My Father-in-law

My husband's father had been living alone for 6 years after his wife died tragically in a car accident. He's now 71 years old and recently had a stroke. This old man hadn't been taking care of himself at all before the health problems, and it was eye opening to find out how bad off he was then. His feet should have been rotted off because he hadn't been able to take a shower in over three months (probably longer by the look of them). He didn't tell anyone, even his doctor didn't know. He smoked cigarettes, drank beer and ate nothing but fried food all day long. It's a wonder that he hadn't had a heart attack or stroke long before he did.

When he was hospitalized we had a big decision to make. My husband had lost his job a few months beforehand and I was working in a fastfood place. So moving out here wasn't that hard of a choice to make. I quit my job and we put in our 30 day notice. The first few days at his house were unbelievable. It was infested with mice and cockroaches, holes in all the walls. The man never cleaned and it stunk something awful. I washed the walls because the filth on them was just caked on. For the life of me I can't understand how someone could live like that for that long! After a month of cleaning and erradication of the pests it was at least somewhat livable. We still get the occassional cockroach and mouse, but we live in the country so it's expected. And at one point we had a family of racoons living in the ceiling, lol.
When the old man came home from the assisted living rehab center, things drastically changed. I'm stressed beyond measure trying to clean up after him. He refuses to eat with us in the kitchen and so spills countless crumbs and food in the livingroom carpet (not to mention fingernails and toenails he just throws on the ground). He will leave a dirty napkin on his side table for days and continue to USE it. OMG! He has full use of his facilities; goes to the bathroom by himself and can make his own food. But if left up to him it would be nothing but meat, fried goodies, and cookies. So I cook breakfast, lunch and dinner. When my husband is home from work, he offers his dad a shower every two-three days, but more often than not he will refuse. His excuse - he's not doing anything to be dirty. Oh, oh...and what the hell is that crap in his bed? Looks like danduff times ten! The first sheets i took off his bed, while he was still in the hossy we had to throw away it was so soiled. I wash his sheets once to twice a week. Yet when the person sleeping in them doesn't shower for that long, and doesn't take care of themselves, the results are GROSS!
The attitude of this man boggles my mind. He seems a sweet guy for the most part, but there's something 'off' about him. And my husband says he's always been like that. He acts like he doesn't care about anything. He's never said, "I love you" to his son in the three years that we've been married. And since we've lived here, he's said thank you to him about three times (we've been here 5 months). The medication the old man is on is enough to make him sleepy all day. He sleeps 12 hours at night and dozes on the chair all day. I mean that's fine, he's old and tired right? Oh, but that should mean you don't need to drive. And he still does - to the bar and hangs out with his friends.

The reason we moved here was to take care of him and ALL his needs. That includes taking him places he needs to go. I feel that since he has the 'good' health to drive to a beer joint and go pickup food (yesterday it was more cookies), then he should be able to live alone.  don't want to do this anymore. To live with someone that is disrespectful, doesn't appreciate what I do, and is dirtier than my three year old. I'm at my wits end and feel like we're stuck! My husband doesn't want to just up and leave. He feels like he would be abandoning his father. Everyone I know keeps telling me he needs to make a choice between his father and his family. You want to live with people that love, respect and show it? Or live with someone who doesn't appreciate, acts like a stranger to you, refuses to talk to you, and is just dirty as sin? Yeah that's your dad...but come on!!
vachabeer vachabeer
26-30, F
12 Responses Jul 28, 2011

I can understand your situation. My MIL had been equally difficult. She used to stay with us till 2 years back (now she is with my hubby's brother) and she wanted her son to take care of each of her needs. She wouldn't let me touch her things. She had the habit of tripping and falling every week so we bought her a senior emergency pendant from AlarmForce AlarmCare at Toronto incase she falls when we aren't at home and she blasted us telling that we are making her feel like an invalid.
I got fed up and finally asked my husband to make a decision. He understood my situation and asked his brother to take MIL to his place. I hear that she behaves the same way in his house too.

Oh my word, I am now in the same boat and I feel like I want to scream. I'm tired of taking care of someone who can take care of themselves. When my father in law had his stroke my husband had just lost his job and I was working part time at a bank due to being pregnant. He's lived here 11 months now and I have a 3 month old. I need help, how did you do it?

I been through the same thing and I was young just like you I was used and abused by his family they didn't pay me and they controlled his money it was HORRIBLE EXPERIENCE! Terrible I can't even talk about it I did it almost 5 years and they showed me no thanks nasty and mean to me to today. they can't really look at me because of guilt. We have no dealings any more. I feel so sorry for you! I do because you are between a rock and a hard place. I see you dealing with it ! May the force be with you. You have my most dearest sympathy.

Dear mdmann, thanks for your analysis.<br />
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There is a solution to every problem, but you need to understand the problem before proposing the appropriate solution. <br />
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Naturally, our children copy our actions.<br />
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My dear vachabeer, please don't give up! Pray about it and be positive. <br />
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Have you tried inviting his friends home for a beer, you may try it. You and your husband have to do this with love, and a open heart. Aim for success

Your husband's father may have some sign of dementia or (altizemers sorry the spelling is off ) but have you guys taken him to a doctor to have him checked out for that. I could be wrong but it sounds something is making him go off with that kind of attitude. Have a care taker or social worker or someone who has an professional experience to maybe know what it is. Don't leave him alone in the house wht them for you may not know if they may take things or something. I mean for the safety of you, your husband and your father in law. I understand it has been so stressful for you all. The depression is probably the main factor of the whole situation. It is sad I know. I have lost a few relatives to dementia and hardening of the heart. I have one relative in California right now in a nursing home and he do not remember his own family anymore. The only thing that was different about him was that he never had that kind of attitude. So I guess everyone is different. God bless you two for having a great heart and wanting to help.

1. An Inspirational Short Story <br />
The Wooden Bowl <br />
By Author Unknown <br />
A frail old man went to live with his son, daughter-in-law, and four-year grandson. The old man's hands trembled, his eyesight was blurred, and his step faltered. The family ate together at the table. But the elderly grandfather's shaky hands and failing sight made eating difficult. Peas rolled off his spoon onto the floor. When he grasped the glass, milk spilled on the tablecloth. <br />
The son and daughter-in-law became irritated with the mess. "We must do something about Grandfather," said the son. "I've had enough of his spilled milk, noisy eating, and food on the floor". So the husband and wife set a small table in the corner. There, Grandfather ate alone while the rest of the family enjoyed their dinners together. <br />
Since Grandfather had broken a dish or two, his food was served in a wooden bowl. When the family glanced in Grandfather's direction, sometimes he had a tear in his eye as he sat alone. Still, the only words the couple had for him were sharp admonitions when he dropped a fork or spilled food. <br />
The four-year-old watched it all in silence. One evening before supper, the father noticed his son playing with wood scraps on the floor. He asked the child sweetly, "What are you making?" Just as sweetly, the boy responded, "Oh, I am making a little bowl for you and Mama to eat your food in when you get old." The four year old smiled and went back to work. <br />
The words so struck the parents that they were speechless. Then tears started to stream down their cheeks. Though no word was spoken, both knew what must be done. That evening the husband took Grandfather's hand and gently led him back to the family table. For the remainder of his days he ate every meal with the family. And for some reason, neither husband nor wife seemed to care any longer when a fork was dropped, milk spilled, or the tablecloth soiled. <br />
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.....................................................................................................<br />
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Conclusion: Your 3yr old son is watching...<br />
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My advice: Continue to provide love and care for the old man. All he needs is love, and probably he is not getting that form home, if he does, he would not go out, or even asked you out of his house. Find out what make him happy at the bar; despite his health issue, he can still drive to get the happiness.<br />
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Your husband is in a difficult position, support him through this, and everything will be fine.

While cute and heartwarming, this story is not the least bit relevant to the issue that the original poster offered up. I get really annoyed when people do this. There was nothing in the story about the grandfather refusing to bathe. There was nothing in the story about the grandfather smiling when around his friends but being sour when around the family taking care of him day-to-day. The poster describes what I consider to be some fairly monumental acts of care and concern for the living conditions of her father-in-law, but this cute story just talks about a guy getting irritated when his elderly father has difficulty eating. Not the same. Can people please focus on the issue here? This woman is describing a situation which sounds awful, and the effect it is having on her and her marriage, and you people are telling her to just stick through it because ???? I seriously doubt that any of you with such views would have lasted as long as she has--the moment you realized that your pithy, cute views on the situation were total nonsense, you'd be out of there.

"All he needs is love, and probably he is not getting that form home, if he does, he would not go out, or even asked you out of his house." How can you possibly know something like this? You don't even know this man.

"Find out what make him happy at the bar." Beer and being with his friends, apparently.

"...despite his health issue, he can still drive to get the happiness." Or kill someone or himself in the process.

Take the rose-colored glasses off and bring your feet down to terra firma, please.

Thank you mdmann! Well said before I even had a chance to recoil from the shock of such an accusation. People do read what they WANT to hear huh? My child is female, ty.
In any case, I do have utmost patience for this situation. I DO pray to not have the bitterness that I do...but in this place it's hard not to. I don't mind the problem of spilt food or having to clean up after this person...I do mind not being appreciated because of it. I do what I must but can only now remove my family from the situation to save what I have left of my sanity.

I know your post is old, but I am right there with you and I can only do this so much longer. My daughter needs mommy and daddy all the time and I feel my father in law takes advantage of my husband and myself. When I get time away from him I am as happy as can be, but being around him I pray God gives me the strength not to be rude to him because I am at my witts ends

I doubt you've ever had to care for a person who doesn't give a rats butt about their son. My father in law used his mother and his wife until they were dead and now he's using my husband and me. He's not able to do anything and we are killing our self and our life seems to be over for now. But he could care less, he never says thankyou for the cooking cleaning laundry rides to the doctor, managing meds, feeding his horses, taking care of his farm, we've sooooo had it with him. Now he accusing of stealing cause we want to move and he doesnt want to. I'm so sick of him and I feel for this girl having to deal with this.

1 More Response

Ok,take a breath...<br />
Let's just think about your 1st statement here.You said your husband had just lost his job and u were working at a fast food chain.Unless you were in upper management,you were bust n ur butt<br />
for very little money,had a husband and 3yr old at home to care for as well.Hon,you were tired and stressed before you ever made the move to ur father-in law home.I'm sure the move and new living conditions only added to Ur stress.But look at what good has came from it and take it for what it's worth.You did what you had to to clean it up and have a home for the time being.While u feel he doesn't appreciate what you've done you would have done it anyway just for your child to have a clean place to live.The father is out of the hospital and you have the chance to keep the peace long enough to save enough money to get ur own place..Try think n of this as a bless n instead of a burden ..Would u do any less it this was someone you really loved.? Ask God to change ur heart and to let u see this man through Jesus eyes...The bible says we are to honor our parent's and family. It doesn't say they have to deserve it sadly.

I ask God everynight to change my heart. And as for having my child in a CLEAN home...that's the furthest from the truth. My last place was ten times cleanier. Even with as much as I clean the house is falling apart. We have on numerous occasions asked him if he could help financially to help fix certain things and he refuses. Take for instance the toliet. It has been leaking for months, rotting the wood under it. He doesn't think there's a problem and will not pay to fix it. As such there is a heavy stench, possibly mold in that area. Not only do I want my daughter out of here due to the stress, it has a lot more to do with her health. Thank you for your comment!

The situation stands pretty much the same as before. I have stopped doing his laundry and cleaning his room (my husband takes care of it and only when absolutely ness.). He has asked us to leave so we are saving to move out ASAP. I believe by the begining of the next year we will be out...I just hope it will be sooner. Wishing on a star that we win the lotto, lol. Instead of continuing to be bitter about the situation, I've tried looking at it in a humorous light. This old man is acting like a teenager. From what my husband says, he's always acted like this towards his family - friends it's like he's a different person. That smile doesn't leave his face around friends...yet around his family he's sour. I'm sorry but there's something totally wrong with him; some personality disorder or something. Honestly I'm done trying to figure it out. <br />
Anyways I appreciate everyone commenting. It does make me feel so much better that it's not all about me overreacting.

If only I knew the future! Thanks sendittome!

Your father-in-law sounds like he has these things:<br />
1. Depression. What you described seems like a typical case of depression. A likely cause could be the death of his wife, or if he's always been that way, it could have been caused by his childhood, or he may have never learned how to properly express emotions; remember, men "aren't supposed to cry," and I feel that back when he was growing up, that idea was more influential than it is now. It could also be the medications he's taking, as some have a negative side effect for people or can cause negative reactions when mixed with certain other medications. I'd check online, with a doctor, or on pamphlets, etc., about the medications, their side effects, and what they shouldn't be taken with.<br />
2. He was born not long after the Great Depression, and sometime during WWII. Either or both of these could lead to depression (i.e., his father was gone a lot during his childhood or died in war) and/or a habit of wasting and using less, like the napkins or taking showers. Although this is disgusting, if he was raised this way, it's perfectly logical.<br />
I happened upon this post because it was included in Experience Project's email newsletter... If you see this post, please update us on his, and yours, current condition. I wish you luck.

You are not alone! I am not in your situation yet, but see myself there soon with my mother-in-law. I cannot tell you how similar she acts to your father-in-law! It is a very difficult situation with the in-laws and your spouse's feelings towards them. We have also stumbled through our marital issues relating to in-laws on both sides. The best advice I can offer is to make sure that you and your husband have some time as often as possible just for yourselves. Even if it's just a walk around the property where you live, you need time to be together to talk about your feelings without "ears" around. I'm sure that everything will work out, and stay strong! What you are doing is a labor of love, at least out of love for your husband if that's how you have to look at it. *hugs*

thanks :)

Wish that was an option. The bar is 5-6 miles away and he'd kill himself walking (which he wouldn't do anyways). We live out in the middle of no-where. He's kinda been acting worse and worse towards me lately and from what my husband says he's getting ready to kick us out anyways. There's absolutely no way he can live alone and in a few months I guarentee he'll be begging us to move back. But I refuse to come back into this marriage has suffered and possibly won't survive if we don't get out soon. Thanks for the feedback though.

Your father-in-law is probably suffering from depression, and perhaps has been for many years.<br />
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Hide his car keys.. If he wants to go to the bar to see is buds, he'll need to walk, which isn't a bad thing.