My husband and I disagree on something and I want to know what you think.
My mother-in-law has a long history of many problems. She recently came to visit us and her mental and physical state just keeps getting worse. She is very stressed over a boyfriend that is cheating on her, she doesn't eat, drinks and smokes too much, is in financial ruin, and is obviously very depressed (she is in her early-mid 40's).
My husband is very non-confrontational and has never addressed these problems with her (though she has mentioned them to me). He feels that there is nothing he can do, so there is no point in meddling.
I mostly agree with this, but I feel that as a loving son, he should at least ask her how she is doing, acknowledge that he sees her deteriorating, tell her that he is worried about her, and encourage her to seek professional help.
I have done these things, but I feel like it will mean more coming from him.
He is very worried about his mother and has considered writing her a letter, but I know he will do nothing if I don't encourage him.
Am I doing the right thing? Can a difference be made, or am I just meddling and should mind my own business?
Concerned & Frustrated
Dear Concerned & Frustrated,
You are on the right track about your mother-in-law and I am surprised that your husband is so negligent. I feel sure that his mother was a good and thoughtful care taker over him as a child and now he should be returning that care to her and show that he is a good son.
He can suggest that she should join some organization where she will meet all kinds of people -- some will be her type and she can build new friendships. She is at a very good age -- how about a job in a big firm - she will meet many people.
Suggest she should get new clothes and change her make-up and get out among people. She will find that everyone has some type of worries and they all talk about them.
Your husband might visit her alone so that the conversation will be one on one - they may laugh or "cry" but there is nothing like talking things over. Then go for coffee.
Her age of 40+ is just a beginning if she lets it happen.
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It's common for women to assume the caregiver roles in families. Men come to expect that. I think more women need to take a step back and let the men share some of the responsibility.
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