From an adult man the Bahamas: My wife, mother and I recently went through a traumatic experience, which has forced us to now live under the same roof. My mother is over 70 with lots of health issues, and also lots of bad habits. Nothing overly serious. She doesn’t clean up after herself, complains a lot, and also tries to monopolize a lot of my personal time.She’s not easy to live with, and my wife has zero patience for her.
Recently, the two of them had a major blow-up, leading to some harsh words being said. They’re presently not speaking, with nothing looking to change in the near future. They won’t even eat dinner together anymore, with my mom eating hers on a TV tray in her bedroom. The tension, on top of everything else that we’ve gone through recently, is really taking a toll on me.
My wife needs to work on her empathy, and my mother needs to clean up some bad habits, but neither will sit down to talk it out. I see both sides. My mom is hard to deal with, although not aggressively so. But my wife’ reactions to my mom’s missteps are so over the top, when my wife is generally a really sweet person.
My wife will admit that her reactions are over the top, but will argue that her motivation is justified. My mom doesn’t see her shortcomings. She sees my wife as the typical daughter in law that doesn’t want her mother in law around, and there ends the story for her. Neither see their faults, or are willing to discuss peace or compromise.
We currently live together in a very small apartment, and its getting unbearable. Because of my mother’s health, I can’t just send her on her way and tell her she’s on her own, as she’s a widow and I’m an only child. She can’t afford a senior home, and there’s no other family to help, so what we have is what we have.
I’m just scared that my wife will one day reach the end of her rope and just leave. What can be done to help this situation and restore peace to what was once a very pleasant household?
Oh my. You are all in an unfortunate arrangement and you seem caught in the middle between two women you love. It’s not your job to make them comfortable with each other. It is everyone’s job to find a way to live together peacefully even if your wife and mother don’t like each other very much.
Obviously, if you could get the two of them to get along, you would have done so already. I did a little research and found out that there are couples and family counselors in Nassau. Please, for the sake of your own sanity and the comfort of everyone involved, make an appointment. Ideally, your wife and mother will go with you. If they refuse, still go by yourself. You need the practical guidance and emotional support of a counselor who is experienced with these kinds of family problems. The therapist can hear your whole story and will know what alternatives are possible where you live.
I wish you well.