/nursing care is just that much closer. You might need to be the person to help your husband realize when that day comes.

This is a topic close to my heart. Things are so much clearer now. Back when we were in it, it was agonizing, and we were afraid it would go on for years. My sister and I were worried that my mom would not survive it. It seemed so long, until he died. Then, it was obviously just period of time, less than it took to get an education in HS. It was an epoch with a defined start and end point. But man, it was hard. I keep coming back to what a wonderful, powerful, loving thing you have done for your husband with this.
 
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