Advice for Dealing with Family Situation

Updated on April 11, 2017
S.W. asks from Kingston, NY
13 answers

My mother in law has had a bedroom in our house since I met my husband. She has her own home 50 minutes away. . Typically she comes over and sleeps over every Wednesday afternoon leaves Thursday mornings and every other weekend...Sat morning until Sunday morning. I am a full time working mom who looks forward to restful weekends. I have 2 kids ages 4 and 6 and a step-daughter who we see frequently...the mom is with us every holiday as well. I feel it's excessive and vent to my husband but he refuses to bend. I get along with his mom but she has an overbearing strong personality. I just would like it cut in half. Also my hubbys sister just moved from Florida to our downstairs apartment to be closer...both ladies are single. I feel I don't have my own family.

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So What Happened?

Thank you for all the wonderful advice.....yes I moved into my husbands house and yes his mom had a room prior to us getting together. However the visits were less frequent and yes her visits now are in line with the visitation of my step-daughter. My step-daughter is now sleeping alone and this is no longer an issue. =)

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answers from Chicago on

After reading this post and your last one, I strongly suggest you get counseling for yourself.

Your husband and his family has some very strange family dynamics that formed way before you came along, and will be extremely hard for you to change on your own, especially since they don't want to change.

Please listen to your gut instinct that is telling you something is not right, and seek out some counseling.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

I'm with you, but I have to ask...if this was going on before you were married, did you ever discuss this arrangement changing before you said I do? I don't think it's all that healthy, honestly, for any of you. It would be one thing if she were in poor health and you moved her in to care for her. But an able bodied woman who just camps out in your spare room like a child on weekend visitation seems inappropriate to me.

I'm not sure what I would do, or suggest, simply b/c I don't know how you married him with this situation already going on and nothing being said about changing it. Makes me think it was "part of the deal" and getting your husband to change it is going to be a bigger thing than just getting him to change his mind about a vacation or whatever... there is more baggage involved if he refuses to have his mother not live in his house part-time. The kind of baggage I would have addressed before marriage. Does he fail to stand up to her about anything? Somehow I'm having a hard time imagining that you are first in his life, and not playing 2nd fiddle to his mother. I'd say some counseling is in order, simply b/c I don't know what else to say. Bigger issues than just getting her to agree to come less, if you ask me.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

Yikes! I love my MIL but I wouldn't want her in my home EVERY Wednesday and every other weekend.

You and your husband need to have a counselor intervene. He needs to hear it from an outsider that this is excessive.

If he won't go? Take your kids to a hotel or her house when she comes on Wednesday's. That might get the point across. It's not the ultimate response, but it would definitely strike a chord.

Have you asked HER to NOT come over so often?
Have you tried to find a program that she can do on Wednesday's? Get her out with friends.
Get her involved in activities with people her age. There's got to be some type of senior program she can attend?

With all this going on, why is your SIL living with you now too? Is this temporary or permanent?

I would have a talk with my MIL. Tell her you need down time and if she could just come over on the weekend or Wednesday, you choose the day and see how that works for all of you.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Wausau on

I want to make sure that I understand things correctly.

"My mother in law has had a bedroom in our house since I met my husband."
*** The house you live in now was your husband's before your marriage. His mom has always had an established bedroom there, since before you knew him.
"..she comes over and sleeps over every Wednesday...and every other weekend"
*** This sounds like she is on the same visitation schedule as your stepdaughter.

I get where you're coming from with this. I would lose my mind with this frequency of additional visiting people in my house. I don't even have a guest room, let alone a dedicated bedroom for a frequent flier.

To be perfectly honest, this would have been a dealbreaker for the relationship if I was in your shoes. I wouldn't have continued dating him. At a minimum, cohabitation and/or marriage never would have been on the table. I know myself well, and no matter how great he may be in other ways this is just too big of an incompatibility for a life with me.

The core problem is that you're not dealing with a situation that is new or surprising. You knew how things were going in. I don't know if it okay with you then and you've changed your mind now, or if you thought you would be able to change a long-established family arrangement. Either way, your influence is limited by the way the marriage was started.

Your husband has made it clear that he has no intention of changing things. The way your home life is today is how it is going to continue to be in the foreseeable future. Probably until your stepdaughter is an adult. Possibly if the visitation schedule changes or either your husband or MIL decide they need a change.

You have young kids, and they are your husband's kids too, correct? You could ask him to go to marriage counseling with you and try to find a place of compromise.

As for the sister moving to the downstairs apartment - if that was a unilateral decision by your husband without your input, I think that was wrong. Learning to work as a team would be a great topic for marriage counseling. It doesn't surprise me that the sister would move to be close, considering how close her brother and mother are.

If he won't do that, and you want to stay married, consider seeing a therapist on your own to see it you can put serious effort into learning to embrace this lifestyle that you chose to enter, so that you can also love it and be happy too. Your MIL and stepdaughter, in particular, are part of 'your own family'. You chose them when you chose him.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I had a very difficult situation in our marriage when my MIL overstepped and my husband found it hard to say no to her. It was early on, and we went to counselling. He was just as stressed as I was (if not more). It was not easy. He'd been caving to his mother for years - because he pitied her. He had to see it wasn't helping anyone. A counsellor helped him see that if he didn't stop, and enforce boundaries, things were only going to get worse.

I think your last post said your stepdaughter comes on Weds and alternating weekends. If so, and this is the reason your MIL is there, then that's more understandable. Sounds like the arrangement might have developed when he was a single dad and mom helped out with his daughter who had separation anxiety.

He either will change or he won't. My husband was honest and admitted he didn't want his mother to need him. It had been going on since he was a child. She hasn't changed, but he did. It was more for himself (the counselling) than just us, the couple.

If your husband likes this arrangement and everyone but you has the problem - then you could go to counselling on your own and find ways to cope with this. To make it more bearable. I myself would not be able to handle it. So I get it. If you've said you were ok with this all along, and to sister moving downstairs, be prepared for resistance.

** I should add, it's better to voice your concerns as "What would work for me..", "What I would find easier .." or "What I would like.." as opposed to venting, or making complaints about his mother and sister.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on


Welcome back!

Do you not have your step-daughter over every Wednesday as well? Seems strange that you don't mention her. Does she sleep with your step daughter so your husband doesn't have to? Maybe she comes over to visit with her granddaughter that you seem to exclude from the "family"?

If I were you? I'd have a sit down family meeting with my husband and MIL. And tell them that you need a break.

How long is your SIL going to live with you? Why can't she live with her mom??? That seems to be the way to go. Have sister live with her MOTHER and rent out your apartment.

I guess you really need to have a straight talk with your family, this includes your step daughter. She is part of your family.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

It sounds like she stays when your step daughter is there. It is kind of odd that you didn't list her as one of your children, perhaps she picks up on this and feels she needs to be there to protect her other grandchild.

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answers from Boston on

I read your prior question about your stepdaughter visiting on exactly this schedule - Wednesdays and every other weekend. Is that visitation still in place? Is your mother-in-law visiting in order to see her? Where does your stepdaughter sleep? In the same bedroom as your MIL? Do you still have the same issues as in your last post, with your husband jumping up to sleep with his anxious daughter? Does your MIL solve that problem by either sleeping in the same room and allowing the girl to get back to sleep, or to provide better supervision for your husband? Did the sister-in-law just move in without your advance knowledge?

I think, in both situations, you don't have a stepdaughter or MIL or (now) sister-in-law problem. You have a marriage problem, in that you and your husband are miles apart about values, priorities, and the types of living arrangements that make you comfortable. Are they from a cultural that often finds extended family under the same roof? Do they feel that you are a busy working mom with no time to do things around the house or care for your kids after school? I'm not saying that's right - just wondering what's in their mindset.

This situation has been going on for years. I'd suggest you get some couple's counseling to sort out this problem, especially because you and your husband are unable to communicate effectively about this, at least to the point where there is any compromise. this isn't going to get better on its own, so you have to make the first move even if your husband doesn't go along for counseling in the beginning. At least he will realize you are serious, and you will learn some initial skills in sorting out your priorities and standing up for yourself in an assertive and clear way.

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answers from Fort Myers on

It sounds like your mother in law isn't married? She sounds lonely and bored. Not to be rude but shes had her shot and raised a family, now its your turn. You really need to put your foot down. Give the sisters a time frame to move out. Tell your mother in law that you love her but you guys need family time with just the 4 of you.

I couldn't handle being in your situation. Tell your husband enough is enough. He doesn't want to piss anyone off but this is hurting you and your family. Be strong.

I would change your mother in laws room to a craft room or something else. If she wants to be closer to you guys, she can sell her house and move to the same town.

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answers from Norfolk on

Well, maybe when you want a break, when she comes over to your house, you can go to her house.
Or just take the kids and go on vacation for a week.
She needs some friends her own age and activities at a senior center.
More of a social life (a date once in awhile) should get her out of your hair more often.
It's strange a room in your home is for her dedicated use.
Turn it into a playroom for the kids, a hobby room for you, have another guest over to use that room every so often so she can't - it's your home so do with it what you want.
Make it less comfortable for her.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

Is there a reason why she has sleep overs at yours? it sounds super strange and invasive... 50 mins away isn't that far so distance isnt really an excuse but could be an issue if she can't drive at night? Maybe you could suggest visiting her home rather than her coming to you?



answers from Anchorage on

You have enough bedrooms for all 3 children to have their own room plus an extra for grandma? If that is the case then keep the spare room but talk to your husband about cutting back on weekend visits. If not, then all the children need their own rooms and mom needs to go home and sleep.



answers from Washington DC on

Ask her to stay with her daughter in her apartment every other visit. If she has had her own room there since the day you and hubby met, I'm guessing you knew what a close knit family they were while you were dating? Is she planning on living there permanently when she is older? This may be a discussion you need to have with your husband and his sister.

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