Dying mother or pregnant wife?

sadwifeMarch 22, 2009

Hi. This is my first post. I really need some thoughts/advice & am desperate for anything anyone can provide. Please help.

My mother-in-law is suffering & dying from cancer & was not suitable for chemo/radiotherapy & is basically dying without hope of recovery. She has also recently suffered a stroke & needs constant care. There are various people caring for her, but mainly my husband & 2 of his siblings. The siblings are single working people, one lives with my MIL, the other lives down the road. We live about 2 hours away. My husband works full-time, but is able to work from 'home'. He is currently up with his MIL 4+ days a week & working at her house whilst caring for her.

For about 5 months, our whole family were living with my MIL (we have 2 young kids, 2 & 4). I am now 7 months pregnant & have moved back home to prepare for the baby. My in-laws & I don't get on & I just couldn't cope with the depression of being there any longer. I needed to look after myself, this baby & our children. I have always supported my husband with his need to be with his mother for whatever reason.

Since his mother was diagnosed & particularly after I chose to move back home, my husband had been angry, aggressive, threatening, intimidating & belittles me. Needless to say, it had all been very hurtful. On one occasion, he had even took the kids from me & put me in such shock that I had seriously found myself contemplating suicide.

While I'm no longer in that state of mind & he's now largely recovered from his mood swings, I can't seem to bounce back as he has. I've simply lost all trust for him & without this, I find it impossible to continue to be his wife. For me, this marriage is dead. I've tried to forgive him & move on, but he simply hadn't even accepted that he had inflicted all these terrible things on me. He makes excuses that his intentions were never to hurt me, & he claims that I shouldn't have reacted the way I have.

Our baby will be due in about 8 weeks. I will require a caesar birth & will need a lot of physical help leading up to & following the birth. I have asked him whether he will be here to support me & the response had been, 'I don't know.' His reasons: he doesn't know what will happen, he might not be emotionally able to be much use to me if his mother gets worse/dies. All I hear is no real commitment on his part to be there for me. I feel that I am better off without him. Not just for now, but for good. I think I deserve better.

I should add that he was previously a good husband & father before all this occurred.

Please, anyone - give me some thoughts/advice.

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Geez, Sad, your husband needs to grow the he#$ up!!!! We re all going to, or have lost our parents at some point..Thats no excuse for his behavior!!And taking your kids!!! I m speechless at that..If he wont go to a doctor for some meds or whatever the heck he needs, I d rather be a happy divorcee than a sad wife...As for yourself, if you were ever suicidal, you need to address that too, some therapy, I dont believe that is something you just snap out of..You have a lot of sorting out to do here...Good luck and take care of yourself and the baby. I hope you have some kind of family support system for yourself....

    Bookmark   March 22, 2009 at 9:58AM
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Wow - I sure don't agree 100%. I don't think it has to be dying mother OR pregnant wife. You seem to be denying your husband the emotion that goes along with losing a parent, especially through a hopeless, lingering, painful decline.

He's not only dealing with losing his mother, he's working a full time job, caring for his mother, dealing with a critical, pregnant wife who doesn't like the very person he's grieving about losing and has made that clear, she has moved away from that person when she needs family most (while dying), there are two very small kids involved, and no matter where he is, he's 2 hours away from one or the other.

I think you've put him in a sad situation by your expectations. I am not condoning his words or treatment of you - but really, imagine where his head is with all of these things going on! Are you at all sensitive to him in his grief over what's happening to his mom? You live with her (a family of 4, with 2 very small kids) for 5 months but you couldn't take it any more because it was depressing for you???

I am not saying his treatment of you is ok; it's not. But I, myself, have lashed out when I've been under a lot of pressure from multiple sides and have felt that things were out of control. I'm not proud of those times, but I can sort of understand where your husband was coming from.

It's not "all about you". It's partially about you, partially about your husband, and partially about your MIL. Look at it this way - your husband's stress is multiplied because he's dealing with you AND his mother AND his own emotions.

If you want to leave him, do. But please try to have some insight and sensitivity into others' situations.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2009 at 10:18AM
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This is not the time to be "all about you"....your husband is going through a terrible time....emotionally as well as mentally....and right now, he needs your support. He is torn...and you acting like a spoiled child is not helping the situation, but making it worse. I also am not saying that his treatment in taking your children was okay, but with your "mind set", maybe he thought they were safer with him than with you.
He has only one mother and she is leaving him soon...hopefully, you will be there for many years to love and support, but you aren't the only one that is hurting here.....so quit giving him more reason to be stressed by having to deal with you as well as his mother.
I might ask......have you ever lost a parent?....if not, you are in no position to judge him.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2009 at 10:39AM
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Well, gee. How inconsiderate of his mother to even think of dying when you're pregnant and want centre stage. Yes, I am being harsh, because as suzique has pointed out, you've put your husband into an invidious position and whatever he does, he loses. Hardly the behaviour of the supporting wife.
I think he was being honest with you when he said he didn't know if he could support you when the baby was born. How _could_ he know? Suppose his mother dies the day before the baby is born. He's supposed to switch off and give you all his commitment? How heartless of you. Perhaps you would both be better off without each other. Only you can decide.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2009 at 10:45AM
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You are certainly in a difficult position, but your husband is really in an impossible one.
No, he's not dealing with it all that well, but can you honestly say you are doing so much better?
You're so full of hormones right now, and no doubt tired and stressed,
so now is NOT the right time to be making any serious decisions or even coming to the type of mental conclusions that call for decisive actions later.

Since you said that your marriage was good at one point, make a promise to yourself to not do anything drastic (or even dramatic) until your baby has been safely born and you've recovered a bit, and your MIL has passed and your husband has recovered a bit. This is a very rough patch, and if you can, give both of you a 'free pass' for conduct during this very difficult time. Do the best you can, but forgive yourself and forgive him when you fall short.

Also, do you have anyone else who can help you? And close friends or family on your side that can support you while your husband supports his mother?

    Bookmark   March 22, 2009 at 1:24PM
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Thanks for all your replies. I've got a lot to chew on & your unbiased views are exactly what I need right now. As with a lot of marital problems, ours is not solely as a result of the catalyst that caused us to be where we are, rather from old niggles that hadn't been so obviously problems until life stresses make them so.

I still love him a lot. My problem with the in-laws had never been about his mum. We actually have a very good relationship. She's as good a MIL as anyone can be blessed with. It's the siblings that are nasty to me. 2 yrs ago, things got so bad with the siblings on one visit that I refused to visit them again for about 8 months. My husband never stands up to me when his sister/brother behaves badly to me. Even though I wouldn't go there for a long time, I never stopped my husband from going, nor from taking our children with him for visits. This is why I was very depressed living there for 5 months. It wasn't something I agreed to do as we had a lot of options which my husband chose not to take rather than living with them in the same house. He assured me it would only be for 2 weeks, then 6, then next month, etc. Before I knew it, it was 5 months & I was becoming more & more depressed. Everytime I approached the issue of returning home, he would get really angry & aggressive. So I eventually left with the kids.

I've never asked him to come back with us, because I understand his need to be with mum. I would've thought it reasonable to allow me to do what I need to do, just as I had allowed him to do what he needs to do.

Still, you are quite right. I know he is grieving & is/has not been himself. I don't want this marriage to end, I just don't know how to trust him again. Largely because I know that this won't end with mum's death. He literally plans for us to move there permanently because he worries that his spinster sister will be all on her own after mum dies. We have a great life here, & I won't consider moving to a small country town where I don't know anyone & life isn't as convenient as it is here. Both our jobs are in the city & financially, it isn't a sustainable move - even though I will be on leave for the next year. When I married him, I didn't agree to marry his family too. He actually believed that I was suppose to agree to marrying his family too. I showed him our marriage vows which clearly says, 'I marry you' not your entire family.

Anyway, your replies have given me some balance on this matter. Thank you all.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2009 at 1:26PM
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You are acting like a spoiled brat....right now his place is at his mother's house....and your place too for another month or 6 weeks. At least take the kids and make the trip every weekend....after all it's only 2 hours...many people have that long a commute twice a day!
I am sure your husband will make the trip on the day of your planned C-section.
As for who will support you in the week or so after you go home, where are your parents?..Or sister?
Sounds a little to me like you are jealous of your MIL needing attention from her children while she's dying.
Cut your husband some slack....I am sure he is an emotional wreck, feeling pulled apart by the needs of his wife and the needs of his mother.
Linda C

    Bookmark   March 22, 2009 at 1:32PM
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I think it is very sad what your husband has to deal wiht losing a parent, at the same time I do think he has a responsibility to his pregnant wife and his young children too. yes he needs to be with you when you give birth, his mother could be wiht two other children.

as about you living away from him, it is understandable too. he needs to take care of his mother but you have to take care of three chidlren! I also do not understand this issue wiht spinster sister, she will be on her own, so what? where is the tragedy here? plenty of people are on their own. is she disabled?

I understand that your husband is grieving but I do not understand why his family (meaning mom and siblings) has to completely replace you and his young children? like nothing else is important anymore?

    Bookmark   March 22, 2009 at 2:23PM
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Hi Finedreams. Thanks for your response. To answer your question: No. SIL is not disabled. She's just over 50 & has been used to living with her mum for years (decades). Once mum is gone, she will be in the house by herself. There is a brother who lives down the road - also by himself. They in fact own the 2 houses together, the SIL & BIL (in joint names). They just choose not to live together. I guess there is a personality clash there..? They also have 2 other brothers, but these have their own families (wives & kids). One lives too far away to commute, but the other is only an hour away.

Some people has asked about my family: I have none here. My mother will come for some weeks - a month or so is all she can do. I've just never expected my mum to do anything, even though she has been here for each of the births. On the other hand, I think it's reasonable to expect my husband to be there. I don't believe that's a big ask. Even under the circumstances...

    Bookmark   March 22, 2009 at 5:17PM
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Sadwife, I dont think you are a spoiled brat... I think its unrealistic for you to uproot your family and move into the MILs house for 6 months, how many people could do that?I also agree its not too much to ask for him to be there for the birth of the baby, even if his mother did die the day before ...He has a responsibility to his family first...You said you have been supportive of him, now he needs to be supportive of you.I think he needs to handle both situations with a little more courage and grace if he can muster that up..If you let him move your family to live with the sister, I m sure the marriage will be over...I m a little confused tho..You said the marriage is dead,but you love him a lot, and he was a good husband and father..Maybe after the baby is born, you will feel differently and try to fix the marriage..A lot on your plate right now...

    Bookmark   March 22, 2009 at 7:28PM
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If I were you I would not be making any rash decisions at this point.

You and your husband are in a very stressed state. You with the children and the impending birth, and your husband with his family responsibilities and the grief at loosing his mother.

I think it might be useful to think in terms of "living in the moment". Just get through the day like that, it will benefit you, and you will be able to focus on what is important. Say to yourself "what is important NOW". Don't have thoughts about what will happen beyond that point, it will only bring you stress. Sometimes that is all we can do, to get through the day.

It is so difficult going into labor and giving birth, and lets face it you will need lots of support. Just tell you husband that. Say to him how important it is to you, that he is there to support you.

He needs to care for his mother, it is part of the grieving process for him. I have been through all this and it is just something you have to do.

When she is gone - sorry that sounds crass - things will improve. Your children are the future, they represent brightness and joy, and your husband will come to that thinking eventually.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2009 at 9:34PM
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Yes, your husband should be with YOU at the time of the birth of your child. His first obligation is to his family which is you and your children. He can be with his mum as much time as he can during her illness. He can do both, it doesn't have to be either or. He needs to suck it up and find a way. Your health is just as important, you are carrying his child.
No way would I move back to his family's home after the death of his mom. As you stated you both have financial security in your jobs were you are. You have a good life there. Why move to a place where things will get difficult for you. You don't get along with his siblings, is there a job for you there? He will be spending time taking care of sis when he should be with his own family. She's a big girl she can live on her own. I would not move.
For the time being concentrate on your own health and keeping your child healthy. The less stress for you and your child the better. Hopefully, when all this has blown over and things have calmed down you two can deal better with the things he has said and done to you and what you have said and done to him. Stay healthy, NancyLouise

    Bookmark   March 23, 2009 at 8:41AM
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I agree with Dotz.

And remember to give him at least a year to recover from the death, and for you to recover from the birth. Both are extremely emotional and stressful. I wish you both health and understanding in this difficult time.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2009 at 12:00PM
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I think some people were too hasty in calling you a spoiled brat and the like. I base my opinion on a few clues, rather than just the overall scenario. That your husband lashed out the way he did is entirely unreasonable. Why does he want you to stay in a place where you are mistreated by the people who consider themselves entitled to be there? Okay, so it was stressful, you were mistreated, and you were actually trying to raise your family in a place that was not your own home and was not a home to you. So, you went back home and made no complaint of him spending time with his mother, but he lashed out because he couldn't have things his way. I would have returned home long before you did. No way am I going to tolerate being mistreated by anyone, not for a minute. That one is a deal breaker all by itself. But, he became resentful. Am I understanding this right??? He became resentful that you returned home, he took your children, treated you like sh&1, and said awful things to you. Well now.

Then reading further, I figure I am right on the money after you tell us he wants to uproot his family to go babysit his 50-something year old sister. Well now. Your husband is the selfish spoiled child, my dear. Not you! It is wonderful he cares so much for his mother, and it's truly nice he is considerate of his sister, but this is going way too far. If that is not bad enough, he wants to add inconvenience to your daily life. AND, if those are not bad, he wants to add continual mental torture by expecting you to permanently make your home *WITH* people who treat you badly. Boy, I wonder how he will treat you and what names he will call you when you resist that one. Will he bring down the whole house to force you to move and make sure he gets his way? But you were called the spoiled brat. Well now.

Perhaps he was a good husband before all this began, but he isn't anymore. Maybe there simply weren't any trying times to test his character until now. He places his own wishes and everyone's needs before yours - even if, as in his sister's case, there is no need at all. Where is the "good husband" in that? I can surely understand him wanting to spend a lot of time with his mother before she passes away, but how does it even occur to him to uproot his family after that happens? Against your wishes, he wants to do this. Despite you being treated unkindly there, he wants to do this. How does it NOT occur to him to ask his sister to be the one to move if he is so concerned about her?

I do wonder why you feel you need so much help before the birth of your baby. You are not the first woman to have a c-section. What is the help you need before the birth? I never heard of that. Nevertheless, I expect you are suffering from raging hormones. The hormones and the nervous anticipation of your baby's impending birth have you wondering if you can count on him since he spends so much time at his mother's house. I can understand that, even if you are asking too much at this point. I also expect him to understand and to be there for you.

Please do not let anyone talk you out of being hurt by his treatment and his words. If you forgive him, that is up to you and wonderful if you want it to be. But, you are not wrong by any stretch. He is.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2009 at 1:38AM
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Your husband's first repsonsibility is to you and your kids. Yes, he owes his mother some respect, but the fact is, his mother could be on the verge of dying for years and he can't and shouldn't devote his life to her at your family's expense. This is not a "run to the hospital mom is dying" weekend thing. It's an ongoing constant thing. It sounds like maybe she should be in hospice or an extended care facility somewhere.

If you are pregnant, your husband needs to be around and not just for the birth. That is his first duty. To carry in the groceries, to give the other kids their baths when you're not feeling well, and to see the ultrasounds with you.... It is very hard for a pregnant women to consantly take care of two little kids without the help of her husband especially when she knows it's of his choosing to not be there. I really think your needs trump your MIL's at this point in your life and I do think his neglect of you and your family is contributing to your mental health... which again, at this point is more important than your MIL. As blunt as it sounds, your MIL is dying. There's not much to do to stop or change that. Your emotional well being though, can, and probably is, affecting your unborn child. It can lead to physical problems for both of you. Stress can lead to lower birth rate, later emotional problems for the child (even schizophrenia), high blood pressure for you -which can be dangerous for both --, post partum depression (which can be devastating), amoung other things.

Although I do think your emotions may be amplified by your pregnancy, I believe they are realistic considering what you are dealing with and I really don't see an error or selfishness on your part.

I don't think your husband is intentionally being mean or meaning to choose his mom over you. I just think's he's upset, just not able to handle it well, and really has his priorities messed up because he's not able to think straight. Your husband needs someone outside of the family to talk to him about his obligations and stress that parents taking care of children almost always overruled children taking care of parents.

I would try not to make any major decisions about your marriage right now. It is a hard time for everyone and I do think his actions are forgivable. You're both under a lot of stress. Give it a little time, see how it pans out and see what you can and can't live with. Although I suspect that if this problem is still continuing after you actually have the baby, it will only be compounded, so hopefully he'll come aorund before then. It's not about getting a neighbor or nanny to help you take care of the new baby and kids. "He" needs to be there with you guys and get a neighbor or nurse to help take care of his mother instead. Priorities....

    Bookmark   March 26, 2009 at 11:01AM
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I think your husband needs to be with his mother now, and I think he had a right to insist that he keep the children with him part of the time, since he is their father.

However, he should be with you during the birth of your baby. I certainly don't want to scare you or upset you, but I think sometimes people forget all the complications that can arise from childbirth. Your husband probably has your durable power of attorney and he needs to be there.

His being there is not simply a matter of priorities, or a matter of your comfort. Soldiers' wives and women all over the world have their babies without their husbands being there, but if your husband can be there, he should. You are undergoing a surgical procedure where there is a risk to both you and your unborn child. If he is the person you want to make medical decisions for you if necessary, then he needs to be there.

If it was simply a matter of supporting you, making you comfortable, etc., then I would say let him be with his dying mother while you have your baby. That may be the last few moments he ever has with his dying mother, while he has a lifetime of years to be with you and the baby. But there are logical reasons why he needs to be with you during your surgery.

I agree you don't need to make any hasty decisions right now. But if I were in your shoes and my husband was not going to be with me during my c-section then I would temporarily change my durable power of attorney to my mother or someone who was going to be there.

I wish the best for you and your beautiful children, and a safe and happy delivery.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2009 at 9:02PM
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I still don't get all this sister's business. She is 50 and lives alone. So what? Does it mean everyone else needs to move in so she isn't alone? i have never heard of such arrangement. Sounds like his family of origin is a bit freaky. and his brothers and sister need to take care of mom while he takes care of you during your pregnancy and delivery.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2009 at 10:17PM
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Let me ask you something here, what are his roots? Where does he orginate from? It makes a big difference where he is from as it goes all down to to culture. If my husband's (ex husband) mother was dying he would certainly put his mother first. Sorry to have said this but it's true! Some people put their blood relatives first and not the spouse. He probably thinks your condition is not as serous as his mom's.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2009 at 10:29AM
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Hello. I know it's been a long time since your last post. I'm going through something similar in my personal life and wanted to see how everything turned out for you and your family. Hope you write back

    Bookmark   May 3, 2011 at 2:44PM
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