Skip to main content

Topic: Dealing with Mom (husband is not happy)
posted 03-01-2008 04:01 PM

Hello there. I am at a loss and would appreciate any advice anyone has.
My mom is 76 years old and in good health. She is semi-retired, working a part time job making about $200 a month in part time income. She also gets a $1450 Social Security check each month.
A few years ago, before she retired (forced due to firing), she was having problems with the increasing rent and the lack of attention the landlords gave to problems in the apartment.
My husband and I helped her out by finding a condo that was to her specifications (HAD to have 2 bedrooms, HAD to have attached garage, HAD to have 2 bathrooms, HAD to be 2nd floor or higher, etc.) She did not have the $ for a down payment, so we bought the place and had her pay the mortgage + association + taxes + insurance, as there was no way we could afford to pay our own mortgage and these fees as well. She was okay with this and from the get go, we had told her that we would own the condo and eventually continue to rent it out to her or someone else until we were ready to retire and then we would move in. 
She was OK with this THEN. Now, she is looking at her situation and she only has so much money in the bank from her 401K and realizes that some day she is going to run out of money. 
My husband and I have tried to reason with her and convince her to look for an apartment that has less rent. However, this would mean going down to a 1 bedroom, possibly not having an attached garage (or any garage at all), etc.
She REFUSES to find something that costs less and just wants me and my husband to reduce her rent. 
My husband (who is a bit controlling), has tried to come up with "Options" for her that don't completely mess up financially, but may help her stay in the condo (her preffered choice) for a little less money.
However, there are conditions on the options, such as: she has to pay the year's worth of rent up front, but can pay $1200 instead of $1350 and he gives her deadlines of when she has to decide this by, or he will not renew her lease. There have been a few deals like this that she has said she would take and then backed out at the last minute. 
She also is a spender. My husband and I are very practical and do spend money, but only if we have it. 
She has been known to spend $70 on a pair of cashmere earmuffs. And then, she turns around and tells us we should give her money to help pay for the condo.
Basically, I am stuck in the middle. 
I don't agree that my Mom spends her money foolishly and won't be realistic about finding a place to live that is less money.
I don't 100% agree will all of the "deals" my husband offers my mom. They do benefit her is some way, but are also pretty stringent. I know that he does this because he wants to help, but doesn't like feeling like he is being taken advantage of. I can't disagree with him there. I know my mom isn't MEANING to take advantage, but she is willing to stick her hand out, but not try to help herself.
I have one sibling - a brother. He does not have much money himself and can't help financially, but believes my mom should have WHATEVER she wants (within reason). He thinks she SHOULD get a 2 bedroom place if she WANTS it, he thinks she should RECARPET a rental even though it doesn't need new carpeting. However, he is not paying for these things. She is and she is running out of money. Basically he agrees that my husband and I should help my mom out financially. I don't think it's fair and I HATE being stuck in the middle.
I've thought about divorcing my husband (and he's threatened a couple of times), but I DO love him and he's actually really good to me, just not really willing to give my Mom everything she wants.
I've sided with my husband on most everything so far, because he will divorce me if I don't and I do see his viewpoint.
If it were just me and no husband, I would probably end up in the poor house paying for everything my Mom wanted me to. I'm kind of a push over.
I don't know what to do anymore.
I'm at a total loss.
posted 03-01-2008 06:31 PM

Welcome skystar70,
My concern is first about you and your relationship with your husband.. are you both in a real connected loving relationship or are you afraid to leave him if he is taking care of you and your mother? I think you have to first be true to what is with your husband.
This is what you have explained sounds like to me: I think your husband has probably been quite generous in all he has done for your mother and that your mother has been taking advantage of both of you but this is my opinion.
She is living far past her means, even if she is working. If she can spend $75 for earmuffs at her age, living within the income that she has, I think you need to rethink your mothers spending habits not from your position as a daughter but from a common sense point of view.
I would suggest you bring in an outside party such as a social worker, a minister or someone who can help to mediate with all three of you what is the best for each your highest goods..and come up with some agreeable situations.
It is difficult to give you advice, because there are dynamics that are going on between you and your mother which might be dysfunctional.. and you need to be real clear on your relationships separately with your mother, your husband and the two of them together.
Hope this assist you.
Please keep us posted.
posted 03-01-2008 11:33 PM

Hi skystar70:
I am so sorry to hear what you are going through caring for your mother. It sounds like she has some demands that you are trying to accommodate. That is a good thing to try to do� However, the hard part is that what your mother has expected in the past was affordable. Now prices have gone up so� Perhaps your mother needs to understand that after all. Have you talked to her about what is affordable versus what her income and expectations are? Perhaps, as Gail said, get a third party such as an accountant or attorney.
I am sure your husband is trying his best! After all, he has thought about how to care for your mother and that is because of his relationship with you. Talk to him about what is really realistic in senior care options. Come together if you can�
It sounds like your mother�s health is well? She may live for many more years. Why have two bedrooms and a garage when a studio apartment will do and she will have a roof over her head for a longer period of time? If there is no dementia and she is logical, then hopefully she can see the reason in reducing expenses. As far as the carpet cleaning � that is a minimal expense in any situation� I would think if that is important to your brother, he could probably even accomodate the expense to situate his mother comfortably� There is no reason one sibling should do all the work and carry all the expense on their shoulders!
Meanwhile, do stand up for yourself and say what you believe in. If your husband does love you then he wants to know what you are thinking� Don't do anything hasty... It is okay to be confused and not be clear because of outside factors causing you concern. Hash it out on both sides and do remove yourself from the middle�
Wishing you the Best, Glenda
posted 03-02-2008 09:38 AM

Hi Gail.
My husband and I have been together for 20 years (married 10 of them). We are very different, but I love him very much and want to stay with him. I know I could take care of myself and my mother too if necessary. I just don't want to let all of this come between us.
I guess the problem is that even though my husband has been trying to help my mom (because of his relationship with me), SHE does NOT see it that way. She thinks I should convince him to give her the help she wants - on HER terms. She believes that a family member should be willing to go broke and alter their lives and other relationships to help out BLOOD relatives. She has always done this with her children, so this is the way her children should be in return. (her opinion)
I agree with you that she is living beyond her means and have tried explaining this to her and I try to convince her of this. She is not willing to change her lifestyle, yet she is willing to put her hand out for money and doesn't care if it changes mine and my husband's lifestyle.
Sorry, gotta go. I'll write more later. Thanks!
posted 03-03-2008 06:32 PM

Hi, skystar70.
About a dozen years ago I had to choose between my mother and my husband. It was about living arrangements and money. I chose my husband. Things were strained for about 3 years or so. When the time came that she couldn't live alone anymore, we took her in with open arms. When both their health got worse, she went to assisted living. Three years ago, she had a stroke and is now in a nursing home. We have a good relationship now. I acknowledge to her that I wish I could have her here, but I just can't take care of them both. She says she'd be bored here... which is true. I have 4 sibs, and keep them informed, and they visit when they can, but ultimately, I'm the one who is responsible for her care.
Don't know if this helped. Sometimes you just have to make choices. The stress of being in the middle is bad for YOU!
Good luck and keep us posted.
Original Post

Replies sorted oldest to newest

Hi again!

Gail, I wanted to finish addressing your response. I am reluctant to bring in an outside party, because I don't think either my mom or my husband would stand for that. I suppose my situation is dysfunctional with my mother. I don't really know what a typical mother/daughter relationship is.

I am the youngest of 4 siblings - much younger. The sibling closest in age to me is 12 years older. I also have a different dad than my other siblings. It is almost like I was an only child since my siblings weren't around that much when I was growing up.

On top of that, my mother was an alcoholic until I was 16. (Some would say that you are always an alcoholic, but she hasn't had a drink in over 20 years). That's only the beginning. Lots of other stuff went on when I was a child. My mother always spoiled me though, which is why part of me thinks I owe her something.

Anyway, I digress. I am trying to keep the relationships between mother, husband and the situation between the two of them separate. REALLY hard! : )

Glenda - Yes, my mother's health is well. My mother always says that moving into a smaller place would make her go BACKWARDS in life and she will never do that. I think that is because she did not have much growing up and she sees downscaling as going back to poverty even though this would be far from the truth.

Oh and just to clarify, I didn't mention carpet CLEANING, it is NEW carpet installation that she wants. The carpet is fine, not worn or anything. She just wants a different color. See what I'm dealing with here?

My brother helps in small ways. He helps with her car when she needs it. If he can do it himself, he does. If not, he finds someone to do the work for her, but he doesn't pay for it. She pays for it. He doesn't have enough money according to him and my mom. This may be true. I don't know.

Barb - Things are definitely strained between me and my mother and me and my husband and my mother and my husband and me and my brother.....and on and on. ; )
My concern is that my husband is now saying that because he has tried to help my mom and she won't accept any realistic help and terms, that he will not be financially responsible when she runs out of money.
I've already indicated to my brother that he may have to take her in when she runs out of money - ESPECIALLY if he continues to encourage her to buy unnecessary things.
It sounds like you have had some challenges with your mom and husband. You must be a very strong person.
I've pretty much chosen my husband at this point, but it's hard because I don't 100% agree with everything he thinks regarding my mom's "situation". I agree she is not realistic in regard to spending money and living within her means, but he gets really frustrated and sometimes doesn't think out the alternatives when setting down rules. He has had to bail himself out of financial holes before and is VERY RELUCTANT to ever have to do that again.
Thank you so much for your comments (EVERYONE). I'll keep you all posted.

Hey Skystar:

It is always a difficult situation trying to keep an elderly loved one in the style they have been accustomed to... My father certainly never thought of downsizing and so it was. He was able to stay in his home until the end. It was a challenge at times and certainly no walk in the park!

I guess I did misread carpet cleaning instead of recarpeting. My mistake... However, it may be possible to dye the carpeting. Otherwise, maybe find patterned accent rugs with the colors she desires in her decor. However, these are only suggestions to solve one of perhaps many concerns that you are dealing with.

Well, of course Barb and Gail have shared some wonderful thoughts... It is best to back your husband and present a united front if you can. That can be hard at times because, it seems, when caring for an elderly parent we want to keep them happy. And that is, I think, just part of the challenge. There is also the adult-child relationship...

It is going to be a rough road for you and hard to stay out of the middle. You might just find a counselor helpful whom you can talk to so that you can get your feelings out in a safe place. If a person doesn't have someone to talk to while caregiving, issues can likely blow up at the wrong time and in the wrong place. Holding it all in isn't the answer either... Talking it out with a pro can help you work through each family member's side and hopefully become more objective. It gives a person, I think, the strength to get beyond the superficial issues and determine which issues are more important to one's own self.

Anyhow, that is just a thought and one which costs more money at that. However, feeling torn at times between pacifying your mother and keeping your DH happy is not good for you... Having a support system is absolutely necessary and not very easy to find. Family and friends do not always understand and can be incapable of providing support for one reason or another.

It isn't easy to make sense of it all. We watch our parents become more and more dependent which can be very distressing... Well, enough said for tonight. Just know, Skystar, we are here for you. Meanwhile, take care...

Hugs, Glenda
Hey Glenda,

You are a sweetie and very thoughtful. Actually, I have been seeing a therapist for the past 3 weeks. When things started getting bad between my mom and husband and my husband threatened divorce, I was able to convince him that I would be better talking to someone about all of this. My insurance covers 30 sessions a year, so hopefully that will be enough! ; )

At this point, my husband is getting so irritable regarding anything that comes up with my mom, it's hard to deal with. It's also the same with my mom.

My mother does not want to take any of my husband's "deals" that ultimately lower or keep her rent the same without any increase, so she has chosen to move out. That is probably best because she should be able to get a one bedroom apt. for less money. I hope she goes that way and doesn't try to buy a condo. She has been talking about this and I don't think that would be smart.

I am talking to her daily, but it is small talk. We are not talking about her moving or anything. Her lease is not up until July. My husband will have to show the place to prospective renters, but not for a couple of weeks.

I know that anytime I bring up anything about moving, she is going to get defensive and mad at me.

It is almost impossible to stay out of the middle. I'm grateful to have you folks as a sounding board though. Thank you!!!
Hello skystar70

I am glad to hear that you have started seeing a therapist. I was also going to suggest going to AA meetings... because as you said whether your mother is drinking or not, the dynamics and pleasing for approval, etc etc dysfunction's still exists.

Getting the help for yourself will help you to manage each of them with more strength and understanding of the situation and hopefully you will be able to set boundaries with your mother.. It is great that you have the professional support and you certainly have the support of us here at the boards.

Please keep us posted.. take care

Thanks for the AA idea. Maybe I will. I just feel that it's been SO long since she had a drink that it might seem weird me bringing my problems to that forum. It's worth a try I guess.
Hopefully my therapist will be able to help me too. She realizes I am caught between two controlling people - M and H. I'm not super strong and not really cut out for dealing with these two. I'm more of a 'go with the flow' type of person, but the the FLOW keeps banging my head against the rocks. Not a great feeling.
I appreciate the support from you all while you deal with your own challenges. Thank you!
Hello Skystar,

I understand your thoughts about AA since your mother hasn't had a drink for so long, but you may call and ask... perhaps they have a referral program as well.. It is good that you have a therapist as well... and you are very aware that you are pinned between two strong, controlling personalities.. awareness is 90% of the healing, so it is said.

Working through this will give you a strong sense of empowerment.. there is a part of you within that has the strength.. I have a sense it was crushed when you were little, trying to be a good girl and do the right things by your mom, perhaps for her approval...

But ultimately you are in control of you.. and I pray you will gather the strength you need to take your stand...

Please keep us posted...

take care


Thank you for your kindness.

I was told by someone today that I am doing the wrong thing and that the things my husband has asked my mom to do are unreasonable. I was told that since my mother paid the mortgage on our condo for 8 years (as per the agreement) that I should reduce the rent because of the equity I have in the home. I don't know what to think. I am standing by my husband because he is my husband and we've tried to talk my mom into saving money and that is why he won't reduce the price. He feels like she is taking advantage of us. Is that not true? Is he the one taking advantage? I didn't think so. I know he is afraid of not being financially sound, and I don't agree with everything he does 100%, but does that mean we are completely wrong and I should divorce my husband?

Yikes, sorry to unload but this person has me feeling really bad now. Am I a horrible daughter? : (
Hello skystar70

I am sorry I didn't get to respond sooner.. I do, however, hope you are feeling better... You asked me if you were a horrible daughter. I ask you... do you really believe you are a horrible daughter?

While I have strong, intuitive guidance that comes through me, I am still not a professional therapist. I think that you need to continue processing though all of this with him/her. I also believe, that deep down inside, you know most of the answers. Part of the process is knowing, trusting and believing in you.. allowing yourself to stand strong in who you are and not what others expect you to be... I know you have the strength to move through this..

Your little girl inside will find balance as you do....

Please keep us posted... take care angel...


Add Reply

Link copied to your clipboard.