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Could you live with your MIL?

(60 Posts)
arabella2 Mon 28-Apr-03 21:26:41

I ask because my MIL is almost 70, and despite having 6 children, lives alone. This is a recent development because until now she lived with her second son, though he hasn't officially moved out however, he spends a lot of the week at his girlfriend's and so she might go a lot of the week without seeing him. She lives in the same town as 3 of her children: the aforementioned son, and 2 of her daughters. One of these daughters comes to see her once a week but the other seems to ignore her existence unless there is a family gathering (roughly every 4 to 5 weeks). Of her 3 other kids - her youngest daughter lives abroad and has asked her if she wants to live with her but she doesn't (though she gets on with her very well, and this daughter visits several times a year, for several weeks, with both her kids and her dp), presumably because of moving so far away. Her other two sons (of which one is my dh) live in other towns in the UK.
It seems ridiculous that she should be spending so much time alone when I (for example) am at home all the time with one of her grandchildren. I feel that it would be my duty to ask her if she wants to come and live with us - she is my dh's mother etc... She is not extremely mobile (though not disabled) and she is also in need of company. I have also been wondering today whether somebody phones her every day, because if son number 2 doesn't go home for several days, how would anyone know if anything had happened to her eg: she had had a stroke or something like that.
Okay, you might ask, just ask her to come and live with you... Herein lies the problem, I would have to make a very big adjustment. I like lots of things about her and am okay with her for about 3 or 4 days in a row. If tired however, she can be extremely bossy and I think sometimes rude. I know it is normal to behave differently when in a bad mood, but it is not as if I can talk to her as if she were my family. I would lose a lot of freedom if she were to live here because she would be perforce more involved in ds's care and I don't think I could handle this. Already if she stays with us for longer than about 4 days I start to feel edgy because I get the feeling that she is the head of the family and I am one of the employees (occasionally, if she is bossy with me...). I like being in charge in my own home and do not want to be questioned about things. She does have a much softer side, but my position would undeniably change if she were to move in. She is Indian and the Indian family structure is such that the older mother does in fact have a lot of power.
I wouldn't really want to live with my own mother either, the only difference being that I could be more open with her or have fights with her without her going off in high dudgeon.
Is it selfish not to want to ask? I think it is... Ds would certainly be very happy to have another person around and he likes her and I think would certainly learn to rely on her. Does anybody live with either their parents or their in-laws? I would be interested to hear people's opinions.

Meanmum Mon 28-Apr-03 21:37:34

I couldn't live with my MIL as we are completely different people. Is it possible for her to move near to your house but not in with you? This would resolve the issues as she can go home to her own space and you can have yours. I figure you both need your own space. Making a decision like this is a huge thing as it is very hard to reverse once made.

Good luck I look forward to hearing what your decision is.

Jimjams Mon 28-Apr-03 21:40:47

No no no. But my MIL is mad!

I think maybe you would both need some space. Maybe she culd live nearer to you?

arabella2 Mon 28-Apr-03 21:43:31

Hi Meanmum
I forgot to add that I don't know if she would actually want to live with us...
No she could not move close to us without moving in... I agree that it is a very big decision... It's not something that I ever thought I would be thinking about but I guess that was a bit naive. Meeting dh was not just about how nice I thought his eyes were!!!

arabella2 Mon 28-Apr-03 21:44:36

Sorry Jimjams, I didn't see your message - we must have been writing at the same time.

crystaltips Mon 28-Apr-03 21:55:34

I could ABSOLUTELY NEVER live with the she-devil ( my MIL ) and the first thing that springs to mind is that you are opening Pandora's Box!! You sound a total saint and I commend you for it - but if it ain't broke don't fix it.
What does DH think ??
There is no way back if things turn sour.
How's about asking her to stay for a couple of weeks - to give her a lift. Making sure that you explain it's to give her a bit of a holiday??

sb34 Mon 28-Apr-03 22:22:41

Message withdrawn

sobernow Mon 28-Apr-03 22:42:29

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

morocco Mon 28-Apr-03 23:50:45

oh good lord no!
a two week holiday was quite long enough for me - in her own home she can do what she wants but why should that also apply to mine?
I'd be a bit suspicious of why one of her daughters ignores her and noone else has offered to have her to be honest (sorry sorry - I am a very nasty cynical person it's true)
How about building a granny flat?

sibble Tue 29-Apr-03 05:41:10

I think you deserve a medal for even considering it as far as you have. My DH and his family recently had a great MIL should sell her house and spend 4 months of the year with each of her children. She is 82. Unfortunately I was the only one not keen on the the slightest...while she is a lovely person we need our own space. She lives life to a routine...fried breakfasts, morning and afternoon tea etc. whereas I eat on the run and do things as and when. I maintain that it would be a recipe for disaster but unfortunately I have made myself very unpopular in saying so.
I think you are wise to have concerns and while we should look after our relatives living with them is another matter.

doormat Tue 29-Apr-03 08:34:45

arabella2 I agree with all the postings you certainly deserve the bravery of the MIL medal and you must be a saint. As others have suggested why not either have her move nearby or give her little "holidays" with your family throughout the year.

I could never live with my MIL. We are o.k together and have our bad moments, she live 5mins walk away. I told dp a few years back not to even go there when the time came as if MIL moved in I would make sure my mother moved in aswell and dp is frightened of her.HEEHEE

jobey Tue 29-Apr-03 11:34:45


Girly Tue 29-Apr-03 11:36:32

Ditto, no bloody way!

jinna Tue 29-Apr-03 12:06:30

i live with both my MIL and FIL - and it is very hard work - we are indian and it is a natural thing that the family lives together and even though i was born here, when i married i knew this was part of the package. My in-laws are lovely but living together takes a lot of give and take - i must admit i have my good days and not so good. My in-laws are elderly but try and help out as much as they can - i was very grateful for their support when i had my son a year ago. My sons are also very close to their grandparents and i feel they learn a lot from them.

Living together can be hard as little habits can irritate you - you have to make sure you have space for yourself. Luckily as my MIL is elderly I tend to be in charge of most things.My husband is very supportive so if something has irritated me i know i can have a moan to him. But believe me it is not easy and think carefully before taking this step.

kaz33 Tue 29-Apr-03 12:25:30

Never met her as DP has nothing to do with his family - she walked out when DP was 10, but thats another story.

I think you are being slightly previous - your MIL probably has very set ideas about where she wants to live. Why would she want to move to another area when no doubt her friends and memories are where she lives? She also has the added bonus of having three of her kids in the same town, something many people would kill for.

When my grandad died my granny, who lives in Scotland decided that she wanted to go into sheltered housing in the town where she was brought up. Both her sons live in England. She made the decision and the move while she was in good health. She now lives in a small community iwth her own flat and with a warden, as she moved when she was healthy she has made friends in the community and has re-ignited friendships from her youth. For my gran it has been an unqualified success. I don't know if either of her sons offered for her to live with them but what they have done is make sure that they visit her loads and make sure she has lots of treats.

I think it is important for your MIL to make this decision while she is good health. Probably one of her children needs to raise this issue, with the knowledge of the other children. The family can then help her come to a solution which suits her and also find ways to support her in their own ways. Their may be financial issues and one or more of the children may be in a better place to help than others.

Inviting an elderly relative into your home is a huge commitment and may as that relative grows older mean increasing nursing commitments. My gran, the one above, looked after her elderly parents for about 15 years. Are you really ready for that ?

Meanmum Tue 29-Apr-03 12:28:28

Good point Kaz33. My grandparents have just moved out of a remote country location into the local town. THey have bought a lovely little flat which will make their life so easy and I'm sure they'll have even more visitors now they are in town than before. They made this decision while they were both fit and healthy as they had always said they didn't want something to happen to one of them and be forced into it. They are happier now than they have ever been.

jobey Tue 29-Apr-03 12:32:52

It's not just now though is it think about when your own children grow into teenagers(the loud music e.t.c that come's with them) or familt holiday's,she will become more dependant on you .My mum had my nan to live with us when my grandad died and it was a big mistake.My nan was welsh and in her home town the children looked after their parents too.She used to act like that was all my mum was there for to be at her beck and call.It spoilt realationships all around.My mum went on to have mental illness,I began to hate my nan for what she put my mum through,my mum rowed with her husband because they couldn't do anything without thinking about her,my brother and I didn't think any of it was fair on us even when I had my own children my mum couldn't be there for me because of her.She would sit there with them every night until they went to bed they never had any time to their selves.Could she not go into sheltered housing near to your home or somthing like that.Please think ahead and think of yourself and your own family.It is not selfish not to ask her please don't feel that way or be pushed into anything.Sorry to rant on but I lived with these problems for 20 years

jinna Tue 29-Apr-03 12:40:54

a better solution may be to invite her over more often and also visit her more - this will keep your relationship intact and also stop you feeling guilty about her being on her own - i have a good relationship with my in laws but feel it would have been better if they had there own place
my bother and his wife live with my parents and their relationship has broken down because they found it hard to live together

if she is happy having her own place i would leave it for now - if she did move in and it didn't work out it would certainly put a strain on your relationship

WideWebWitch Tue 29-Apr-03 12:44:32

Arabella2, in answer to your question, yes, I reckon I could live with my (Indian) ex MIL, given a big enough house. But I certainly couldn't live with her husband (Ex FIL) and since I'm separated from dh it wouldn't happen now. I don't think you're selfish not to want to ask though, not at all and I certainly could NOT live with dp's mother, my MIL-to-be. Is there any way you could move to somewhere with a granny flat or something as a compromise? It does seem a bit off that none of the children living in the same town as her have asked though, is it because their husbands don't agree? Or is it because she hasn't really said what she wants to do yet?

morocco Tue 29-Apr-03 13:16:46

I just had another thought - if she did get lonely could perhaps one of her grandchildren move in if they are old enough - I lived with my nan for a year after my grandad died and we had great fun together. I still remember it v fondly and tbh wish I could have stayed there longer as she seemed to go downhill a lot after I left.

beetroot Tue 29-Apr-03 18:15:57

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Tortington Tue 29-Apr-03 21:58:05


susanmt Wed 30-Apr-03 11:22:06


outofpractice Wed 30-Apr-03 11:37:19

I always assume that if my parents became decrepit, I would have them live with me, and I also think that if I had a dp, then I would need to do the same for his parents if decrepit. This is one of the reasons why I have avoided getting involved with men whose parents were awful. My mother knows this, and has probably brought me up to think this, but she still says being independent is really important to her, and unless she really is decrepit and can't manage, a family should not invite the in-laws in as it is too intrusive in the marriage. Do you have the space to put her into a granny flat, or could you get her to move nearby? Or perhaps you should just wait until she really becomes too old to manage alone, and then have her live with you? I suppose it also depends on what example you want to teach your children about how to treat older people in the family, and how you expect to be treated by them when you are old. My mothers' parents lived until their deaths in a joint family with her brother, but she has told us that she would not expect to live with us, unless she were really infirm and, bluntly, so old she might die soon.

Libby65 Wed 30-Apr-03 12:10:07

Not in a pink fit. MIL and I are WAY too different, it would never work.

Had FIL and his wife (step-MIL) stay with us for about a month and a half last year, that nearly drove me insane so I don't think I could handle anything 'permanent'.

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