How living with invalid in-laws can test a marriage

When bedridden in-laws cause you stress, the only way to cope is to have a strong husband-wife relationship

Ritu Goyal Harish | Posted on 21 Jun 2016
Bonobology | Living With Bed-Ridden In Laws Can Test A Marriage

My father-in-law suffered a stroke about a year ago and has been bedridden since then. My mother-in-law, though able bodied, behaves like an invalid and expects all her chores to be done for her, including serving her bed tea and all meals.

This situation is very tough for us as a family since we have had to hire a male helper to help my father-in-law. We have two teenage daughters and it’s a constant source of concern for us that we now have this strange man spending long hours inside our home.

Both my husband and I, work long hours. As a result of this, our daughters end up catering to the needs of their grandparents, sometimes at the cost of their homework and study time. My mother-in-law will constantly call out to them for some chore or errand and the girls are also starting to feel burdened, though out of respect, they do not utter a word to her.

The situation is complicated further as my in-laws don’t get along with each other. They sleep in separate rooms and my mother-in-law doesn’t raise a finger to help her invalid husband. My mother-in-law is also a negative person and her complaining and nagging affects the environment at home.

My husband is very stressed and so am I. I am beginning to have stress related health issues and this situation has been very tough on all of us. The stressful situation passes on to every member of the house, as day to day living has been impacted.

I have been contemplating talking to my husband about moving them to an old age home, or another apartment close to ours, but I am not sure how he will respond. He is a dutiful son and while he has been asking his younger sister (who lives in another city), to share the burden of looking after them, he may not be able to take the step of moving them out.

The thought of making this suggestion is also tough for me because I understand my husband’s burden. But there doesn’t seem to be any other solution in sight.

We have tried hard not to let this situation affect our relationship as a husband and wife. We talk things through and we try to support each other. Whenever a conflict arises, we function like a unit to resolve it but it is getting more difficult as time passes.

But to raise the topic of moving them to another place is still taboo and I am unsure of how he will react, even though I know he understands my point of view. He is very supportive, but he is also very stressed due to this situation.

Things are also a bit complicated since we belong to a community where it is accepted that only the son will look after ageing parents.

We have lived in a joint family system since we got married 18 years ago, and things were going from bad to worse, as my in-laws were never conscious of looking after their own health. This circumstance has made us pledge that we won’t become burdens on our daughters in our twilight years. We are contemplating buying an old age home or dwelling to be independent. What would you have done in my place?

After she read counsellor Deepak Kashyap’s reply to her query

“I am already doing a few options mentioned but he did give me food for thought…”

(As told to Ritu Goyal Harish by Prachi Khanna)

 

Ritu Goyal Harish

Ritu Goyal Harish likes to call herself an observer and learner. She is also a freelance journalist, photographer-in-the-making, lover of music, part-time cook and driver, full-time mommy and activist in disguise. A mountain lover, she is currently working on building her retirement home in the hills surrounding the Binsar forest in Uttaranchal. Twitter - @ritz_harish | Instagram - ritz_goyal

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